I am inspired today by Laurence Lewis's excellent front page post, Get the transcript: Mitt Romney and the Republican Party's antipathy toward reality dissecting the problems that even the most educated modern Republicans have in accurately perceiving and understanding objective reality. Everything I see in that post ratifies my growing conviction that the Republicans described by Mr. Lewis suffer from a specific mental disorder as defined in both the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV as well as the coming version V.
Let me preface all else by addressing possible criticism from those who would admonish me to refrain from amateur diagnosis and to withhold unseemly ad hominem labeling of mere political opponents as suffering a mental disorder. I, too, sympathize with all sufferers of all afflictions, mental and otherwise. I, too, dislike ad hominem attacks. However, I cannot let these considerations silence my concerned and reasonably well informed speculations about the nature and causes of the unprecedented political situation described in Mr. Lewis's diary. The problem is too widespread and the effects too dire to favor the suppression of the topic.
Modern Republicans appear to me to be mentally ill, within the meaning of the standard diagnostic descriptions used by psychiatrists. Come out into the tall grass and I'll explain why I think so.
After describing the myths, conspiracy theories and lies that make up so much of the fabric of modern Republicanism, Mr. Lewis noted in his post that more literate, numerate, better educated Republicans are more prone to drinking the Kool Aid and succumbing to the fantasy world of Kenyan Muslims in the White House and pixie dust economics, than Republicans with less education:
Chris Mooney wrote a book on The Republican War on Science, and the traditional media, typically, chose mostly to ignore it. But as Mooney pointed out last February, the alternate reality adhered to by Republicans and conservatives isn't primarily due to poor education or lack of intelligence. Indeed, studies have shown that more educated Republicans actually are more likely than less educated Republicans to believe such thoroughly debunked lies as that the president is a Muslim or that his health care law includes death panels (pdf).Some of the quote offered from Mr. Mooney's book is even more chilling:
Yale researcher Dan Kahan and his colleagues set out to study the relationship between political views, scientific knowledge or reasoning abilities, and opinions on contested scientific issues like global warming. In their study, more than 1,500 randomly selected Americans were asked about their political worldviews and their opinions about how dangerous global warming and nuclear power are. But that’s not all: They were also asked standard questions to determine their degree of scientific literacy (e.g, “Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria—true or false?”) as well as their numeracy or capacity for mathematical reasoning (e.g., “If Person A’s chance of getting a disease is 1 in 100 in 10 years, and person B’s risk is double that of A, what is B’s risk?”).Why would this be?
The result was stunning and alarming. The standard view that knowing more science, or being better at mathematical reasoning, ought to make you more accepting of mainstream climate science simply crashed and burned.
Instead, here was the result. If you were already part of a cultural group predisposed to distrust climate science—e.g., a political conservative or “hierarchical-individualist”—then more science knowledge and more skill in mathematical reasoning tended to make you even more dismissive.
For one thing, well-informed or well-educated conservatives probably consume more conservative news and opinion, such as by watching Fox News. Thus, they are more likely to know what they’re supposed to think about the issues—what people like them think—and to be familiar with the arguments or reasons for holding these views. If challenged, they can then recall and reiterate these arguments. They’ve made them a part of their identities, a part of their brains, and in doing so, they’ve drawn a strong emotional connection between certain “facts” or claims, and their deeply held political values. And they’re ready to argue.Modern Republicans function normally, more or less, in daily life. They are no more subject to schizophrenic delusions and similar profoundly serious mental disorders than the population in general. Yet, in many matters of pubic interest, modern Republicans believe unshakably in objective facts that they know are demonstrably false or unshakably refuse to believe in facts that they know have been demonstrated to be objectively true. Almost all of this cloud of misplaced belief and blinded faith holds together with the glue of fear of the other. Non-schizophrenic people with such belief problems have their own DSM classification. Modern Republicans appear to me to suffer Delusional Disorder, Persecutory Type.
I freely disclose that I possess no credential entitling me to engage in the diagnosis of mental disorders. But I can read, and I also spent many years as a lawyer conducting cases in state and federal courts that sometimes included issues involving diagnosis of mental illness as well as many other medico-legal issues. But notwithstanding that, I offer nothing here but the speculation of a concerned (and only occasionally a bit wry), amateur citizen.
is used by professionals in a wide array of contexts, including psychiatrists and other physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, and counselors, as well as by clinicians and researchers of many different orientations (e.g., biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, family/systems). It is used in both clinical settings (inpatient, outpatient, partial hospital, consultation-liaison, clinic, private practice, and primary care) as well as with community populations. In addition to supplying detailed descriptions of diagnostic criteria, DSM is also a necessary tool for collecting and communicating accurate public health statistics about the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders.A shorthand summary of Delusional Disorder as used by psychiatrists goes like this:
Delusional DisorderThe "delusional system" described is defined as "Nonbizarre delusions (ie, involving situations that occur in real life, such as being followed, poisoned, infected, loved at a distance, deceived by spouse or lover, or having a disease) of at least 1 month's duration."
The Symptoms of Delusional Disorder
Delusional system is the fundamental abnormality in delusional disorder
In other aspects, individual seems normal
Does not include other characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia
DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR list five categories of delusional disorder
Persecutory type involves belief that one is being threatened or
maltreated by others
Grandiose type refers to belief that person is endowed with extraordinary
power or knowledge
Jealous type is delusion that one's sexual partner is being unfaithful
Erotomanic type refers to belief that person of high status is in love
Somatic type involves false conviction that one is suffering from physical
abnormality or disorder
The most common typical myths, bunk and malarkey believed by modern Republicans don't exactly fit the specific examples listed parenthetically in the description of "delusional system", but, then again, modern Republican delusions occupy a more public milieu than the personal setting of those examples. Still, modern Republican delusions are not inherently bizarre and could occur in real life. Certainly, the threatening aspects from the examples, of things like poison, disease, stalking, etc. form part of the warp and woof of birtherism, death panels and much of science skepticism among other modern Republican delusions.
It is not merely a mental disorder to which so many of our fellow citizens have succumbed. It is an induced mental disorder. It has a likely cause: the RushiFoxication of American politics. Our platinum clad diamond plated power-mongering masters are not content to simply buy our elections and politicians. They also are intentionally driving many of our fellow citizens, literally, crazy. It is a damned shame that the First Amendment doesn't let us do much about it, either, but that's the way that needs to be.
Now, they are all catching Romnesia. Republican thinking is no longer mentally sound. They cannot be trusted with their own affairs, much less ours, so we have no choice but to cure whom we can and out vote the rest, everywhere, every time, until ObamaCare gets Republicans the help they need so that they can recover.