BioPsych

The Dopamine of Politics: Trump Rallies


Many people are asking why the Ol’ Pussy Grabber holds superspreader events and why people attend them? After all, he is putting everyone involved at risk for a nasty covfefevirus infection, and attendees are taking their life into their hands when they do. So, what’s the motivation? Why do they do it? What could possibly overcome these life threatening risks?

Before we get to the main reason, we should note that one reason the Ol’ Pussy Grabber holds his rallies is quite practical. He is so impoverished that he cannot afford advertising and must rely on the free press that carpet bombing the country with his free-associating rants of grievance and self-indulgence garners.

The main reason is that both the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and MAGAs feel compelled to host them and attend them, respectively. The compulsion is caused by the dopamine-based reward system and the actual reward for doing so, the endogenous opioid-based liking system. For more on these powerful brain systems, see the blog post, The Dopamine of Politics: The Reward and Liking Systems.

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Summary of the Reward and Liking Systems

The Reward and Liking Systems
The Dopamine of Politics: The Reward and Liking Systems

We all know that reinforcement and punishment of behavior changes the likelihood of that behavior occurring because we all remember our Psych 101 course, seeing it in popular media, and reading Ye Olde Blogge. But, we’re not likely to know how the system works, and it turns out it is both interesting and useful to know.

In the nuttiest of shells — which, BTW, rules out peanuts because not a nut and walnuts because I don’t like them even though they resemble a brain in the skull — the reward system compels behavior that is likely to result in a reward, well, duh, and the liking system delivers the reward of an naturally occurring opioid making it as addicting as heroin and other opioids.

Trump Rallies

Trump’s Motivation

It turns out that dopamine and opioids are so powerful of a one-two reinforcing punch that we pretty quickly associate the events that are occurring just before the reward gets there so we can anticipate the reward. Anticipation of the reward is in itself a pleasurable reward. If the reward is larger than anticipated, then our dopamine neurons are really really excited and want more more more! If the reward is smaller, then inhibited and disappointment ensues.

We all know that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber is a narcissist and NEEDS the adulation of others either real or imagined. He needs to be adored. To put it in terms of the reward and liking systems: When the crowds as this rallies are cheering and chanting, he is basking in a flood of opioids. It is pleasurable to him. He is euphoric.

He has quickly figured out that rallies usually have people adoring him. He has figured out which lines trigger the applause, the cheers, and the chants and he uses them to deliver his regime of opiates just like a heroin addict mainlines black tar.

Just watch some of these clips from some of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s most recent rallies in which the crowd chants, “Lock her up,” about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, and listen for his response. He kind of mumbles, “Lock her…” as if he is just understanding what they’re saying and then kind of laughs and says, “Lock ’em all up.” It’s that laugh that tells you the opioids have been delivered. He gets a kick out of it.

The Ol’ Pussy Grabber is panicked. He is losing. He’s standing at the edge of the abyss. If he loses, terrible things happen. It is the ultimate narcissistic wound. It is worse than going to prison — which he could never accept as possible. He can cognitively acknowledge the possibility, but he knows he can beat the rap and an exception will be made for him. No, he fears the soul crushing amorphous nameless results of losing on the biggest stage the world has ever seen. It will be the mother of all narcissistic wounds.

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To salve those wounds, to ease the pain of the prospect of losing, he seeks the greatest pleasure he has ever known: standing before a cheering adoring crowd.

His reward system compels him against all odds, sense, and reason to hold these superspreader events. He can no more resist the siren call of the rally than the OCD cleaner can resist cleaning for twelve hours a day. The compulsion is the same. When the anxiety of losing comes up, he must relieve it, so he holds a rally. He rides the wave opioid euphoria, but feels the compulsion to do another because dopamine!

Dopamine drives him to the rally, but he stays for the opiates.

MAGAs Motivation

Way back in June, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber held the first, maybe, superspreader event of the 2020 campaign. And, other than killing Herman Cain, it is was a flop. Poorly attended. Listless crowd. Furious Trump.

The superspreader event flopped for several reasons. Tik-Tok and K-pop fans claimed tickets but didn’t attend and fear of #COVID19 which was raging unchecked in the nation and began spiking in Tulsa that week.

The prospects of getting his frequent hits of opiates and stimulating his reward circuit were looking pretty dim. If he had to rely on calling in to Fox News shows, he probably was not going to make it through the campaign. Ergo presto sum cum loud, he upped his war on mask wearing, claimed the end of the pandemic was in sight, and that it wasn’t as serious as claimed. This strategy served to help open the economy, get children returned to schools, and put butts in the seats at his superspreader events.

These superspreader events are a lot like attending a sporting event or concert. There’s a crowd and they are packed closely together. The closeness serves three purposes: (1) it helps spread the covfefevirus more efficiently and effectively; (2) it makes the size of the crowd look bigger in pictures; and (3) it helps fuel the excitement felt by the attendees.

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Few things match the thrill of sitting in a packed stadium or auditorium and cheering for the home team! Participating in events helps us feel connected to the larger community and solidifies our identity as belonging to the ingroup or it crowd. In other words, it reinforces our identity, beliefs, and membership in a group. And, reinforcement means dopamine. They are pursuing the reward that belonging to a ingroup brings.

Cheering and chanting deliver the opiates. You begin to lose your individual identity and take on that of the mob. It is powerful. It is intoxicating. It sweeps you away into a timeless eternal moment where nothing else matters and everything seems possible.

MAGAs are compelled to attend a superspreader event because of dopamine. They are seeking rewards for their truly deplorable behavior. Deep down inside, they know it is deplorable and they are ashamed. Rather than face their despicable actions, they engage in cognitive dissonance — the greater the disparity between belief and behavior, the more cognitive dissonance is needed, and the stronger the commitment to the erroneous belief or behavior. MAGAs need their behavior to be rewarded, so they got to these superspreader events. Once there, they experience the euphoria of the event and look for another to attend.

These superspreader events are the embodiment of every psychological force that makes the Ol’ Pussy Grabber possible: cognitive dissonance, social identity, groupthink, gaslighting, motivated reasoning, stigma reversal and moral worth, rationalizing emotional decisions, everyday reasoning, everyday sadism, in short the topics of just about every blog post over the past four years.

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This insidious cycle of compelled behavior based in the dopamine-fueled reward system and pleasure in participating based in the opioid-fueled liking system keeps the Ol’ Pussy Grabber holding his superspreader events, and MAGAs attending. That these two systems can overcome the life threatening risk of contracting the covfefevirus shows you just how powerful they are.

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Image Attribution

The image is from Michael Candelor’s Flickr account. It is licensed as Attribution 2.0 Generic.

9 replies »

  1. All of which helps explain Trump’s relatively subdued behavior and (somewhat) improved executive functioning in Debate 2. There was external discipline in the form of the 2 minute mike-off periods, and, probably more important, the audience was silent. He couldn’t get high off the audience reactions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!
      I think Trump is in a really difficult place. I think he is still suffering from #COVID19. He is trying to manage his instinct to lash out and destroy everything around him. I’m sure he has a neurodegenerative disease with underlying vascular components. The narcissistic injuries are coming faster than he can cope with them.

      His only hope are those hits of dopamine and endorphins, really. He needs the adoration of the rally. And, after awhile the liking system is sated and it is all empty gesture. Going through the motions driven by dopamine. I’ve heard many pundits say that there are many times when it sounds like he is just going through the motions and his heart isn’t in it.

      I think he is skating close to the edge of collapse. We’ll see if he makes it nine more days.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • I got to thinking about Trump’s rally comment, “COVID, COVID, COVID, that’s all you hear. Wait, you’ll see, on November 4th you won’t hear it any more.” It explains so much of his response to the pandemic. The virus is a chronic and deep narcissistic wound because is upstages him, steals the spotlight and the headlines. “COVID, COVID, COVID” crowds out “TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP”. He is compelled to downplay it, wish it away, and denigrate or attempt to dominate it’s human faces, especially Dr. Fauci, the CDC, the FDA, the WHO, and Science in general. He is in a relationship with it that he can’t win and can’t control. His response, or non-response to the wildfires and hurricanes is similar. He just can’t talk about them or those who suffer from them. The same goes for his denial of Climate Change. It is not about the fossil fuel industries or jobs. It is the narcissistic wound of a thing he can’t win against, and which he does not understand. Denial is his only refuge.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy Bob!
        I’m afraid your right about the long list of natural phenomena that constitute a narcissistic wound for Trump and his reason for denying their severity. But, unlike say the migrant caravans and Ebola carrying terrorists, we will continue hearing a lot about #COVID19 after 4 November. It is just another example of his projection of his practices onto the world.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 1 person

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