Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Borderline Personality Disordered School of Thought

Salon has an interesting article today on Canada's one-woman media circus and dangerous stalker turned conservative pundit Rachel Marsden. She was involved with a number of weird incidents in Vancouver that Claire remembers a lot better than I do, and then remade herself as a pundit for the Toronto Sun, which is sort of like a cross between The National Enquirer and an angry drunk guy at last call. Now, she's on the Fox News Channel, where she apparently offers right-wing punditry.

From the sound of it, I'd think she suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder; this is usually the case with stalkers. I would never want to suggest that people with borderline personality disorder are particularly well-suited to the punditocracy (perish the thought!), but... well, it's worth noticing the overlap in patterns of thought. One of the defining traits of both BPD and contemporary political punditry is what Freud called "splitting"- namely "the propensity to either idealize or completely devalue other people, to see them as either all good or all bad." In fact, this is essentially what Marsden did in the Sun, basically writing variations on the 'liberals are the root of all evil' articles that those people who'd much rather not think more deeply about politics than that seem to read constantly.

Of course, it's not just the Sun or Fox News or right-wing media. Our local 'alternative newspaper' runs a weekly column written in perfect stoned dorm room patois which usually details why the U.S. President is not simply an incompetent authoritarian boob, but is actually working to instill global slavery at the command of the Skull & Bones fraternity and Haliburton. In fact, let's be honest- Noam Chomsky's little books tend towards "splitting" most of the time, don't they? So, when people wonder if American politics is getting to be too polarized, I wonder instead if the problem is that mass media is teaching people to think in ways that are psychologically dysfunctional, splitting instead of dwelling deeply, inhibiting empathy towards those other straw men we live with.

The fact is that most people aren't particularly evil; they're just imperfect. A child will think that Daddy is evil when they learn that he has flaws or he refuses to buy them a pony, but this is a developmental stage, and most people grow out of it. But, media punditry tends towards an analysis of the world that is extreme, impulsive, narcissistic, shallow, glib, and mean spirited. One might call it the "borderline personality disorder genre of writing."


The Pagan Temple said...

When you stop to think about it, stalkers in general might be eminently qualified to be pundits, maybe even more so investigative journalists.

Rufus said...

well definitely carl monday...