2 Your Health:Political Attacks and Their Effect on Your Psyche

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.

 

Many people may feel like their lives have been infiltrated by a barrage of political attacks either on television or online.

In fact, a recent study indicates that more than half of Americans say that the prickly tone of the U.S. Presidential election has caused them stress.

According to Scott Bea, PsyD, of ClevelandClinic, how well those political attacks work on our psyche has something to do with how we feel about the person who is doing the attacking or the person who is being attacked.

“It may be for some segments, individuals who are attackers may delight some constituents who have that same feeling,” said Dr. Bea. “And so I think the person that we tend to empathize with the most, or who is in line with our view the most, is going to be favorable to us kind of no matter how they conduct themselves.”

Dr. Bea said that we tend to gravitate towards the view points of the people that agree with our own thoughts, regardless of how nasty the attacks can get.

Another way negative ads can impact our psyche has to do with how the person who is being attacked responds.

Dr. Bea said that using non-defensive responding can go a long way in making a person look more secure. He says that even for people who aren’t politicians, when they’re attacked, most times their brain wants to go into defense-mode.

When we overly defend ourselves, Dr. Bea said it can signal to others that perhaps we are insecure. He said a good way to overcome this is to make it a habit of agreeing with those who praise us, as well as those who attack us, as difficult as that may be.

“Try not to defend yourself too much,” said Dr. Bea. “Acknowledge your foibles as a human being rather than strongly defending them. It’s something that we see quite rarely. It’s a little hard to pull off initially, but if you do it with some practice it gets easier and easier.”

Experts suggest folks who are feeling stressed out by what they’re seeing on TV or reading on the internet to take a digital break and go do things with family and friends instead.

 

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