Over the past few weeks we’ve been plunged into the worst acid trip ever. The world has melted into some kind of surreal Dali painting throbbing with impossible unimaginable images and actions as a purple haze coats everything. Between the never-conceding always stealing election and the sky rocketing #COVID19 pandemic numbers the world has lost any consistency or normalcy. It’s as if we’ve all been plunged into some Trumpian nightmare where the only things the federal government can focus on are Trump’s needs and wants and not on reality as it is experienced by the rest of us.
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Given that the majority of recent posts on Ye Olde Blogge have addressed the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s refusal to exit his fantasy where he won Election 2020 by a landslide; we all sing the praises of his farts; and we fight each other to praise his brilliance, we’ll focus this post on the bizarre world where adding 1 million infections a week as if it were completely acceptable, having over a thousand real live Americans die per day as if it just didn’t matter, and hearing news reports of overwhelmed doctors, nurses, and hospitals as if they were happening to some other unfortunate country that needed to do like we do in the US of A only to wake up and realize that it is all happening here in our backyard to us and that we have become the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid, we’ll focus on the psychological factors that lead people to deny the #COVID19 pandemic to the extent that their last words are professing the impossibility of dying of a hoax. We’re going to look at the psychological causes of 72 million+ real live maybe soon to die Americans thinking that #COVID19 is just a hoax designed to deny the Ol’ Pussy Grabber his rightful place in America’s history as our favoritest pred’nit, his landslide victory, and a second term.
Lest there is a single reader out there who hasn’t seen the stories, let’s recap just a touch. If you are already familiar with these ass scratching tales, please feel free to skip ahead.
- Some COVID-positive patients don’t believe virus is real, even as they’re dying, SD nurse says she tries to reason with dying patients who don’t believe they have COVID-19, asking if they want to talk to family, but often, they refuse. She says that even after positive test results, some people don’t believe they have the coronavirus, saying it’s influenza, pneumonia or even lung cancer instead. Crazy, right?
- Doctors say some COVID-19 patients don’t believe virus is real while hospitalized with it “It makes me feel first of all challenged, I have to be creative in my communication, I have to remember to continue with a nonjudgmental compassionate listening stance and try not to enlist more hostility and resistance and at the same time I’m thinking, wow I’d really like to be able to persuade this person because if not, we’re just going to get more infections, more suffering, more death and more overwhelming of this hospital system,” Dr. Berggren said.
- Their Patients Have COVID-19 and Still Think It’s a Hoax While many skeptics believe in the virus once they are diagnosed, others double-down. About a month ago, she politely asked a 70-year-old man with COVID-19 who had a fever and diarrhea to cover his mouth. He pointed to the TV, where he was watching Fox, and told her “the news says these masks don’t work,” before coughing in her face.
No post on the phenomenon of #COVID19 hoaxers dying of #COVID19 and still maintaining that it is a hoax would be complete without the Twitter thread from the nurse who started it all, Jodi Doering.
There’s a corollary to the hoaxers dying of #COVID19, and that is their governors watching them suffer and die and still doing nothing to stop it. Here’s an illuminating comparison of Gov. Noem of South Dakota whose state has seen run away infections making it the place with the most in the world and Gov. of Scott whose state has one of the lowest per capita infection rates from NPR. Did I mention that they are both Repubes?
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We know that cognitive dissonance can maintain even the most preposterous views in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence as long as those view have strong social supported. But, the social support is strong enough to maintain the hoaxer view even as I lay dying? Even as thousands of constituents sicken and die miserable deaths and you have public health professionals telling you it is preventable? Aren’t we all supposed to have some survival instinct that should kick in and keep us from succumbing to that voodoo magic shit? Could there be some other factor involved?
We have to go all the way back to the wildly misunderstood Sigmund Freud and his 1920’s death drive to find much to support a self-destructive instinct. Now before we all saddle up our high rocking horses and turn up our noses at Sigmund Penis Envy Freud let’s get a couple of things straight.
- Freud is more than just Oedipus complex and penis envy. A lot more. And, his thoughts on penis envy were more of an acknowledgement of women’s suppression in Victorian Europe than he’s given credit for. He’s describing the way women feel in the face of limited opportunities and open suppression in a patriarchy.
- While Freud’s theorizing and practice were based on his experience as a neurologist and understanding of medical practice at the time, they were still rather like the geocentric model of the solar system. He got the occasional thing right but really missed the big picture.
- Like it or not, Freud has burrowed his way into our deep culture and we all conceive of our psychic functioning using many of his ideas and terms.
Freud and the Death Drive
Freud developed his ideas about death drive in the 1920’s in reaction to the horrific death and destruction of World War I. Much like our current situation with #COVID19, Freud was struggling to explain how people who he thought were driven by the pleasure principle, meaning our drive towards survival, pleasure, and reproduction, would engage in such wanton destruction as witnessed not only during the Great War, but in the survivors who relive the trauma. What we think of now as PTSD. He reasoned that there had to be some other drive steering them towards death.
Freud was not alone in these thoughts. Sabina Spielrein had proposed a drive towards death and destruction in 1912. Such a drive would be expressed through aggression, repetition compulsion, and self-destructiveness. It explained the tendency for people to behave in ways that were harmful, especially to the physical world but that would also ensure that the individual would die which was necessary for the group to survive.
The individual had to fight for life, but at a certain point give up the fight and expire in order for the larger group to survive.
MAGA and the Death Drive
Is that what we’re seeing among the rank and vile MAGAs and Repube elected officials? It is clear that these people are enraged. They are angry and especially about #COVID19 restrictions. They’ve invested heavily in the hoax theory of #COVID19. They have ample social support for it up to and including Repube politicians urging older Americans to just hurry up an die because profits are people too, my friend.
Could it be that the rank and vile MAGA Trump supporter has grown increasingly destructive and self-destructive? Is it part of the attraction that MAGA holds for them? We know that social connection correlates with longer happier lives. We know that an increasing number of Americans report they they are not close to anyone. It’s up to almost 20% of Americans, which is kind of alarming. And, we know that the socially disconnected are far more likely to like the Ol’ Pussy Grabber than people who are socially connected.
Could the connection that Trump has made with his base be based on this angry death drive aggression destructive urge and that #COVID19 has given them the perfect vehicle to act it all out with? The Ol’ Pussy Grabber condemning the losers and suckers who support him to death and misery because (a) he can and (b) they are losers and suckers and, therefore, deserve it. And, his supporters being angry enough to be driven to nihilistic levels of self-destructive behavior and sensing Trump’s disdain for them hoping to please him by dying?
All of that sounds crazy, but no more crazy than #COVID19 deniers denying #COVID19 even as it kills them. Does it explain the reasons Trump ignored #COVID19 to begin with thus all but ruining his chances of winning the election? Does it explain why the rank and vile are planning on boycotting the Georgia senate runoff elections? Does it explain the decreasing life expectancy of middle aged rural white folks? There’s a lot of inexplicable cutting off of your face to despite your nose going on in Trumplandia these days.
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“Homosexual Death Drive at Supernormal 2013” by simonm1965 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Categories: Cognitive Psychology
Intelligent life.. I thought I might be alone for a moment. I found your piece while researching the “Destructive properties of misinformation via political memes “. Thank you for the article. I need all the encouragement I can muster, after the past 4 years.
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We welcome all signs of intelligent life here! Misinformation and disinformation both have their destructive effects. Sometimes I fear that the worst effect that political memes have is the feeling of accomplishment by those who post them. They feel like they’ve made a statement, made their voices heard, contributed to the political discourse, but all they’ve really done is echoed back to people already in agreement a slogan friendly well-received slogan.
Any more, I’m feeling like the real solution is to encourage high-information voting.
I’m remembering the famous words of Steve Bannon that the whole point was to “burn it all down.” That fits right in. Then there is the End Times obsession of the religious Right. And the Qanon talk of “The Storm”. I’m actually a bit surprised we haven’t seen IS style suicide bombers, but the militia types thinking they can go up against the biggest military on the planet and win is pretty close to that way of thinking.
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You’ve seen that nihilistic theme of Steve Bannon throughout the Trump era. There is a theme in American politics that hates the bureaucratic state. It occurs on both the left and right. There is a suspicion that the bureaucratic state simply perpetuates itself and is otherwise useless. I just don’t know what the burn-it-all-down types think is going to happen after it all burns. We still live in a world with ruthless adversaries that will hurt us in whatever way they can if we are not able to defend ourselves. We’ve lost so much ground under Trump that there is no making it up. China has positioned itself well in Africa and Asia to expand its influence and secure sources of raw materials and trade partners, for example. Trump has sped that process up for them by a decade. If they had the military to challenge us more directly, they would be.
Part of the problems is the American movie genre of the renegade lone wolf fight the system anti-hero that sees what no one else does and can only save the day by breaking all the rules and incredible amounts of violence. Think Die Hard. When reality is, those things don’t happen that way. The militia guys think that they’re going to be John McClane. It is also probably explains their shyness to really engage, although there have been some significant exceptions. Those exceptions have all been handled by law enforcement either local or FBI proving the point.
The scariest thing to me is the amount of anger that has been pent up in the first-time voter or seldom voter that Trump tapped into and stoked. Those people are social isolates and not engaged normally. To get them to vote, you’ve got to significantly increase their emotional motivation. Luckily, it is the rare politician that can do that. And, luckily, the Dems were able to counter with their own appeals to our own reluctant voters to win out. But the roughly ten million vote increase that Trump had over 2016 were those first time voters.
The real problem for Dems is that many more reliable Republican voters looked at this election and reacted with, I’ll vote for Biden, but I won’t vote Dem down ballot. I don’t want an expanded Supreme Court or defunded police or crazy spending on the Green New Deal. They wanted to check a Dem president with a Republican Congress. I don’t think Dems fully appreciate the significance of that phenomenon yet. It does not bode well for 2022 unless Biden can demonstrate that he can make things better for individual families with a larger Dem majority in Congress.
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Yep, for 2022 Biden has got to make differences people can actually see and feel – jobs, jobs, jobs – Their bills really getting paid and on time. Change isn’t so scary in a warm home with a full belly and not haunted by The Ghost Of Doctor Visit Past. Taxes are easier to pay when you feel as if you’re getting you money’s worth, not supporting some bunch of “takers”. And the GOP wil put every hurdle they can think of in his way to doing that.
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I really like Biden’s emphasis on pulling together to fight #COVID19 and all of our other problems. The GOP will give him hell. Trump will cause chaos and confusion whenever and wherever and as frequently as he possibly can, but I think the message will resonate, especially as the pandemic comes more under control.
If they can get some kind of relief package passed, it might could be a pretty good start for #BidenHarris. Hopefully, the Dems will be able to keep it together enough to make some gains in Election 2022. But, that maybe a little pie-in-the-sky.
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It is important to remember that Trump’s purported success with the economy was really just the economy continuing the same trends at the same rate as during the painfully slow recovery under Obama from 2010 (slowed significantly by GOP refusal to consider an infrastructure bill). People can easily forget who made things better when the opposition complains that they are not better enough.
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One more thing:
One of the biggest tasks that the military has is to prepare its soldiers to be in combat, to have real live people shooting real live ammunition at them wanting to make them real dead. It’s terrifying. At Gettysburg, rebel muskets were found with up to nine shots rammed into them. The soldiers never fired; they only loaded. On the Eastern Front during WWII, the Germans calculated that if they had a one to nine ratio of soldiers, they could hold their lines. Because their troops performed better under live fire conditions due to training and experience. One of the things that makes our military so good is that we’re one of the few that have a large number of troops and officers to have seen action in the field. When was the last time the Chinese or Russians actually had an opposing military shooting at them? When did they use their weapons systems in real field conditions? It makes a big difference.
Even though many in the militia are ex-military and have been stationed in combat zones, those skills and experience degrade over time. And, they know what they could be up against in the national guard units. That’s why they’re shy about engaging in any real violence.
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And, those current generation of combat veterans have also seen up close what happens to a country where everybody has their private militia and the place is awash in AK-47s and such.
Whether we like it or not, one of the critical measures of a government is the degree to which it maintains a monopoly on lethal force. This was understood even in the Old West (the real one, not the movie version). In Doge City, when the Earp brothers were the cops, the cowboys coming off the cattle drives checked their guns at the edge of town. The rule was the same in Deadwood and lots of other towns.
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One of the most influential books I ever read was Steven Pinker’s seminal, “Angels of our Better Nature,” on the decline in violence in our societies. One of the reasons he cites for Europe’s low murder rate and America’s high rate is that European government confiscated and closely regulated weapons among its citizenry in the 18th and 19th centuries. The US never did anything even remotely similar. As guns became more widely available, European governments regulated them. I don’t mean to reinforce the lie that gun rights advocates promote, though, that NAZI Germany confiscated guns in the run up to WWII. They didn’t. The German citizens and Jews chose not to use them until it was too late. In the Warsaw Ghetto there was armed resistance, but it was no match for the Wehrmacht and Gestapo. Something the play soldiers of the militias should pay attention to. After all, many of those resistance fighters had experience in WWI.
Anywho, when the central government can demonstrate a vested interest in limiting a right given to its citizens like limiting hate speech or congregating or types of weapons available, it should do so for the safety and well-being of the overall population.
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At every level, one of the core functions of government is the defining and tending of The Commons. That includes regulating and, if need be, policing behavior that threatens that Commons, such as refusing to abide by Public health measures to combat a pandemic, or private exploitation of Commons resources.
It is interesting in that regard to note that some (most? all?) of the original 13 states are titled “Commonwealth of ….”, reflecting the Enlightenment thinking of the purposes of government.
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