The link between left-wing thinking and high neuroticism (as a formal personality trait) is one of the least discussed but most important themes in American politics (to be clear, the right has its own pathologies too) . Here is an excerpt from Matt’s last sub-stack (farm):
But I do want to talk about something that Goldberg mentions but doesn’t focus on: a 2021 article by Catherine Gimbrone, Lisa Bates, Seth Prins, and Katherine Keyes titled “The Politics of Depression: Divergent Trends in the Internalization of Symptoms in American Adolescents by Political Beliefs.” The CDC survey does not ask teens what their political beliefs are, but Gimbrone et. Al. find not only a divergence according to gender, but also a divergence according to political ideology. Breaking things down by gender And ideology, they find that liberal girls have the greatest increase in depressive affect and conservative boys have the least. But liberal boys are more depressed than conservative girls, suggesting an important independent role for political ideology.
Part of this could be a selection effect, with progressive politics becoming a nicer home for the miserable. But I think that’s partly the bad behavior of adult progressives, many of whom now value depressive affect as a sign of political engagement. The thing about depression, however, is that it’s bad.
…progressive institutional leaders have specifically taught young progressives that catastrophizing is a good way to get what they want…
One of the best and most important articles you will read this year. I would even go so far as to say that one cannot understand the American public intellectual sphere without grasping the close connection between left-wing thinking and high neuroticism. I would add that incorporating gender expectations into Matt’s analysis would give it even more explanatory power. Once you see all of this, you can never look away and forget it…
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