The Follower Type

Created November 2, 2020

A long time ago we each made up our own mind for ourselves. Language did not exist, and so there was no way to convince one another of any given viewpoint.

That all changed when language came along.

Life then became gradually more complex. There were more things to think about and wonder about.

It started to get awfully difficult to know whom to believe about some really important things. Like God. And how to run a State.

A new type of person began to emerge who had never existed before. This new type did not even know it was a type. These were people just like you and me. They weren’t especially good or especially bad. They weren’t especially smart or stupid.

They became a recognizable type because they combined certain psychological patterns that had never existed before.

  1. They really wanted to know who was right and who was wrong. They cared a LOT about right and wrong, they sincerely did.
  2. They thought a lot about it and couldn’t make their minds up no matter how hard they tried. They got very upset about this and could not take it anymore.
  3. One day, a switch went off inside them and they became The Follower Type. Rather than try to think for themselves they abrogated that right and committed to following some system or person. They subscribed to a pre-packaged viewpoint, achieving closure from mental dissonance, feeling the tonic chord which resolves the musical anticipations of that final perfect resting place.

Capitalism. Communism. Religion X. Religion Y. Republican. Democrat.

Wikipedia calls this type The Authoritarian Type and writes – prepare yourself dear reader, this is going to seem like an opposite type, but it’s one type with two ends:

In The Authoritarian Personality (1950), Theodor W. Adorno and Else Frenkel-BrunswikDaniel Levinson and Nevitt Sanford proposed a personality type that involved the “potentially fascistic individual.”[3] The historical background that influenced the theoretical development of the authoritarian personality included the rise of fascism in the 1930s, the Second World War (1939–1945), and the Holocaust, which indicated that the fascistic individual was psychologically susceptible to the ideology of anti-Semitism and to the emotional appeal of anti-democratic politics.

The authoritarian personality has a strict superego, which controls a weak ego that is unable to cope with the strong impulses of the id. The resulting intrapsychic conflicts cause personal insecurities, which result in the superego adhering to externally imposed conventional norms (conventionalism), and unquestioning obedience to the authorities who impose and administer the social norms of society (authoritarian submission). The ego-defense mechanism of psychological projection arises when the authoritarian person avoids self-reference to the anxiety-producing impulse(s) of the id, by projecting the impulse(s) onto the “inferior” minority social-groups of the culture (projectivity), which are expressed by way of greatly evaluative and harshly judgemental beliefs (power and toughness) and rigid (stereotypy).

The authoritarian person also presents a cynical and disdainful view of humanity, and a need to wield power and be tough, which arise from the anxieties produced by the perceived lapses of people who do not abide by the conventions and social norms of society (destructiveness and cynicism); a general tendency to focus upon people who violate the value system, and to act oppressively against them (authoritarian aggression); anti-intellectualism, a general opposition to the subjective and imaginative tendencies of the mind (anti-intraception); a tendency to believe in mystic determination (superstition); and an exaggerated concern with sexual promiscuity.

In human psychological development, the formation of the authoritarian personality occurs within the first years of a child’s life, strongly influenced and shaped by the parents’ personalities and the organizational structure of the child’s family; thus, parent-child relations that are “hierarchical, authoritarian, [and] exploitative” can result in a child developing an authoritarian personality.[4] Authoritarian-personality characteristics are fostered by parents who have a psychological need for domination, and who harshly threaten their child to compel obedience to conventional behaviors. Moreover, such domineering parents also are preoccupied with social status, a concern they communicate by having the child follow rigid, external rules. In consequence of such domination, the child suffers emotionally from the suppression of his or her feelings of aggression and resentment towards the domineering parents, whom the child reverently idealizes, but does not criticize.

(Source: Wikipedia) The solution to consider is to educate people from an early age to recognize any such impulses within themselves, and to lead them back to making their own minds up for themselves, rather than subscribing whole cloth to some existing body of beliefs, simply to relieve the inner tension created by not having any guidepost at all.

We might teach the young that in personal experience one rarely finds leaders who are always right or always wrong, the lesson being that the individual should always be checking his/her own compass on the leaders whoever they are.

May the Center Hold.

God Bless America,

Bill

 

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