So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

29 January, 2012

Political PTSD

A while back I was talking with my lion about politics and reactivity, and I realised something.

US politics has PTSD.

And some people like it that way, because as long as the body politic can be reliably triggered, then it can be controlled. Atavisms may be abrupt, violent, and at least somewhat unpredictable, but they can be channelled, and really when that good old fight or flight kicks in, what happens is either a "fight" or a "flight".

But seriously. Look at the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, and think about how much of speechifying is all about bringing up the intrusive recollections. Waving that bloody shirt, keeping a good low level of panic, because actually healing from these triggers would mean that people would be able to think more clearly, and wouldn't react in predictable ways when the predictable buttons are predictably pushed.

And yes, the whole "OMGTerrorists" thing is a pretty dramatic example of it, but honestly, I think as a culture the US was pretty vulnerable to this kind of collective traumatisation. (Not entirely tangentially, sometimes Little Foot wants us to read Dr. Seuss's The Butter Battle Book to her, and it strikes me very profoundly how very Cold War it is, and how likely it is that she will not actually understand its deeper message because "mutually assured destruction" is no longer the big red button of the collective consciousness of the polity.) I mean, "socialists! socialists!" is still a code word for setting off "run in circles, scream and shout!" responses. Boogety boo.


    Criterion D: hyper-arousal
    Persistent symptoms of increasing arousal (not present before the trauma), indicated by at least two of the following:

    Difficulty falling or staying asleep
    Irritability or outbursts of anger
    Difficulty concentrating
    Exaggerated startle response

Sound like any nation you know?

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