“Alt-Right” is the current, “I’d never heard this term before two weeks ago (save for keyboard shortcuts), but now it’s everywhere” phrase. I confess, I don’t have the stomach to research and link to articles about it right now, and I don’t claim to know its full political implications. But I can tell you this, the perfect storm of White supremacy, misogyny, and internet bullying that’s rearing its ugly head this election is, in my opinion, the result of collective, un-managed psychiatric disorders (UMPDs from here on out).
Based on my anecdotal experience with my own and others’ psychiatric disorders (I’m not claiming any sort of medically-valid diagnosis), here is why I think the “alt-right” shows signs of UMPDs:
- They lash out at others. I know firsthand that UMPDs turn you into a monster. When you’re suffering that kind of emotional pain, you can only think about spreading that misery to others. I have to wonder how many people on social media urging other people to kill themselves are dealing with their own suicidal urges.
- They have a hard time getting and keeping jobs or relationships. If you’re in the midst of an UMPD, it’s very hard to get/keep any sort of employment or romantic partnership (even friendships can be tough to manage). Unfortunately, these particular sufferers have been told by society that they’re entitled to a good job and relationship by virtue of being White and male. Which leads into the next point…
- They blame others for their misery. Unfortunately, this is another common pattern for people with UMPDs. When these men do not get the job and/or relationship that they feel they rightly deserve, they blame others and lash out (see above). The targets of this abuse can be women who are more successful (or unwilling to consider a relationship) or minorities who are supposedly stealing their jobs and other economic resources. By shifting the blame to others, they don’t have to admit that they have an illness – which would be seen as a sign of weakness and pounced on by others with UMPDs.
Addressing this isn’t just a matter of voting against Trump; as many people have pointed out, this movement will still be around even if he’s defeated. The only way to stop this is to create a society where psychiatric disorders are de-stigmatized and mental healthcare (and other resources) are easily available.
Here are three easy-ish things we can all do to make this possible:
- Get psychiatric help if we need it and/or support others getting it.
- Don’t mock others (particularly men) for being vulnerable or “weak.”
- Support organizations that advocate for mental healthcare or provide other resources for those with UMPDs.
I plan write more about these three suggestions. In the meantime, I’d be curious to hear others’ thoughts on this topic.