Asking Lyle Rossiter: What is the psychology of leftism?

The author of Photo: TWTC

FLORIDA, May 6, 2013 — Does the political left trade more on emotion than the right does?

Recently, those on the left have been remarkably effective at marketing their social philosophies and ideologies. In a summary sense, can the psychology behind this appeal be explained? Is there a common root cause for leftish psychology?

In this second part of our discussion, veteran forensic psychiatrist Lyle Rossiter, author of The Liberal Mind, an eminently controversial book that strives to analyze the mindset behind left-leaning politics, explains. 

He also tells us a bit about his life and career.


Joseph F. Cotto: In your opinion, does the political left trade more on emotion than the right does?

Dr. Lyle Rossiter: Yes, it trades in emotions, childlike fears and longings, and short term satisfactions, as just noted. 

Cotto: Recently those on the left have been remarkably effective at marketing their social philosophies and ideologies. In a summary sense, can you explain the psychology behind this appeal?

Dr. Rossiter: The left trades on a villain/victim/hero paradigm, on envy, on injustice collecting, on indulgence of primitive appetites for dependency and revenge, and on childlike longings to be excused from personal responsibility.  The left appeals to the needy and potentially spoiled child in all of us, but not to the potentially competent adult in all of us. 

The left thus incentivizes all of the wrong goals for a successful society, such as self-indulgence and moral and financial irresponsibility, and fails to incentivize the autonomy, initiative, industry, integrity and mutuality essential to a good life. 

Cotto: How would you describe the psychology that drives most left leaning thought systems?

Dr. Rossiter: See above.

Cotto: Would you say that there is a common root cause for leftish psychology?

Dr. Rossiter: Yes, the radical liberal is an angry, envious, needy and spiteful person who acts out his neurosis in the theaters of global politics. He has these problems because he was deprived, neglected or abused as a child, or in some cases indoctrinated by collectivist parents or caretakers, a form of abuse in itself. 

The radical liberal rejects freedom because lack of control over others frightens him.

Cotto: Tell us a bit about your life and career.

Dr. Rossiter: I don’t think of myself as a prominent person. I have had some success as a clinical psychiatrist and forensic psychiatrist because of a compelling need to understand human nature, to get things right and help others, and an early curiosity about how the mind works. My own efforts to cope with life’s challenges, empathy for others and sympathy for their suffering, and a passion for ideas have all contributed to whatever successes I have enjoyed. 

Having the great good fortune to live in a free society has made it possible. For that I am deeply grateful. 

Far-left? Far-right? Get real: Read more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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