One of my absolute favorite studies in psychology and deviance is what is commonly referred to as the “Being Sane in Insane Places” study. I also really think that in this election year, we’re really seeing something remarkably similar in our (by which I mean the conservative) ranks. It might be really funny if it didn’t involve people I greatly respected.
To summarize the study briefly, sane people were sent out to mental institutions and told to exhibit certain symptoms. They were admitted, and later told doctors that they were better, but the doctors did not believe they were sane.
The study itself details some fun mental problems in mental health institutions back in the 1970s (this paper was published in 1973), but it is amazing to me some similarities it has with the current election. How many people have we on the Right seen who are normally consider good, solid people of principle become supporters of Donald Trump? And how many of these people are going to have the stench of Donald Trump on them when this is all over?
Trump is a contagion. He infects. Good people take his side and you can watch them deteriorate mentally right before your eyes. The mere idea of Hillary Clinton being president has forced people into the Trump camp, and for a lot of these normally good people, there’s not going to be any coming out of it.
“Yes, I’m totally fine. I’m a long time conservative. We just had to beat Hillary,” they’ll say.
“But you let him get away with saying or doing (x),” we’ll reply. We’ll never consider them a part of us for a long time, if ever.
Several people I know are going to never forgive what they see as a fundamental betrayal of principle. Former friends and allies, representatives and senators, even family. All of them are going to be out in the cold for a while. I feel kinda bad for them. But they’re the ones who tried to be sane in an insane movement.