Is MAGA a cry for help?
I’m not a professional psychotherapist.
Yet an utter lack of advanced degrees, training, and hard work hasn’t stopped the Amateur Therapy Industrial Complex from taking the internet by storm (but not like the German WWII Sturmabteilungen).
So my ignorance won’t stop me from analyzing the most politically powerful yet troubled people in America: Trumpy MAGAs.
Many thoughtful observers on left and right have tried to explain, defend and describe the inexplicable, indefensible and indescribable MAGA behavior. “Destructive defiance,” conservative writer David French, an Iraq war military veteran, evangelical Christian, and New York Times opinion columnist, offered.
But the “why” MAGAs are defiantly destructive seems elusive.
It can’t be just Trump’s nasty influence and the despicable call-and-response feedback loop.
Or that “city folks just don’t get it,” as the dating site FarmersOnly.com slogan goes.
An estimated 80% of Americans don’t get MAGAs either.
So in my pretend psychological experience and expertise, let me diagnose the core issue bedeviling MAGAs and our nation:
MAGAs are suffering from Resentment Enjoyment Disorder, or RED.
Or as armchair psychologists call it, loving to hate.
Symptoms can include nausea
In my medical opinion, the underlying cause of MAGA-RED is what the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR) defines as “Ignorans Vespertilio Cacas Insanus et Superbus.”
Or as therapists quietly refer to it, “ignorant and batshit crazy and proud of it.”
While PETA calls this language “violence against bats,” the NRA calls it “patriotism” when MAGAs stockpile AR-15s and 100-round magazines that are perfect for slaughtering a lot of innocent people quickly.
MAGA-RED victims exhibit other red flags:
— Demanding government shutdowns because they hate government and don’t receive a lot more from government than they paid in hard-earned tax dollars.
— Calling for slashing social programs many need because they’re outraged that nonwhites and immigrants who take hard jobs they won’t might also be helped.
— Siding with private jet-rich U.S. and global oil executives and top oil suppliers like Venezuela’s Socialist dictator and Saudi journalist-dismembering and rights-stomping royalty by disputing that fossil fuels are destroying the climate and their homes and communities.
— Making a tragic sock puppet show of the House Republican majority in picking a Speaker, the third most powerful American, and the basic job in Congress of passing a budget.
— Rejecting government health guidance and getting sick and dying and costing the U.S. healthcare system and American taxpayers more as a result.
— Bullying the law-and-order GOP into re-nominating a twice-impeached former president who clearly incited rebellion and insurrection. But as eminent Constitutional scholars, quibble about the 14th Amendment while clinging to expansive views of the 2nd, ignoring the obvious self-serving hypocrisy. Also, coddling their former president who they would declare a criminal and mob chant “lock her up!” if he were Hillary Clinton. Or “lock him up!” if he were Barack Obama. Or just simply Black.
— Hating decent, reasonable Trump GOP challengers like Tim Scott with his Reagan optimism, Niki Haley with her competence, Chris Christie speaking the God’s truth that Trump is a dangerous despot, and even Ron DeSantis, aka, “AI Trump.”
— Dearly wanting Trump back in the White House for his “Morning in America for Retribution” agenda, for it pleases their resentments.
Liberal hearts should go out
Even regular Americans aren’t immune from resentment.
For instance, the 2023 midterm results suggest most Americans hate when MAGAs scream and shout to set the country back to 1787, when psychologically disturbed men had the right to shoot women they abused.
But loving to hate people who love to hate isn’t the answer. What we need is understanding.
For some MAGAs, their resentment is reasonable — for instance, their factories, jobs, towns, and American dreams died — and is fed daily by their wealthy media resentment pushers such as Fox News.
Others suffer what therapists call “ignorant” reasons to be resentful. Perhaps their straight white patriarchal dominant Christian culture and narrow-minded values their parents taught are threatened by other Americans who are different but have the gall to demand the same rights.
Normal, healthy resentment can occur when bad things happen to good people. Or even to bad people. Although as therapists say, there are no bad people unless their checks don’t clear.
Therapists are also skilled in suppressing laughter. Like when MAGA fundamentalist Christians resent God for ignoring their angry prayers to smite their fellow Americans.
For example, when they beseech, “Are you there, God? It’s me, MAGA, goddamn it,” because He lets the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose righteous reproductive dictatorship and censorship of books and history.
Even worse, He did nothing while the Godless Deep State with its Satanic rule of law indicted Trump four times with 91 criminal counts.
The other “GOD” issue
From their social media thoughts and insights, many MAGAs simply just enjoy being resentful, whether by nature or nurture, a condition known as Generalized Ornery Disorder, or GOD.
For GOD victims, the cost of therapy to reduce the stress and toll of resentment on emotional and physical wellbeing, as well on family, friendships and social life, isn’t worth the loss of enjoyment from being mean and nasty.
As Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke, chief administrator of the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very Very Nervous, famously replied when asked how many therapists it takes to change a light bulb, “The light bulb has to want to change.”
My personal journey past resentment
I speak of this as a Resentment Enjoyment Disorder survivor.
I used to resent that Trumpy MAGAs were destroying our nation, democracy, progress and themselves along the way.
Try as I might, my heart wouldn’t go out. Heck, my back and Verizon Fios go out more than I do. And my heart seems to work best in my chest cavity for now.
Nor can I send thoughts and prayers because my emoji keyboard got weird after my last iPhone update.
But thanks to years of amateur self-therapy, I’ve come to peace with the MAGA RED destruction. How? By recognizing, empathizing, and even celebrating their special selves as — to use the therapy terminology — mean-ass idiots.
How can we treat the MAGA-RED psychological epidemic that’s hurting America? Why are you asking me? I’m not a therapist.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.