This video illustrates how the thinking described by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff in The Coddling of the American Mind can manifest in real life:
This is not an isolated incident. The mindset of “vindictive protectiveness” is taking over campuses across the country. An anonymous column entitled I’m A Liberal Professor and My Students Terrify Me appeared on Vox. Jonathan Chait wrote Can We Start Taking Political Correctness Seriously Now?
And it’s getting worse. The vitriol endured by the Yale professor was so relentless that he and his wife who is also a professor there have decided not to teach next semester, saying they “worry that the current climate at Yale is not, in my view, conducive to the civil dialogue and open inquiry required to solve our urgent societal problems.” The Dean of Students of Claremont McKenna College also resigned after suffering similar persecution.
There’s a frightening similarity between the behaviors of the “safe space” protesters and the following list of Emotional Symptoms of Behavioral Disorders from the Boston Children’s Hospital and PsychGuides.com.
- Easily getting annoyed or nervous
- Often appearing angry
- Putting blame on others
- Refusing to follow rules or questioning authority
- Arguing and throwing temper tantrums
- Having difficulty in handling frustration
There’s evidence that The Yale Problem Begins in High School. I believe it Starts in Kindergarten. The suggestion is strong that twelve years of coddling by our primary and secondary education system, and potentially four more at university, creates entire generations of citizens with rates of behavioral disorders much higher than normal, or necessary. What have we done? What sorts of future leaders, workers, and teachers are we sending out into the world?
Interrupting and yelling in someone’s face and walking away to deprive the other a chance for dialog or corroboration of any kind … this is justified by the excuse “It’s their fault because they made me so mad.” Therein lies the problem, this next generation doesn’t take responsibility for their own behavior, and likely because the social media on which they’ve been raised does not encourage them to develop good interactivity and listening skills, and it rewards abusive behavior. The internet was supposed to be a forum, but ti has become a bully-pulpit, and little more.
Really, I’m afraid there is little to be done about it. I do think institutions like this should require a class for all incoming students on how to interact appropriately, what is and isn’t appropriate, and their own responsibility for their own behavior (how blaming others for poor behavior like this reflects only on them, for which they should be ashamed). We need to bring shame back to poor interactivity skills.
I’m not sure I agree with everything you’ve written there, but the concept of “vindictive protectiveness” reminds me of the concept of “defensive aggression” Research shows that oxytocin, the chemical linked to maternal behavior and social bonding, actually promotes aggression in defense of the loved one. See for instance
So compassionate people can actually get very angry and aggressive if they think those within the circle of their concern are in danger. I think that may be what is happening here.
This is fascinating. Wonderful info. Thanks for the insight and the link.
Yes I think it’s true that many factors, traits, attributes, circumstances, etc. ultimately play a role in how and why people do the things we do. I don’t mean to imply that my post tells the whole story. I only mean to suggest a connection between things that maybe other people haven’t seen, or maybe a perspective from which interplay hasn’t been observed.
Your comment fits very will with my understanding of how this all works.
The liberal morality is made of the individualizing foundations of care, fairness, and liberty, and of those mostly just care. Liberals tend to be a lot more angry, and seem to act out a lot more, than conservatives. How often have you seen a protest march by conservatives in which they deliberately disrupt daily life for the local population and get up in the face of people they encounter. Practically never. But all of that often seems seems de rigueur for liberals. Google the BLM kids in the Dartmouth library. This corroborates, or is corroborated by, your final sentence, and with the overall sentiment of your comment.
I wonder if anyone’s ever studied relative levels of oxytocin in liberals and conservatives.
It’s crazy how this trend just keeps snowballing. What started on elite college campuses three years ago is now infecting the halls of Congress. My hats off to you, to Haidt, to Peterson and to everyone that predicted this mind virus would spread so far and wide. I hope that it follows the pattern of other moral panics, but this really seems to have the shape of something much worse.