You can't reason with a Paranoid
by Tom Rinaldo, Sat Oct 17, 2009 at 08:08:41 AM EDT
A paranoid lives in an alternate universe where facts hold different meanings. There is nothing intrinsic to paranoia that dictates paranoids can't be intelligent. Some paranoids can be compelling in their alternate universe assertions. Some deftly conjure up whole cloth fabricated reality as cohesive and compelling as Tolkein's history of Middle Earth. The human mind truly is amazing with its power to interpret reality according to its will. There is a strong element of paranoia on the political right in America today, and it is not subject to a reasoned debate.
To deal effectively with paranoia it must be identified for what it is, contained, and then treated. You can not humor paranoia, nor can it be laughed at, for paranoia often leads to deadly results. The vast majority of Republicans in Congress today are not paranoid themselves, but many are paranoia enablers, trying to hitch a ride back into power on the back of the fear that paranoia breeds. As long as that remains true, positions taken by the National Republican Party on matters of importance to America can not be accepted at face value. Nor can that Republican Party be bargained with in good faith, because paranoia thrives on chaos, not actual progress, and too many Republicans have their political wagons hitched to demon paranoia.
Most paranoids can be reached, with sustained long term effort. You can't debate them on their fears for the future because they know no one can say with absolute certainty what tomorrow will or will not bring. But an improvement in a paranoids experience of their own daily reality sometimes creates an opening for a reality based connection. And most paranoids have a small circle of people, many of whom are not paranoid themselves, who they have at least some tenuous trust in. That is where healing often begins. They are usually the ones who can convince a paranoid to seek counseling and accept medication, if he or she hasn't already fallen into the criminal justice system.
We can write off the class of professional political paranoia enablers who currently dominate the National Republican Party. They do not now see it in their political interests to counter paranoia on the right. They will not help identify, contain, nor treat it. Democrats in Congress can not afford to be distracted by futile efforts to reason with those forces. Doing so will not bring the changes needed to make a real difference. Doing so will only derail the type of actual progress Democrats are sponsoring that can lead to meaningful positive changes in the daily lives of both the paranoids and that small circle of non paranoids around them whom they still partially trust.
Reach that circle with demonstrable progress fighting the social and economic ills that beset Americans today, and we can begin to treat the paranoia that threatens to unravel the fabric of the America we know and love. But that can only be achieved through decisive actions, not by ongoing efforts to reason with, or appease, paranoia.