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Cultural strife leads to personal stress

More people today are concerned more about cultural stress than about personal stress. They are more stressed out by the conflict between Democrats and Republicans or the problem of race relations in America than they are about their marital difficulties, their phobias, their anger at their father-in-law or their worries about getting ahead in their career.

In the last few years, a great many of my clients have spent whole sessions venting about Donald Trump or about political correctness. When Trump was elected, several of my patients went on about him for months. They would rage for the whole session without needing me to say a word. In fact, they didn’t want me to say a word. A few years back when Google fired an employee who complained about the political correctness there, many people were venting about that for months.

It used to be that politics was politics and most of people weren’t that involved with it, other than to vote at election time. Nowadays, the personal is political for many people. More people are involved in politics, more people have become activists and more people have come to have extreme views. And there is a big division between the left and right.

Democrats and Republicans (liberals and conservatives) once respectfully disagreed with one another and there was an atmosphere of mutual acceptance. People did not make a big distinction between Democrats and Republicans. When Eisenhower ran against Stevenson a few years after the end of World War II, they were each viewed as mainstream politicians. They were more or less alike politically, and people made distinctions between them more or less on character issues, not political issues.

If people were stressed about things in those days, it was more likely to be personal matter—marital troubles, financial issues, job conflicts, relationship issues. A popular book in those days was How to Win Friends and Influence People. This was a huge bestseller because it reflected what concerned people at the time, getting along with people and becoming popular.

Today people are more stressed out by what is going on in our culture than they are about what is going on in their personal lives. At the same time, cultural stress is affecting their personal lives. The cultural war that has gone on in our country for many years now is getting on everybody’s nerves. It has become an ongoing, chronic stressor. It overshadows everything else, and it makes everything else peripheral.

There is a cultural war going on and it appears that for the time being the radical-liberal establishment is winning that war. Since Trump was elected, this radical-liberal establishment has carried on a full-scale “resistance” that is, in reality, a war on Trump. Their goal seems to be the complete and humiliating destruction of Trump and the defeat of and dismantling of the Republican Party along with the eradication of anybody who disagrees with them.

The radical-liberal left seem to want to censor all opposing voices, including all news outlets, such as Fox News, that stand in their way. They seem to want to be the only political voice in the country and the only ideology allowed in our country. This is a trend that has been going on now for about seven decades—beginning in the late 1960s. The trend seems unstoppable, as the radical liberals do not listen to anybody outside the movement.

If this trend continues we may end up with what will be a one-party state, and this party seems intent on running the country in a tyrannical manner. The liberal-radicals will dictate to the rest of the country what America’s cultural values will be, which people will be favored and which will be punished, who is allowed to voice their opinions and who isn’t, and who is good (those who are part of the party) and who is evil (those who are not part of the party).

If this happens, will the cultural strife end and will the average individual be less stressed out by cultural stressors? Will the quality of life improve? I doubt it. Using words like “progressive” isn’t the same as being progressive.

Cultural strife leads to personal stress

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.

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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2019). Cultural strife leads to personal stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Apr 2019
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