Saturday, March 10, 2018

One Way To Prevent Another Trump: Creating A Culture In Which People With Emotional Problems Receive Help


We've often looked at stats that show the shocking relationship between the counties that voted most heavily for trip and the counties that are most heavily addicted to prescription drugs. i keep wishing there was a way to measure the average IQs of Trump counties as compared to anti-Trump counties. I know that isn't possible but... this week Tom Jacobs did fascinating post for Pacific Standard you may have missed: Regions With More Neurotic People Supported Trump And Brexit.
The factors that drove support Donald Trump in the United States and Brexit in the United Kingdom have been well-parsed by this point: racial resentment, the fear of demographic change, economic hardship, the pain of feeling left behind in a globalized economy.

But new research reveals another element that contributed to those anti-establishment votes: neuroticism.

In both nations, "regions high in neuroticism were more likely to vote in the populist direction," reports a research team led by Martin Obschonka, a psychologist at Australia's Queensland University of Technology.

The finding is "consistent with the idea that populist campaigns played on the fears of the voters," the researchers write. After all, they note, "campaigns that draw on fear should be particularly compelling to people already prone to being anxious."

Obschonka and his colleagues examined the intersection of personality and poll results on the county level in the U.S., and the "local authority district" level in England, Wales, and Scotland. (Data was not available for Northern Ireland.)

Personality data was collected using two large Internet surveys—one of which was completed by 3.1 million Americans from 2,082 counties, while the other featured responses from 417,217 Brits.]

Using participants' responses to statements measuring various personality traits, the researchers noted each region's average level of neuroticism, as well as the "subfacets" of anxiety and depression. This data was compared with the percentage of voters who supported Trump or Brexit-- and, in the U.S., the extent to which Trump gained support over 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

"Rural areas in the east of England, and the industrialized centers, have higher neurotic traits, and higher Brexit votes," the researchers report. In the U.S., "Trump gains (over Romney's level of support) and higher neurotic traits overlap. The 'rust belt' shows a concentration of both neuroticism and Trump gains."

The researchers then further analyzed the data, taking into account a number of things that could influence voting in a given region, including economic hardship, traditional political attitudes, average levels of education, and "the regions' industrial heritage."

The impact of neuroticism largely persisted after controlling for those factors, "particularly in the U.S," they report in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

"We observed stronger effects of neurotic traits when examining Trump gains (from Romney, compared to the simple share of Brexit and Trump votes," they write. This finding, they add, "underscores our initial assumption" that neurotic people were more receptive to Trump's assertions that the nation was falling apart.

It would be unfair and unhelpful if Trump and Brexit opponents used these findings to dismiss voters on the other side as mentally ill. Neuroticism is not a medical condition, but rather a personality trait. Living in a perpetual state of anxiety isn't fun, and it's easy to see how it would make you more vulnerable to being manipulated by fear-based political campaigns.

Perhaps one way to prevent another Trump is creating a culture in which people who suffer from emotional problems feel free to seek, and are able to receive, the help they need.

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At 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seek help? RIIIIIIIGHT! This nation is filled with those who help themselves without help from anyone. Only the weak seek help, and we're all USA Strong!

Besides, Reagan pretty much did away with mental help facilities for those who need them most. There is no money for replacements.

At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

One has to look backward and view this in a preventive fashion as well as look forward to provide support for those who already have mental health problems. It is about offering the best proactive intervention and investing the money to provide it. It is about setting priorities in our outlook for the future of our country and its people and in changing how we spend our money. It is about who we really want to be as a people.

A good place to start is life's beginnings. Bringing unwanted children into the world is surely not a good way for their lives to begin. Access to birth control and abortion would be important. Teenagers are gonna have sex no matter what anyone may say and ramping up efforts to prevent teen pregnancies would be beneficial. Those who decide being a parent is not right for them at the time should be able to do what they think is best. Evangelicals be damned - they have shown themselves to be over-the-top hypocrites, anyway. (Mulligan, anyone?)

Then, better maternal leave and early childhood education programs would help to counter some of the effects of problematic home environments. Next up, better teacher training and pay to attract the best, like in Finland, and great schools with small classes and services so students get the support they need. Nation wide efforts to equalize educational services between the rich and the poor would be critical. Services could include social skills groups and counseling as well as implementation of school wide programs such as DASA (Dignity for All Students Act) in NY, which provides ongoing education about tolerance and individual differences. There are some excellent anti-bullying programs out there.

Then there is health insurance. Physical health and mental health are connected. Health services are costly. Medicare for all, anyone?

All of the above requires a long-term approach for society to reap the benefits. A generation, perhaps. But investment in our future would be worth it.

As far as mental health services, only those who want help would seek it. I doubt many of Trump's supporters would view themselves as having mental health problems. Perhaps they would not be who they are had their early childhood and school experiences been different.

Ah, I am dreaming, aren't I?

At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both fine comments above.

Those who this author feels should be able to seek and find "help" won't seek because they don't "think" they need any. And the only ones who will FIND any are those who are vastly wealthy enough to pay for it.

I think Hone has nicely dissected some of the societal effects and some causes. But I think it all boils down to economics. For those who lack education and skills AND, most of all, opportunities, they have been forgotten and discarded by society. For some who are lucky, they still need 2 incomes to buy the lifestyle they feel they deserve, therefore, their kids are left to their own devices (since society really doesn't give a shit until the kids commit crimes, discover drugs and/or get pregnant), thus closing the circle in a resonant cycle.

For pretty much everyone alive today in this shithole society, there can be no fix. For pretty much everyone to be born into this shithole society, therefore, there can be no hope for anything better.

As our political lesser evilism guarantees a continued spiraling down to an eventual/imminent augering, society's resonant cycle guarantees a continued spiraling down as well. We can't improve the latter without first fixing the former. Yet we steadfastly refuse to improve the former.

At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

trump came from the democraps' refusals to remedy any evil done before.
Based on polling, it is certain that 40% of americans require some form of help. We've ignored maleducation, ignorance, stupidity, religious delusion, hate and insanity for no less than 50 years. And now we have 125 million pathetic souls that are so far gone that they probably can't be helped.

As a symptom and result, we also have a one-party dictatorship of/by/for money. And THEY certainly aren't going to help anyone.

the next trump is inevitable because this one won't be remedied by the lesser evil party, as is their duty to the money who pays them.

lather, rinse, repeat. THAT is the democraps' mission and duty to their betters.


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