Stuck in Adolescence

I was thinking about the hypothesis that I often state on this blog that I feel that many right-wingers are stuck in their adolescent stage of development. That, as you may recall, was an awful stage of development that most men were happy to leave behind and forget. It was a time of extreme narcissism and belligerence, with machismo blocking out rational thinking. I’m lucky I survived mine.

So I Googled the phrase, stuck in adolescence, and to my surprise, the subject and the connection with the right-wing was made by…wait for it… a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Bingo! The psychotherapist, Peter Michaelson,  penned a piece he titled, Are Right-Wingers Simply Stuck in Adolescence?  Michaelson asked: Where does their extreme dislike of government come from? He notes that conservatives are, psychologically speaking, adolescents or teenagers going through stage five of the psychosocial stages of development. It’s a stage of rebellion against parental authority.

Michaelson cites developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst Eric Erikson’s 8 stages of psychosocial development and suggests that these anti-government right-wingers are stuck in stage 5: psychosocial development. The rules imposed by the parents, school [and the police] conflict with a teen’s need to become independent.

Michaelson says:

Conservatives are rebelling against the federal government on the basis of the role it plays in their psyche. Just like mommy and daddy, that big bad federal government tells them what they can and can’t do. Nothing symbolizes parents like the federal government. Like parents, the government represents power over us. Teenagers experience, at least in part, parental power as oppressive, the same way that adults with a teenage mentality can feel about their government. The Tea Party rebellion is a teenage rebellion.

Well, well, we seem to have a clear example of a group of adults whose bodies grew but whose psyche, personality and maturity stopped at stage 5. That’s why it is so confusing to argue or debate people like this. They are not into logic or facts, but rather their own parochial opinions and those of the buddies with whom they hang. Personal insults and machismo rule supreme.

Thus, the next time you think of attempting to engage one of these right-wingers in some meaningful dialogue, think back on your own adolescent years and shut the door and lock it.

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note: Peter Michaelson penned an earlier piece which he titled, The Primitive Conservative Psyche. It is an excellent read.

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9 thoughts on “Stuck in Adolescence

  1. Hello Muddy,
    Well as we well know, “They are not into logic or facts, but rather their own parochial opinions and those of the buddies with whom they hang. Personal insults and machismo rule supreme,” this is not anything new for us. We have seen proof of this all too often over the years. :-)

    1. Yes, Engineer, we DO know this, yet I was led to post this piece because of a conversation I had during a volunteer activity on MLK Day. The man next to me, a high school government teacher, was terribly frustrated by the right-wing. He told me that he had attempted to engage some of them in civil conversations, but found out quickly that they were not into debate nor discussion. “They belittled me and called me names!’ he said in frustration.

      At that point I used the three-word phrase, ‘stuck in adolescence.’ As a high school teacher, he knew about that stage of development, so I offered him my hypothesis that these adult men who did not want to engage in meaningful dialogue could be, in fact, stuck psychologically in that awful stage of development.

      “But they don’t know how much their thinking actually hurts them and their families economically,” he said. Yes, indeed. And that ‘s the shame of it all, but they are stuck there and cannot find any way out. And so, they keep on digging themselves deeper and deeper in a hole, economically, while trashing those who could help them.

      After our chat, I think he became more realistic about this group and I hope that he will not waste too much more time attempting to reason with them.

      1. That’s depressing. I was holding out hope that the next generation might be more educated.

          1. LOL – Remember, my spouse is a teacher. I was referring to the right wing’s naiveté. I still can’t understand the depths of their ignorance. They don’t seem to even want to know the truth. My recent attempt to educate the “unwashed masses” got me blocked from another site.

            1. NON- I assumed it was the right-wing. So, you ‘still can’t understand the depths of their ignorance?’ Can you think back to your late teen years and early 20’s? Didn’t you think that you were god’s gift to the world? Didn’t you believe that you had all of the answers? Weren’t you an arrogant SOB? Wasn’t your testosterone level on ‘maximum?’ You know, ADOLESCENCE!

              Just because you and I and most men moved to stage 6, thankfully, does not mean that all men escape stage 5. Why would you assume that these “unwashed masses” have moved into the fully-functioning adult male state? Surely you’ve observed many men who are not even close to that epic point in adult male maturity.

              Why bother visiting those adolescent sites? They have about as much substance as Facebook.

              By the way, surely you’ve noticed on those right-wing sites that the ‘problems’ they raise are never their fault? It’s always the other people who cause the trouble in their world. There’s your clue to adolescent behavior. “Wasn’t me! HE did it!”

              Gaud.

  2. Here is a sobering fact, M_R and Engineer… One out of seven people in the United States have mental impairment. Think about it, 1 in 7 are mentally
    ill in many different ways and degrees. This is from Chris Hayes on MSNBC

  3. One out of seven people in the United States have mental impairment.

    Let’s do the math:

    1/7th of 315,000,000 = 45,000,000

    Wow! That’s quite a hunk of Americans. If only 10% of these are ‘severely’ impaired, that totals 4,500,000 Americans.

    How do we connect the 45 million with the voting electorate? Interesting problem, eh?

  4. Hello Uptheflag,
    Interesting thought that 1 in 7 are mentally ill in many different ways and degrees.

    What comes to my mind is my oldest daughter, the school teacher, who teaches at a school that deals with those who cannot function in a regular class room, i.e. Special Education and as one example that comes to my mind is the 14 year old who already has an alcohol or drug addiction.

    Allow me to pose a couple of questions as I truly don’t know and would like to.
    1. Does this include Dyslexia and ADD with this 1 in 7 aspect?
    2. Is there a noted increase of late with children of drug abusing parents during pregnancy such as “Alcohol Fetal Syndrome” / “Crack Babies” etc. or has this been a static ratio that has been a constant for decades?

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