US President: Donald Trump’s Covid-19 infection and the malice of the common man
When Donald Trump’s corona infection became known, who did not catch himself thinking: This is serving him right? Malicious pleasure and malice are reprehensible and reveal our bad character – or not? A guest contribution by psychologist Nora Knobloch.
Quite independently of the political issue of the corona infection of the POTUS – that should be excluded here – one reads articles in the lawless jungle of the Internet on people’s reaction to this news; one would think with a moral magnifying glass and, so to speak, as self-analysis at a distance.
For example, a friend drew my attention to an article that said “malicious joy”, “malice” or “satisfaction” (you name it), which – keep! – may come over some people when they receive the news “Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19” stylized as an immoral, vain reaction.
Man strives for predictability and fairness that fit and uphold his moral principles. The moral ideas and value systems are as diverse as the people and their actions and it is of course part of a healthy tolerance of frustration to endure disagreements and not to fall into aggression and frenzy, where the world can be unjust and horrific – in the small everyday life like on a large scale.
Why should I do good when Trump always gets away with being stupid?
When this gets violently imbalanced (say, a very rich very powerful person is using his power, and it is obvious that many people are suffering from his corrupt decisions and just as obvious that he has no apparent consequences (to him) experiences for his actions and allow himself to be drawn up by him as if by himself, film-ready dystopias), what emerges is what is called cognitive dissonance in social psychology.
In his video message, Trump slips out a telltale sentence
It leads to an uncomfortable, difficult to bear question mark in the human social brain. The big unknown is here: why should I do good at all when such a fool causes so much suffering and gets away with it?
Why are billions of people working their hands sore every day for an absolute minimum standard of living, when there are people who are born multibillionaires and exploit this corruptly and are courted by their bought environment?
Strong search for the term “karma”
What people observe with Donald Trump is something that most people cannot “afford” – without any consequences, inflicting damage on other people on a large scale (whether intentionally or simply based on a lack of brains is irrelevant here).
The little person – let’s call him Peter – tries to support his fellow human beings and cannot shamelessly trample over everyone. The predictability of human existence as a just social interaction process, too belief-in-a-just-world called, gets a crack again and again due to injustices that experience no consequences, and it costs energy to rectify them again or to rationalize them away with surrendering, grumpy general statements such as “This is the way the world is – corrupt and unjust – deal with it!” .
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In response to this cognitive dissonance, it is often difficult to maintain an individual’s belief system and value system. Be it a theistic belief in a just (and punishing?) God or – with a Buddhist touch – in a compensatory justice (#Karma was one of the most frequent hashtags on the Twitter short message service immediately after Trump’s infection) or the mere expectation that someone will come together at some point must put in the way of a dangerous, unpredictable person in order to put a stop to this (historical facts punish him with mockery).
“How can I be so angry myself?”
As soon as Peter hears the news that something bad has happened to this corrupt idiot that many people suffer from, something automatic happens: the cognitive dissonance subsides. Peter calls it “relief” and laughs out loud: “Hahaha! I can not believe it! That serves him right! ”To:“ I hope he suffers ”.
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Peter is startled and covers his mouth in shame. Ouch! How can he be so angry himself? Is he a bad person? Peter has to be good through and through in order not to be bad!
To every individualism, there is certainly a certain Christian-occidental moral coloring in which our free-floating value systems are shaded – the “evil” that discredits us before a god seems only a thought or a feeling away and must therefore be suppressed , must not be articulated.
If you do bad, it will come back
The consequences of a rigid repression and demonization of all too human emotions and needs – in short, the functional regulation of a healthy human psyche – can be seen exemplarily on the sad dark side of the Catholic Church.
No, Peter is a person whose psyche experiences a natural relief – limitless unpredictability and the apparent laughability of one’s own attempts to be a “good person” are briefly interrupted by something that fits into a logic and a value system – namely, that a destructive system produces destructive reactions. Peter’s moral system of thought was not wrong at all, he now senses.
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Of course, the world is run by corrupt people, but sooner or later it hits them with poop in the face. Maybe there is hope that things will get better and that one or the other corrupt boss will be replaced by a less corrupt boss with a more intact value system – simply because it is right.
Peter breathes again. There must be something to his value scheme – if you do good (or not too bad), good will happen to you, at least at some point, Peter hopes. If you do bad, it will come back at some point. It doesn’t matter all.
A regularity in the wild west of irregularity calms you down, and Peter tries hard and fast to functionalize it as a support for his own thought system.
Malice, schadenfreude? Neither good nor bad
One of the said reports argues that falling into malice with a figure like Trump is “something better” for you. In reality, however, you only let yourself down to the low level of the other person. It is an exciting concept that people’s emotional impulses discredit their value in front of others, but on closer inspection it is quite illogical.
Rather, attempted suppression, negation or moral condemnation of overly human impulses should be seen as attempts to present oneself as a person without reprehensible emotions and thereby – possibly without intention – to stand out from others.
Malice, schadenfreude, or whatever you like to call it, is neither good nor bad. In the case of figures like Trump, it can restore the illusion of a causal world structure for a second. At the same time, this means making functional in social reality.
So that Peter can get up the next morning a little less depressed, with a little less pathos-charged Weltschmerz and contribute his share of production to this corrupt capitalist world. Fascinating, isn’t it?
More on Donald Trump
Donald Trump went to the Walter Reed Military Hospital after his corona infection to receive treatment there. Since then, there has been confusion about his health. Even a spontaneous visit to his followers causes horror. Everything important in the ticker of FOCUS Online.
His condition was more serious than initially presented – but US President Trump does not like to show weakness. After several video messages, the corona patient is now even outside the hospital. Dealing with his illness raises questions – and fits into the picture of his politics.