I've been cogitatin' on a new Gallup finding published yesterday that maintains Republicans tend to consider themselves more mentally healthy than Democrats do of themselves.
Marshalling my training in Sociology and Political Science (I hold degrees in both) I think I understand why this is so.
But before I explain, some basic facts about the surveys that have led to this finding.
According to Gallup:
"Fifty-eight percent of Republicans report having excellent mental health, compared to 43% of independents and 38% of Democrats. This relationship between party identification and reports of excellent mental health persists even within categories of income, age, gender, church attendance, and education.
"The basic data -- based on an aggregated sample of more than 4,000 interviews conducted since 2004 -- are straightforward.
"The differences are quite significant, as can be seen. While Democrats are slightly less likely to report excellent mental health than are independents, the big distinctions in these data are the differences between Republicans and everyone else.
One could be quick to assume that these differences are based on the underlying demographic and socioeconomic patterns related to party identification in America today. A recent Gallup report (see "Strong Relationship Between Income and Mental Health" in Related Items) reviewed these mental health data more generally, and found that men, those with higher incomes, those with higher education levels, and whites are more likely than others to report excellent mental health. Some of these patterns describe characteristics of Republicans, of course."
OK, so what gives?
Strong partisans among you might offer that after several years of this damn Bush Administration, many of we Democrats and Independents are so psychologically worn down that it has taken a psychological toll. I mean, when will things change? Is there hope? When we start losing that hope, well, it tends to register in and on our brain.
While I cannot totally dismiss that assessment, I think the reason why Republicans consider themselves more mentally healthy than Democrats do has a deeper cause.
The deeper cause can be explained by looking at the personality types that become Republicans, and stay that way.
I know I am overgeneralizing, but I think the track toward staunch Republicanism often involves "look out for Number 1" self-centeredness rather than a propensity to look to the travails of others- and indeed yourselves.
The humanistic, helping professions, the standard as well as alternative psychotheraputic and healing modalities, the realization that challenges in the world and in your head usually cannot be rapidly solved by tough attitude alone- feed into the type of politics you are likely to espouse.
These neuron tracks tend to produce people who tend to go deeper in search of the complex- and not the reactive- answers to what is wrong with the world (how do we fix Darfur), and what is not entirely right with their personal lives (why do I have writer's or artist blocks?) And the more you dig for such information-the more the process of going deeper into your own head gets you in touch with your inner demons.
Republicans have inner demons of course, but it is not in the nature of many who become Republicans to face them.
But generally we Democrats and Independents are better at looking inside our own heads. Try that enough, and you may just find flaws that may need improvement.
We- more likely to be of the caregiver class, the creative class- are programmed for this.