This column first appeared in the October 22 edition of the Escondido Times-Advocate Newspaper
What is a disease?
Oxford Language defines it as "a particular quality, habit, or disposition regarded as adversely affecting a person or group of people."
We are all familiar with infectious diseases like smallpox, measles or the flu. We all live in fear of cancer, because we still do not know what causes it. And though we have all been exposed to someone with mental illness at some point in our lives, it is still a big mystery to most of us, so we tend to marginalize it.
One of the most pernicious and destructive diseases in America is Pathological Narcissism. We all know people that are selfish and unconcerned about others feelings and generally refer to them as "A-Holes". But Pathological Narcissism is much more serious than just egomania or self-centeredness. Our country is suffering from an epidemic of it and no one is talking about it.
Look at how marriage and birth rates are way down, as people struggle to establish long term business and personal relationships. Many young people are choosing to live with their parents longer, and working from home more. Millennials aren't buying homes or automobiles, they are afraid to invest in the future. Socializing in general has evolved into group activities like pub crawls and large outdoor concerts. The inability to relate to, trust or otherwise empathize with others and a fear of intimacy and commitment are characteristics of narcissism.
Looking at the cultural quagmire recent generations have experienced, we should not be surprised many people are frightened, confused, unhappy and angry. Gender role confusion, broken families, constant international and domestic conflict, extreme economic pressures, and social media's complete destruction of privacy, all add up to systemic insecurity. Experts tell us pathological narcissism is ultimately a defensive effort to subvert extreme insecurity.
Pathological Narcissists are bullies. Whenever their fantasy world is threatened, they resort to insult, name-calling, character assassination and violence to put down challenges to their constructed reality. The kind of behavior that describes gangsters, skinheads, spousal abusers, social justice rioters and unfortunately, a lot of politicians.
Most psychologists consider narcissism as a healthy aspect of human development. We teach our kids to be proud and celebrate themselves, to expect to be special and to never underestimate their potential. But over time, our progressive schools have overwhelmed students with a sense of inflated self admiration, effectively breeding people who have discovered the benefits of demanding "special" treatment. We have institutionalized victimhood and normalized narcissism.
In a noble effort to help people to assimilate and live in harmony, we have inadvertently created a culture of grievance and confrontation. We all walk on thin ice in the workplace, afraid to offend a coworkers sensitivities. All because "victims" can legally demand employers placate them. Workplace lawsuits are a growth industry.
Feeding this metastasizing social disease is the fertilizer of social media. Saturating the digital landscape with vitriol and charging the atmosphere with electricity over any perceived slight contaminates our sense of community.
Author and futurist Marshall McLuhan warned us about the implications of this syndrome in his book, The Medium Is The Message, written in 1967. In that study of the impact of media on society, he noted that people can be "distracted by the obvious and miss the subtle" when they confuse content with delivery. In the absence of Facebook or Twitter his warning had little immediate impact, but now it seems eerily prescient. He was describing the "Cancel Culture".
As society conflates personal relations with digital pseudo-identities, we have been slow to confront the epidemiology of psychological deviance. If we look dispassionately at our modern progressive culture, narcissistic pathology is the new normal. Is it a result of our ubiquitous social media, our educational system or the food we eat? That remains to be learned, but in the meantime, it is important that we recognize and treat it before it overwhelms our nation's equilibrium.
We all know all politicians controdict themselves, and often lie to cover themselves. Joe Biden has a history of crossing the borders of credibility more often than most. Here is a rerun of a piece I wrote in 2015 about how disingenuous Biden was/is about illegal immigration.
Joe Swings and Misses
Joe Biden, our self-proclaimed ‘defender of the working man’ Vice-President, went before the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to patronize the ‘shadow population’ of 11 million illegal immigrants who he claims are, “in my view…already American Citizens.”
Biden has a knack for talking his way into corners. In this instance, quoting Teddy Roosevelt to support his sentiment that illegal border crashers are unfairly treated, unappreciated and discriminated against, was probably the worst decision he has made in, oh, at least a few days!
Citing Teddy Roosevelt’s 1894 ‘True Americanism” speech, Biden quoted TR:
“Americanism is not a question of birthplace or creed or a line of descent. It’s a question of principles, idealism and character”
The intent of Roosevelt’s speech was to point out that Americans have unique traits. Those who wish to be Americans must embrace and practice those traits, ‘principles, idealism and character.’
What Biden failed to mention about that speech might have some bearing on the current national immigration policy controversy. Had our VP truly been interested in and influenced by Teddy’s ideas about immigration, he would have noted Roosevelt also said in the same speech:
“It is urgently necessary to check and regulate our immigration, by much more drastic laws than now exist; and this should be done both to keep out laborers who tend to depress the labor market, and to keep out races which do not assimilate readily with our own, and unworthy individuals of all races - not only criminals, idiots, and paupers, but anarchists. From his own standpoint, it is beyond all question the wise thing for the immigrant to become thoroughly Americanized.
Moreover, from our standpoint, we have a right to demand it. We freely extend the hand of welcome and of good-fellowship to every man, no matter what his creed or birthplace, who comes here honestly intent on becoming a good United States citizen like the rest of us; but we have a right, and it is our duty, to demand that he shall indeed become so and shall not confuse the issues with which we are struggling by introducing among us Old-World quarrels and prejudices.”
Biden compared illegal immigrants to immigrants who legally entered the United States, saying it took “a lot of courage” to pick up and go to America where they don’t speak the language and no one seems to want them. As if the immigrant who sneaks into the country has more courage than the one who waits years in line, undergoes months of administrative documentation, personal and social scrutiny and who must pass strenuous citizenship tests face any less difficult cultural challenges or are any less courageous!
Likewise, Roosevelt railed against hyphenated-Americans who refused to cut loose psychologically from their country of origin.
“I appeal to all our citizens no matter what land their forefathers came from, to keep this ever in mind, and to shun with scorn and contempt the sinister intrigues and mischief makers who would seek to divide them along lines of creed, or birthplace or of national origin… The effort to keep our citizenship divided against itself by the use of the hyphen and along the lines of national origin is certain to breed a spirit of bitterness and prejudice and dislike between great bodies of our citizens.”
Biden is a classic old-school politician who panders to the lowest common denominator, pools the poor, the uneducated and even the illegal together to form another special interest sub-class of voters, pitting them against the ‘ruthless, rich and privileged’ and pretends to give them ‘dignity’ through legislation sponsored by Democrats who, he claims will ‘fight for’ their freebies.
Biden said, “All they want—they just want a decent life for their kids, a chance to contribute to a free society, a chance to put down roots and help build the next great American century. I really believe that.”
Mr. Vice President, their ambition is admirable, but as Teddy made clear, Americanism is defined by playing by the rules!
Mr.Biden, you could care less about what Teddy Roosevelt really felt about immigration, because if you did, you would have denounced the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as the modern-day example of what TR feared would divide and ultimately destroy America.
"The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country…There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else...."
Do you remember the 70's film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? It starred Jack Nicholson and Louis Fletcher and won five academy awards. I loved that movie but at the time I didn't fully appreciate the message writer Ken Kesey was sending.
In recent years, however, it has become crystal clear to me. Let me explain...
The story is about a mental ward occupied by a diverse group of male patients. Each one is afflicted with a different form of mental illness. Though pathetic, we all see a little bit of ourselves in them because we are hopelessly dependent on amorphous institutions to get through every day. The movie symbolizes our modern society, where most of us go about our business to provide for our family, but are constantly subjugated to conflicting information, insensitive rules and irrational regulations.
Nurse Ratched, the Head Nurse, represents the institutionalization of modern Progressive culture: She controls the narrative. She is what I call the FrankenMedia Monster. She manages the patients with passive aggressive intimidation, scorn and guilt.
Twice a day she makes sure everyone takes their tranquilizers and sends them off to La La Land. She rewards good behavior with treats of candy, cigarettes or doctored messages from relatives. But if anyone rebels or misbehaves, she drops the "Cancel Culture" hammer on them with hurtful diatribes or a session of shock therapy. She depresses their autonomy, and reprograms their values. Under her care they are helpless zombies.
Social scientists call her technique of coercive control "Perspecticide". Which means the "murder of rational perspective." If you know anyone involved in an abusive sexual relationship, you know how powerful this form of coercive control and identity manipulation can be.
Then one day, Randall McMurphy shows up.
He is a loudmouth, fun loving rogue who has committed just enough mischief in his life to be labelled a miscreant. During sentencing for a civil crime he chooses the mental hospital over hard time because he thinks it will be a "piece of cake".
He immediately starts getting under the skin of Nurse Ratched. Her abusive manipulation of the patients angers him. He encourages them to "lighten up" and "think for yourselves!" She soon realizes he is a threat to the order of the ward and is frustrated when her usual control tactics don't seem to work.
Here is what I recently came to understand about the film: Just as McMurphy was a disruptor, so is Donald Trump. Like McMurphy, he won't accept Washington's incompetency. He rejects the ineptitude of the Beltway. He resents how the cabal of academia, the media and transnational corporations use coercive Fake News to control the emotions of all Americans.
The mental ward is symbolic of what I call the FrankenMedia Cabal. For decades, a deceitful coalition of academia, entertainment and union affiliations has filtered every aspect of our information experience. Especially today, through the ubiquitous controls of social media, we only see what Nurse FrankenMedia wants us to see.
When faced with a loss of control, she lashes out and uses intimidation and fear of shock therapy and restrictions to manipulate the emotions of her patients. Nurse FrankenMedia uses perspecticide to control every aspect of her patient's existence.
In the movie, Randall McMurphy, the Disruptor, inspires the patients to steal the hospital bus and go on a wild fishing trip. After a drunken night of revelry in Nurse Ratched's absence, McMurphy is deemed responsible. The hospital administrators, the Deep State, want to neutralize him. They want their control back. So they have him lobotomized.
There was one character in the ward who silently watched the conflict. He never spoke a word. But he noticed that McMurphy made the sick people happy. He was outraged when the officials destroyed the mind of his friend. Unable to watch his friend live in such a vegetative state, he smothers McMurphy with a pillow. Screaming in anguish, he throws a wash basin through a glass security door and escapes to freedom.
Watching this film in a theatre in 1975, the audience leapt to their feet and cheered! Most Americans relate to the 6' 9" tall Indian "Chief". He represents the Silent Majority. Like him, people that value fairness, empathy and human justice have a hero now, and we can't stand by quietly and let the Deep State lobotomize him.