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