I’ve been looking over all the activities out there in Planet Wingnut, going all the way back to the 2008 Iowa caucus when people began to realize that Obama could actually become president. And the more I look at the data, the more I realize that the anti-Obama wingnuts are not just misguided political zealots. They are mentally ill. Clinically ill. In some cases, violently insane.
Not only believing, but working night and day to propagate, obvious, childish lies about Obama, about Obama’s totalitarian plans, the concentration camps, the death squads, Obama’s plans to enslave us all after 2012 once he has no further need to face the voters, lies about his birthplace no matter how many judges and Republican politicians shoot the rumors down, and of course lies about the Bush era as well.
Delusions of betrayal are a major theme with them, a revisitation of Hitler’s condemnation of the “betrayal” in the Versailles Treaty and McCarthy’s insistence that only betrayal could have caused America to “lose” China to the Communists: they honestly believe that America still embraces their conservative views but they were betrayed by big-spending Bush, that Obama’s extreme liberalism is betraying the country, and that if the voters reject them and their candidates then they were still somehow betrayed by…somebody else. Like many who blame their own shortcomings on betrayal by The Other, they never heard or heeded the advice of Cassius to Brutus: the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. Denial is a powerful theme for them: they still can’t accept that America has finally rejected the philosophy that Reagan bequeathed to them. Whenever their delusions collide with reality, they mutter about secret conspiracies and secret enemies.
They really believe that Sarah Palin, a dangerously clueless unindicted felon, is going to save our country, that Obama is an illegal alien who wants to kill your grandmother, and that the most important issues for this nation in crisis are abortion, school vouchers, school prayer, intelligent design, putting the Commandments in courtrooms, stopping stem cell research, euthanasia, cloning, civil unions, stopping HPV shots, stopping contraception, stopping sex education, faith-based initiatives, banning books, assisted suicide….
And their solution to any problem is to go further to the right: there is no such thing as “too far to the right”.
And not just insane, but violently insane: seeking to bring Obama’s regime down with impeachment, assassination, secession, revolution; lone wolves lynching a census worker, assassinating an abortion doctor, going on two murder sprees in Pennsylvania; launching violent attacks at teabag events; bringing guns to Obama events; hanging Democrats in effigy; repeatedly making jokes about murdering Democrats; staging an anti-Obama riot with the help of a Fox producers; and their kids get in on the action because they’re making the “grab your guns and destroy Obama” effort a computer game.
So let’s look at the conservative movement, not from the standpoint of politics and policy, but with the tools of clinical psychology.
Alarmingly, the behavior seen among the wingnuts, particularly on the internet, betokens not just mental illness, but the most dangerous, delusional varieties, the psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. We see political hallucinations (non-existent bogeymen), disorganized speech and thinking, impairment in cognition, and all of the psychological features of a delusional personality: emotional over-investment and clinging to unlikely and disproved beliefs with unusual force (where’s Obama’s birth certificate??), delusions of grandeur, delusions or persecution (especially by the government), delusions about religion, hostility to those who question or contradict the “patient”, humorlessness, oversensitivity, abnormal behavior related to his beliefs.
Also, a great incidence of paranoid disorder: suspicion that people are want to harm the “patient” or are disloyal or untrustworthy, seeing threats in unthreatening comments, reacting to imaginary attacks, extremely sensitive to losses and rejection, combative regarding personal rights (like guns), enormous sense of self-importance, love of conspiracy theories.
The other personality disorders, such as schizotypal disorder -- odd patterns of thinking and behavior. Antisocial disorder -- irritable, impatient, aggressive, threatening, abusive, angry, violent, egotistical, with a disregard for social rules, obligations, and norms, and problems with authority figures (like Obama). Borderline personality disorder -- black and white thinking. Histrionic disorder -- exhibitionism, sensitivity to criticism, hogging attention, low threshold for frustration (like the teabaggers). Narcissistic disorder -- huge sense of self-importance, power fantasies, belief that he is special. Dissocial disorder -- irresponsible, irritable, prone to frustration, aggression and violence, prone to blame others or offer rationalizations. Emotionally unstable disorder -- conflicts and quarrels, instability, impulsive actions, anger, violence, loss of control.
And other disorders: mood disorders to include psychotic major depression (perhaps after election day last year) which can lead to delusions. Anxiety disorders: panic disorders (Obama will kill my grandma!), phobias (fear of all things Obama), OCD and impulse control disorders, PTSD, separation anxiety (oh no we lost Congress!). Adjustment disorder: reaction to psychological stressors (like the arrival of Obama). Mental retardation – impaired cognitive function, trouble with social rules, social inhibition, and memory. ADHD – inability to listen or process information, nonstop talking and movement, impatience. Alzheimer’s -- confusion, irritability and aggression, mood swings, language breakdown, long-term memory loss (to include forgetting every crime Bush and the gang committed), cognitive impairment, delusions.
And of course their perfectly sane enablers like Rush and Beck. And the Republican leaders who exploit them for their votes. They must be so proud.