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Is Liberalism a mental disorder?

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  • Is Liberalism a mental disorder?

    It was put to me today that liberalism is a mental disorder and that such a theory is 'scientific'. I'm interested to see whether there is any justification for this view.

    This article is interesting.

    In the new study, Dodd and his colleagues had 48 adults who were strongly conservative or strongly liberal look at a series of 33 pictures. Some of the pictures were pleasant, such as that of a fluffy bunny. Others, including a picture of a maggot-infested wound and another of a man with a spider on his face, were downright disgusting.

    While the participants looked at the photos, researchers monitored their skin conductance, a measure of minute changes in sweating that reveals how excited and emotional someone feels, in this case, about a given image. They found that, consistent with other studies, conservatives responded more strongly to the negative images.
    In a second experiment, the researchers repeated the procedure with images of polarizing politicians, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Again, they found a political difference: Conservatives responded more strongly to politicians they disagreed with, such as Clinton, than they did to politicians they liked. Liberals, on the other hand, had a stronger physiological reaction to politicians they agreed with than they did to politicians they disliked.
    The findings provide extra evidence that basic biology may play a role in political choices, Dodd said. Of course, not every country has a liberal-conservative split like the United States. Most likely, Dodd said, you'd see a similar difference between more right-wing and more left-wing people, but the size of that difference might be smaller.

    "I'm Canadian, and I would say that our right is actually fairly liberal in many regards," Dodd said. "So I think you would still expect to find some differences there, but I think it's a question of what the magnitude of those differences are."
    Here's a Scientific American article on political differences and how much of that is unconscious.

    “These are not superficial differences. They are psychologically deep,” says psychologist John Jost of New York University, a co-author of the bedroom study. “My hunch is that the capacity to organize the political world into left or right may be a part of human nature.”
    Although conservatives and liberals are fundamentally different, hints are emerging about how to bring them together—or at least help them coexist. In his recent book The Righteous Mind, psychologist Jonathan Haidt of the N.Y.U. Stern School of Business argues that liberals and conservatives need not revile one another as immoral on issues such as birth control, gay marriage or health care reform. Even if these two worldviews clash, they are equally grounded in ethics, he writes. Meanwhile studies by Jost and others suggest that political views reside on a continuum that is mediated in part by universal human emotions such as fear. Under certain circumstances, everyone can shift closer to the middle—or drift further apart.
    Part of me thinks that I simply should not respond to anything Epoetker, Darth E or MonutainMan says that is this provocative (and frankly ridiculous). OTOH the idea of the psychological bases of political opinion is an interesting one.

  • #2
    Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
    OTOH the idea of the psychological bases of political opinion is an interesting one.
    This actually seems quite plausible. I don't believe there's an inherently unbridgeable gap between conservatives and non-conservatives (I use this term because not everyone who generally disagrees with conservatism is actually liberal); rather, I believe most people are actually fairly close but see roughly the same things with slightly different perspectives, which sometimes accumulate over time and lead to a larger gap.

    For instance, the vast majority of people, regardless of political persuasion, seem to desire equality for all. But conservatives seem to believe things are essentially already equal, whereas non-conservatives believe things are currently NOT equal and thus need to be fixed and made equal. Consider a two-pan balance. Non-conservatives perceive that the device is not balanced, that it's skewed towards one end, so the logical response is to add weight to the other end until the two are balanced. But to the conservative, who thinks the pan is already balanced, adding weight to the other end only skews things into imbalance; the logical response if one thinks the pan is already balanced is to either not do anything or to add the same amount of weight to each end. Thus, we get odd comments like "homosexuals actually want extra rights" and "I, a white person, don't feel offended when someone makes a mascot out of my race, so you minorities shouldn't feel offended when someone does that to your race" and "Affirmative action is reverse discrimination" and "I was able to get to where I am now simply by working hard, so everybody should be able to do that if they just work as hard as I did." You can see that these presuppose that the surrounding contexts are already equal. Psychological bases would seem to account for this.
    Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.--Isaiah 1:17

    I don't think that all forms o[f] slavery are inherently immoral.--seer

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    • #3
      Obviously the whole "liberalism is a mental disorder" mantra is rhetoric. I think few people who say it actually believe it. But it seems to me that politics create in people a sort of religious-like zeal. For a lot of people, both liberal and conservative, politics either replaces religion entirely, or becomes an indistinguishable extension of the religion they hold. The only other place I've seen that sort of zealousness is in sports. Where I live in the Midwest, sports are far more important than religion, and maybe politics. People will hurt other people in the name of their favorite team. Its craziness to me, and I mean that only a little rhetorically.

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      • #4
        In a second experiment, the researchers repeated the procedure with images of polarizing politicians, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Again, they found a political difference: Conservatives responded more strongly to politicians they disagreed with, such as Clinton, than they did to politicians they liked. Liberals, on the other hand, had a stronger physiological reaction to politicians they agreed with than they did to politicians they disliked.
        So basically subconsciously liberals know that liberal politicians are scum and had a strong physiological reaction to them, even when their conscious minds told them they agreed with them. Kinda like a gag reflex.

        Good to know.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Adrift View Post
          Obviously the whole "liberalism is a mental disorder" mantra is rhetoric. I think few people who say it actually believe it. But it seems to me that politics create in people a sort of religious-like zeal. For a lot of people, both liberal and conservative, politics either replaces religion entirely, or becomes an indistinguishable extension of the religion they hold. The only other place I've seen that sort of zealousness is in sports. Where I live in the Midwest, sports are far more important than religion, and maybe politics. People will hurt other people in the name of their favorite team. Its craziness to me, and I mean that only a little rhetorically.
          I always chuckle at people who act like religion itself is what's destroying the world, because there are so many other areas in life that apply to the non-religious as well in which you can see that a religious zeal is clearly manifesting itself. It's an attitude/frame of mind that most commonly is expressed through religion but is not inherent to it that is the cause of those things.
          Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.--Isaiah 1:17

          I don't think that all forms o[f] slavery are inherently immoral.--seer

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          • #6
            Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
            It was put to me today that liberalism is a mental disorder and that such a theory is 'scientific'. I'm interested to see whether there is any justification for this view.

            This article is interesting.







            Here's a Scientific American article on political differences and how much of that is unconscious.





            Part of me thinks that I simply should not respond to anything Epoetker, Darth E or MonutainMan says that is this provocative (and frankly ridiculous). OTOH the idea of the psychological bases of political opinion is an interesting one.

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            • #7
              I am just glad I am not crazy. Just the rest of you weirdos.

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              • #8
                Not terribly surprising. Different culture leads to fundamentally ways of seeing and processing the world- but none of that is innate or unchangeable. Changes in thinking lead to physical changes in brain structures, which would account for the psychological experiments between liberals and conservatives. The caution here would be making the assumption that differences in brain development CAUSE liberal vs conservative thinking: it's more likely the other way around, at least from the studies I've seen. As it is, I don't believe much of anything is "innate" in thinking or personality- environmental factors create different ways of thinking which shapes the brain which reinforce different ways of thinking. And so on.

                If true, it means that changing one's thinking will result in changes in the brain, and thus, changes in psychological responses. For some people, that may be a very good thing...
                Last edited by LeaC; 01-21-2015, 02:50 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                  It was put to me today that liberalism is a mental disorder and that such a theory is 'scientific'. I'm interested to see whether there is any justification for this view.
                  I do not think that liberals are mentally ill. I see that they have the same, for the most part, ideals that conservatives have. They just see a different (and in my opinion in effective) way to achieve the ideals. See the response to square_peg for more on this.
                  Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sparko View Post
                    So basically subconsciously liberals know that liberal politicians are scum and had a strong physiological reaction to them, even when their conscious minds told them they agreed with them. Kinda like a gag reflex.

                    Good to know.
                    I saw the pseudo scientific stuff as having no significance to the question.
                    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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                    • #11
                      Some of you have missed how political beliefs seem to be founded in genetics and biology.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                        Some of you have missed how political beliefs seem to be founded in genetics and biology.
                        Its a load of nonsense.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                          Its a load of nonsense.
                          Really?

                          http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0206091437.htm

                          http://www.nature.com/nature/journal.../249288a0.html

                          http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...views-so-what/

                          http://www.magazine.utoronto.ca/lead...al-viewpoints/

                          http://www.newscientist.com/article/...the-genes.html

                          The data is by no means conclusive, nor is the science settled but it is suggestive. My view is that it hardly matters one way or the other and I merely find it interesting. I'm interested in why you are so dismissive.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                            Really?

                            http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0206091437.htm

                            http://www.nature.com/nature/journal.../249288a0.html

                            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...views-so-what/

                            http://www.magazine.utoronto.ca/lead...al-viewpoints/

                            http://www.newscientist.com/article/...the-genes.html

                            The data is by no means conclusive, nor is the science settled but it is suggestive. My view is that it hardly matters one way or the other and I merely find it interesting. I'm interested in why you are so dismissive.
                            I can't believe you're actually serious. The idea that one's politics are based on their genetics is crazy talk. Its a few steps away from saying something totally ridiculous like race is a factor in IQ, or that Jews are genetically degenerate.

                            Its far FAR more likely that education and environment are the primary factors in one's political views.

                            Below are a few papers that critique the methods used to determine politics via genetics. As one of authors, Evan Charney, assistant professor of public policy and political science at Duke University, puts it. “It doesn’t make any sense, and it’s historically inaccurate.” “Everything that Hibbing and company are working with is a completely static, reductionist, antiquated conception of genes and how they work,” “I think this is just completely pseudoscience."

                            http://www.subjectpool.com/ed_teach/...orIdeology.pdf

                            http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/mor...files/2008.pdf

                            http://jayjoseph.net/yahoo_site_admi....344143848.pdf

                            http://sites.lafayette.edu/suhaye/fi...ott_101007.pdf

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                              I can't believe you're actually serious. The idea that one's politics are based on their genetics is crazy talk. Its a few steps away from saying something totally ridiculous like race is a factor in IQ, or that Jews are genetically degenerate.

                              Its far FAR more likely that education and environment are the primary factors in one's political views.

                              Below are a few papers that critique the methods used to determine politics via genetics. As one of authors, Evan Charney, assistant professor of public policy and political science at Duke University, puts it. “It doesn’t make any sense, and it’s historically inaccurate.” “Everything that Hibbing and company are working with is a completely static, reductionist, antiquated conception of genes and how they work,” “I think this is just completely pseudoscience."

                              http://www.subjectpool.com/ed_teach/...orIdeology.pdf

                              http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/mor...files/2008.pdf

                              http://jayjoseph.net/yahoo_site_admi....344143848.pdf

                              http://sites.lafayette.edu/suhaye/fi...ott_101007.pdf
                              Wo, slow down. I'm not suggesting that political opinion is TOTALLY determined by genetics, merely that it seems that genetics is a component.

                              Look! Scientists disagreeing! I think that's cool. It certainly doesn't 'prove one view or another. I'm prepared to withhold judgement. Your reaction just seems so strong.

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