Mental Illness and the Left

Source: ResearchGate.

It has been claimed that left-wingers or liberals (US sense) tend to more often suffer from mental illness than right-wingers or conservatives. This potential link was investigated using the General Social Survey cumulative cross-sectional dataset (1972-2018). A search of the available variables resulted in 5 items measuring one’s own mental illness (e.g., ”Do you have any emotional or mental disability?”). All of these items were weakly associated with left-wing political ideology as measured by self-report, with especially high rates seen for the “extremely liberal” group. These results mostly held up in regressions that adjusted for age, sex, and race. For the variable with the most data (n = 11,338), the difference in the mental illness measure between “extremely liberal” and “extremely conservative” was 0.39 d. Temporal analysis showed that the relationship between mental illness, happiness, and political ideology has existed in the GSS data since the 1970s and still existed in the 2010s. Within-study meta-analysis of all the results found that extreme liberals had a 150% increased rate of mental illness compared to moderates. The finding of increased mental illness among left-wingers is congruent with numerous findings based on related constructs, such as positive relationships between conservatism, religiousness and health in general.

Put another way, a consistently higher number of people who self-identify as liberal or left wing also self-report having suffered mental illness.

One is tempted to generalize from this finding — to say, for example, that all liberals are crazy. But that, of course, would be illogical. The correct logical interpretation is much more modest: Liberal identification is predictive of mental illness. But even that — if true — isn’t very helpful since no individual is obligated to fulfill any given general prediction. One can be liberal and sane.

More significant is the causative possibility that left-wing ideologies tend to attract and aggregate a greater number of nuts than moderate or conservative ideologies do. That (again) wouldn’t mean that being a liberal makes you a nut case, but it would mean that being a liberal puts you in social/political alignment with more nuts than would otherwise be the case. Potential consequences (evolutionary, historical and personal) abound.

35 thoughts on “Mental Illness and the Left

  1. Perhaps a really simple explanation is the best. Of course this is considering that the research is valid.

    Liberals and progressives are looking to make changes, conservatives much prefer the status quo.

    In other words, it is easier mentally to do nothing.


    Liked by 3 people

          1. …”self reliance and respect for the rights and capability of others “…

            If you stuck to that principle without denigrating your postilion by supporting Trumpism at a rate of 95% of the time, you might convince me. But you don’t. So I stand by my statement.


          2. You have to choose from what’s on the menu.

            If Harry Browne’s ghost was a real choice, then that’s who I would back, but right now the choice is Trump or Pelosi and in that contest, Trump is a far better friend of liberty.

            Of course, I know you don’t like Trump and he is certainly imperfect, but you haven’t offered any alternatives to his policies, only to his rhetoric.


          3. He’s more unconstitutional one one day than Obama was in 8 years. His policies go against ALL things truly conservative, including free trade, and immigration. The only thing YOU like about him is his ability to reduce regulations that will do more harm than good. The idea of trickle down economics has failed again…even before the pandemic.

            It is NOT just his rhetoric; it is his desire to divide the country into me versus you, us vs them, and any other way you want to divide the country. yet YOU love him for it. It is kind of sad that someone who proclaims a belief in liberty supports a president who’s only idea is “good for me, nothing for you.”


          4. The one overriding issue is the Supreme Court. I want the next 3 justices chosen by Trump, whose choices so far have been excellent, non-partisan originalists. What I don’t want are more ‘outcome’ justices like Ginsburg, Sotomayar or Kagan who totally ignore the Constitution in favor of their own agendas.


          5. You want radical right wing justices. Noted.

            Don, it ain’t 1787 any more. You and your party need to get over it and pretend to know how to read the minds (via writings) of what you THINK they meant. You also cannot say they would say the same thing in 2020.


          6. The Rule of Law is, in your mind, radical right wing. Noted. Then by extension, you want despotism in which the law can be said to be whatever those in power want it to, post hoc.

            No, it isn’t 1791any more. We can apply freedom of the press to include electronic communications. But in the same sense, the right to bear arms also includes modern weapons.

            But the principles underlying the words of the Constitution can, in most cases, be pretty clearly imputed.

            But when we just wing it, very bad things happen. For example. we know that the commerce clause of the Constitution was intended to prevent states from charging each other tariffs or blocking the transport of goods through their territory, the Federalist papers make that clear.

            But activist judges in the 1940s extended that to include what intoxicants you can or can’t use in the privacy of your own home.

            Approve or not of the use of those intoxicants, how is that interstate commerce?

            So, yes, I want justices who will apply the Constitution and its amendments as they were understood by the legislatures that ratified them, as that is the only time the people, through their representatives, ruled on them.


          7. The 1780’s called and even they don’t want you back.

            The Constitution was written to be a living breathing document. you want o “preserve” it a la Lenin. Even Jefferson said it needs to change with the times.


          8. Jefferson played no part in writing the Constitution. He was in France playing house with Sally Hemmings. Jefferson said that a revolution every generation was a good thing. Of course, he kidded a lot.

            The Constitution is indeed for the living, but it contains the means for updating it as needed, and that does not include pretending it says things it clearly does not.

            If you want to change it, do the work and amend it. Don’t just campaign for judges who will issue edicts you agree with.


          9. So because he wasn’t present means he had nothing to do with the formation of the republic? How many writers were compatriots and or proteges of Jeffersonian thinking?

            You campaign for judges that think they are benevolent keeper of a 200 year old document. That, to me, is the radical thinking of the originalists.


          10. Other than being exactly the same?

            If the Constitution can be construed however those in power at the moment prefer, then what are the rules in the Rule of Law.


  2. Perhaps the difference is those who identify as left leaning or liberal are more self aware than their right leaning or conservative counterparts.

    We’re crazy and we know it. You’re crazy and you are clueless about it. (said with tongue planted firmly in cheek. The right side of the mouth to be exact.)


      1. If you take it that way, then that is your issue not mine. Those on the right have this self-centered belief that only there way is the right way. No ideas to come together, just to drive apart.


    1. I’m not sure why that is important. Knowing that other papers exist doesn’t tell us a thing about the one posted.


    Emil Ole William Kirkegaard (online aliases: Deleet, Deleetdk, EmilOWK) is a Danish far-right eugenicist. He has a wide range of crank views and is a global-warming denier, anti-feminist, ableist, homophobe, Islamophobe, transphobe and has promoted white supremacy. He is most notorious and obnoxious online for his ableism and calling transgender people, liberals, feminists and pretty much anyone with left-wing political views who merely disagrees with him as “mentally ill”.

    Aside from his controversial writings on eugenics and race, Kirkegaard has been involved in other activities such as publishing personal data of 70,000 OKCupid users without permission, including their sexual preferences, considered by Vox to be “without a doubt one of the most grossly unprofessional, unethical and reprehensible data releases”. His writings on race and intelligence have caused controversy and because peer-reviewed journals refuse to publish his work, he set up the OpenPsych pseudojournals. However, after this journal was discredited he now publishes pseudo-scientific race articles in the open-access Psych journal.

    Since 2014 Kirkegaard has attended the London Conference on Intelligence at University College London (UCL) with far-right individuals to deliver pseudoscientific lectures on controversial IQ-related subjects, including eugenics, hereditarianism and race.

    Kirkegaard denies and attacks anyone who points out he is alt-right and/or a white nationalist since he knows those things discredit his writings on race and intelligence; he self-describes himself alt-center, a term similarly adopted by Anatoly Karlin, Bo Winegard and several other crypto-fascist bloggers. The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors Emil Kirkegaard as part of their online hate watch.

    As well as running Openpsych, Kirkegaard is the current domain owner of Mankind Quarterly, a racist pseudojournal rejected by mainstream science.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “Emil Ole William Kirkegaard (online aliases: Deleet, Deleetdk, EmilOWK) is a Danish far-right eugenicist.”

      That may be, but shooting the messenger is lame. Are you able to critique the paper (provided at the link)?


      1. You have no real defense of the messenger except to say you believe he is right. Rational people think he is full of shit.

        You shoot messengers on the left all of the time. H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y!!! But like most on the right you do not see yourself as hypocritical. Just right. And THAT is oh, so WRONG.

        Liked by 1 person

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