McCain / anger / enraged crowds / why?

I’m always curious about why stuff happens and why we are the way we are….regardless of whether or not I agree with outcomes or behaviours or judgements. Here’s a recently blogged McCain anger story about McCain losing it at a craps table. At risk of it sounding condescending for me to guess, it sounds like McCain has some kind of PTSD.

I don’t really know how he could go through his POW experience and not have it. Have you ever had someone really lash out at you when it seems like you did absolutely nothing to provoke it? From what I’ve read, the body is still stuck in the past and they perceive themselves to be deeply threatened. Their physiological systems are responding based on the state they are in. How they feel inside is very real to them. It’s a major issue with veterans. The US will hopefully provided better support to the many vets returning from Iraq. McCain’s “hair-trigger” rages sound like that to me.

He should still be held 100% accountable for his behaviour, but I wonder if he can even see his own behaviour or if he just experiences a lot more situations to be ones of physical survival / flight or flight than someone whose nervous system is working healthily.

At any rate, that is not a safe place to be making decisions from, least of all Presidential decisions which affect everyone’s safety.
But questioning the validity of someone’s own emotional experience to their face is a way people feel invisible, unheard and angrier.

The angry crowds McCain is bonding with (see above) strike me as people who are experiencing anger for reals. But are also looking for a place to blame. Catharting your rage onto a “safe” (read: socially approved of) other (whether that other is McCain or Obama or any “other”) is a pretty standard psychological hack.

To quote Alice Miller: (whom you may know as author of Drama of the Gifted Child)

“The Führer once told his secretary that during one of the regular beatings given him by his father he was able to stop crying, to feel nothing, and even to count the thirty-two blows he received. In this way, by totally denying his pain, his feelings of powerlessness, and his despair- in other words, by denying the truth – Hitler made himself into a master of violence and of contempt for human beings. The result was a very primitive person, incapable of any empathy for other people. He was mercilessly and constantly driven to new destructive acts by his latent feelings of hatred and revenge. After millions had been forced to die for this reason, those feelings still haunted him in his sleep. Hermann Rauschning reports nocturnal paroxysms of screaming on the Führer’s part, along with “inexplicable counting”, which I trace back to the counting he did during the beatings of his childhood. Hitler did not invent fascism; he found it, like so many of his contemporaries prefigured in the totalitarian regime of his family.”

I think it’s really important to condemn the behaviour at the angry rallies (like the one above) but the anger is there for a reason. The country is in bad shape. People are losing their homes, jobs, internal sense of safety. And maybe, there’s even a bigger history behind it all. Alice Miller did a great deal of research into the norm of corporal punishment, what we’d now call child abuse, at the time Hitler rose to power. Who believes they were hit / punished / humiliated physically or emotionally for their own good? And how widespread is that kind of parenting in America (because it’s the way many Americans themselves were parented)? For Your Own Good

Miller believes that people with sensitivity to feelings could not be turned into mass murderers overnight. Only the children of authoritarian parents are able to believe that their parents are always right and must be obeyed. She theorizes that if Hitler had had children against whom to direct his feelings for revenge, World War II might not have happened. She considers but rejects Lloyd de Mause’s theory of war as a disconnected feeling of traumatic birth. Hitler’s followers looked to him as a child does to a father who knows what to do. Hitler to them was God-like, all knowing and infallible. Non-Germans were never able to understand the power this prancing little man had on the masses. His weaknesses were easy to see. But the Germans could not see through his theatrical gestures. The more pompous he become, the more he was admired. His inadequacies were not seen by children reared according to the precepts of strict obedience. Miller feels that present-day German parents still believe that “sparing the rod spoils the child” since two-thirds of the people recent polled in Germany believe that corporal punishment is necessary, good and correct for children. She states that 60% of modern-day German terrorists are the product of Protestant ministers’ homes.”

Posted by email from heathergold’s posterous

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