Readers of my articles on this website know that I normally write on strictly psychological topics. Occasionally I try to stretch my topical wings, such as with the article on “Spirituality” (a series to which I am shortly returning). But even when writing about spirituality my interest was to link it with the psychology of wellbeing.
This week’s topic is a little digression. Recently I was in a group discussion about the prevalence of narcissistic personalities in politics. Showing what I thought was a keen grasp of the obvious, someone mentioned Donald Trump. The discussion turned to Clint Eastwood’s recent comments about Trump’s critics being “oversensitive and PC”.
In Australia too we have plenty of voices that seem to be always banging on about PC. (If my articles came with pictures Pauline Hanson would go here). And the tones that come with the charges of being “too PC” are often very righteous. The accusing voice sounds like it knows everything that is wrong with others, and the whole country.
For a term that gets so much usage, the accusation of being “too PC” does not really say much. It quite often seems to mean whatever its users imagine it to mean (which would not be a problem if we had the ESP to read others minds). It is a term well-suited to narcissistic use – narcissists are masters at insinuation, exploiting ambiguous meanings and slippery terms. And narcissists do often expect others to give them near perfect understanding. (Even so, I’d suggest that even if we could somehow telepathically plug into the inner mental world of narcissists, we would only want to get out of there, and quickly!).
What does seem clear is that the term PC is often used reactively. Some people react very negatively to the way that language is always changing and evolving over time. And it is not just the changes in language that they are really reacting to. Shifts in language are inter-related with social and moral change. For instance, I’m old enough to remember when there was significant resentment about exchanging the terms used for homosexual men for the term ‘gay ’.
Meanings and Real Meanings
Using the term PC doesn’t make one a narcissist of course. But when narcissists do use the term, what might they be really meaning by it? What are the underlying conscious or unconscious meanings? Here’s some possibilities:
- I don’t want to change the way I talk. I don’t want to recognise that the things I say that seem innocent to me may be hurtful to others.
- I don’t want the way I talk to be challenged. That’s what I mean by ‘free speech’ too by the way.
- I don’t have to make an effort to be part of the solution. I reserve the right to be part of the problem, (‘politically incorrect’ with the emphasis on simply being incorrect, and getting satisfaction from it).
- I want to say things that belittle and diminish other people without taking any responsibility for it, and without any consequences for it. Thank you.
- I am strong mentally. These people who want more sensitivity shown from me are just the weak ones.
- I speak ‘the truth’ that others won’t speak. (My handy slogan, PC, gets around the spotlight being thrown on the distortions, exaggerations and lack of a sound basis in facts and evidences for my position).
- I have a clever way of dismissing contrary evidences in one broad sweep. I’ll just say they are being ‘PC’.
- I’m entitled to be ignorant and provocative and anybody who challenges my sense of entitlement is being arrogant and controlling. And if they find me aggravating that’s their problem.
- If you change the language that supports my favourite prejudices then you are changing the status quo for me (and this is ‘Australia’ – we have had this status quo for a long time, it’s our ‘culture’ for heaven’s sake).
- There might be some prejudice in my position but I don’t want to know about it. But then I don’t really want to know about anything that doesn’t compliment me.
Here’s 5 More just for the Sport of it
- I’m sticking to my slogans because if you expose the prejudices behind them then you might get the better of me. And that wouldn’t be a fair outcome for me.
- The world was a much better place for me when nearly all of us used words that were belittling to minority groups. It didn’t hurt anybody, well not anybody that counted.
- When I say we must stop PC and ‘thought police’ what I really mean is that I prefer to police the language of other people. But hopefully you won’t notice my agenda, after all I have it well hidden behind the slogan.
- Please don’t speak the truth, it’s very inconvenient for me. Besides that it scares me, and I’m anxious about enough things in life already.
- I believe in the absolute right to free speech. Except in my home, kids’ schools, church, town, political party … get the picture?
GUEST WRITER’S BIO
Dr Geoffrey Arnold is an experienced counsellor who has worked with people with anxiety and depression issues (including ‘at-risk’ of suicide), grief, and general adjustment to life’s challenges. He is also a marriage counsellor and educator. He has a multidisciplinary PHD in education, philosophy, psychology and theology that focused on the big topic of ‘wisdom’.
To me, Dr Arnold goes by the name of Dad, Dadsie, Daddy, or Daddo. He is my rock. The person who I’ve always been able to rely on. The person who has been my guiding light through every crisis, small or large, that I’ve ever experienced. He is the most caring and giving person I have ever met. The first person to help loved ones, and strangers, who are experiencing difficulty. The ultimate advocate for the underdog. He has saved more lives than he will ever know. He is my hero, in every sense of the word. I’m so happy to be able to share some of his knowledge with you on my blog.