Arnold Kling  

The Personal is Political

PRINT
Good News, Bad News... Gregory Clark, Aubrey de Grey,...

Reuters reports,


Karl Marx, who complained of excruciating boils, actually suffered from a chronic skin disease with known psychological effects that may well have influenced his writings, a British expert said on Tuesday.

...hidradenitis greatly reduced his self-esteem," said Shuster, who published his findings in the British Journal of Dermatology.

...Shuster based his diagnosis on an analysis of Marx's extensive correspondence, in which he wrote to friends about his health and described his skin lesions as "curs" and "swine."

"The bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day," Marx told Friedrich Engels in a letter from 1867.


I would love to see studies of the effect of temperament on beliefs. Of course, that would require getting reliable measurements of temperament. Since I don't accept self-reporting surveys--I'm talking about you, happiness research--I'm not sure how to go about it.

Thanks to Michael C. Moynihan of the Reason blog for the pointer.

UPDATE: some interesting reader comments, including a pointer to this interesting post. A brief excerpt:


There is some evidence that people become political liberals because they perceive the government to be an extension of their parents. That's why college-age people tend to be more liberal than older people. For young people, who cannot yet survive well on their own, the dependence on parents and their financial resources is still strong. Yearning for a paternalistic government in many ways represents a transference of parental dependency onto a strong, Contrary to popular belief, political conservatism may actually be a measure of a person's willingness to take personal risks--to go without a net, so to speak. Liberals, in contrast, look to a strong central government as a source of guidance and financial security. all-embracing central authority that provides guidance and minimizes risk. The ideal government for liberals is one that takes care of people's financial and health-care needs at the expense of individual freedom, just as a parent would do.


Comments and Sharing


CATEGORIES: Political Economy



COMMENTS (8 to date)
Maniakes writes:

The MMPI sounds like it might be what you're looking for.

Troy Camplin writes:

There's been a lot written about Nietzsche and the relationship between his temperament and his philosophy. It was a topic Nietzsche himself was interested in. That an the environment in which one lived. He attributed the gloominess of German philosophy to the humidity and coldness and the heaviness of the food and the beer. The Greeks, he suggested, were a equally influenced by the heat and bright skies and wine. They were thus bolder.

Steve Sailer writes:

If Marx's self-esteem was lowered by his illness, it's scary to think how high it would have been if he'd been healthy.

Steve Sailer writes:

You can read my review of Hart's book at

http://www.vdare.com/sailer/070812_hart.htm

olivier writes:

"and the winter of 1786-87 laid him so low with a chronic obstruction of the bowels that Robertson wrote Gibbon they were in great danger of losing him." From: The life of Adam Smith, http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Rae/raeLS28.html

You have to remember, the state of healthcare before the twentieth century was dismal (sic.). Even the sun king Louis XIV--easily the richest and most powerful man in his time--suffered from a chronic case of rectal fistula, a condition that can now be easily treated with medicines.

Arnold writes: "I would love to see studies of the effect of temperament on beliefs. Of course, that would require getting reliable measurements of temperament."

A few months ago my fianceƩ gave me a copy of this paper:

Jost, Napier, et al, "Are Needs to Manage Uncertainty and Threat Associated With Political Conservatism or Ideological Extremity?," Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 33, No. 7, 989-1007 (2007). [link]

More recently there is:

Amodio DM, Jost JT, Master SL, Yee CM., "Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism," Nat Neurosci. 2007 Oct; 10(10):1246-7. [link]

One critique of this latter paper is on-line here brneurosci.org/nature.html:

I expect that there are many others. I am not endorsing these papers as valid, rather, I'm just pointing out that there is such research.

8 writes:

A liberal professor of mine once said that women prefer security, and if they don't get it from a man they will want it from government.

There is a strong correlation between increased security & health laws and women's voting. Prohibition immediately followed women's suffrage, to be followed by smoking, and again alcohol restrictions, gun control, and anything that's sold as "for the children".

LemmusLemmus writes:

The link in your addendum is truly hilarious:

"There is some evidence that people become political liberals because they perceive the government to be an extension of their parents. That's why college-age people tend to be more liberal than older people. For young people, who cannot yet survive well on their own, the dependence on parents and their financial resources is still strong. Yearning for a paternalistic government in many ways represents a transference of parental dependency onto a strong, all-embracing central authority that provides guidance and minimizes risk."

What shall we call it? Conservative psychoanalysis? Strangely, "some evidence" is never cited.

"The theory that liberals are seeking a substitute parental authority figure may explain two other common characteristics of liberals: their oft-mentioned herd mentality, where young people imitate those with higher social status in order to be fashionable or "cool";"

...totally unheard of in nonliberal circles...

"and their intense interest in sex and gender issues such as homosexuality and women's rights."

Nope, it is conservatives who show an "intense interest" in gender and sexual orientation. The liberal position is that it should not matter in one's assesment of a person.

"It also may explain other features of liberal groups that have been mentioned by many political commentators: their appeal to emotion instead of reason (...) and their frequent use of personal attacks instead of argument."

Both tactics that have never been used by conservatives.

Seriously, you come across as a clever person, why do you approvingly link to such trash?

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top