American Mental Health and Politics
by Robert L. Kocher
There is a great struggle defining the mental health as well as the future of this nation. Perhaps the concerns I’m hearing, and the condition of the country, is best summed up by two movies. One of them is Rosemary’s Baby. In the movie, an unknowing young woman is subtly confused and taken over by a conspiracy of Satan worshipers whose intent is to make her bear the devil’s child. The plot becomes more convoluted and bizarre until the night her husband, who is part of the conspiracy, drugs her food and the Satan worshipers come to get her. As she is lain out on a bed naked, and the devil arrives to have sexual intercourse with her, with her last bit of lucidity she voices the realization, “This isn’t a dream. This is real.”
Many of you have expressed the view, “This isn’t a dream; this is real,” followed by the implicit self doubting comment, “I think.” The present situation in this country is so grotesque that it strains the mind to believe it is real, and we are also being told not to believe it is real.
The second movie was called Suddenly, Last Summer, starring Elizabeth Taylor in her much younger years (1959). In the movie she is obsessed with her cousin Sebastian, a young man who seems physically and otherwise distant from her. Cousin Sebastian and his mother (played by Katharine Hepburn) dress Taylor provocatively, which attracts the attention of teenage boys at the local beach ¾ whereupon the cousin strikes up friendships with the boys, while ignoring Taylor. When she beings questioning what is going on, her cousin and his mother present her as being high strung, and get doctors to prescribe increasing amounts of drugs to calm her nerves. Part of the movie presents scenes as seen through Taylor’s drugged and confused eyes. As the movie goes on, it begins to appear as though Cousin Sebastian is a homosexual, and he and his mother are using Taylor as bait to procure boys while keeping her drugged from realization and protest. Taylor’s confused attempts to explain the situation are met with outside disbelief and justification for increased doses of stupefying drugs. She is slowly pushed to the point of losing conscious functioning sanity.
At the end of the movie the cousin is killed as a sadomasochistic act by some of the boys he’s been preying on. During the attempt to sort things out, a young psychiatrist (played by Montgomery Clift) is brought in to examine the supposedly insane Taylor. After hearing her story, the psychiatrist looks up and says: Let us begin with the premise that everything this woman has been trying to say is true.
The condition of this country is as warped as the plots of those two movies. For us, unlike for the character played by Elizabeth Taylor, there is no psychiatrist to intervene and validate the truth.
Liberalism as Mental Disorder
I make no secret that I’m of the position that the radical left, and modern liberalism, are profound forms of mental disorder. There are several liberal/leftist subcultures. Leftists are typically characterized from among the following constellation: weakness of intellect and intellectual discipline, regardless of education; absorption with personal drives and impulses; failure to resolve the conflicts of adolescence or conflicts between themselves and reality; a diffuse bitterness toward life; self-absorbed immaturity; a primitiveness of personality; an almost sadistic propensity for destructiveness; poor levels of personal relationships; and numerous other things ¾ including a narcissistic desire to be intellectually cute. This places me in direct opposition to probably 85 percent of the present psychological and psychiatric professions, who are predominantly liberal. The politics and public affairs of this nation increasingly boil down to a case of two groups of people who have different views of sanity.
It is not possible to begin to explain the source of mental disorder in less than hundreds of pages. What we will be primarily concerned with here is present, past, and generational incidence of mental disorder in this country.
Psychologists and, to a lesser extent, psychiatrists, in recent decades have usually completed politically correct curricula in which the quality control has become as much political as clinical, whereupon they have been turned loose upon society like flocks of blackbirds every semester. Many of them are not capable of working beyond the level of cookbook evaluations and superficial psychotherapy. More than a few of them write books of the quality of the heralded study released last week where two University of Michigan researchers accused the political right of being responsible for overweight problems in women. Psychology in this country appears to have progressively become an elitist effort at authoritative mental condemnation of those opposing the political and lifestyle left. Most of the professors I had years ago proudly wore the badge of, and conferred a sense of pompous superiority upon themselves through, belittlement of and antagonism toward American culture.
A clinical psychologist friend who has one of the most successful practices in the country commented, “There are people (clinical psychologists) in the field who are working on their own problems and know it. There are people who are working on their own problems who don’t know it or won’t admit it.” Too much of psychology is filled with psychologist’s problems and personal or political agenda.
There are, and have been, a dwindling number of high quality minds remaining in the field who are well trained, capable of deep level work, and who show serious insights. One of these appears in a psychiatric text, Borderline and Other Self Disorders, by Donald B. Rinsley, M.D. (published by Jason Aronson, 1982), and offers a complex, serious analysis. Much of the text employs very technical terminology and presumes an advanced background in psychiatric study or theories of personality. However, in several instances Dr. Rinsley is frank and direct to the point of expressing an exasperation which I share. While Dr. Rinsley may or may not agree with every opinion of mine, nor I with him on everything, in the preface of his work he says:
“My view of wider sociocultural determinants is largely in agreement with that of Christopher Lasch (1977, 1978) who has related the decline of the nuclear family and the so-called culture of narcissism to the increased frequency of personality disorders. Dysfunctional childrearing, the failure of the public schools to impart basic literacy skills, and the bloated welfare bureaucracy have spawned a widespread psychology of entitlement with its notions of success without effort and income without productivity. The unfortunate children of perplexed, disarticulated, and dysfunctional families, now graduated from undisciplined schools with ‘open’ curricula, and social promotions, are the next generation’s borderline and narcissistic personalities. Thus, the combined failures of the family and the school as vehicles for the child’s progressive socialization leave these young people unprepared for the responsibilities and expectations of the wider culture to which they belong.
“…To paraphrase the late Philip Wylie, we have indeed spawned a generation of narcissists who now flood our public and private therapeutic facilities….”
The narcissistic personality is a technical term for a personality disorder having many of the characteristics previously discussed here. The borderline personality, somewhat similar, is a very primitive, immature, and pathological personality also incorporating many of the characteristics discussed so far.
Later, in Chapter Seven of his work, under the heading of “social trends and borderline phenomena,” Rinsley writes:
“Of significance is the fact that the borderline concept reached its full prominence during the turbulent decade of the 1960s. That period was marked by … the proclaimed defection by youth and young adults from traditional values and morals, epitomized by the so-called Playboy Philosophy which, in effect, extolled subjective hedonism; the appearance of the so-called woman’s liberation movement, with its often militant feminism and its associated “unisex” philosophy; the pervasive mistrust of authority figures who, like God, had been “demythologized,” reflected in a proliferating civil litigiousness and a resurgent antielitism and egalitarianism. ‘Minority activism’ assumed a variety of forms, while all varieties and manifestations of discrimination and inequality were to be expunged from society by legislative action or judicial decree. Szasz (1961,1965) proclaimed that mental illness was a ‘myth’ subserving society’s need to imprison nonconformists and other undesirables in mental hospitals without due process of law, while other activist writers, such as Herbert Marcuse (1955) and Norman O. Brown (1959) claimed that, in effect people became sick only because an oppressive, archaic social patriarchy made them so, and Laing (1967) declared that “madness” and “sanity” were ultimately indistinguishable….
“During this period, the ‘generation gap’ and the expanding use of illicit drugs appeared to reflect the increasing mutual alienation of children and parents, the former turning [in] increasing numbers to a burgeoning welter of alienated adults, including self-appointed “gurus,” who exhorted them to “turn on, tune in, and drop out,” not infrequently in drug-suffused communes where they could seek asylum in group pseudomutuality. The failure of parental authority found concomitant expression in the public schools, where a growing number of educational practices, including “child-centered” curricula, “open” classrooms, ungraded classes, “social” promotions, and purposeful grade inflation produced increasing numbers of “graduates” who could not adequately read, write, or reckon and who could only mistrust the adult parental and pedagogic surrogates responsible for their predicament.
“The disturbed, identity-diffuse adolescents who emerged from such confused families and classrooms could readily confound freedom and license. Many proceeded into a ‘new wave’ of ‘sexual liberation’ while others, in reaction to it, embraced a resurgent asceticism with its renunciation of marriage and parenting. A host of arcane culture-alien ‘religions,’ many based upon Eastern mystical imports, made their appearance as alternatives to traditional institutional religion which had since become demythologized, secularized and popularized and many young people embraced them in the vain hope of achieving a sense of identity and acceptance which they had never achieved at home, in school, or in church; indeed a substantial number of them exhibited patterns of thought, affect, and behavior typical for borderline disorder. Small wonder, then, that the 1960’s could be termed the decade of the borderline, the period of the ‘new narcissism’ (Johnson 1977).”
I have expanded and detailed important factors paralleling Rinsley’s analysis in other places. What has occurred in massive numbers is environmentally reinforced hyperdevelopment of the Freudian Id, deficient or twisted Ego/Superego development, concurrent with an absence of an internalized sense of reality.
The May 7, 1987 edition of Newsweek dedicated a large portion of its content to a discussion of mental depression in young adults, meaning chiefly under the age of fifty. A psychiatrist from Cornell University Medical College, Gerald Klerman, was quoted as saying that coming to maturity in the period from 1960 to 1975 had a profound adverse impact on the likelihood of depressive illness.
On page 131 of the September 1992 special issue of the Scientific American on the mind and brain is a graph of what is described as “an alarming generational trend” of a far greater risk of developing bipolar mental illness or related psychosis.
The March 27, 1987 issue of Time Magazine contained a graph of suicide rates compiled by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. By 1965, when the new cultural trends and values were beginning to be felt, the suicide rate among teenagers and young adults had nearly doubled from what it was in 1955. By 1970, when a clear social psychosis was coming into cultural predominance, the suicide rate had more than doubled. By 1975 it had nearly tripled and by l980 it had more than tripled. It was quadruple that of 1952. (Those who remember the early to mid 50s as a happier and saner period, do so with considerable justification.)
A series of landmark studies published in the Archives of General Psychiatry (volume 41, 1984) covering ¾ if not the largest ¾ one of the largest and most thorough samples ever taken (close to ten thousand people), indicated that about 20 percent of Americans showed symptoms of severe mental disorders in the previous six-month period. The proportion of problems was nearly twice as great in the under-forty-five age group as in those over forty-five. (The study refers to people under forty-five years of age in the period 1980 to 1982.) At early ages, people in the younger age group had already gone through far more psychological crises than people in older age groups had throughout their lives. It is also known there was a great increase in the number of people chronically hospitalized for mental disorders in what was then the under-forty-five age group.
The age-45 dividing line was probably chosen somewhat arbitrarily. Without having access to the original data, my strong suspicion, particularly after correlating comments by Klerman and others in other articles, is that if the dividing age of comparison were dropped to 40 or maybe lower, reflecting the so-called “generation gap” touted in the 60s, the difference in indication of generational mental disorders would have been far more pronounced, if not massive.
Note that to obtain a nearly two-to-one generational ratio requires an overwhelmingly formidable 27 percent (more or less) disorder rate in the young group compared with a 13 percent rate in the older group. The difference between these two numbers is the difference between disorder as an anomaly versus disorder as a significant demographic prominence and major generational/cultural direction. In the period since the study, the 27 percent (assuming it was that low) mental disorder group has further ascended the social and political structure, displaced previously more stable generations, and now also occupies the White House.
This series of studies has been the subject of occasional discussion for the last 14 years. It has also been the subject of studious avoidance. It reveals a reality of the last nearly four decades, particularly the leftist activism period of the 60s and 70s, that there has been absolute generational and political determination to avoid.
It is my belief that depression and certain other problems in younger people tend to be symptomatic of a more profound psychological maladjustment and split with reality than seen in older people. It is also my observation that severe maladjustment may be hidden or deferred in younger people. For example, the excessive reliance on, and dedication to, the youth culture of the 60s and 70s produced a group of youth who rode high on the present at that time, but who were completely unprepared to adjust to the certain eventuality of becoming 40 years old.
Another aspect of this concerns how to evaluate serious thought disorder and the part it may play in mental evaluation. Often subjectively without symptoms, thought disorder requires a more thorough evaluation than could be done in the above studies. The definition of thought disorder also depends upon whether the person doing the clinical or other evaluation disagrees with what the person being evaluated is saying. If you are as nutty, and nutty in the same way, as the person you are talking to is, then the two of you agree that there is no real problem, and blame others as non-believers. If Laing (1967) declared that “madness” and “sanity” were ultimately indistinguishable, it does not mean they were really undistinguishable, but that he may have been in a too confused, or unwilling, state of mind to be able to distinguish the difference. Many psychiatrists and psychologists from the 60s and 70s generations have been quite protective of thought disorder that was a source of radical generational pride.
For years the feminist movement has been apoplectic about degrading, sex-object- oriented, disrespectful, or unwanted physical contact of any kind from men, even to the point of seeking out and banning semi-private calendars or pictures featuring women in male portions of the workplace. All accusations of sexual harassment or rape were demanded to be treated with unconditional seriousness and punished without mercy or acceptance of any excuses whatsoever. In recent weeks I read a speech by Hillary Clinton demanding, of all things, absolute morality in the workplace.
Yet, in contradiction to this professed belief, the woman’s movement has contorted all logic and reason in defense of Bill Clinton’s groping attacks on women, strange silence on what should reasonably be viewed as serious accusations of rape against Bill Clinton which he doesn’t personally deny as being true, and even criticism or ridicule of women bringing such charges. I receive mail from angry, liberated female clinical psychologists accusing me of pathological hatred of Clinton for bringing the subject up.
Is this contradiction and denial to be regarded as thought disorder? Forty-five years ago it clearly would have been classified as being obviously such. What constitutes serious thought disorder has since been redefined to the point of nonexistence if it supports countercultural liberalism. What would have been viewed as seriously nuts at a time in this culture when the suicide rates were much less, when the clinical depression rate was greatly less, and so forth, is now a significant widespread sociopolitical movement.
There has been recent sociopolitical right-wing furor, best vocalized by an enraged Dr. Laura Schlesinger, over a series of serious psychological papers by highly credentialed psychologists and academics asserting sex between willing minors and adults should be described in neutral or positive terms such as adult-adolescent sex. Sex between men and boys is euphemized as “male intergenerational intimacy.” It is not now viewed in recent diagnostic manuals as a disorder unless it interferes with the adult’s work performance, social life, or discomfort level. Thus, a 45-year old man engaging in sex with 15-year old boys supposedly doesn’t have a problem if he shows up for work on time. Furthermore, it is not child abuse if the condition of children or adolescents is not worsened according to the standards of people trying to rationalize and practice it. Child sexual molestation is being moved out of being considered a mental disorder to being legitimized in this country, with open hunting license on kids who are being declared fair game. If the present progression continues, the parent who sends one of their kids off to school to have him or her molested on the way, or by a teacher, will eventually be convicted of a right-wing homophobic hate crime for protesting.
Nothing will convince me that rationalizing this is healthy. That there is not rioting in the streets and rioting within the psychological profession over these trends is a sign of a sick society and a sick irresponsible profession that is in control of formal societal standards and professional certifications.
It is my absolute conclusion that the rate of serious mental disorder in this country, particularly in the baby-boomer Clinton age group, is five to 10 times that of 50 years ago. Twenty-seven percent doesn’t cover it. In fact, mental disorder has become sufficiently widespread to have enough social and political power to redefine itself as not being mental disorder, but rather as being brilliantly liberated.
But redefining doesn’t always work and you are still stuck with the consequences. Members of the liberated age group could not even live with each other’s shared celebrant of generational liberated irrationality. See the April 4, 1986 page one story in USA Today entitled “A generation of divorce–For women in their 30s, 6 of 10 marriages fail.”
Here is a set of pertinent collateral academically-oriented figures. A Sept. 23, 1988 Washington Times piece discussed a report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. A test with a score scale from 1-500 points was administered to 240,000 students to measure proficiency in science. The results showing percentages of people achieving various levels were reported as follows:
Knows everyday science facts
Understands simple scientific principles
Applies basic scientific information
Analyzes scientific procedures and data
Integrates specialized scientific information
The study shows students were quickly acquiring facts by rote, but were not developing the ability to analyze and integrate information. Most students were not developing analytical capacity beyond the thirteen-year-old level. This characteristic is not restricted to the sciences. Virtually any intellectual test incorporating questions requiring serious integration of information shows typical Americans of recent generations lack the capacity to think logically and integrate information. Many, if not most, Americans in recent generations are profoundly incapable of valid serious reasoning processes requiring more than two steps to complete the analysis.
A panel of educators evaluating the test information stated:
“… Our nation is producing a generation of students who lack the intellectual skills necessary to assess the validity of evidence or the logic of arguments, and who are misinformed about the nature of scientific endeavors.”
It should be added that this was not a novelty. We have been producing them in a steady stream for 35 years.
A study released in September of 1993 found few students could solve worded math problems that required thinking and understanding.
Unfortunately, this is not strictly a science problem or an academic problem. It is a serious symptom of an underlying deficient personality system or psychological problem. It’s also the result of a cultural drift into irrationality and a culturally reinforced irrationality during the last 35 years. It’s also result of growing up in a bland egocentric fantasy-filled environment in which development of, and responsibility for, realistic decisions were not a necessity. The secondary result of these elements is shown in poor scores on tests requiring disciplined realistic reasoning. It persists through the doctoral educational level.
Sanity and Conspiracy
This is not merely an academic performance problem. The word problems they are unable to solve are not only mathematical. The same pattern of deficiency also has day-to-day personal and social consequences. These patterns result in failing the ultimate test of people running their lives in a reasonable manner. Beginning in the 60s, our nation has seen several generations of people a large proportion of whom haven’t the intellectual skills, the self discipline, the inclination, or the sense of reality to assess the validity of evidence or the logic of choices or consequences or arguments in virtually any aspect of their daily lives. They lack the mentality to run their own lives with competence. As a result, they are destroying themselves and each other–and are becoming depressed as a byproduct.
Not only is mental disorder five to ten times as prevalent as 45 or 50 years ago, but the character of mental disorder has changed substantially. Those days which saw a predominance of office patients with true neuroses are long gone. Patients then presented problems which affected narrow portions of personality, while they were lucid in other areas. Fundamental rational thought processing was still broadly functional, as were elements of conscience, providing a lucid psychological platform or leverage for treatment. But not today. In the last several decades, serious therapists have commonly complained about the absence of patients of quality or depth. (Finding therapists of quality and depth for patients of quality is equally difficult. Trying to find serious high quality practitioners for referrals is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The present state of the profession is simply untrustworthy.) I’ve had good clinicians complain about being ready to explode if one more person breezes into their office with another idiotic so-called “life style.”
If some of us are appalled, frightened, and even driven half crazy by the maddeningly and complacently silly or psychotic levels of denial, by the superficiality, by the abysmal immaturity, by the primitive level of personality structure, by the too-easily employed distorted rationalizations, by the lack of contact with basic reality that we deal with in our daily lives, hear in our college faculties, and see on TV and in high political office, we can nevertheless know that the reality of our perceptions is validated by mental health figures as well as those patients being seen in therapist’s offices. Unfortunately, however, those severely pathological characteristics and functioning are environmentally predominant enough not only to socially support, but to imbue supreme self-confidence in, those people possessing such characteristics.
Presently, like the character played by Elizabeth Taylor, the sane are apt to be the ones subjected to social criticism. Even the First Lady will go on TV to accuse the sane of being part of a vast conspiracy for making reasonable observations that are absolutely true. Hillary will then hand the sane off to people such as presidential representative James Carville, who is a psychotic Daffy Duck cartoon equivalent of the Energizer Bunny. If a high school girl can’t walk into the Oval Office without danger of her clothes being torn off, if the president is masturbating and engaging in oral/anal sexual stimulation at the very moment he is ordering troops into Bosnia, if the president shows serious indications of serious thought disorder along with high levels of psychopathic deviance and serious paranoia, if there are reasonable accusations of rape consistent with past patterns of behavior, if the president is openly insulting and ridiculing, Carville quacks, “It’s about sex, I tell you! This is war! This is war!” Like the rabbit in the battery commercial on TV, he keeps on going. Professor Alan Dershowitz then says it’s about racism.
Freedom is Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose
There is no sane respectful attempt to address, or admit, the serious reality of the situation. It should be a matter of legitimate serious concern that we have two brat graduates from 60s and 70s pathology with some very serious mental problems in the White House. We have people with very serious mental problems supporting them. They have thrust their psychotic inner theater of the absurd upon the nation, and there’s not sufficient cultural integrity or sanity left to stop or counterbalance it.
Such is the evolved state of post-60s psychotic America.
The effect of the mental health crisis on the politics and government of this country has been both subtle and powerfully catastrophic.
First: The political atmosphere has become psychotic in that it follows no logic, consistency, or sense of reality. We have people in high office who are defiantly silly supported by defiantly silly constituents. There is no sense of the serious real. To some extent, what we have is goofy middle-aged kids who don’t understand they are destroying the country, or couldn’t care less.
Second: Personal and political freedom affords an exercise in vitality to a mentally healthy person. But, to someone who is depressed or preoccupied by internal turmoil, freedom becomes an unenjoyable useless quantity. Consequently, we now live in a society where many people no longer want or value freedom. Personal freedom and the responsibility that goes with it are abrasive intrusions or demands upon a crippled self-absorbed internal state.
Freedom has become transformed from a chance for opportunity, to being a threat to a depressive or confused inner personal condition. To a hospitalized schizophrenic, freedom is useless or unwanted. To many people, not hospitalized, but imprisoned or sentenced to psychological solitary confinement by their own internal pathological state, outside imprisonment or oppression is inconsequential or even welcomed. We are facing the serious problem that the mental health in this society is so degraded as to cause America’s opportunities and economic advantages to be viewed as irrelevant.
Freedom in this country has come to be the equivalent of good food on a bad psychological tooth.
Demands for simple basic responsibility and maturity have become looked upon as impossible or as repressive as a oppressive communist society. Freedom and socialism/communism have become either subjectively equivalent, or the second preferable to the first if it promises a world of custodial care.
Until the mental health problems are culturally addressed, instead of culturally proselytized for the self-indulgence they offer, freedom and opportunity will be viewed as irrelevant, or even the enemy, in this society.
Third: The mental health crisis in this country has propelled us into the politics of torture, struggle, and torment. In my political life I want roads and bridges that are in good condition. I want national defense. I want competent educational systems that produce competent graduates. I want to hear understanding of rational monetary and economic analysis. I want to hear candidates articulating the principles of a free society. I want office holders who act with seriousness, honesty, and respect.
What is instead occurring is a political contest to see which candidate’s form of mental disorder resonates with prevalent forms of mental disorder in the general population. Bill Clinton says he feels people’s pain. Hillary Clinton is poised to snap up a seat as Senator from New York, and possibly the presidency, on the essential platform that the mess she has made of her personal life, and her angry warped rationalizations of it, resonate with the confused mess other people have made of their lives. People identify with Hillary’s image of struggle, with her constant empty angry dynamism, and with her posturing and confrontational indignation. Bill and Hillary’s empty marital relationship and sterility produce emotional resonance in millions of others leading similar lives with similar incapacities in an emotionally turbulent generation that has had a 60+ percent divorce rate and a 32 percent out-of-wedlock birth rate. Her pathology feeds into the prevalence of pathology in America.
Hillary Clinton’s qualification for any serious position would be considered ludicrous in a healthy rational society. To those increasingly few of us remaining who do not view posturing infantile temper tantrums as a form of intellectual brilliance, Hillary is not a particularly intelligent, talented, or deep woman. With the possible exception of abortion and allied 60s radical countercultural agenda that appeal to those who have never left, or grown beyond, 60s and 70s perpetually angry adolescence, Hillary Clinton has shown absolutely no knowledge of anything. But while abortion, internal sexual conflicts, and crummy shack jobs or marriages may be a personal obsession to many people in this country, they are not what makes this country run. Yet, every poll shows Hillary could walk into a state where she has never lived and be swept into office by a landslide ¾ entirely on the basis of alliance between her own and other people’s personal problems, angry immaturity, mental disorders, and incompetence, without a demonstrated word of knowledge about anything that really makes the nation work.
Undoubtedly, handlers would feed her a cram course of superficial babble about military tactics and strategy, economic policy, geopolitics, or other areas to get her through staged public appearances during the campaign that would be seized upon as instant support for belief by the already neurotically captured or committed. If she can continue saying nothing substantial about anything and avoid all serious debate, she is in.
Fourth: Not long ago I talked with a woman about the source of so-called social problems in this country. Her eyes welled up as she talked about helplessness and desperation being the root cause of the problem. But these were assertions about people she had never met and knew nothing about. She was really projecting a history of her own miserable life and her own marriage. Describing other mythical people instead of herself allowed her to release the repressed backlog of emotion she was forbidden to realize and express more directly.
People are commingling and co-channeling their personal problems into interpretations of so-called social problems that are ungoverned by any mental discipline. The sad lyrical interpretations of life and the feeling of abstract struggle, described by the radical left, stimulate waiting feelings of desperation or struggle in people’s personal lives and drive the afflicted to leftist philosophy and causes like dried emotional leaves before a storm. In the psychologically deteriorated condition of the country, many people are constantly on the verge of tears anyway, and the political left releases and re-focuses their diffuse sorrow and discontent into the political process. There is a complex system of language of double meaning that has evolved in which people using political language are also describing their personal condition.
In this sense the political left offers a vicarious false or symbolic sympathy and catharsis to the depressed or emotionally wounded in this society. The fact that socialism is intrinsically oppressive and economically catastrophic is secondary to its satisfaction of that catharsis and need. It also satisfies a suicidal bent that I have been convinced for more than 35 years exists deep in the leftist movement and personality.
In many cases the political left is an indirect plea for help forced upon others. These are often, on deep levels, suicidal people who defy the pain of personal realization and change, but are attempting to force others to take charge of them by threatening to commit suicide in such a way as take us with them. This is one reason why their political and social thrusts are destructive to themselves and everyone else.
They remind me a little of women who are self-destructive hoping that a man will care enough and show that he loves her enough to set her straight. Unfortunately, what they often wind up with is exploitation by cold sadists whom they defend. The political equivalent is Josef Stalin.
In other ways leftists are a little like the little kid who acts out scenes in an attempt to obtain security and structure, and to make his parents show concern, discipline him and take charge, even though the kid protests when this happens. Only these are big kids. They will push the limits by destroying the educational system, by turning America over to its enemies, by turning children over to sexual predators, by attempting to impose an authoritarian oppressive society, by taking away your guns so you can’t fight back, and by sweetly denying every bit of it, until discipline is forced upon them. Like the components of a swirling galaxy suddenly without a gravitational field, they are flying off into the deep space of progressive irrationality in the absence of the pull of sanity.
All people have a touch of sadism in them. Leftists are often people whose sadism has long been allowed to get out of control because it is indirect, intellectualized, and deniable, rather than physical. They are going to push the limits of defiance until it is either externally brought under control, or they will destroy those around them. When analyzed from these frames of reference, leftist politics is absolutely consistent and makes absolute sense. But it doesn’t do much for the country.
Other dynamics of the political left often parallel the dynamics of many actors and actresses. Indeed, Hollywood is a cultural center of the radical left. Due to personal incapacity, many actors and actresses seem to be people who desperately substitute the diffuse affection of audience applause and approval for close love relationships in their personal lives. Many leftists seem to be people who have failed at, or are incapable of, close love relationships and want to substitute a diffuse one-world socialistic love-in where they are assured of a type of abstract unconditional acceptance within a purifying socialistic masochism.
Fifth: The type of values and behavior seen in the empty Clinton lives is the values, behavior, pathology, and emptiness many people have been desperately defending in their own lives. The Clintons have been able to transfer that defense to a defense of themselves without missing a step. The woman who is married to a Bill Clinton-type, or has been used in an affair with such a Bill Clinton, immediately identifies with, or defends Hillary, Monica, or Bill ¾ or somebody ¾ according to whatever she has been using to rationalize such relationships in her own life. The man who has been trying to justify to himself his staying in a marriage with a brat like Hillary, defends Hillary. The man who treats women the same way as does Bill, defends Bill. The man who wants to be able to get a woman pregnant, then run off and leave her; and the 50 percent of women in this country who are having abortions in those situations; are emotionally resonant with the Clinton’s life-style and pro-abortion stance.
And so, one way or another, half this nation has been drawn into intrinsic indirect interest in an ongoing sixties-values soap opera played out by a couple of spoiled goofs who have taken significant control of the country on this basis. The second half of the nation is in turmoil because of their inability to find, within the upside down world of virtual reality synthesized and maintained by the liberal media, any desperately-sought confirmation at all for the obvious fact that the first half and the two spoiled brats are obviously and destructively nuts.
Some years ago a study, which there is no room to detail as we wind down this segment, found that happy families with kids tended to be overwhelmingly Reagan Republicans. It’s no accident. They were content with life.
A greater number of years ago Aldous Huxley wrote that anyone seeking to impose an authoritarian government would do well to encourage promiscuous sexuality among the people.
This brings us to Sixth: The turbulent failure of interpersonal relationships in this country ¾ to no small extent resulting from the sexual revolution of the 60s, which was designed by the original advocates to be crippling, in addition to destroying the nation’s mental health ¾ has been politically as well as socially catastrophic. Personal emptiness, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness are politically exploitable, and should be encouraged by leftist political strategists. From a leftist standpoint, happy fulfilling personal lives and family lives are retrograde institutions that do not produce dissatisfaction that can be directed into a political movement. They are further retrograde in that directing one’s self toward, and finding primary satisfaction in, the family unit is subtractive from orientation toward, and finding primary satisfaction in, substitute bonding with the socialist state, with the political movement, and with the leader. The motivation for engineering personal dissatisfaction in others is as much an expression of resentment toward those others as it is political strategy (lest such engineering be looked upon purely as the invention of an ingenious plot). It just happens that the two coincide.
Too many people are sublimating the anger, frustrations, and desperation of their personal lives into a compulsive attack upon the cultural and economic system that has provided more for more people than any other in human history. In their bitterness toward life, they are in a state of diffuse antagonism toward everything. They have a monkey on their back. In the Clinton vernacular, this is encoded, in deliberately vague language, as “people who want change.” What kind of change? They are diffusely unhappy and prepared to displace or act out their frustrations on society instead of changing themselves. Many of them have an absolute hatred of this country because of their bitterness over their personal lives. In their angry egocentric thinking America is viewed as unfulfilling and has defrauded them because their private lives are destroyed. This hatred has fueled the revolutionary leftist movement in this country.
They obsess and carp constantly about how wrong this county has been and the necessity for political change. You can’t argue with them intelligently and get agreement on anything because the argument is not really what the argument is about. The argument is really about their desire to attribute their personal problems to the culture instead of themselves. You may think you are discussing foreign or domestic policy with a woman when what she is really talking about is a symbol, or indirect emotional expression, of the fact somebody got her pregnant and left her. Until that hidden issue, the one she refuses to talk about, is settled, all logical discourse is doomed to failure. I have found this pattern to be typical of men and women in the political left over more than 35 years.
Precious Bodily Fluids
A 60s movie, Dr. Strangelove, portrayed an ultra-right-wing General Jack Ripper, who was obsessed with communist infiltration involving people’s “precious bodily fluids.” It was, of course, a transparent allusion to his channeling of his worries over his sexual infertility into irrational fears of the Soviet Union. The idea that so-called “politically right-wing people” are people channeling the fears and frustrations from dysfunctional personal lives into comical or lunatic political causes has been made into a believed cliche by left-wing writers who put it into TV and movie plots. The truth is, while it is sometimes a dynamic of the Political Right, it is more characteristic of the Radical Left than the right. Look at the way Bill and Hillary Clinton are living, with rapes and groping attacks and immaturity and chaos and anger ¾ which is real life, not an ideologically crazed movie, for God’s sake, and decide who really has the problem. Half the pillars of liberalism live like psychiatric case histories. Correlated marital profiles and voting patterns also suggest this to be a widespread pattern.
Unfortunately, using political outlets for emotional release of frustrations from personal problems makes one feel slightly and momentarily better, but does not solve personal problems. It does, however, create big political problems.
The days of rational discussions of defense, public works, and the care of widows and orphans are at an end in this society. What we are getting is obsessionally focused causes and movements. An accurate understanding of American politics requires analysis of convoluted psychopathology. America is now under total attack by madness and angry immaturity. That attack, and the struggle to defend against it, has become the center of political life in this country.
There are two distinct types of maladjustments here. There are those who have been nuts, or who have been trying to drives us nuts, for the last 35 years. And there are those of us being driven to distraction, and who are trying to find an explanation ¾ or who can barely believe it. I will confess to feeling like going home and hiding under the bed at times after hearing Hillary Clinton, Eleanor Clift, or Alan Dershowitz.
People on the so-called political right live scared. They know they are under attack. They try to employ rational processes to understand the arguments attacking them. But no such understanding is possible because the arguments used against them are not rational. In desperation to understand the situation, a few of them talk about the coming of the AntiChrist, which is the best they can do at their level of sophistication and frame of reference, but which has a strange, and for some people, frightening, tone that the political left exploits to mischaracterize and ridicule all opposition. However, what they are trying to understand is very real, and if one substitutes the words, “mass insanity compounded by mass angry defiant immaturity,” for AntiChrist, their arguments aren’t so far from the mark.
Many people on the Political Right are frightened because they are too busy with life to spend the years of study necessary to refute the unified carefully prepared attack from the left. The intellectual resources in the educational system are stacked against them. They have limited access to in-depth alternatives. It is the purpose of this forum to serve as a resource. In the last 40 years, with the reliance upon liberal TV and other liberal controlled institutions as the basis of intellectual focus and continuity, some very important premises have been displaced and forgotten.
It’s important to realize when dealing with the radical left that these are often irrational people whose sadism has long been allowed to get out of control. They are going to push the limits of defiance until they are either externally brought under control, or they will destroy you. Whatever they do usually has a sadistic or destructive twist in it. When analyzed from that intent, leftist politics is absolutely consistent and makes absolute sense. In the last 35 years, it’s one of the few consistent elements I have found in one of the main leftist subcultures.
For those who wonder if what they are seeing is crazy, it is, and it isn’t a dream, it is real. For those who are trying to say what they are seeing is crazy, let us begin with the premise that what you have been trying to say, however inarticulate, is true. For some of you who feel crazy, trying to reason with crazy people as if they were sane will make you feel that way.
Myers, JK, Weissman MM, Tischler GL, Holzer CE III, Leaf PJ, Orvaschel H, Anthony JC, Boyd JH, Burke JD Jr, Kramer M, Stoltzman R: Six-month prevalence of psychiatric disorders in three communities 1980-1982. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1984;41:959-967.
Robins LN, Helzer JE, Weissman MM. Orvaschel H, Gruenberg E, Burke JD Jr, Regier DA: Lifetime prevalence of specific psychiatric disorders in three sites. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1984;41:949-958.
Robert L. Kocher is the author of “The American Mind in Denial.” He is an engineer working in the area of solid-state physics, and has done graduate study in clinical psychology. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.