Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A mentally unhealthy blog

The threads of Catallaxy, which have become a self selecting support group for the perpetually angry conservative, culture warrior Right, have long made me suspect that many who cyber-live there have, at least, actual personality defects, if not more serious mental health issues.

Yesterday, one of their regulars spoke seriously about feeling depressed and angry to such an extent that he recognises he has a problem, but does not know how to address it.  (He is a teacher, and doesn't trust antidepressants, based on how he has seen them affect children.)

Well, the responses did indeed surprise me, to the extent that so many "regulars" did volunteer that  they have had serious issues with depression - with several mentions of suicidal thoughts and bouts on antidepressants.  (Most of whom indicate they have recovered, of course, although some made it clear it was a continuing battle to some extent.   One of the more unpleasant regulars said he had more or less been born depressed - I can believe that, and would add in "angry" - and was fanatical about exercise as a way of battling it.)

Now I am not wanting to mock those who have bouts of depression, however caused, and of course there be would abundant numbers of people on the Left who have suffered from it as well.

But it does strike me that living your mental life in a perpetually angry Right wing echo chamber, and one which is undoubtedly in denial on several major culture war issues (climate change, and that the younger generation accepts changing marriage to include gay relationships, to give the two clearest examples), is actually not a mentally healthy place to be in the long run, if you are inclined towards depression.

The relief they may feel that "I'm not the only one who thinks like this" has to be off set by the fact that it encourages them to continue denying reality, and thus leading to frustration that, if so many can (apparently) agree with them in this corner of cyberspace, what is wrong with the rest of society?   The site reinforces their sense of anger, ultimately, but based in large part on a denial of reality.

Thus I say that Sinclair Davidson's blog is not only a corrosive one for civil political discussion, it's probably mentally unhelpful for its own community, in the long run.   

Update:  just to show I am not making up the startling outpouring of admissions of past depressive illnesses, here's what the recent depression sufferer has noted today:


Jason Soon said...

I think you'd find similar issues on Larvatory Prat.

I must say without wanting to boast, but as someone who has virtually never been depressed I wonder if I'm missing a gene or something. I consider myself a happy pessimist

Steve said...

Well, yes: LP was the Left wing equivalent echo chamber, intolerant of dissent too, but less sweary. (Their approach was just to be snootily dismissive.) It did cross my mind as I wrote this post that many of them gave the impression of rarely being happy, too.

I have often felt that those on the Left are more likely to be there because of dissatisfaction with the world, perhaps their upbringing, and hence still more prone to pessimism and unhappiness than those on the moderate Right. (You do get the odd champagne socialist, though.)

But, as I say, it has occurred to me recently that the level of anger in the populist Right is probably now being spurred on by the failure of the their views to be taken seriously by (most) politicians and commentators. They probably feel some false hope in the election of Trump, but of course the rest of the world views him as the pure ego driven opportunist that he is who is not to be taken seriously.