Showing posts with label delusions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label delusions. Show all posts

March 9, 2023

The delusional news bubble and those who inhabit it

 By Hal Brown

Bonus: Links to websites I read

A couple of days ago I posted a blog with the title "The news bubble they live in vs. the bubble we live in."  I made a similar illustration to the one I made for this blog meant to depict the news bubble that viewers of Fox News and consumers of other far-right media reside in. 

It is encircled by a wall. It isn't exactly impermeable. It's made of some kind of amazing rubber that only allows certain news through while other news bounces off.

The simple dictionary definition of a delusion is "a false belief or judgment about external reality, held despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, occurring especially in mental conditions." This is outdated because of the part about mental conditions. While delusions are symptoms of some severe mental disorders the large majority of people that believe the outright lies and major distortions of the truth served up by the far-right media are not mentally ill as defined here:

Paranoia involves intense anxious or fearful feelings and thoughts often related to persecution, threat, or conspiracy. Paranoia can occur with many mental health conditions but is most often present in psychotic disorders. Paranoid thoughts can become delusions when irrational thoughts and beliefs become so fixed that nothing can convince a person that what they think or feel is not true. When a person has paranoia or delusions, but no other symptoms (like hearing or seeing things that aren't there), they might have what is called a delusional disorder. Because only thoughts are impacted, a person with delusional disorder can usually work and function in everyday life, however, their lives may be limited and isolated as a result of their delusions.

Delusional disorder is characterized by irrational or intense belief(s) or suspicion(s) that a person believes to be true. These beliefs may seem outlandish and impossible (bizarre) or fit within the realm of what is possible (non-bizarre). Symptoms must last for one month or longer in order for someone to be diagnosed with a delusional disorder. 

The key phrase in the dictionary definition above is despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. This presents a conundrum for a diagnostician such as myself. There is contradictory evidence readily available for anyone who wants to see it. It seems impossible that anyone misses it even if they immerse themselves in a media news bubble. 

We see people interviewed at Trump rallies. Jordon Kepler does many of these on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Here's a segment of him discussing a special he did (MSNBC). He is really providing an important service by giving us insights into how these people think.

Kepler is non-judgmental. He could be a clinician. Instead of having his patients come to him he goes to them. They are easy to find among the attendees at Trump rallies. They identify themselves by what they wear.

He presents the truth to them and allows his, dare I call them patients or subjects, to respond and they do often at great length. They are unwavering in their convictions. What they say is delusional but they don't seem, at least to me, to be otherwise behaving as if they are mentally ill. It may be that they suffer from a kind of permanent brain fog and were first infected by Donald Trump.

I don't think the people who hold these beliefs, whether those from QAnon or "merely" believe the lie that the election was stolen or J6 was just a bunch of tourists in the US Capitol, can be put on a simple bell curve from being psychotic to being willfully ignorant. It is more complex than that. We have to factor in intellectual capacity since some of these people may have a very low IQ. We also have to consider their peer group. If each and every person they interact with believes these lies there's nobody to say "yeah, but" and go on to present factual reporting.

Here are several examples to add to those in my blog below, those in the far-right media bubble will never see news about this, as reported in Raw Story:

Jan. 6 rioters trashed a GOP senator's office, and he hasn't acknowledged it

This Paul Waldman opinion essay requires a subscription to read so my hunch is that you can count on zero fingers the number of MAGAs who will read it:

Thank you, Kevin McCarthy and Tucker Carlson

His conclusion:

Let’s summarize what the McCarthy-Carlson collaboration produced. First, it put Jan. 6 back on the top of the news agenda, reminding everyone of Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his 2020 defeat, the violent reaction of his radical supporters and the craven response of Republican politicians who fed deranged conspiracy theories to their base to save their own political skins.

More important, it created an opportunity to revisit the actual events of that day. Some people watched Carlson’s fantasy depiction of Jan. 6 as a peaceful protest where Trump supporters strolled into the Capitol and took selfies while “milling around.” But a much larger audience likely saw multiple news reports on TV, newspapers and the internet in which both journalists and Republican leaders reiterated the ugly truth about that day’s attack on democracy.

The episode has also further discredited Fox News as it reels from extraordinary revelations showing network executives and personalities privately acknowledging in emails and texts that claims of a stolen election were preposterous even as they amplified those claims on the air. It’s long been argued that Fox News is in no real sense a news organization but is instead a propaganda machine that advances the interests of the Republican Party. That’s never been more clear than it is today.

McCarthy probably thought it was shrewd to give Carlson access to the surveillance footage. Instead, his decision helped reinforce an accurate understanding of Jan. 6, undermined the status of the right’s most important media outlet and reminded the electorate of the rotten core at the heart of the GOP. It’s quite an accomplishment.

On the lighter side, something else the MAGA morons won't read, is the hilarious column by Alexandra Petri in today's Washington Post

Here are hundreds — indeed, thousands of hours of dinosaurs walking around, browsing through foliage. The occasional T. rex attack. Not a meteorite in sight. Nor, I should add, a meteor, as these so-called scientists would have you call the same object when it’s burning up in the atmosphere. Two names for the same thing? Seems fishy to me. And speaking of fishy, here is a plesiosaurus. You will notice that it is just swimming around, definitely not extinct. This is what the mainstream media doesn’t want you to see. Pretty clear proof that this so-called meteorite is vastly overblown. If this meteorite really did hit, then why do I have so much footage of dinosaurs just walking around, eating leaves and, frankly, boring me to tears?


Next, we will observe footage that reveals Abraham Lincoln was mostly not assassinated — I have almost an hour of footage of him enjoying a theater performance without incident! And footage showing that for the overwhelming majority of his life, Elvis was alive. Next, lots of footage of the Hindenburg flying without a single problem! Makes you wonder who stood to gain by painting it as a disaster! We will be following this with footage of people eating lead paint and going “Mm, delicious!” and ... absolutely nothing happening to them, as far as we can tell! Here is someone jumping out of a building using a MyPillow as a parachute and — it seems to be working, for the part of the footage that matters! 

Also, here is some footage of people counting ballots — when they were counting, Donald Trump was ahead, and I think that says it all.

How many Fox News viewers even subscribe to The Washington Post which features this?

It's like a segment of the population is wearing hearing aides and eye glasses that filter out everything they don't want to hear or see.   Call it living in a bubble. There is a major difference between the news "bubbles" we live in. Ours has a permeable membrane. The boundary of the bubbles they are ensconced in is rigid.

December 24, 2022

Are Taylor Greene, Fuentes, and millions of Americans with fringe beliefs mentally ill?

Are Taylor Greene, Fuentes, and millions of Americans with fringe beliefs mentally ill? 
By Hal Brown, MSW

Marjorie Taylor Greene, on learning about the beliefs of Nick Fuentes the anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Black, antisemitic incel who dined with Trump said about him: “I’m worried about kids that would follow him. And that’s a shame. But no, I don’t want to have anything to do with him. They showed me some [of Fuentes'] videos. I could not believe the stuff he says. I mean, it was shocking.”

Read the article which led me to write this essay. It includes Taylor Greene's reaction shown above.

Click above to read article


In January 2022, Fuentes launched, a streaming platform that he said would be “anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Black, [and] antisemitic.” A month after launching the platform, he said women aren't "as rational as men" and should be beaten by their partners. He added a racist twist by saying that Black men understand this...

... Fuentes has also said that he thinks future politicians should take an incel "message to the men and say, ‘Hey men, hey men, vote for me, I’ll destroy feminism [and] ... make it harder for women to become whores [and]... incentivize women to be in monogamous marriages for the long term and to have and raise kids.”

A year ago VICE listed every conspiracy Marjorie Taylor Greene believed in, or said she believed in. Nobody can tell what she and others with fringe beliefs that are demonstrably untrue really believe and what they claim to believe to get attention.

How many beliefs do such people, have to have to be diagnosed as having a delusional disorder or another psychiatric condition?

Consider this article published in The Conversation:


I found that many QAnon followers revealed – in their own words on social media or in interviews – a wide range of mental health diagnoses, including bipolar disorderdepressionanxiety and addiction.

In court records of QAnon followers arrested in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, 68% reported they had received mental health diagnoses. The conditions they revealed included post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia and Munchausen syndrome by proxy – a psychological disorder that causes one to invent or inflict health problems on a loved one, usually a child, in order to gain attention for themselves. By contrast, 19% of all Americans have a mental health diagnosis.

Consider that in addition to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Nick Fuentes two more people in the news, Herschel Walker and very recently George Santos show indications of having a mental illness.

It bears consideration to note that until the MAGA era descriptive colloquial phrases like batshit crazy were't common in descriptions of people in the news. Now they are ubiquitous. Unfortunately using this phase and others like "clown car" and "cray-cray" in a title is clickbait and tells you that you probably won't be reading a serious analysis of someone by a mental health professional.

More serious writers define people with unshakable fringe beliefs as delusional. These days most but not all involve what have come to be called conspiracy theories.

My laptop dictionary has two definitions of delusional. They are very different:

  • characterized by or holding false beliefs or judgments about external reality that are held despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, typically as a symptom of a mental conditionhospitalization for schizophrenia and delusional paranoia | he was diagnosed with a delusional disorder
  • based on or having faulty judgment; mistakentheir delusional belief in the project's merits never wavers | I think the guy is being a bit delusional here.
People who fall into the first group need treatment. People in the second group may benefit from re-education. Unfortunately many people in the later group belong to a peer group of people with the same beliefs, QAnon for example, and their only media source of information comes from the far-right media  which gives credence to conspiracy theories.I haven't even gotten into the promotion of The Big Lie which even Trump who started it never believed.

If you watch a Sinclair Broadcast Group owned local station you need to know just how right wing their reporting is. By Hal Brown, MSW

  "Morning Joe" covered this today with clips of local Sinclair owned station anchors reading the exact same script about the Wall...