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Dr. Helen

Please Take Me off Your List of Hate.

January 15th, 2014 - 11:01 am

So I received this press release about a newly released book by psychologist Kirk J. Schneider Ph.D:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS CONTACT

Lorna Garano

510-280-5397

lornagarano@gmail.com

A Psychologist Diagnoses the Tea Party-and other extremists threatening our world. In “The Polarized Mind: Why It’s Killing Us and What We Can Do about It,” Kirk J. Schneider Ph.D., calls for a new and deeper psychological understanding of our greatest political and social conflicts and those who drive them.

It’s easy for liberals to snicker at the misspelled signs and misplaced anger of the Tea Party, but psychologist Kirk J. Schneider says that we dismiss or diminish groups like this at our own peril. Schneider, the author of THE POLARIZED MIND: WHY IT’S KILLING US AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT (University Professor Press, 2013, paperback), has done an exhaustive study of extremist movements throughout history and he says it’s time for us to look more seriously at what he calls “the polarized mind.” In “The Polarized Mind: Why It’s Killing Us and What We Can Do about It,” Kirk J. Schneider Ph.D., calls for a new and deeper psychological understanding of our greatest political and social conflicts and those who drive them.

“You can see gradations of the ‘polarized mind’ at work in virtually all destructive political movements from Nazi Germany to Maoist China to our very own Tea Party. In fact, it is the pervasive malady of the 20 and 21st Centuries,” says Schneider.

How does the Tea Party fit in? Many among its ranks have seen their lives profoundly upended by economic, social, and political trends beyond their control. They tend to be middle class people who are mired in debt and have seen a sharp decline in their living standard due to the shift to a service-industry economy. They often face stiff competition for low-wage jobs and when they land them they may be confined to dull, meaningless work day after day. They resent any government help for people who are even less fortunate and train their anger on those who are the least responsible for their plight. And it’s not just an empty wallet that drives them. It’s also a sense of social dislocation. “I think many in this movement are embittered over the increasing complexity of contemporary life. They look at the 9/11 attack-which once would have seemed unthinkable-the decrease in church attendance in many places, the loss of two-parent households, gender equality, the lack of simple ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ presentations of the U.S. vs. the rest of the world, and they feel profound existential anxiety-as if the ground beneath them is giving way,” says Schneider.

Although you won’t find “polarized mind” in any official diagnostic manual, for Schneider it’s crucial that the psychological community and the world at large rethink our ideas about mental illness if we are to understand the forces at play in the world. “When we think of mental illness, we think of a discrete and politically powerless group of people who have received a diagnosis, but if you look at the key criteria for diagnoses it’s abundantly clear that they describe vast swaths of the population, not a marginalized group,” says Schneider. Look, for example, at some of the traits of narcissistic personality disorder or psychopathy: A callous disregard for the feelings of others, the reckless disregard for the safety of others, a sense of entitlement, arrogance, a grandiose sense of self-importance. These traits are readily seen in the Tea Party and other extremist groups.

“No one can or should deny the historical forces that have shaped movements like the Tea Party, but to overlook or dismiss the psychological factors that are linked to them is to have less than a full understanding of what makes extremism tick-and how we can defuse it,” says Schneider. Recognizing the polarized mind when we see it is the first step.

Here is the reply I sent back to Lorna Garano:

How DARE YOU send me this trash associating law abiding American citizens with Nazi Germany and Maoist China. I am a psychologist who has sympathy for my fellow Americans who are so “extremist” that they believe in lower taxes and the Second Amendment. Horrors!

What is “killing us” are polarized minds like Kirk J. Schneider Ph.D who is so narrow-minded that he thinks those who have different political beliefs than himself are the enemy and seeks to assign them with a “diagnosis.” What is truly extremist and scary to those of a more conservative or libertarian persuasion is that so many psychologists such as the one below are such political hacks for the Democratic Party. Please take me off your list of hate.

Helen Smith, PhD

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I'm trying to think of figures in recent events that might be fairly described as having "A callous disregard for the feelings of others, the reckless disregard for the safety of others, a sense of entitlement, arrogance, a grandiose sense of self-importance." A bunch of people marching on the Mall to peacefully demand the Government stop harassing them? Or perhaps a couple of national leaders standing in front of the coffins of four men they abandoned to be murdered by savages, and blaming it all on some poor schmuck in California?

Perhaps Dr. Schneider would like to elaborate for us...
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is not surprising, but absolutely terrifying, is that these books are published and treated as accepted thought. Write a book about any other group with this premise and you would be vilified by the same people nodding their heads in agreement about the need to diagnose Tea Party members with a disorder.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for standing up for reason, Dr. Helen. It is almost pathetically funny that an "educated" man like Kirk Schneider, PhD. should believe that anyone who doesn't believe as he does is an "extremist". I guess Eleanor Roosevelt was right. "There is nothing so ignorant as an educated man once you get him off the subject he is educated in."
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (81)
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I read a fascinating interview with James Piereson, author of Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, in the Limbaugh Letter that made me think of this article.

In his book, Piereson argues that the assasination of John Kennedy was the turning point for liberals, driving them further to the left and to become increasingly more anti-American. He also notes that this is when the emphasis on attributing a culture of hate to conservatives began.

It's an interesting thesis. Usually an assasination, like that of Lincoln, makes a country come closer together. But in the case of Kennedy it tore the country apart. Piereson draws a clear line from 1963 to 1968 that saw the country go from the assasination of Kennedy, and the subsequent assasinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, to riots in the streets and on college campuses, to an all-out assault on the Democratic convention. What happened?

Piereson argues that people simply couldn't accept that Oswald was a communist who shot Kennedy because of his position in the Cold War, his actions against Cuba, and his repeated assasination attempts against Castro. Such a reality didn't fit the narrative being constructed.

Most (liberal) people assumed that Dallas was a backward, gun-toting, redneck community, so the assasination must have been the result of a climate of hate against progressives, even though Kennedy was actually more conservative than most had been led to believe. (He favored low taxes, a growing economy and a strong military, for example.)

Plus, because Ruby shot Oswald, there was no trial and thus no discovery. The Warren Commission basically explained what happened without investigating Oswald's motive. There was a deliberate government cover up
to essentially remove all mention of the Cold War from the report. The myth of an idyllic White House, Camelot, was largely a creation of Jackie's. Lyndon Johnson stopped actions against Cuba and upped the war in Viet Nam, which became increasingly unpopular. So people, especially the young, left confused and uninformed, revolted violently.

They were being fed this narrative by the government, the media and academia that the assasination was the product of the culture of hate in Dallas, and by extension Texas and the rest of the South and conservatives in general. It was an effective strategy. Of course, it rendered the country asunder, but that's beside the point. It succeeded in demonizing the opposition so that the progressive movement could move forward.

And it became the default narrative. This is why the Tea Party is labeled as a hate party. When that congresswoman in Colorado was shot in the head, it was the result of a culture of hate. Note how quickly the media jumped on that meme.

This is something that has been going on for 50 years, denial, demonization, denigration, and discrimination. It defines the progressive mind.

One cannot reason with these people. Facts mean nothing to them. They only care about the narrative and pushing the progressive cause.

And all because a communist shot a president, and they can't admit it. Think about that.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting thesis. Thanks. I will point out that Marxist influence among the American Left does go back further than that -- think about the Wobblies in the 1920s.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Did I get it right that this clown also got his "Ph.D." from a diploma mill?

People who actually had to work at real universities for their degrees should be a bit offended.

It seems that all of the "famous" people are not really all that honest with their background. They are snake-oil salespersons.

"Dr." Phil, nationally famous multi-millionaire dispenser of bullsh!t, has some kind of weird Dr. Psy degree that doesn't involve a thesis or apparently much of anything else. He was licensed to practice psychology at one point, but upon a charge by the licensing board in Texas of giving work to a woman/client, possibly for sexual favors, he didn't dispute it and moved to California.

This POS still regularly says that "he needs more data to diagnose the problem" on his show, although he must full know that he can't diagnose crap without a license.

Anyway, those are the people who truly make it in America. "Dr. Phil" also massively sold some diet book, although he is a lard-ass - it doesn't get any funnier. Maybe it's time to revamp the "money means you know everything" paradigm in America today.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Reminds me of the Soviet Union where disagreement with Communist policies was classified as a mental disorder.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
He needs to have his practice removed for this medical ethics violation. The proper term for this act is a "Boundary Violation", where he is using his position as a trusted medical practitioner to promote a political agenda.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I applaud you, Dr. Helen. As far as I'm concerned, Look, for example, at some of the traits of narcissistic personality disorder or psychopathy: A callous disregard for the feelings of others, the reckless disregard for the safety of others, a sense of entitlement, arrogance, a grandiose sense of self-importance ... describes not Tea Party people, but our current political class, and people who publish opinion articles in the New York Times urging cancer patients to just give up and die.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dear Dr Helen,
I recall a psychiatrist who wrote a psychological profile of GW Bush (actually a book) along these lines. A brother (clinical psych0nwas mentioning the shallowness of the analysis to another brother (lawyer-well maybe.Graduated from Cooley Law) The latter had just finished a rant on how GW Bush and the Catholic Church had destroyed the country.Later that day,he informed my father and a collegue (20 K deliveries) between them how the partial birth abortio0n saved women's lives. Kep up the good work I'm buying your latest today
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I suppose people like the Tea Party who don't want their government to spend itself into bankruptcy do seem extreme to Dr. Schneider and his ilk who don't see anything wrong with that. It's quite a stretch to connect Tea Partiers, who want limited government, to Maoists who want unlimited government.

Where does Occupy Wall Street enter into all of this? I would think a movement so extreme that their camps were full of robbery, rape, and murder would pop up on the doctor's radar, particularly when you take all their terror bomb plots into account. By contrast, the Tea Party protests were pretty boring.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Typical liberal crap passing itself off as scholarly study.

I'm surprised the liberal media hasn't tried to link Helen's excellent book to funding from the Koch brothers yet. When it becomes more widely read they probably will.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"A callous disregard for the feelings of others, the reckless disregard for the safety of others, a sense of entitlement, arrogance, a grandiose sense of self-importance."

Tea Party? Um, no.

But it is most definitely an accurate description of President Obama and 99% of NPR's audience.

Beyond that, Dr. Helen, you have to understand the effect of public funding on the mindset of these academic types. To one extent or another the stash of money that ends up funding their comfortable lives is fully or partly subsidized by the coerced sector. Money taken from the productive and given to them by leftist politicians. Their own taxes are simply government money spinning in place and do not add in any significant way to revenue.

To a professor who would be forced to have anxiety about whether or not their guaranteed government subsidized paycheck would continue on ad finitum or not in a world of fiscal responsibility and Constitutional apportionment of public and private sectors, a group like the Tea Party which proposes injecting said anxiety into their world and making them face the prospect of making their living in the dreaded private sector IS crazy and dangerous. They will stop at nothing (literally nothing) to prevent that from happening. And they will attempt to cast the agents of such a change as dangerous extremists at every opportunity. Inflaming their footsoldiers in government and the welfare community with hateful rhetoric is only the current guise of this, and people like this author would, I am absolutely certain, approve of government violence against Tea Partiers simply for believing in limited government.

Romney, for all his faults, got that right with his 47% comment. With people like this author at their head, nearly half the country has decided that they will vote for anxiety-free government funding to the exclusion of all other issues, and damn the consequences to their neighbors, their country, and the world. No Tea Partier is like that!

This author pretends to be a sober intellectual and a diagnostician but in reality he represents the very extremism and hysteria he purports to be against.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey! I listen to NPR from time to time. Well it's more like opposition research, but still, hehe.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doctor, they're trying to de-normalize you. Have you considered trying to de-normalize them back? A scholarly article turning their own views against them? Are not deep-set liberals just as polarized?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
This really struck me the wrong way. This is what I wrote the guy:

Dear Dr. Schneider,

I recently saw the press release for your book and was compelled to write. Comparing the Tea Party to Nazi Germany and Maoist China? Are you insane? My father is a doctor (a real one---a surgeon) and my mother speaks five languages fluently. They fled Stalinist Eastern Europe to leave totalitarianism behind them, in order to settle in a country that held the individual and his rights as sacrosanct.

They are members of the Tea Party and so am I. We believe that the Bill of Rights was not just some "living" piece of paper a hope-and-change statist president could just throw away at his whim. No, the rights enshrined within that document lay out a system in which the government is given certain enumerated, specific spheres of action, and otherwise leaves the individual alone to enjoy his happiness.

I suppose I have a "reckless disregard" for people who think my rights and my capital are up for grabs. And it must be "arrogance" or a "grandiose sense of self-importance" that I want to be left alone to live my life according to my own judgment. Guilty as charged!

Next time, before you write such an uninformed diatribe, perhaps maintaining a semblance of impartiality might be in order.

Sincerely,
Kris
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry about the PhD jab! Bit too much vitriol, perhaps.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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