CTS AND OTHER POST-ELECTION WOES

If you will grant us a little tongue-in-cheek moment, we would like to propose a new psychological condition, Clinton-Trump Syndrome (CTS). This condition manifests itself when one interacts with other people by imitating the candidates’ style observed in the presidential election of 2016. For instance, in their debates, commercials, and speeches, the candidates brought the presidential election to new depths of rudeness, vulgarity, disrespect, and intellectual inadequacy. In short, the candidates legitimized uncivilized behavior and established a new low for standards of acceptability about what is considered civil discourse.

Exposure to this type of behavior so frequently and over such a long period of time desensitized us and habituated us to insulting negativity and indecent language. We got used to it and, consequently, began to accept it as normal and a good way to interact with others. Unfortunately, this new “normal” is totally incompatible with effective coping, and anyone who imitates this behavior is coping poorly.

Will sophisticated conversation become a rarity and damage what we know to be good interpersonal coping strategies? Will CTS spread to high-school student government meetings, to town-hall gatherings, to casual conversation? Will social interactions degenerate into name-calling and insults? Already we hear news accounts of expressions of racial hatred appearing on high school bathroom walls, neighborhood garage doors, and various public places.

We face a real danger that discourtesy, intolerance, and incivility will become the standard way of conducting interpersonal interactions. In fact, one of us recently was mostly listening to a discussion between two other guys about legalizing marijuana. One of them really began to get belligerent and insulting, and the other one held up his hands and said, “Whoa! Time out! We are both entitled to our opinion. Let’s not make this a Clinton-Trump debate!” Interestingly, that comment defused the situation.

When it comes to providing a psychologically-healthy example of effective coping techniques in conversation with others, the verbal interaction between the candidates was a dismal failure. If you want to cope effectively, do not imitate their example.

Constructive, tolerant, and respectful communication is extremely important in relationships, and maintaining healthy relationships is essential to effective coping. Do not allow CTS to draw you into degrading exchanges and interactions with others. Maintain high standards and disengage from those who want to wallow in the CTS mud. You can’t control them but you can control whether you join them.

Our blog co-host, Carlea, has some reassuring words from a teaching perspective. “I hope that we as a nation can rise above the base mudslinging that has made the country look foolish. During the campaign, in my work with students (our future!) I often asked them for their thoughts on the election. I used their feedback as a springboard for discussing the importance of using kind words and expressing ourselves in a positive way. We need to be at our best even when other people aren’t. Once again, the most important thing to do is realize what you can and can’t control. I can’t control anyone other than me, but I can help to build up citizens of good character.”

A basic premise of social psychology is that others will treat you not only as you treat them, but also in accordance with how you expect them to treat you. Think about it. If you begin conversations expecting others to be cold, disrespectful, and condescending toward you, then you are likely to act toward them in negative ways that will irritate them and insure that the behavior you expected from them will indeed occur. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy: You expect her to be cold and distant so you treat her rudely and, guess what?………She becomes cold and distant. Congratulations. You produced the behavior you expected. Now there’s an absolutely terrible way to foster successful interactions with others who might help you cope more effectively with everyday life.

And as if CTS is not enough of a poor election legacy, we have general post-election anxiety itself. Unless you live under a rock, you are no doubt aware of turmoil following the election.  Many folks have great fears, uncertainties, and concerns; others are bitter and resentful. We hear threats, complaints, criticisms, lies, speculations, etc, and many worry about what will come next.

What can you do about post-election stress? We know, you’re inundated with advice in the media, but let us throw our two-cents in. First of all, review the Preamble to this blog; then review the Core Principles of Coping that we posted on 11/17/16. Some additional steps:

–Accept the results. As President Obama reminded us, Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States.

–Keep contact info for your Congressional representatives handy. Email them regularly with your concerns. Be short, concise, and respectful. Remember, the minute they take office they have one goal: to be re-elected. Group signings (see “neighborhood group” below) are especially compelling.

–Do some homework on the Presidency, what he can and cannot do. Some of the limitations may give you some relief.

–Those with views dissimilar to yours are not your enemy. Don’t treat them as such.

–Rid yourself of cynicism about our country. It will devour you.

–Start a neighborhood discussion group. Make it as inclusive as possible, especially with respect to party affiliation. (Meeting only with those who hold similar views runs the risk of Groupthink, and reaching irrational decisions.) Hold weekly meetings and discuss with civility and respect how those with differing political views might find common ground and work together. No CTS sufferers allowed at meetings! Work together toward consensus in an atmosphere of respect, dignity, civility, and decency, always sprinkled with humility and kindness.

–Either keep CTS sufferers away from family celebrations, or banish them to a special room, preferably a sound-proofed one.

–Get outside yourself. Volunteer and bring your services to others. Make your experiences proactive, productive, and personally satisfying, and live the beauty that is America.

–Step-up and lead by example, not as an extremist, but as a caring citizen who is respectful and tolerant of divergent and opposing viewpoints.

–Finally, try this on for size: Reflect on what did not happen the day after the election. The President did not declare martial law and signal his intention to remain in office to protect the citizenry and the Constitution. Opposition generals did not mass troops and tanks around the Capital city for a coup attempt. Nope, there was none of that. Instead, the President and President-elect met in the Oval Office and expressed their respect for each other. And in a few weeks we will see a peaceful transfer of the reins of government from one administration to another. Let’s face it, we all love this country and we all won on November 8th.

Time to move on, but stay vigilant and focused.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “”

  1. I particularly found this to be an important read. It is not only a tool of how to coexist with others with differences in opinions, it is a reminder of how to exist with others as a whole.

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  2. Yes, the Clinton-Trump Syndrome has become more of a virus, spreading among a wide-variety of age groups, from the very young voting for the first time all through the elder ages.

    For me, I am just over the “middle” in the ages, having survived many elections. This has indeed been one of the most exhausting with both candidates doing their best to win. This election seemed to almost begin at the onset of the second-term of the current President (or as more affectionately hashtagged on Twitter POTUS).

    How to cope through this (and the results) has been particularly difficult. Both sides have their own objectives and they do seem to be worlds apart. It has been a true act of diplomacy to strategically ascertain when talking to someone where their allegiance is on which candidate, most especially if their candidate is not your candidate. I find I truly want to converse with the opposing candidate’s supporter, but in an effort to maintain a positive conversation, sometimes this is not possible. I do not want to ruffle feathers, cause an uproar, get beat up or get shot. Therefore, when it has been determined who this person supports, to cope with the conversation, I’ve kept it very light, and will change the conversation to something else very quickly.

    For those that I find support the same candidate, it has been very positive, and a relief. Prior to the election results, there were a wealth of emotions of how do we cope if our candidate does not get elected? What of all the subject matters that we find so historically important and want them to continue? What if they all go away? Oh my!

    Moving forward, post election, I think that everyone needs to remember that we are all human yet we are all different. We all have different beliefs and different agendas. If we are to succeed as a nation and take back that which we once had, we need to put away the past and create anew. We need to support each other, regardless of our differences. When we uplift another person, we have gained. We need to keep on the win-win focus and that will get us back on track. To do this, we need to cope with what we have been given and put away our emotions. Leave them at the door when we talk to those whose candidate differs and strategize together, not apart.

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  3. It always sounds so easy, when other say to move forward past this nightmare of an election, referring to both sides of the spectrum. Yes we are all humans and are entitled to our own beliefs, to the same civil rights as all Citizens, but sometimes the odds are not in our favor.

    I know someone, let’s call her; Stacy. She is Hispanic, but of dark complexion. The day following the elections, she called for an Uber. The car she rode in was one that had the option to share the fare/ride with another individual. When the second individual was about to be picked up, she demanded the driver to have Stacy kicked out of the car because Trump was now president, and she refused to share a cab with a color woman. Can you believe this? It feels like we just went back a century.

    If these are the ignorant times we are living, how do we manage to succeed as a nation? Our differences are what make us unique, they are what make us human, equal to one another. It’s belittling to us as a whole to have to struggle with these kinds of judgement. I wish it was easier for me to cope with this current situation but it isn’t, for my own personal reasons. I will try to maintain Michelle Obama’s mentality, “When they go low, we go high.” Until then I will continue to be diagnosed with Clinton-Trump Syndrome (CTS) or better yet, DTS. Wild guess?

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  4. Sandy, your closing paragraph is right on. Civilized and respectful communication with those who hold different opinions is the most constructive way to proceed beyond this sordid election. And yet, as Mary points, that’s easier said than done, especially when confronted with someone like her friend described. This tormentor, so consumed with bigotry, low self-esteem, insecurity, dependency needs, possible daddy issues, intellectual deficiencies, and who knows what else, would be tough to engage rationally and with maturity. When we compare her Uber rant against Sandy’s hope, I am just amazed at how much mental and psychological energy is required to maintain irrational beliefs that require constant distortion of reality to keep experiences consistent with those beliefs.

    One final thing we must remember, “moving on” does not mean we cope best when we put unpleasant events behind us and never again look back and reflect. Moving on means not letting conflict and trauma define who we are. It also means remaining vigilant and being able to recognize the forces responsible for the conflict and trauma so we can deal with those forces as rational, critical thinking, civilized adults.

    DTS, Mary? I’ll take a stab at Donald Trump Syndrome!

    Thanks for your great comments, Sandy and Mary. CB

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  5. How have we gotten here, CTS? It’s crazy to think that the recent election is leading people to diagnose themselves this way! While obviously not everyone supports the same candidate, what has caused everyone to be down right disrespectpful and uncivilized to one another? Could it be the fear of the unknown? Can all of this excitement give everyone anxiety or stress and cause each of us to act out? How do you deal with the uncertainty of the future? First, the only thing we can do is breathe! Remember coping strategies can apply to everyday life, follow them. It is important to remember people are entitled to their own set of beliefs and values, and no ones are more important than someone else’s. It is ok to engage in conversations or debates, but remember to think before you speak! The fact that our nation is so divided can be over-whelming and fill you with anxiety, but if you take each day one at time and remember to breathe, and use some coping strategies, it may help to make the next 4 years a little less anxiety-filled!

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  6. This post was interesting to read because it showed how important it is to live in harmony, especially, how times are moving today. This post tells us that we need to learn how to cope with new things and change; instead of being violent and irrational about things.
    Also, I agree with everything that was stated in Sandy’s last paragraph. In today’s society, we are so quick to get defensive about certain topics, instead of being open-minded. We just need to remember that a nation who can stand together, can fight to live another day together.

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  7. As my young age proves, I have not lived long enough to see or remember how Americans typically respond to elections. However, I would assume that many elections lead to feelings of worry and dismay, and for those whose candidate won, feelings of excitement and proudness.

    To be completely honest, I was shocked to hear about our new President-elect. Certain comments he had made about individuals with disabilities, women, and refugees astonished me and it worried me (to say the least) that my fellow Americans and peers viewed his comments as acceptable; acceptable enough to vote him into office as the 45th president of the United States.

    Regardless of my personal views, however, I would never stoop down to the level of being rude, disrespectful or condescending to those who do not share my opinion. Permeating my Facebook feed are posts after posts about the election, most of which are negative or straight out nasty. Even the individuals celebrating their candidate’s win post obnoxious statements simply to get a rise out of the people who voted for a losing candidate. My family from overseas constantly jokes about how harshly Americans are reacting. How did we get here? All of this makes me agree with Sandy’s comment – CTS is a virus. It is even affecting friends of mine who were never into politics and friends that have always been very tolerant and understanding of other’s views. It is as if this election has brought the worst out of all of us.

    I am hoping that sometime soon, more people will realize that this coping style is not beneficial to themselves or to others. We should lead by example and show that tolerance and acceptance is always the right way to behave even if we cannot imagine what the next four years will look like. If the country became segregated every time people disagreed, there would not be a nation standing. By uniting, even when times are hard, we are ensuring ourselves a brighter future.

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  8. It’s bad enough when folks don’t know how to lose with class and dignity. What’s even worse is when they don’t know how to win with class and dignity.
    Wonderful comments, guys. (CB)

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  9. It is true, communication is very important in relationships, and maintaining healthy relationships is essential to effective coping. During the presidential campaign, instead of concentrating their efforts to explain and show the people, how they would guide America out of its economic, social and civil struggle, both Hilary Clinton and now president elect, Donald J. Trump concentrated their efforts on attacking each other. Which showed us a great level of vulgarity and disrespect from these candidates, as well as intellectual inadequacy from both parties. This article was very helpful. It also illustrates some of the issues that may arise as a result of these past presidential elections. In fact, (CTS) would not be productive at all when it comes to effective coping. Engaging in this type of behavior is really bad when it comes to interacting with other individuals. There would simply be no room for an intellectual conversation with another individual, since we would not be able to accept that everyone has different points or view and therefore respect the other individual’s opinion, which will put at risk the way we interact with others.

    Now after the elections, we saw a sort different representation of these previous characteristics. Donald J. Trump called for his supporters to respect Hilary Clinton as he said “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country… I mean that very sincerely” (Transcript). Which is a 360 degree turn from the continuous attacks towards Hilary from trump. These past elections were shameful, and there were no values of tolerance nether acceptance from both parties, as well as intellectual beneficial discussions from both.

    Transcript: Donald Trump’s Victory Speech. (2016). Retrieved December 14, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/10/us/politics/trump-speech-transcript.html

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