A 2020 Pew Research study reveals that over half of white, liberal women have been diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point. Does this mean there's a correlation between progressive ideas and mental health?
It’s a common tactic of the politically charged on either side (and normally perceived as a cheap one at that) to take the particular adherents of an ideology and equate that diehard worship to mental illness.
Conservatives label younger liberal generations as snowflakes or as having Trump derangement syndrome if they didn't like the past president; liberals and progressives label right-leaning individuals or conservatives as racists, bigots, misogynists, etc. Resorting to this type of lowbrow behavior might once have been seen as an excuse not to address the actual issues or beliefs at hand, but now ad hominem attacks are more common than not.
But what if what was once a cheap shot or a personal insult has actually been found to bear scientific correlation between the individuals who hold progressive ideologies and an increased risk of mental illness? That’s exactly what Pew Research has found — and all politics aside, the shocking diagnosis of over 50% of liberal women with some form of mental health medical diagnosis is a public health concern that no one seems to be discussing, let alone taking seriously.
Women and Mental Illness
For whatever reason, we’re not talking about the risk of mental illness women in general face, especially compared to men.
Women are 40% more likely to develop depression than men. Due to lower levels of serotonin, we’re also more likely to have anxiety and depression because of that deficiency. There are also certain life experiences, like childbirth for example, which can lead to these diagnoses. 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with postpartum depression in the year following childbirth. Postpartum depression in particular is a condition that leaves its victims feeling powerless and without confidence or assurance in their own abilities as a mom or caregiver — many women with postpartum depression describe feeling like failures.
Women are 40% more likely to develop depression than men.
Conditions like depression and anxiety thrive in silence, but there also seems to be a lack of confidence in women when it comes to knowing our own bodies, and instead our mental problems are written off as being too overly “emotional.” (Think about how many times someone has described you or another woman as emotional.) While hormones do obviously play a role in the development of mental health, for better or for worse, it’s possible to minimize or downplay the risks our mental health is facing if they’re written off as a “hormonal” issue, whether it’s our medical professionals or even ourselves engaging in that mindset.
But biology and hormones aside, what about the choices we actively engage in? The behaviors we indulge, the beliefs and convictions we hold as more important than all the others? The people we spend our time with, the actions we devote our energy to, and the news we consume? Is that negatively impacting our mental health, or even more importantly, leading to medical diagnoses?
Here’s What the Study Found
The study in question — which, by the way, isn’t from a news source or media outlet but Pew Research for heaven’s sake — is, when all’s said and done, pretty damning.
Interestingly enough, the study, which is titled Pew American Trends Panel: Wave 64, was dated March 2020 — over a year ago. Yet it took a Ph.D. candidate in political science posting about the study on Twitter for it to garner even a smidge of attention. He clarifies that the "Pew panel survey included the negative mental health symptoms battery in a subsequent wave (1 month later)."
The study, which examined white liberals, moderates, and conservatives, both male and female, found that conservatives were far less likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues than those who identified as either liberal or even “very liberal.” What’s more, white women suffered the worst of all. White women, ages 18-29, who identified as liberal were given a mental health diagnosis from medical professionals at a rate of 56.3%, as compared to 28.4% in moderates and 27.3% in conservatives.
Zach Goldberg, the doctoral candidate in question, consolidated the study’s info in a set of visuals and posted them to a thread on Twitter. But it’s important to note that he clarified the following: “I didn't write this thread to mock white liberals or their apparently disproportionate rates of mental illness (and you shouldn't either). Rather, this is a question that's underexplored and which may shed light on attitudinal differences towards various social policies." He’s right.
Dr. Lyle Rossiter, a board-certified psychiatrist who’s treated mental disorders for over 30 years, agrees and adds that white liberalism thrives on supposedly championing “workers,” “minorities,” “the little guy,” “women,” and the “unemployed,” who they continuously see as “wronged, cheated, oppressed, disenfranchised, exploited, and victimized” with little to no agency of their own (A view that often mutates into the infantilizing and patronizing of certain groups within a narrative).
When those raised to think reality is subjective bump up against objective reality, there can be mental health consequences.
The people responsible for these crimes? As Rossiter tells it: “poverty, disease, war, ignorance, unemployment, racial prejudice, ethnic and gender discrimination, modern technology, capitalism, globalization, and imperialism. In the radical liberal mind, this suffering is inflicted on the innocent by various predators and persecutors: ‘Big Business,’ ‘Big Corporations,’ ‘greedy capitalists,’ ‘U.S. Imperialists,’ ‘the oppressors,’ ‘the rich,’ ‘the wealthy,’ ‘the powerful,’ and ‘the selfish’.”
That’s pretty much an exhaustive list of every grievance and every perpetrator that progressives see as responsible for these injustices which plague our disenfranchised communities while moderates and conservatives seemingly sit idly by unconcerned with anything but their own privilege.
But as the study exemplifies, the champions of these causes (white women in particular) aren’t exactly living the liberated utopia they believe we all should be living.
Taking It Seriously
It’s truly unfortunate that so many women are facing these kinds of issues, and that this prevalence of mental illness among progressive women might be being weaponized for political purposes. If there’s one thing this topic deserves, it’s delicacy and empathy. We should feel compassion for these women, especially if we’ve struggled with mental health ourselves.
But at the heart of the matter is this: Progressivism is an ideology that supposedly demands equality for all, and one that keeps score to an exhausting degree. The privilege between social classes, between races, between men and women, between religious and non-religious, and more, all have to be constantly monitored, and “inequality” has to be exposed for the purposes of “accountability.” That kind of behavior isn’t just unrealistic, it’s unsustainable. In all honesty, it’s understandable that anxiety and depression thrive in these kinds of environments when we’re focusing on every minute, problematic issue in our world and not able to take comprehensive, productive action to solve all these problems.
Progressivism demands equality for all and keeps score to an exhausting, unsustainable degree.
There's also the unrelenting focus on oppression, verbal violence, and micro-aggressions. We know that building resiliency against hardship is the best weapon against depression and anxiety, yet progressive ideology forces its followers to wallow in feelings of helplessness and victimhood. Instead of empowering women and minorities with self-knowledge, strength of character, and resilience to hardship, progressivism encourages victims to stay in a place of fear and helplessness.
It’s not just significant that the women suffering from mental health issues are white (though we’ll get to that) but especially that they’re so young. The age range of those most affected was 18-29. These women are students, employees, moms, daughters, wives, and friends. They have goals and ambitions, yet who knows how hampered their day-to-day lives are by the conditions they’ve been diagnosed with.
But it’s also key that white individuals are usually at the forefront of these movements, whether or not they're the group being adversely affected. As most of us know by now, white guilt and savior narratives are pretty much as bad as any genuinely racist agenda because it robs the very group they’re trying to help of their own voice.
We should be having the difficult conversations this topic requires. But if you take a quick look at the state of our political discourse nowadays, we might not be ready for it.
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