Category Archives: Psychology

The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears and Stories: Part II

In a recent op-ed, “The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears,” I talked about the fact that in 1988, Rupert Wilkinson published a remarkable little book. Wilkinson identified four fears that not only have been present from the very founding of the Republic, but are so basic that they are virtually synonymous with it: 1. The Fear of Being Owned; 2. The Fear of Falling Away; 3. The Fear of Winding Down; and 4. The Fear of Falling Apart.

Very few people know that just a year earlier in 1987, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich also published a book that dealt in a different but complimentary way with the same themes. In fact, I regard it as one of his best books. Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Crisis Management, Media + Politics, Psychology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Need to Fight Ignorance on the Left and Right

The confusion that reigns in the “marketplace of ideas” is as great as it’s ever been. To say that the Republicans candidates for president exploit this state of confusion for their own benefit is a gross understatement. (Indeed, they provoke it by spreading vicious lies. In this sense, “confusion” is too nice a word.)

Nonetheless, to lay the entire blame for confusion wholly on Republicans is not only not fair, but inaccurate. Liberal Democrats are confused on many of the same issues as well. Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Media + Politics, Psychology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Groups Become Extreme

In two recent op-eds in the Huffington Post (“Is Truth in Politics Possible? Is Truth Possible in Anything Human?” and “Absence of Truth: Why the Republican Candidates Can’t Get Anywhere Near the Truth”), I argued that historically there are at least four different kinds and meanings of “truth.” There are of course more than four. But four is enough for my purposes. Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Media + Politics, Philosophy + Systems, Psychology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Reality Wars: Measuring the Collective Mental Health of a Nation

As a nation, we are fighting several “reality wars” at once. These wars are not only political, but deeply psychological. As a result, our collective mental health as a nation is being severely challenged and tested. Since language is the primary means we use to describe and invent reality, the language a nation uses to frame and treat important issues is a measure, however imperfect, of its mental health. Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Media + Politics, Psychology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Gap Between the Size of Our Problems and the Narrowness of Our Thinking

Increasingly, on every front of our existence, from the environment to the global economy, health care, the fight against terrorism, etc., we are confronted with messes of ever greater and growing complexity. And yet, essentially none of our basic systems (educational, economic, public and private) have prepared, allowed, and rewarded people to cope with and to manage messes. As a consequence, the gap between the size of our problems and the narrowness of our thinking grows daily. Continue reading

Posted in Media + Politics, Psychology | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Psychology of Extremism

It is not possible to understand fully why moderates are no longer welcome within the Republican Party — indeed why for all practical purposes the Party has been completely taken over by extremists — in conventional terms alone. To understand what fuels extremism — in short, the psychology underlying it — one has to dig beneath the surface of everyday explanations. This is precisely why the pioneering discoveries of some of the early giants of psychoanalysis are invaluable. Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Media + Politics, Psychology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It’s a Grim Day for Our Children

The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in striking down California’s law prohibiting children under the age of 18 from purchasing violent video games is a travesty. It perpetuates harm on the most vulnerable members of society by means of a complete misunderstanding and ignorance of child development. It is based on a profound misunderstanding of fairy tales. Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Media + Politics, Psychology, Sociology | Leave a comment

Treating Mass Psychosis

From the hateful and incendiary rants of the Tea Partiers to the continual paranoia of the extreme left with regard to business, what little remains of rationality becomes more fragile with every passing day. To understand, let alone treat, the sickness, or “mass psychosis,” that is rampant, one needs to dig beneath the surface of everyday thought and action to get at the real forces that drive behavior. Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Media + Politics, Psychology, Sociology | Leave a comment