Friday, October 22, 2010


From Hot Air quoting Matt Welch, regarding the firing of Juan Williams from NPR:

Williams’ firing is a clarifying moment in media mores. You can be Islamophobic, in the form of refusing to run the most innocuous imaginable political cartoons out of a broad-brush fear of Muslims, but you can’t admit it, even when the fear is expressed as a personal feeling and not a group description, winnowed down to the very specific and nightmare-exhuming act of riding on an airplane, and uttered in a context of otherwise repudiating collective guilt and overbroad fearmongering
Remember the definition of psychological denial : the refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening. Williams committed a psychological no-no that threatened the pervasive and all consuming psychological denial that the political progressive left is committed to--i.e., he showed some psychological insight.

At the center of all psychological denial is a hidden agenda. That agenda is usually not completely conscious--meaning that the denier has not thought through the issues surrounding his denial; and may not even be aware of what his motivation is in asserting something is true when it isn't; or false when it isn't.

Denial need not be absolute and completely cut off from reality. Even among alcoholics and drug users there is a varying level of awareness of their problem. Some accept that they are in jail or sick because of their substance use, but yet are still not willing to do anything about it. Some may recognize some facts about their drinking (like that they get put in jail), but completely deny the impact of those facts on themselves or their families; or the future implications of continued drinking or drug use (e.g., that they are killing themselves and will die).

The hidden agenda or underlying motivation behind the denial is very frequently related to the potential adverse consequences that could ensue if the denial were eliminated and reality acknowledged. That is where the unnacceptable feelings, needs, and thoughts come in. The denier (or part of him) has made an unconscious decision that awareness of certain feelings, needs, or thoughts is more threatening to his sense of self than the act of denial.

Hence the left's incredible refusal to face the failure of their ideology, despite the enormous amount of evidence before their very eyes. They will denounce anyone who attempts to pierce the veil of delusion (e.g., Juan Williams); they will always blame anyone else (see here, how the White House completely understands the voter's Bush!!)--by the way, this is another psychological defense that exists in order to shore up the denial of reality and it is called displacement, or the separation of affect from the threatening object or reality onto a less threatening object; they will never blame themselves.

What we are witnessing is a psycholgoical defensive maneuver that has become perhaps, the most common response to the worldwide threat of Islamofascism. It is a very specific kind of psychological denial, known as displacement.

It is the same defense that is at the root of Bush Derangement Syndrome. And it is also the dynamic behind the current rise of anti-semitism and anti-American sentiment that exists right here in America--even among relatively normal individuals otherwise.

You can think of psychological displacement as a process analogous to how attenuated viruses work when a person is immunized with them to prevent the catastrophic consequences of an otherwise life-threatening virus.

Psychotherapy itself revolves around, and works because of the temporary displacement of the patient's psychopathology onto the therapist--which is called transference. Let's say, that the patient has a conflict with his father. For all intents and purposes, the therapist becomes the psychological father and the therapeutic relationship plays out the drama in a less threatening, and more manageable setting.

The entire purpose of displacement is to gain control over the conflict. By focusing on something you have some control over, the psyche is much less threatened. You can fire your therapist; you can express your hatred unreservedly and there will not be the consequences if that hatred were directed toward the real object of conflict. You can even pretend, that if it weren't for the therapist, everything in your life would be perfect.

Displacement can be thought of as an slightly more mature type of projection. In projection, the individual remains oblivious to the fact that he owns and is responsible for the emotions that he imagines are in the person or group into which he is projecting. In other words, ownership of the idea and/or affect is banished from the self.

In displacement, the idea or emotion is deflected from one object to another, less threatening one, but the ownership of the negative emotion or idea (e.g. animosity, anger) is retained--and may even be raised to a virtue. A common example is the person who is angry at a loved one, but settles for kicking the dog. The anger is evident in the action and is still owned by the person experiencing it.

At its most primitive, anti-semitism is a form of psychological projection (just as all racism is). We see this infantile defense used repeatedly in the Arab/Islamic world. They seem unable to appreciate the irony of their labelling of Islam as a "religion of peace", for example, and dismiss the barbarism done in the name of Islam as misunderstandings or the actions of only a few. In other words, they dismiss their own aggression in toto; asserting that it is the Jews who are always the aggressors; that it is the Jews who are out to destroy them; and that they are the poor, helpless victims of the Jews. By distancing themselves from their own aggression and projecting it onto Israel and the Jews; they have retained their honor as the peace-loving people they claim to be.

It is essential to the success of the defense that they portray themselves as the victims and be seen as the victims in the eyes of the world. Even when their own behavior is responsible for the deaths of innocents, it is rationalized away and ultimately also blamed on the Jews.

Displacement, too, is also an effective method for psychologically avoiding reality. It is a step above projection and is considered simply neurotic. While projection can often appear to be completely uncoupled from reality, displacement has the advantage of allowing someone filled with unpleasant emotions to have an acceptable object onto which to express those emotions. Note that in projection, the individual completely denies that he or she even possesses or is capable of possessing those unacceptable emotions--it is the "other" who possesses them, and wants to inflict them on you.

Denial has many faces and can express itself in many clever ways. At its heart, though, no matter what it is called, it is an attempt to avoid a threatening and painful reality. Unfortunately, in the long run, the avoidance of even a threatening or painful reality only results in more pain; more dysfunction; and can even threaten survival.

And, progressives want to hang onto their dysfunctional ideology no matter what the cost to them, or us.

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