Now that this dark chapter of our country has officially ended, or more accurately begun in earnest, it should be crystal clear how the GOP has created an alternate universe, a place to act out their more basal impulses in the guise of freedom. True to form they continue to contribute nothing, predict nothing, provide excuses for everything and obstruct the rest. More pathetic still is how, when cornered, they either cling to their factoids or flee to their patented all politicians are the problem stance. Biden and his semi-supermajority do represent a different and welcome political chapter, but having so many Americans entrenched in a sociopathic mindset is daunting. As their disorder of choice has blossomed, I warned how it would eventually endanger our republic. Rush Limbaugh’s contributions have not gone unnoticed in this dystopic endeavor and, as for his passing, let’s just say prehensile pundits everywhere have dropped a collective diastolic point today. I still can’t fathom the sheer number of citizens willing to take a stab at psychopathy. Whereas the DSM-V quantifies the anti-social prevalence at about one percent of the population, the GOP represents an astounding thirty-five. So what gives? New studies may add some insights to the terminally insightless.
Post the events of 1/6, republicans across the country—and in my own personal life for that matter—haven’t altered their shtick much, have they? Everything from sedition to war crimes is labeled and filed somewhere in their brains as justifiable patriotic endeavors. Or, nothing to secede here. And their current excuse for the insurrection?
ANTIFA infiltrated their ranks and defiled their patriotic quest to fight socialism.
It’s brilliant. One democrat was present during the riots so we’re even. Another false equivalency brought to you by the garbage barge that is The Grand Old Party. Oh, and due to your tendency to frequent dumpsters please consider changing the party mascot to a bear; this might also appease your new Russian comrades.
Trump simply made the dubious claim that: “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” Cue some nitwits posting a few fraud-friendly Youtube videos and, voila’, the Bastille is effectively stormed. The psychological dysfunction behind the most idiotic revolution in our nation’s history is what’s so intriguing. Why some of my friends, neighbors, and even family members might, on the flimsiest of arguments, support or participate in such a siege on our Capitol is stunning. I love some of these folks, but their blindspot for the home political team continues to be the story within the story of our time.
Predicting this steady rightwing shift to sociopathy is one thing, but watching it unfold is quite another. If you dust off your old social psych book, persuasive people tend to be attractive, credible and/or considered an expert in some way. All of the basic psychological underpinnings of persuasion were really ditched when half of America rallied behind a known idiot-grifter with a history of stiffing people. So what gives?
Here’s one 2017 study on sociopathy from Downunder that supports my position:
Narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and everyday sadism were associated with right-wing political orientation, whereas narcissism and psychopathy were associated with political extremism. Moreover, the relationships between personality and right-wing political orientation and extremism, respectively, were relatively independent from each other.”
This study points to a correlation between the very real political underpinnings of psychopathy and republicanism. Per this same study, the relationship between rightwing extremism over the leftist equivalent is somewhat murkier. I am not suggesting every republican is a sociopath, but they are comfortable following one into battle, ergo sociopathic-friendly—or what I’ve termed a republican sympathizer.
Extremism certainly does stem from both ends of the political spectrum, but those incapable of showing empathy—or are willing to overlook such a trait in their leaders—represent the clear and present danger. It’s not hard to see how they’re potentially more easily led and/or radicalized. I originally diagnosed our right-leaning friends as sociopaths over a decade ago, here.
Religious fundamental thought seems almost a prerequisite for this mindset as well. It’s certainly a key ingredient for almost each and every unnecessary conflict throughout history, or the Hitchens triad: loyalty to nation, tribe or faith. It doesn’t go unnoticed how the Christian God from the Old Testament is a bit of a sociopath himself. And, yes, he’s male. A woman wouldn’t be forced to keep starting life over again from scratch. Hell, I feel bad enough when I call a mulligan in disc golf, but the Christian God? Yikes. I suppose being omnipotent is never having to say you’re genocidal.
The fact individuals suffering from personality disorders are, for the most part, unreachable and untreatable is the reason for my political fatalism. How does one fix the seemingly unfixable? From a personality disorder perspective, even the term ‘suffering’ misses the mark as they don’t tend to seek treatment unless caught and forced. It is the same for those right-wingers in my life, who, even now are content to create a mutant COVID strain for freedom. This brings the phrase ‘made in America’ to a new level. Think Jeffery Dahmer. If everyone had simply left him alone he would have gladly continued his hobby interests in the privacy of his own home. So we have a massive faction of our society that represents a political ticking time bomb, the first of which just exploded onto our Capitol steps in Bison-shaman form.
[Hannibill sitting on Capitol Hill joke eaten with some fava beans and dry Chianti.]
But here’s the rub, the DSM-V places the prevalence of sociopathy in hour society at around 1%, but an old Juan Cole article (2017) adds an additional 6% for those with conditions that mimic psychopathy such as brain trauma, developmental, or other cognitive disorders. And, I’d like to add what he missed, namely, all the related personality issues in the DSM Axis-II family, or the rest of the anti-social types (McConnell), borderline (Graham), narcissism (Trump), or cluster F as we’d joke about back in the psych ward. With these additions the prevalence could reach as high as 1 in 10. This bloated guessitmate sill doesn’t account for today’s GOP membership, but Juan Cole added another mysterious category:
“It is further thought that about 12% of the population is easily manipulated by psychopaths into pyschopath-like behavior or ideas. This 18% of the population is potentially extremely dangerous. They do not have a feedback loop for emotional or physical distress. They are the sort of people who would run somebody over and flee the scene without calling for medical help for the victim.”
I don’t know where he gets this statistic, or where this group would even fall in the DSM, but he’s talking about those sociopath-light individuals among us, or more easily led. But that still doesn’t get us to the sheer scope and breadth of the Dimsurrection of 2021. Depending on where you look, republicans represent anywhere from 29 to 35% of the population, roughly 1 in 3 Americans. These weren’t just a few crazies; they are the tip of the turd. And the current mass exodus from the republican party is greatly exaggerated. They’ll come back around soon enough, like pigs to the foxal matter.
And how many individuals in this Mansony batch are even engaged in the political process? Depending on the severity, many with significant cognitive or developmental disorders are unlikely to be participating at all. I also don’t think it’s fair to think the non participating developmentally disabled would even lean republican, but, no matter how you slice it, the number of conscience-light individuals simply can not account for the GOP’s rather robust 35%. This is the psychological question of our time, well, second only to: why was there a sequel to Deuce Bigalow?
In the book Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide To Late Capitalist Television, author Adam Kotsko attempts a reason for our ongoing infatuation with sociopathic television personalities. This was written 4 years prior to the ascendance of Trump to the thrown:
“It clearly points to a feeling of dissatisfaction with a broken society. It reflects the widespread perception that society is alienating and unjust, led by self-aggrandizing elites interested in (and competent at) interested in little more than perpetuating their own power.”
I endorse the broken society premise, but disagree on how we got here. For a failed state near you, don’t look for the blue ones but rather those blue collar ones. Try Michigan or, more recently, Texas. Yeah, as for the current grid collapse, a private and grossly deregulated energy company running 80% nonrenewable for the winter? Oh, and it seems wind farms work just fine in Alaska and Antarctica. I guess Texas is just too inhospitable for life. I know, I know, if there’s a liberal within a thousand miles of the Texas border, it’s that guy’s fault.
This same author, Kotsko, used a lot of Cartman and Homer references in his book, which is funny because, whereas I (D) always appreciated these characters on some level, one family member (R) clearly never did. Hmmm.
[Hitting-a-little-too-close-to-Homer joke banned by the Springfield Isotopes.]
One Psychology Today article that references the Tiger King phenomenon points out how the narcissist is “always looking for the next victim,” and when one considers the perp-victim dynamic “like often meets like”. Also, how these like-minded, yet damaged beings are all seeking a sense of belonging—a need that can even “overtake the survival instinct” itself. This might explain a lot.
For the latest examples, how about those folks going to jail for their 1/6 antics? Trump is continuing to rob his followers blind, even now, but they need each other to keep this unhealthy dance humming. Many republicans have lost their connection to their country and find themselves in a nation changing too fast for them to process. If republicanism continues to remain viable while ignoring all of the problems that our country and our species faces, we are toast. So which republicans just need a big hug and which ones will never quell their urge to kill and devour their victims? Hmmm.
Of the two main R factions who are ultimately more reachable, those who made money in the system and want to protect those assets (our CEOs, CFOs, bankers, etc), or the larger group of MAGA-citizenry forever duped into voting against their own interests? What type of sociopath is more reachable/curable, or at least can be brought around to the idea that short-term unsustainable-sociopathic gains are not ultimately in our country’s best interest?
Having spoken to both groups in my life, I believe it’s actually the savvier, entrepreneur-types who may prove more reachable. And they are the most important group as they tend to act as role models for the rest; they may be the key to breaking our current political stalemate.
Our executive leaders were not the ones storming the castle last month. There’s some research to support this because there was a direct correlation between those with financial issues and their participation in the dimsurrection. It wasn’t our CFOs, it was our unemployed. Now, one could say, if you voted for Trump and are unemployed in January of 2021, why take it out on Joe? This is why I believe this poorer group will be harder to wean back onto reality, if not impossible.
Certainly, misinformation and a social media comment thread gone mad factored into this dark chapter. Trump stands pretty openly for white supremacy, greed, bigotry and what has been termed a “veneration of ignorance.” His platform is pretty clear, and if it’s magnified via the social media echo chamber or not, it doesn’t fully capture why we had Deplorables Unite, form of Dimsurrection.
I realize from a level of consciousness perspective these folks fall into the fundamental-level as laid out by Jean Gebser and eventually Ken Wilber. This theory also falls short as to why in a western industrialized country so many people are either sociopathic or at least socio-susceptible. Whereas Wilber encourages meditation to spur upward shifts in consciousness, I am ready to slip microdoses of psilocybin into our water supply. Operation Enduring Unicorn?
Come on, Zano, republicans don’t all have a death wish.
Oh, yeah, here’s the world economic forum’s list of top threats to mankind:
Can you find one of these that republicans haven’t caused, contributed to, supported, funded, or exacerbated? Me neither. Makes sense. What happens when you discuss any of these with a republican? They defend the status quo and find excuses for why any solution to these problems won’t work. Solar panels really caused Texas’s woes this week? Riiiight. I suppose conservatives do complain a lot about privacy issues, but only after supporting the Patriot Act and the expansion of the NSA. Buyer’s remorse? I don’t think my work over the last two decades can stress the danger of this party enough. How do we fix them or eliminate their damage in the time we have left?
Research also suggests a straight line from bigotry to sociopathy, surprise surprise, but I couldn’t find much on the fundamental thought/religiosity front. Let’s get to work on that science! We need to figure out what in God’s name is going on here.