Twitter isn’t exactly real life, but it sure does represent what’s going on in our society to some extent. There’s a common denominator I’m seeing across the board that makes me curious about the relationship between political beliefs and health.
I’ve been noticing that the vast majority of writers, celebrities, and influencers who talk openly about their struggle with mental illness and health in general are people with leftist or at least left-leaning political viewpoints. This has already turned into a politically incorrect conversation, but I think it’s at least worth it to explore this connection.
I’ve Been on Both Sides
I’m someone who has been on both sides. I grew up fairly conservative, in a Christian home. College and graduate school were simply the machines that turned me into a leftist. I’ve been in the heart of academia at Harvard University, and I spent years of my life surrounded by leftists, whether it was in higher education or the newsroom of the media company where I worked. A few years ago, I had my red pill moment. I dove down the rabbit hole and completely re-educated myself on what’s really going on in the world. Today, I work in the conservative political space, and now I’m surrounded by people who have the same viewpoints as I do.
Liberal, feminist women tend to be much unhappier and angrier than the average woman.
Something I personally noticed after being on both sides is that liberal, feminist women tend to be much unhappier and angrier than the average woman. They talk a lot about their health problems. On the other side of the coin, I’ve noticed that conservative women are generally happy, content ladies who are genuinely grateful for their life.
I, of course, understand that my personal anecdotes don’t speak for the full population. But it’s certainly enough to at least want to dig deeper and see if there is any sort of connection we can foster.
Research Indicates a Connection between Health and Beliefs
Just like you’d expect, there isn’t much research out there that specifically ties certain political ideologies with a certain level of health. But there are a few things out there that illuminate what we experience in everyday life. A research paper last year found evidence that conservative-leaning folks have overall better health than their liberal counterparts. The researchers concluded that this was largely due to the fact that conservatives place a greater value on personal responsibility than liberals do. This means that there are lower rates of cigarette smoking, overeating, not exercising, etc. in the conservative community.
Conservatives place a greater value on personal responsibility than liberals do, which includes health.
This wasn’t surprising to me when I first read this study. Naturally the people who prioritize their health are going to be the ones who take care of their bodies. This reminded me of another study that unveiled a connection between gym goers and right-wingers.
At Brunel University in London, researchers found that it was more common for physically stronger men to be conservative rather than liberal. Additionally, these men were less in favor of government handouts and the redistribution of wealth. “Essentially, [physically fit men] seem more motivated to defend their resources,” said Dr. Michael Price, professor of psychology at Brunel University and the lead author of the study. “But less wealthy men who are still physically formidable don’t seem more inclined to support redistribution either. They’re not demanding a share of the wealth.”
Personal responsibility, hard work, and rewarding merit are driving principles in conservatism — and they play huge roles in fitness and health as well. Of course this isn’t to say that every conservative person is physically stronger than a liberal, but there certainly is a difference that’s worth noting. It’s also a little bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. Do you adopt personal responsibility for your health because you’re conservative? Or does taking more responsibility for yourself make you more conservative? We’ll never know.
“Extreme liberals” suffered from a 150% increased rate of mental illness compared to moderates.
A few months ago, Emil O. W. Kirkegaard wrote a paper in London at the Ulster Institute for Social Research called “Mental Illness and the Left.” It gathered various research and confirmed what I and many others have been considering. Apparently, they found that “extreme liberals” suffered from a 150% increased rate of mental illness compared to moderates. The studies also found there is a “known strong relationship” between religiosity and conservatism, as well as a clear connection between religiosity and both mental and physical health. Political conservatism has been found many times to be bound to longevity.
My Personal Experience Corresponds with the Research
While there still needs to be more research done, these studies certainly do point us in the right direction. I do wonder how the general lifestyles of each end of the political spectrum relate to their political or religious beliefs. Having grown up in a conservative, Southern town in Georgia, I saw what everyday American life was like. I lived it for 17 years. My childhood was all-American, and my hometown was a fair representation of middle America.
Even though the small town feel was a bit boring, I saw a lot of people who simply were content with their lives. They loved their little family and were grateful for the abundance that came to them — and the majority of them were deeply religious. This kept families together and towns intact. When I was 13 years old, a close friend in my class was hit by a car and died. It was a devastating moment for us. I watched the religious communities rally around this family right away; they were the glue that held our small town together during that tragedy.
A lot of people were religious and content with their lives. This kept families together and towns intact.
When I compare that to all the modern feminists I used to work with and hang out with, the difference is glaringly obvious. These women were angry, they hated men, many of them were overweight and had bad skin, and they were always finding something to complain about. Even more, nearly all of them were admittedly struggling with some kind of mental illness, whether it was acute anxiety, bi-polar disorder, or clinical depression.
We would never wish mental illness on anyone or revel in their suffering, but it’s curious to see the clear connection between political ideology and mental health. Our mindset has more of an effect on our overall health than we like to think. Perhaps adopting more traditionally conservative ideas — like personal responsibility, bodily autonomy, objective morality — can help stabilize your life and give you some peace of mind. It did for me, anyway.