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Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Paranoia: The Fuel of the Left?
J.A. Frascino, MD
Is liberal behavior reflective of an underlying paranoid personality trait?
Liberal candidate Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election because of lack of message, poor campaigning, and reliance on identity politics. She now agonizingly attributes her loss to falling victim to James Comey's incompetence, as well as to a vast right-wing conspiracy involving WikiLeaks, Russia, Macedonian hackers, an obscure English conspirator, and misogyny. Kathy Griffin promotes herself as a Trump hater in a macabre image of herself holding up his bloody, severed head. She responds to the appropriate backlash by weepingly announcing she is now the unfair victim of attacks by Trump and his family who are out to ruin her career. She mournfully relates enduring victimization and oppression (est. net worth $15-20m) by white males in the past. As with any victim, she requires the support of a lawyer, activist Lisa Cohen, at her side. Liberal college students cringe before the threat of occult trigger warnings and flee to safe spaces to avoid psychic and physical harm.
These victimization reactions represent somewhat extreme examples of the human response to perceived assault. But are they reflective of a more pervasive essence of liberal thinking? An alien psychiatrist circling earth in a UFO might wonder if such inane overt behavior by these earthlings stems from innate delusions of persecution. Is liberal behavior reflective of an underlying paranoid personality trait?
"The essential feature of this disorder is a pervasive and unwarranted tendency to interpret the actions of people as deliberately demeaning or threatening. Almost invariably there is a general expectation of being exploited or harmed by others in some way."
So too, to the left, the "system" is "rigged" against the little guy. The system is willfully malevolent. Society consists of villains and victims, the oppressors and the oppressed. The lives of the rank and file are steered by external forces beyond their control -- Wall Street, big oil, the commercial food industry, big pharma... the white supremacist "establishment."
"They intensely and narrowly search for confirmation of their expectations, with no appreciation of the total context".
Those on the left tend to analyze any issue solely in terms of their narrow, preconceived concept -- that all injustices are perpetrated by villains upon victims and are rooted in race, gender, and class -- to the exclusion of other contingencies. Opposition to Obama's policies is based solely on racism. The recession was caused by a few Wall Street bankers. Anyone questioning the validity of gay marriage is a homophobe, QED. "Their final conclusion is usually precisely what they expected in the first place." Their prejudicial analysis serves to substantiate and confirm their foregone conclusion. No one can fool them!
"The person may read hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events."
The left has imposed political correctness upon society to stifle "hate speech" -- anything said that offends their liberal sensitivities and which they might construe as threateningly offensive, authoritative, judgmental, racist, or sexist. Simple declarative sentences run the risk of being politically incorrect. "Microaggressions" are verbal slights so obscure that only a paranoid mind could interpret them as being offensive. Asking a Latino or Asian where they were born is really an accusation that they are not an American (and clear evidence that you are a racist).
"Often these people are easily slighted and quick to react with anger or counterattack..." When challenged by a question that is unanswerable in terms of their ideologic villain/victim social construct, most liberals become immediately defensive and angry, lashing out with irrelevant banter, counteraccusations, or personal attacks.
Delusions of grandeur constitute the other side of the paranoid coin. Contemporary liberal standard bearers perceive of themselves as a morally and intellectually superior elite whose noble mission is to protect themselves and their marginalized disciples from the deplorables of society who, like all of life's intolerables, must be censored and rejected. They are irrelevant. To accommodate the deplorables would necessitate descending towards their level and compromising the elites' own exalted self-image. They simply cannot tolerate such a transgression. In their self-righteous, non-negotiable mindset, they cannot deal with the threat of capitulation. The only way to deal with Trump is to destroy him. The only way to deal with conservatives is to silence them.
A little paranoia is not necessarily a bad protective mechanism, and even paranoid people have real enemies. As with all else, though, it is a question of degree. Many on the left seem to be driven by delusions of persecution, consumed with silencing or controlling their perceived oppressors to achieve their safe haven in an egalitarian society.