Ron DeSantis, Elon Musk, and others have used the term “woke mind virus” to cast radical leftism as a communicable brain-eating malady. I had once thought this was a clunky and cartoonish formulation, but now I’m not so sure.
In the New York Times Magazine, clinical psychologist Orna Guralnik identifies something that sounds like, well, you tell me: “In my practice, I’ve found that engaging with these progressive movements has led to deep changes in our psyches,” she writes. “My patients, regardless of political affiliation, are incorporating the messages of social movements into the very structure of their being.”
Kind of like one of like one of those exotic parasites that take over the behavior centers of the host brain to make it more compliant. And sure enough, Guralnik admits: “it has all made my work as a couples therapist easier.”
Guralnik, you see, isn’t opposed to the leftist annexation of the psyche. She thinks it’s just terrific. “Coming to see the working of implicit biases on us, grasping that our views are contingent on, let’s say, our gender, class background or skin color, is a humbling lesson,” she writes. “It pushes us beyond assuming sameness, opening up the possibility of seeing our partner’s point of view.” Or, as the eminent psychotherapist Mao Zedong put it: “In class society, everyone lives as a member of a particular class, and every kind of thinking, without exception, is stamped with the brand of a class.”
Once you fully internalize social justice, you’re able to see your personal failings as political errors that need correcting. She describes a couple who came to her because they were having a hard time communicating after the husband had cheated. Guralnik notes, “They were both white and understood their privilege and were apologetic about it.” Proper thinking about privilege and Black Lives Matter led to a breakthrough, with the husband remarking, “I actually was just thinking therapy and the Black Lives Matter movement have made me keenly aware of the words that just came out of my mouth.”
Then there’s the mixed-race couple, James and Michelle, who came to Guralnik because they were fighting during the pandemic. She writes, “Her husband wasn’t consciously aware that whiteness was a perspective that was constricting what he could imagine or comprehend.” Fear not. His thinking was corrected. “Engaging with the question of systemic racism did not polarize Michelle and James but rather helped them do the important psychological work that I doubt I, as their therapist, could have inspired in them on my own.”
Of course this nonsense makes her job “easier.” Politics is infinitely simpler than the workings of the human mind. And woke politics is simplest of all, with ready-made prescriptions and prohibitions, and a nuance-free language designating right, wrong, victim, and perpetrator. The whole point of social justice is to simplify human behavior, to reduce it down to a child’s tale of the powerful and the powerless. But what Guralnik describes isn’t psychology, and it’s not therapy. It’s couples DEI training.
And Guralnik isn’t some fringe psychology figure. She’s a celebrity shrink, starring as herself on Showtime’s Couples Therapy. She’s also an academic, a faculty member at N.Y.U where she teaches “a course in identity and politics and psychoanalysis with culture in mind.” Which means she’s passing this garbage on to the next generation of therapists. And, just as worrying, from her article, it’s clear that there’s no shortage of patients eager to politicize their emotional life.
Meanwhile, in other mental-health news, Gallup’s newest Health and Well Being Index finds that more Americans today have been diagnosed with depression (29 percent) than at any time since the firm first began measuring depression using current methods, a rise of roughly 10 percentage points in eight years. Similarly, the portion of Americans now being treated for depression (17.8 percent) has risen about 7 percentage points in the same period. God help them, if they end up on Mao’s couch.