This is all I could think when I saw this rather troubling article in The Economist titled “America’s election has led to a boomlet for therapists”:
IT SEEMS fitting that after an election that many believe went to the dogs, quite a few Americans are seeking comfort from canines. Groups that offer therapy hounds, which are known to reduce stress and anxiety, have seen more demand for their furry, wet-nosed services in recent weeks. “This nation needs to have some hard conversations,” says Rachel McPherson of the Good Dog Foundation, a New York city non-profit. “People open up and feel more secure when there’s a dog in the room.”
Around the country therapists say anxious conversations about politics have become inevitable. “I’ve never had an election like this,” says Joe Kort, a psychotherapist in Michigan. Some of his clients are apparently showing signs of post-traumatic stress. Many have decided to skip the usual turkey meal if it means avoiding a confrontation with a gloating uncle. Awkwardly, avoidance is not an option for some of his trickiest customers: married couples who pulled levers for rival candidates. “I have clients who say ‘I don’t know if I can stay married to someone who would vote for a misogynist, a xenophobe’. I try to get them to stop trying to change each other’s minds, to just hear each other.”
Therapists often pride themselves on their neutrality, but demography tells another story. Most are concentrated in left-leaning cities on the coasts, and more than two-thirds are women. Many will privately allow that they too have been grieving since the election. “Trump is unleashing the worse angels of our nature,” says William Doherty, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota. His manifesto against the rise of the bullying tactics of “Trumpism” has collected over 3,500 signatures from fellow therapists.
We all know that the people seeing these therapists are mainly left-leaning types who probably tend to be less happy in general. According to some research, liberals are less happy in general than conservatives, and have a harder time when politics don’t go their way:
In 2004, 44 percent of respondents who said they were “conservative” or “very conservative” said they were “very happy,” versus just 25 percent of people who called themselves “liberal” or “very liberal.” (Note that this comparison uses unweighted data — when the data are weighted, the gap is 46 percent to 28 percent.)
Adults on the political right are only half as likely as those on the left to say, “At times, I think I am no good at all.” They are also less likely to say they are dissatisfied with themselves, that they are inclined to feel like a failure, or to be pessimistic about their futures.
It doesn’t matter who holds political power. The happiness gap between conservatives and liberals has persisted for at least 30 years. Indeed, the difference was greater some years under Bill Clinton than it was under George W. Bush. Democrats may very well win the presidency in 2008, and no doubt many liberals will enjoy seeing conservatives grieving out about that — but the data say that conservatives will still be happier people than liberals.
If liberals are more emotionally troubled than conservatives, then maybe these dippy therapists like William Doherty and the other 3500 enablers in the article at The Economist are exacerbating liberals’ depression and other emotional issues by writing or signing “a manifesto against the rise of the bullying tactics of ‘Trumpism.'” Instead of blaming Trump for all their problems, maybe they should model better coping skills.
How about helping their clients and others to understand that in politics as in life, things don’t always go your way and one needs to learn better coping skills, or to learn more about how the other half of the population in the US live in more nonjudgmental ways. Seriously, it seems that some of the therapists need a therapist of their own.