Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You've gotta be nuts to follow an authoritarian leader

Well, not quite, but it apparently helps:
Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse’s explanation.

“Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’”

The study was an advocacy project of sorts, designed to register mentally ill voters and encourage them to go to the polls, Lohse explains. The Bush trend was revealed later on.

The study used Modified General Assessment Functioning, or MGAF, a 100-point scale that measures the functioning of disabled patients. A second scale, developed by Rakfeldt, was also used. Knowledge of current issues, government and politics were assessed on a 12-item scale devised by the study authors.

“Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry,” the study says.
Naturally I'll be curious to see if the study makes its way through a relevant peer-review journal, and if the basic thrust of the findings can be replicated. If nothing else, we can expect that people suffering from psychotic symptoms appear more vulnerable to the authoritarian ravings of demagogues and despots, and as we've seen from time to time, some of them act out the fantasies of the Ann Coulters, Rush Limbaughs, and Bill O'Reillys of the world.

Food for thought.

No comments:

Post a Comment