Please note: This post, unlike my other posts, is more political, sharp-witted, and provocative.
To my progressive friends (yes, you too Piers Morgan):
As you listen to gun fanatic after gun lunatic, hungry to own a bushmaster and a high capacity magazine or two, I understand your anger, your fury. Some of them are deluded, crazy, nuts.
These people are in something like a psychotic state – their position on guns is not held together by a web of logic and reason. Actually, it is held together by something much more powerful and less subject to change – their underlying psychology. Trying to change them with logical argument is like telling a life long smoker, “You know smoking is not good for your health.” It’s like telling your close friend who has been in abusive relationship after abusive relationship, “Can’t you see how hurtful this is?”
If you’re with me so far then you should know this begs the question: What does that make you? I’ll tell you. It makes you as deluded, crazy, and as nuts as they are. Look, it’s been more than 100 years since Freud announced to the Western world there is something called the unconscious, and that this unconscious not only is difficult to navigate, control, or tamper with, it also is UNCONSCIOUS. That means the person whom you are trying to change doesn’t have access to the reasons and powers that hold them to their position.
The reason you keep trying to change these folks with logic is because you are blind. This state of blindness not only exists because you are wildly disturbed by these people, but also because you have a powerful projection upon them. The psychological remedy: you must withdraw and integrate that projection, which means you must discover how you are them. You must identify qualities that you dislike in them and see how you need some of those qualities yourself.
What kind of projection might you have on gun crazies? How might you need to be a little more like them psychologically (not literally)? Consider the following:
A firm grip and steely resolve: Think about it. Where might you be too understanding, too malleable, or too willing to listen to others? If your grip were firmer, if you were less wavering regarding your deepest convictions, feelings, needs, and desires how would you proceed? More forcefully? More assertively? More directly? In short, withdrawing your projection means learning to stick to your own guns.
The capacity to shoot straight: How direct are you really with others around you – your employees, employers, friends, family, and yourself? Sarcasm, beating around the bush, thinking others can’t handle it, or that it won’t help might just be a sign of needing some firearms training. In short, withdrawing your projection may require that your challenges, confrontations, and accusations of others are made with more precision so that you hit your target.
Fully functioning defense systems: It’s not bad to defend yourself; it’s not wrong to find your “inner-attorney” when you feel wrongly or unjustly criticized or accused. When you are feeling nervous or insecure, especially when it’s with someone who has more power than you (e.g., your boss, the law, parents, experts, or those whose praise you seek), you may still need to follow your own truth regardless of the consequences.
On the other hand, when you find that you are genuinely insecure, you may need to own up to it – to put away your stiff upper lip and hard exterior and show some vulnerability. If you can’t be open to your own insecurity, you can bet your defense mechanisms cut you off from yourself and others at times. In short, you need to consciously decide when to don your bulletproof vest and to admit your position is already shot through with holes.
Finally, to be a firm, straight shooting, vulnerability risking therapist, let me say it plain: These gun nuts are crazy, but so are you. It’s time for less logic and more “psycho-logic.” While waking up the gun fanatics may not be an easy task, it doesn’t mean you have to bask unconsciously in your own projections and mini-psychoses.
It’s time to stop beating our heads against the brick wall of the belief systems of gun nuts made even more solid by imbuing them with the power of our own projections. Let’s withdraw our power and learn to use our psychological weapons and defenses where we can make a difference – with ourselves, our friends, our families, and our local communities.
Now that you know the psychological truth, what can you do about it? Simply put, you have to empathize with them. You have to find the gun crazy, arms-carrying, home-protecting, government-fighting, unflinching, unchangeable, "You will have to pull it out of my dead cold hands" part of yourself. How do you do this? Try the quick exercise below. I’ll help by joining you and describing my experiences in parentheses. Here’s how:
Enjoy your new self and, if you can, imagine these gun crazies have a very loose grip on themselves and need to hold on even tighter to their own viewpoints, perspective, and religion, just like you do.
For more about other topics including race, gender, and domestic violence, see David Bedrick's book Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology. Signed copies are available for sale on his website: www.talkingbacktodrphil.com. Follow David on Twitter @lovebasedpsych and Facebook for regular updates on dieting, relationships, sex, addictions, dreams, and more. Feel free to join the conversation and post your comments below.