Is leftism a cause and effect of mental illness?

Anyone from the academic or literary milieu at some point observed some action by an identity activist and thought: “My God, this person has serious mental problems”. I’ll give you an example from years ago, which stuck in my memory as one of those initial shocks. A professor with a public examination, in Literature, a recognized poet, publishes a text on social media with a serious denunciation of racism: she had entered the elevator and the neighbor who was inside commented that she smelled good. Then you pause and try to understand how this is a problem. Pause, review the usual whining clichés, take a look at the comments to understand what’s going on in those people’s heads. And that’s it: given the existence of the racist expression “smell of black”, complexed blacks understand that everyone thinks they have “smell of black”. Therefore, the only possible explanation for a black woman to hear “how you smell!” it is the presumption of black people to be stinky.

From there you can see that the life of someone like that is sad and paranoid. For she is not able to hear kind words and smile. Everything, absolutely everything, can have a malevolent explanation. If the neighbor didn’t say anything, it would be because she didn’t want to mix with black women, seen as subalterns. In fact, I wonder if she even has the ability to do something for herself out of sheer good humor. Some ladies can put on good perfumes because they like the smell; others may be paranoid about the “smell of black” and put on perfume to try to defend themselves from the world. In the end, the defense still fails, as nothing will be able to get the idea that the world despises her out of her head. The person will remain bitter and, in a vain attempt to assuage their own suffering, will demand heads and defame others.

Common explanation does not convince

Here the most compassionate reader will say something like: “Poor victim! Certainly, he suffered a lot from racism and that’s why it is”. So, if someone suffers a lot from a certain serious problem, such as racism, that someone will be embittered. Is it?

It is a reasoning similar to “So-and-so is a crook because of poverty”, in which the person inadvertently asserts a generalized causal relationship to explain a particular fact , without wanting to know whether this particular fact is the norm or the exception. Changing into kids, to explain the misconduct of one, you end up imputing that misconduct to everyone. Now, if the majority of the poor are not bandits, then it is clear and evident that poverty is not, in itself, a cause of banditry. There are bandits who were born in a golden cradle; there is a mountain of decent and honest poor.

Also, poverty has gradations. We can say that Fulano and Beltrano are poor, but that Fulano is poorer than Sicrano. If poverty in itself were a cause of banditry, it would be expected that the poorer, the more bandit an individual would be. This is a very questionable correlation, since violent banditry has a cost (a rifle doesn’t grow on trees). If that were the case, one would expect that the northeastern rural area would always be more full of violent bandits than the city of Rio de Janeiro. Now, that was true during the Cangaço, but it is not anymore. Undoubtedly, there is more poverty in a rural municipality in the interior of Piauí. But there is nothing comparable to the urban guerrilla in Rio de Janeiro, with bandits fighting for gunfire.

Thus, this type of explanation must face the same questions. Is it true that all who have suffered discrimination become paranoid and bitter resentful? If true, there must be a correlation between greater discrimination and greater rancor.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have insisted that the Holocaust is out of fashion. I refuse to believe that a professor with a public examination recognized for her literary activities, born in Brazil, more particularly in Bahia, where she is not part of an ethnic minority, has suffered more discrimination than European Jews who survived the Holocaust. If there was this correlation between suffering racism and being a bitter paranoid, Primo Levi would never lift his head, nor could he write lightly about something as heavy as routine in a death camp. Senhora de Letras has not experienced anything that comes close to this. Neither she, nor any living Brazilian identity. Primo Levi, Paulo Ronai, Viktor Frankl, are victims of racism who went through death camps and lavished love on life after that.

So no, it’s not possible to explain this embittered mentality like that.

Psychiatrist in the cause

Forensic psychiatrist Lyle Rossiter published in 2006 the work Liberal Mind – The Psychological Causes of Political Madness

), translated into Portuguese as The Left Mind – The Psychological Causes of Political Madness (See Editorial,

). It is poorly written (very repetitive) and poorly translated (full of errors such as rendering “eventually”, which means “in the end”, as “eventually”; or translating “age” as “was” when “age” fits), but the reading is worth it.

The very translation of “liberal” as “leftist”, although good for cultural reasons, deserves discussion. The translator should put a note informing the reader of his choice and explaining it. In fact, “liberal” in the United States designates a political group that in Brazil we call the left. This is the New Left, or the progressive and identity left. As “liberalism” in US English is an ambiguous term, Rossiter calls progressivism “modern liberalism”, as opposed to classical liberalism, which values ​​decentralization of power.

The author corroborates this common sense perception according to which there is a serious mental health problem in a militant of identity causes. He is a follower of Erik Erikson, a psychoanalytically trained psychologist recognized as an authority on the subject of man’s psychosocial development. Success in educating a child is, for Erikson, autonomy. And this, for Rossiter, is as much a creative ideal as the original ideal of the United States.

Rossiter is an observer of his country’s cultural scene. The phenomenon that cries out for an explanation, for him, is the change in values: the ideal of autonomy, which moved the Founding Fathers and seduced Europeans to immigration, was gradually replaced by the ideal of state care.

This last conception is incompatible with the ideal of autonomy. In a society that presumes autonomous citizens, it is possible to believe that people, of their own free will, organize themselves to take care of the underprivileged. In a collectivist society, it is assumed that people would never do good willingly and have to be coerced by a benevolent state.

Every statist militant, therefore, is a person who does not believe in the spontaneous disposition of men to do good. Do you think that everyone has to be coerced to do so.

From the individual to the social

Why do collectivists think this way? As a good heir of Freud, Rossiter believes that the problem goes back to the relationship with his mother. Babies are born completely helpless and dependent on the mother. They cry and wait to be attended to. If not taken care of, they die. So the connection with the mother is a matter of extreme anxiety.

If in the early stages of development the baby feels rejected, this will affect his worldview drastically. A “fundamental optimism” marks the life of the one who was loved at an early age, as he learned to trust. On the other hand, those who have not had this well-established connection will grow up with a neurosis that causes them a lot of distress and will seek protection against abandonment through coercion.

I quote Rossiter:

The radical agenda is the product of a massive transference neurosis taken to the economic, social and political arenas of the world. Within this drama [peça?] the leftist [liberal] radical is protesting against his original economic, social and political system, which is his family of origin, because it has deprived, abused or neglected him. […] In some radical leftists this transference becomes overtly paranoid: distrust progresses to suspicion, then to the conviction that one is being victimized, and finally to fixed delusions of persecution.


Well, I don’t know if it’s true, but this is a plausible explanation for why Holocaust survivors are more happier than an identity black teacher. It would not be racism that caused their bitterness, but serious deficiencies in child development that have never been overcome. Having a good mother doesn’t stop anyone from being captured by the Nazis. It prevents, however, from brooding over the racism suffered. On the other hand, not having had someone to love you in childhood makes a person bitter. If he finds some external factor to use as a scapegoat, he will cling to it and repeat it, to give meaning to his own suffering and his own life.

Such a crazy person , alone, is pitiful. A cluster of organized madmen is a danger to democratic liberties, as they band together to overthrow them. And once they manage to take over the state, the problem tends to increase, as progressive neuroses undermine the family and foster the emergence of crazy people’s homes where no one watches over the children. That they will be other crazy ones, and so on.

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