Caitlin Johnstone

About Caitlin Johnstone

Caitlin Johnstone is a Melbourne-based journalist who specialises in American politics, finance and foreign affairs. You can find her on Twitter at @caitoz Her website at https://caitlinjohnstone.com/ Or on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/caitlinjohnstone Her new book ' Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers' is now available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Woke-Field-Guide-Utopia-Preppers/dp/064823455X/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

The media and Donald Trump: Bad for our mental health?

 It’s not just possible impeachment, or the wall, or his meltdowns. Donald Trump is the issue, but we’re not getting the full story.

 

 

A new, updated data set is now available on a psychological phenomenon that has been labelled “Trump Anxiety Disorder” or “Trump Hypersensitive Unexplained Disorder”, and it says that the phenomenon only got worse in 2018. The disorder is described as a specific type of anxiety in which symptoms “were specific to the election of Trump and the resultant unpredictable sociopolitical climate”, and according to the 2018 surveys, Americans are feeling significantly more stressed by the future of their country and the current political environment than they were last year.

Pacific Standard reports as follows:

 

As the possibility of a Hillary Clinton victory began to slip away — and the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency became more and more certain — the contours of the new age of American anxiety began to take shape. In a 2017 column, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank described this phenomenon as “Trump Hypertensive Unexplained Disorder”:

Overeating. Headaches. Fainting. Irregular heartbeat. Chronic neck pain. Depression. Irritable bowel syndrome. Tightness in the chest. Shortness of breath. Teeth grinding. Stomach ulcer. Indigestion. Shingles. Eye twitching. Nausea. Irritability. High blood sugar. Tinnitus. Reduced immunity. Racing pulse. Shaking limbs. Hair loss. Acid reflux. Deteriorating vision. Stroke. Heart attack. It was a veritable organ recital.

Two years later, the physiological effects of the Trump administration aren’t going away. A growing body of research has tracked the detrimental impacts of Trump-related stress on broad segments of the American population, from young adults to women, to racial and LGBT communities.

The results aren’t good.

 

I do not, for one second, doubt that Americans are feeling more stressed and suffering more health-degrading symptoms as a result than they were prior to Trump’s election. But Pacific Standard and its “growing body of research” ignore the most obvious and significant culprit behind this phenomenon which is tearing people’s health to shreds: the mass media which has been deliberately fanning the flames of Trump panic.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln took it further, with one study claiming that “Nearly 40% of Americans surveyed for the study said politics is stressing them out, and one in five are losing sleep. These responses and others show many in the United States believe their mental and physical health has been harmed in some way by exposure to politics,” with a further “…twenty percent have damaged friendships because of political disagreements. One in five report fatigue. And it’s a small (proportion), but 4% of the people in our sample said they’ve had suicidal thoughts because of politics. That translates into 10 million adults.”

The always excellent Moon of Alabama blog has just published a sarcasm-laden piece documenting the many, many aggressive manoeuvres that this administration has made against the interests of Russia, from pushing for more NATO funding to undermining Russia’s natural gas interests to bombing Syria to sanctioning Russian oligarchs to dangerous military posturing.

And yet the trending, most high-profile stories about Trump today all involve painting him as a Putin puppet who is working to destroy America by taking a weak stance against an alarming geopolitical threat. This has had the effect of manufacturing demand for even more dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower who just so happens to be a longtime target of US intelligence agencies.

If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, there would be a lot less “Putin’s puppet” talk and a lot more “Hey, maybe we should avoid senseless escalations which could end all life on earth” talk among news media consumers. But there isn’t, because the mass media is not in the business of reporting facts, it’s in the business of selling narratives. Even if those narratives are so shrill and stress-inducing that they imperil the health of their audience.

 

If the media were in the business of reporting facts, there would be a lot more “Hey, maybe we should avoid senseless escalations which could end all life on earth” talk.

 

Trump is clearly not a Russian asset, he’s a facilitator of America’s permanent unelected government just like his predecessors, and indeed as far as actual policies and administration behaviour go, he’s not that much different from Barack Obama and George W Bush. Hell, for all his demagogic anti-immigrant speech Trump hasn’t even caught up to Obama’s peak ICE deportation years.

If the mass media were in the business of reporting facts, people would be no more worried about this administration than they were about the previous ones, because when it comes to his administration’s actual behaviour, he’s just as reliable an upholder of the establishment-friendly status quo as his predecessors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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