With the acceleration of political ads, we are entering the hurricane season of electioneering. As candidates gnaw and devour their opponents in these “Hunger Games” of competition, we may wonder at the vitriol deposited on opposing candidates. Many studies demonstrate that most people abhor negative campaign ads, yet other investigations confirm that demonizing the opponent is very effective at the polls.
This practice of presenting extreme black-or-white choices is emblematic of patterns observed in individuals who display symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (the other BPD). The lack of gray-zone nuance makes choices much easier. In the world of the borderline, others are experienced as all-good or all-bad. Likewise, political opponents, though often similar in ideals, portray adversaries in the harshest light. For the borderline, if a loved figure displays an inconsistent flaw, he may be relegated to the depths of abhorrence. Similarly, politicians who change their position on an issue (not unreasonable in the face of changing socio-economic dynamics) are vilified as inconsistent “flip-floppers.”