I have been a mental health professional for many years. One of the characteristics I notice of severely emotionally troubled people? Surprise and indignation when an irrational or evil person keeps doing the same thing over and over again — as if it’s the first time.
You hear a lot about it around holiday time. People make plans to get together with the same dysfunctional, depraved or miserable relatives who were sour or cruel to them last year. When the inevitable happens for the 27th time, there is shock, indignation and surprise. The obvious question to ask is, “Why are you surprised? He or she has acted this way in just about every encounter, correct? What did you think would be different this time?”
It’s not just with distant relatives only seen at holiday time. It also applies with spouses, parents, children, best friends, bosses, employees, neighbors, in-laws and co-workers.
Yes, it’s true that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results. A variation on the insane theme? Tolerating the same evil, irrational or dysfunctional people over and over again and being shocked or outraged each time they do something shocking or outrageous.
I think of this syndrome when I observe the sad and depraved spectacle of our government in America.
Latest case in point is the headline: “Speaker Ryan says Clinton, DNC money deal ‘takes the cake'”.
“Takes the cake” implies a new level of low. Seriously? After all the things Hillary Clinton has done over the years? This is actually any different or worse than all the things we know she has done, which is probably only 10 percent of it all? And Speaker Ryan is outraged and shocked?
I don’t want to knock the ability to feel outraged and shocked. When that goes away, any moral compass or psychological perspective goes with it. But when you actually feel shocked and horrified over something that should be no surprise at all, either you’re being disingenuous (as Speaker Ryan, the consummate career politician undoubtedly is), or you’re engaging in unhealthy repression and/or evasion of what you already know.
When I ask the person about their repeat offender friend or relative, “Why are you surprised?” I generally get a glazed-over look indicative of the denial and evasion I’m discussing. And that’s where the unhealthiness resides. In that glazed-over look. It’s not so much in the erroneous thinking that led people to place unearned trust in people in the first place. It’s the refusal to even think at all.
As for the government, we’d all be better off living in a society where our system of justice held obvious and known corrupt criminals like Hillary Clinton responsible for their actions — even if only one single time! If Hillary Clinton’s supposed opponents like Speaker Ryan (who has criticized President Trump far more harshly than Hillary Clinton) seem unable or willing to make the psychological shift, it appears unlikely Hillary Clinton will ever meet her long overdue date with justice.
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