Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Chris Hedges: American Psychosis

Reality is under assault. Verbal confusion reigns. Truth and illusion have merged. Mental chaos makes it hard to fathom what is happening. We feel trapped in a hall of mirrors. Exposed lies are answered with other lies. The rational is countered with the irrational. Cognitive dissonance prevails. We endure a disquieting shame and even guilt. Tens of millions of Americans, especially women, undocumented workers, Muslims and African-Americans, suffer the acute anxiety of being pursued by a predator. All this is by design. Demagogues always infect the governed with their own psychosis.

“The comparison between totalitarianism and psychosis is not incidental,” the psychiatrist Joost A.M. Meerloo wrote in his book The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing. “Delusional thinking inevitably creeps into every form of tyranny and despotism. Unconscious backward forces come into action. Evil powers from the archaic past return. An automatic compulsion to go on to self-destruction develops, to justify one mistake with a new one; to enlarge and expand the vicious pathological circle becomes the dominating end of life. The frightened man, burdened by a culture he does not understand, retreats into the brute’s fantasy of limitless power in order to cover up the vacuum inside himself. This fantasy starts with the leaders and is later taken over by the masses they oppress.”

The lies fly out of the White House like flocks of pigeons: Donald Trump’s election victory was a landslide. He had the largest inauguration crowds in American history. Three million to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally. Climate change is a hoax. Vaccines cause autism. Immigrants are carriers of “tremendous infectious disease.” The election was rigged—until it wasn’t. We don’t know “who really knocked down” the World Trade Center. Torture works. Mexico will pay for the wall. Conspiracy theories are fact. Scientific facts are conspiracies. America will be great again.

Our new president, a 70-year-old with orange-tinted skin and hair that Penn Jillette has likened to “cotton candy made of piss,” is, as Trump often reminds us, “very good looking.” He has almost no intellectual accomplishments—he knows little of history, politics, law, philosophy, art or governance—but insists “my IQ is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” And the mediocrities and half-wits he has installed in his Cabinet have “by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled.”

It is an avalanche of absurdities. [continue reading]


Copyright 2017 Chris Hedges. First published in TruthDig.



Mr. Fish/TruthDig

2 comments on “Chris Hedges: American Psychosis

  1. daniel r. cobb
    February 3, 2017

    Thanks for this vital essay. I sometimes fancy myself a writer, and then I read an essay by Hedges or Moyers or another leading progressive thinker and I am appropriately quite humbled. Excellent work here. A problem I have with Hedges though, is he attacks both major parties with almost the same energy and I think that practically, we cannot hope to dislodge both. We have to pick out battles to win any of them. Right now, we need to rescue our country, and ourselves, from the jaws of rapidly growing fascism, and we need motivated, dedicated, outraged people, who tend to be ‘liberals”, perhaps disaffected Democrats, and hopefully even “centrists” to join the battle. Without that focused critical mass, we will lose.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom Reilly
    January 31, 2017

    I look into Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s eyes and my blood runs cold. Two supremely bad men now run our world, men consumed by that unsmiling, sleepless, totally ruthless focus upon themselves which is the real mark of evil.

    Liked by 1 person

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