Long before famed neurologist, Antonio Damasio, discovered that without emotional input from our pre-frontal cortex our judgment is profoundly disturbed, Freud and his co-workers recognized this pathologic state can result from “splitting,” that is, by an act of mind. Whether from neurologic or psychologic impairment, a critical function for mindful behavior becomes non-operative by negating emotions.
Mind is the active principle in human beings. Classically, it has a tripartite structure: mind thinks, mind wills, mind judges. These are actions. By contrast, emotions are passive. They come awake, as it were, in response to an action or an event. They have to be roused. Where were they sleeping? In our physical self. Our body houses the emotions, so when we get “emotional,” it becomes a physical event. Without that participation by our body, how would we experience anger or sadness or joy? William James recognized that emotions are feelings that we feel by changes in our body, such as quickened heart rate, shallow breathing, trembling lips, visceral stirrings, clenching of the teeth. Emotions are as much a part of who we are as our skin, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. They create relationships necessary for survival and provide the glue that holds them together. And they make our beliefs flesh!
Now this somatization of emotions has a profound consequence. We react to actions of mind – such as a belief system – emotionally. Our political beliefs are as much a part of us as the rumblings of our bowels. Our affiliation with a particular political Party is as deeply grounded in our being as our breathing. An allegiance to one political party or the other is not simply an idea – I think, therefore I’m a Democrat. No, I FEEL, therefore I’m a Democrat. One’s political affiliation is on file with one’s liver and lungs and bowels and skin. It is embedded in the organic self. Little wonder one doesn’t bring up politics without asking for trouble. Of course one votes the Party, even if headed by Donald Trump.
It is a truism that folks vote their Party, regardless of the candidate. One can marshall facts enough to blot out the sun, it doesn’t result in a political conversion. Political argument unleashes immensely powerful emotion. Our whole body rings out like a giant gong. Watch the Senators filibustering in Congress for Gun Laws as we speak; the agony is physically visible.
So now, we have a candidate who is truly an existential threat to our America, beyond reasonable doubt. Yet 43% of the populace will vote for him. Guaranteed. Cromwell pleaded a hearing based on the bowels of Christ. He was no fool. Hillary leads in some polls by three per cent. That’s within the margin of error.
Splitting is in full gallop within Republican leadership. It is done with knowledge aforethought. When asked about Trump’s innuendo that President Obama supports terrorists, today Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan said they do not take questions on statements made by Donald Trump, who in fact is now the head of their Party. (Recently, Trump claimed that Obama “is a black Muslim in the White House,” an egregious affront to the President.) When splitting is done with full awareness, it shines a bright light on character.
The hatred for Obama is a sight to behold, the hatred for Hillary inexhaustible. But they are not on the guest list for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Trump is. His Presidency is unthinkable. That may well be, but we vote with our liver and lungs. They anchor our deepest beliefs. If a member of the Republican Party,
I FEEL, therefore I will vote for Trump!