AFA Guest: America is Sick of Mentally Ill Liberals

Dr. Lyle Rossiter is a forensic psychologist who has published a book claiming that liberals are mentally ill and purports to trace the psychological causes of liberalism. And on an AFA radio show he claims, as wingnuts love to do, that the American public is on their side and we’re on the verge of a rebellion against liberals in power.

There’s actually a good deal of psychological data on what mental and emotional tendencies lead us to become liberal or conservative. Liberals are generally more open to new experiences, more comfortable with ambiguity, less likely to go with the herd, more likely to embrace change, and so forth. Conservatives tend to be more closed to new experiences, want things (and therefore usually interpret things) to be in absolute black and white, more easily subordinate themselves to authority and much more prone to aggressively opposing those they view as being of a different tribe. I highly recommend Robert Altemeyer’s work on this subject, but he’s hardly the only one.

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • richardelguru

    Oh! This makes me so mad!


    Mad!! I tell you MAD!!!


  • Raging Bee

    Isn’t it a violation of medical and/or psychological ethics to misrepresent people as mentally ill?

  • Gregory in Seattle

    So…. according to them, the United States was founded on the principles of mental illness? It was conservatives who rebelled against the doctrine of the divine right of kings and opposed the idea of a state church?

  • Sastra

    Isn’t it a violation of medical and/or psychological ethics to misrepresent people as mentally ill?

    Well, there IS a mental illness exclusive to doctors and psychologists which exhibits itself when those who have it misrepresent people as mentally ill.

    Or maybe I hallucinated that.

  • dingojack

    Is this guy the current Professor Enteritis of the Samuel A. Cartwright Chair of Psychology at Cracker College of Advanced Edumakation (and Funeral Skooll), Pigsticker, Miss.?



  • jnorris

    Cracker College of Advanced Edumakation and Used Auto Parts. FIFY

  • raven

    who has published a book claiming that liberals are mentally ill

    Seen that before.

    David Klinghoffer of the creationist Dishonesty Institute wrote a book once about how god is a Republican.

  • raven

    that the American public is on their side and we’re on the verge of a rebellion against liberals in power.

    In realityland, US xianity is dying.

    Pharungula yesterday:

    Behold the change between 2003 and 2013: god belief declined 11% in America,

    while the ranks of the unbelievers swelled by 7%; the agnostics are hesitantly riding our coattails, and they’ve also increased in numbers by 4%.

    Latest poll. In the last 10 years, god belief has dropped 11% in the USA. Xians are down to 68% of the population. They are increasingly mostly old people. And old people are well on the way to being…dead people.

  • dingojack

    and funeral skooll….

    :) Dingo

  • Alverant

    Gordo pretty much proves the opposite of what he’s claiming.

  • oranje

    Oh. The whole country is sick of me? *sad face*

  • Area Man

    “Seen that before.”

    Yeah, me too:

    You know perfectly well what is the matter with you. You have known it for years, though you have fought against the knowledge. You are mentally deranged. You suffer from a defective memory. You are unable to remember real events and you persuade yourself that you remember other events which never happened. Fortunately it is curable.

  • Area Man

    And on an AFA radio show he claims, as wingnuts love to do, that the American public is on their side and we’re on the verge of a rebellion against liberals in power.

    So if liberals in power are mentally ill, what does that make conservatives who are out of power?

  • Michael Heath

    While I too advocate reading Atlemeyer’s Authoritarians, Chris Mooney’s The Republican Brain is a far more recent and comprehensive review of what science has to say about the conservative mindset. Altemeyer was a pioneering giant, however one with roughly developed results. That’s because many of his samples were not necessarily representative of the population being described, e.g., the sample sometimes being studied was his public university students and their parents.

    Altemeyer’s explanatory models have mostly withstood scrutiny, but those subsequent findings were more credible given a more representative sample was considered coupled to some work showing how this behavior is manifested by corresponding brain activity. Mooney’s citations are also a broad review of findings, though again – some that builds on Altemeyer’s work.

    We also shouldn’t be surprised that some conservatives are going to claim liberals suffer from mental illness; that’s for two reasons. The first a conservative tendency to psychologically project their own defects onto undeserving* others. The second is that while Moone bends over backwards in his effort to not appear biased, the results he and Altemeyer report clearly reveal that the attributes demonstrated by conservative Christians are a mental affliction based on how they were raised, where not just parents are responsible but instead other related authority figures as well, e.g., inability to consider inconvenient facts that falsify their beliefs, increased commitment to false beliefs when those beliefs are challenged being two prime examples.

    *Some liberals also demonstrate some mental defects precisely because of their political ideology and fealty to partisan politics. But those liberals are limited in scope within the overall liberal and non-liberal population whereas the mentally defective findings reported in Mooney’s book are general attributes of conservatives / conservative Christians.

  • caseloweraz

    Lyle’s Web site: The Liberal Mind is the first systematic examination of human nature and human freedom. It is the first book to explain why certain economic, social and political arrangements are compatible with human nature — and why some are not. (Emphasis in original.)

    Right there he fails. It’s far from the first. Just off the top of my head, I can cite Hofstader’s The True Believer, Ehrlich’s Human Natures, and Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage.

    And a quick look at Amazon reveals that Michael Savage’s Liberalism is a Mental Disorder predates Rossiter’s book by over a year.

  • caseloweraz

    Whoops! Eric Hoffer wrote The True Believer.

  • dysomniak, darwinian socialist

    I haven’t read the book yet, but this interview with Avi Tuschman about Our Political Nature has me curious.

  • Dr X

    Rossiter is not a forensic psychologist or any other kind of psychologist. He’s a psychiatrist, an MD who did a residency in psychiatry.

  • magistramarla

    Ah, this explains something for me. I read the comments in my local Texas paper, and that comment section is inhabited by a group of sanctimonious, overbearing tea party prigs and a few brave liberal souls who try to balance out the comments which tend to get a bit loony. Lately, the cons have been saying that they feel sooo sorry for those liberals, since they are obviously unwell and need their pity and help.

    They must have been hearing about this book and so this is their newest talking point.