"Iris Vander Pluym" is a pseudonym adopted by an "an unapologetic, godless, feminist liberal who lives in New York City." (This is her self-description.) I have not asked, but from reading her blog, I'm pretty sure she would caution that as bad as things are in American extremist politics, they can always get worse. Much worse. See her incisive website - http://perrystreetpalace.wordpress.com/author/irisvanderpluym/
On February 14 of this year, Iris penned a pretty cool tongue-in-cheek blog suggesting that new research offers a promising treatment for CPD, the dreaded "Conservative Personality Disorder." It was a send-up, of course - there is NO treatment, cure or even hope for a cure for a malady this dreadful. But, it's interesting and wicked fun to consider a partial list of CPD symptoms:
* hierarchical worldview
* willful ignorance
* global warming denialism
* unwavering belief in young earth creationism and the efficacy of prayer
* bullying; controlling and manipulative behavior
* sense of entitlement
* support for "traditional family values"
* anti-choice and anti-contraception
* constant reinforcement of unexamined privilege or bias
* consistent viewership of Fox News
* outright rejection of others' rights to privacy and personal autonomy
* self-righteousness while judgmental, hypercritical, scornful and disdainful of out-groups
* delusions of persecution and martyrdom
* sadism and vindictiveness
* poor facility with native language
* limited dimensionality of thought
* little critical thinking ability
* stunted self-awareness
* compulsive political behavior in the service of extreme right-wing views
These are indeed frightful symptoms. There seems little hope for those so afflicted? These behaviors are "counterproductive and dysfunctional in the personal, interpersonal, and societal dimensions." Sufferers destroy "relationships, communities, entire nations and vast swaths of the planet." She terms the toll from unchecked, untreated CPD as "truly staggering." I don't doubt it for an instant.
Ms. Pluym acknowledges that while we all display some of these symptoms some of the time, few other than sufferers of the disorder display most all the symptoms nearly all the time. She is a tender-hearted and compassionate observer, it seems to me, for she goes so far as to grant that many of the behaviors are "appropriate and quite healthy in certain contexts." If only all commentators left and right were so gracious. The criteria for the presence of CPD are two-fold: persistence of noted symptoms over many years, and pervasiveness. All aspects of personality are affected.
So, what is the new research that seems to offer hope of a treatment for CPD? It's all about our evolving understanding of the brain. Learning more about how the brain works, where certain functions reside and what triggers one thing or another. Even CPD sufferers carrying around a wondrous organic supercomputer more powerful than anything IBM or other engineering wizards of the most futuristic technology can managed to design. Unfortunately, all kinds of wires and synapses and other factors can lead to serious malfunctions, as we see in the CPD-afflicted leaders serving in the U.S. Congress, legislatures and state-houses across the land.
The research, which was focused on the effects of meditation, show the following:
* Learning and memory. Meditation helps boost both. Perhaps meditating would mitigate one of the worst symptoms of CPD - forgetting the values the sufferers claim to cherish while improving consistency between their arguments and their actual practices.
* Emotional control. Meditation calms, which anyone who has witnessed CPD sufferers on Fox News and other conservative, wingnut outlets knows is an obvious sign of the affliction.
* Empathy. Meditation has an effect on the brain that seems to induce more feelings for and identification with the experiences of others. Certain regions of the brains of CPD victims where this quality is headquartered clearly not functioning but meditation seems to turn it on, a bit.
Other problems areas are improved because of benefits that meditation brings to selected brain regions. These include perspective and anxiety reduction, accordingly to Ms. Pluym's critique of brain research with meditation as a treatment of CPD.
However, until such time as more studies are done which prove supportive of these early hopeful findings, exercise great care around CPD sufferers. Compassion and concern are in order, but so is caution and even trepidation.
Until this awful malaise can be brought under control, do not approach sufferers without caution. And, for the love of god (s) and country and all that is good, sacred and/or secular, please don't vote for them under any circumstances. The disorder is disastrous, dangerous and to those not heavily armed with predispositions of skepticism, reason, science and secular values, possibly lethal. Support further research on meditation and other promising treatments and hope for the best.
Donald B. Ardell is the Well Infidel. He favors evidence over faith, reason over revelation and meaning and purpose over spirituality. His enthusiasm for reason, exuberance and liberty are reflected in his books (14), newsletter (566 editions of a weekly report) and lectures across North America and a dozen other countries. Write Don at email@example.com