A highly accomplished professional came to see me. He was miserable and tired of suffering emotional pain. His faith did not help. Meds didn’t help. Nothing helped. He decided to swallow hard and talk with a Shrink. After the usual preliminaries, we entered into a conversation, which didn’t last long. When I drew his attention to something he had just said, he threw up his hands.
“I don’t want to hear that.”
– Is it true?
“I don’t care. I don’t want to hear it.”
And I never saw him again. About half the folks who swallowed hard and risked talking followed the same pattern. They didn’t want to look at what was right in front of them. About half, however, stayed the course, many for years. Not easy!
Many books have been written about The Right and The Left, a political bifurcation recognized since the French Revolution. We know it as our two-party system, Republican and Democrat. We also know, as studies have shown, The Right favors ideology, The Left favors the workaday world. Steve Schmidt, a well-known Republican strategist, says 47% of an electorate is always Republican, 47% Democratic. Is this distribution of the electorate in our DNA? Does my experience over many years that half of the folks didn’t want to hear THAT! and half of the folks put up with hearing THAT! support this idea? If so, does it throw light on what Paul Krugman calls “post-truth politics?” Possibly.
Freud discovered that fantasy can commandeer the senses through hallucination, an option that triumphs over reality and the pain that goes with it. NOT EVERYONE EXERCISES THIS OPTION! Are those on The Right more vulnerable to hallucination than The Left? Is this the Republican template for later eperiences?
By definition, we can’t observe a hallucination. What then is the Deep Structure that begins with commandeering the senses? It is easily recognized, as familiar to us as Frank Sinatra. “I do it my way.” Wilfred Bion called it, “Arrogance.” What goes “out” over-rides what comes “in.” That reversal is the heir to hallucination, bringing with it the authority of sense experience. “I don’t care. I don’t want to hear that! I am going to do it my way.” The result of this arrogance is an ideology that disregards evidence from common sense. Here’s an example.
Every developed country in the world knows that folks get sick and need care. That’s a fact of life. Everyone gets medical insurance. Not so in our United States. Some twenty Republican governors oppose Obamacare. That’s not the problem. Until it is repealed or changed, however, it does provide medical coverage for millions of their constituents, at almost no cost to their states. Without insurance, hundreds die unnecessarily, thousands suffer, millions live in constant anxiety having no protection if they get sick. With a stroke of the pen, the governors, using Obamacare, could change this. They do not. The governors do it their way. They don’t care Obamacare is simply the best available at the moment. Ideology triumphs over common sense.
In Shakespeare’s The Winters Tale, Camillo says,
There is a sickness
Which puts some of us in distemper, but
I cannot name the disease.
The present distemper of the Republican Party is not inevitably a disease of The Right. Throughout history, The Right, beginning with Edmund Burke, has remained “average expectable.” Not true for McConnell and Boehner and the Republican party they lead. Freud observed hallucination can override reality. Bion named this disease, Arrogance. Those afflicted do it their way, disregarding any input from common sense. Creationists do it their way. Evangelicals do it their way. ISIS does as it pleases.
For the entire Obama presidency, Republicans have suffered distemper, a disease, I submit, we can name, – Post-Truth Politics. They do it their way!
(to be continued)