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Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Infantile Rage on the Left
It was Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud's daughter, who first described the most common ego defenses in detail. Later, scientists and clinical psychiatrists expanded the list of accepted defense mechanisms and did much improved research, like Harvard's George Vaillant. There is good agreement on a basic set of ego defenses, like denial, displacement (blaming), and rationalization.
Ego defenses distort reality in some way, from very mild defenses like rationalization to "primitive" defenses like massive denial of reality and fantasy-driven thinking. These defenses are fairly easy to spot when people can't cope or feel very anxious or overwhelmingly confused. Ego defenses protect us from excessive fear, uncontrollable rage, shame, guilt, and other painful emotions. Some adults retreat into the safety of childhood and even infancy, feeling protected by an all-powerful mother or father substitute.
This brings me to modern liberals. This country used to have mainstream liberals who faced reality, like Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey, JFK, and more recently Joe Lieberman and a few others. But today, the radical left controls the Democrats, which is why I believe they lost the election. And they can't cope with losing.
Donald Trump used hints and half-sentences that might have come from Rush Limbaugh to signal the voters that he was on their side. Because liberals have filtered out conservative thinkers like Limbaugh for all these years, they simply did not get what Trumps was plainly saying to most Americans. Trump's rhetoric became a kind of secret code, not because conservatism is a conspiracy, but rather because ordinary liberals simply need to escape from ordinary conservative ideas. They created their own cult of silence when it came to sensible conservative ideas, which they experience as intolerably scary. It's a kind of normal-phobia.
Normal Americans never wanted to crush the coal industry or squeeze our domestic oil supply to please fantasy-driven greens, constantly screaming that the world is coming to an end. Obama's idea that he would personally "stop the rising of the oceans" makes our eyes roll. The fantasy left has taken over the Democratic Party, and a lot of American voters see that. But we can't speak out because the nearest commissar of the left will jump on our sensitive parts. We've all had that experience.
It's not surprising that in the Fear Society produced by P.C., people quietly come to their own conclusions. They are not going to tell some anonymous pollster on the phone. The left has made truth-telling unsafe. Conservative college students are not going to expose themselves to ridicule from professors and student fanatics.
The mass cult of P.C. has turned our universities into dangerous territory for ordinary people, and there are no "safe spaces" left for conservatives on campus. This is a terrible and corrupt state of affairs.
I believe that the deepest reason for liberal goofiness is their primitive ego defenses. George Vaillant of Harvard Medical School has worked to place the most common ego defenses in an ordered list, going from infantile or primitive defenses to healthy adult defenses. You can Google all kinds of examples of primitive defenses openly proclaimed by liberals traumatized by political reality.
Fantasies are normal for infants and other children. They are valuable in the process of growing up. But for adults, some of those wilder fantasies signal a serious neurosis, or even a "walking psychosis," like paranoid personality disorder. Paranoids can sound normal most of the time, but then you'll suddenly hear their persecution or grandiose fantasies popping out. The next moment, they can sound normal again.
Obama has some of these features, although I don't think his consistent pattern of denials and openly expressed feelings of persecution are extreme enough to qualify. Still, a quick search of his public statements will show a pattern of constantly blaming others (even when he is personally responsible for some mess), immense grandiosity, a lush fantasy life, great vulnerability to any perceived slights, and frequent use of denial as an ego defense. In a politician who tells lies as a matter of course and who is surrounded by a small cult that protects his delicate ego, it is often impossible to tell where Obama begins and his inner cohort ends.
It is obvious that Valerie Jarrett, described as his alter ego, supports Obama's grandiose beliefs. This used to be normal for hereditary kings and secular tyrants, who surrounded themselves with a constant flow of flattery. As a direct result, they often begin to drift out of touch with reality. T.S. Eliot wrote that "humankind cannot bear too much reality," and that point certainly applies to small, self-reinforcing liberal cults. Realism is an adult capacity, and if we work at it, we become more and more realistic over our lives. But some people flee into a comfortable cave of self-protective beliefs.
One striking thing about liberals is their need for echo chambers. Conservatives can thrive as individuals, but liberals need to hear their favorite beliefs echoed and supported by others.
Climate catastrophism is common in tribal groups, as reported by anthropologists. Human beings conduct rain dances in times of drought and pray for the monsoon to end in countries bedeviled by that constant downpour. Weather magic is a cultural universal, and claiming to calm the rising oceans is a very common superstition.
"Superstition" is the right word for liberal campaigns against (non-existent) global freezing and global warming, against phony claims about the oceans overflowing, against the great benefits of coal and oil (the lifeblood of human prosperity), against nuclear power, against GMO foods, and much more.
Modern liberals have caught a kind of hypochondria, a fear of perceived but nonexistent dangers. Psychologically, this is a kind of conversion hysteria. (Freud's famous first case of Anna O was a spectacular example of conversion hysteria in a young, recently traumatized woman. Anna O had a "museum" of illness symptoms, including a pseudo-pregnancy, which usually lasted only for a short time, only to be followed by yet another dramatic symptom.)
Modern liberals have projected that kind of search for scary disasters onto the whole world, so that increasingly there is nothing good and healthy in prosperous societies. Only the fabled Noble Savages are healthy, and anything "natural" is good for you.
Well, our forbears knew about toxic mushrooms, rotten meat, violent hobos, Indian genocides, and infected wounds. Those are all natural, too.
In this season of despair for the left, liberals are not just going through a hissy fit after Hillary lost. They are showing us a bunch of primitive, infantile defenses.
This tells us everything we need to know about them, from Obama and Hillary to Al Gore and John Kerry. These are classical infantile personalities.
Primitive defenses are normal in early childhood, and if a child grows up well, eventually mature defenses take their place. Infants cry in rage when they are deprived of a beloved toy. Liberals have been telling us about their own fits of rage and crying after Hillary lost.
Children easily retreat into fantasies and daytime dreams. When little ones start to talk, around age three, they still express infantile defenses, including denial, displacement (blaming others for their own perceived weaknesses), retreat into fantasy, projection ("you're a poopie kid!" to a young sib when they just learned bowel control themselves), infantile narcissism (also called healthy narcissism because it shows up in normal child development; the same ego-centered beliefs are considered a personality disorder in adults), "rage fits" when they are angry, dependency on Mom or a favorite blanket, and bitter crying when another sib tells them there is no Santa Claus.
Infantile defenses are completely normal, but over time, they should disappear as children grow up.
There is a word for adults with infantile defenses. They are called neurotic, or people with personality disorders.
It seems increasingly that such pathologies can actually be taught in a cult-like setting. Leftist power over the schools has resulted in an infantile generation of snowflakes, young adults acting out narcissistic rage against nonexistent enemies, living in Santa Claus fantasies, clinging to a magical cult of the left to make themselves feel powerful and competent. They suffer from irrational rage and substitute name-calling for reason ("racist! sexist! evil!" "bitter clingers with their God and their guns"). We are seeing primitive mob rage, a widespread inability to face reality, a lot of wishful and phobic thinking in a harsh world, "splitting" the world into absolute Good and absolute Evil, failing to see shades of gray. We are seeing mental fixations on super-heroes (like Obama) who are always fighting demons – Nixon, Bush 41, and soon Trump.
Disturbed liberals typically present a false self to the world for self-glorification.
Talk to a liberal, and you soon see primitive, infantile defenses popping out – especially if you are a calm, adult conservative. They don't get adulthood; adulthood, responsibility, and reality are what they are forever trying to escape.