It's Science! CNN Psychoanalyzes Conservatives, 'More Sensitive to Fear'

No wonder why CNN's ratings are low – they're diagnosing a large part of their potential audience with a disorder. A CNN guest "expert" said conservatives' brains are more susceptible to fear and claimed many are suffering from "post-election stress disorder" brought on in part by the conservative media.

"And the amygdala, the region of the brain that processes fear was much larger in people with conservative beliefs. So that means they're like more sensitive to fear," said human behavior specialist Dr. Wendy Walsh.

"[W]ith due respect to my colleagues in the more conservative press, I think they really didn't tell the truth about what was going to happen and the numbers," she added. "They wanted to seem that Mitt would win in a landslide. And many people were shocked to find out he didn't."

Anchor Don Lemon tried to prescribe a cure for these poor victims of fear, like "What about becoming friends with a liberal?" Walsh chuckled, "Well, that may be down the road. Let's not rush things, Don." Yes, depressed conservatives are presently incapable of making liberal friends.

Was another one of Lemon's prescriptions turning off talk radio? He suggested "probably trying to figure out why they were so revved up and possibly who revved them up so much to have this sort of this letdown and feeling. That would be a good place to start the examining of what your feelings are."

Yes, conservatives, you may be distraught to comical proportions at Obama's re-election. But don't worry, CNN has diagnosed your "disorder" and is here to help.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on November 10 at 10:17 p.m. EST, is as follows:

DON LEMON: Naturally, some people were upset this past week when Mitt Romney lost the election. But some seemed more than upset. A conservative author wrote this. "At the moment, I am convinced America is doomed beyond all hope of redemption and any talk of the future fills me with dread and horror."

A right-leaning radio host said, "Today was Pearl Harbor, tomorrow we begin planning for Normandy." And comedian and conservative supporter Victoria Jackson simply tweeted, "I can't stop crying. America died."

All right, Wendy Walsh is here, again, human behavioral expert, specialist here. So Wendy, for some, this goes beyond just being angry. I mean, America died? What are we hearing here?

DOCTOR WENDY WALSH, human behavior specialist: Well, I don't want to discount for one minute how real these symptoms are. I was on talk radio the other night and some of the callers were expressing major, not only emotional distress but even physiological symptoms -- vomiting, sleep disturbances, unable to eat, like real, real emotional distress from this. So, we should not discount that and we can't laugh about it. This is very, very serious. And I call it post-election stress disorder.

And I think, Don, there are probably a couple of reasons. One is, you know, with due respect to my colleagues in the more conservative press, I think they really didn't tell the truth about what was going to happen and the numbers. They wanted to make it seem not even like a close race. They wanted to seem that Mitt would win in a landslide. And many people were shocked to find out he didn't.

LEMON: Yeah, it's – I've watched and usually people, I'm not saying that they weren't gracious. Mitt Romney was very gracious. But usually people are very gracious when they lose. And I didn't see that from everyone. But again, I do have to say Mitt Romney himself was very gracious. But not all of his supporters were that gracious. And it was, you know, it was surprising to see, I think.

WALSH: Well, the other piece, Don, is actually physiological. Remember, we did a story a while back on brain scans of people who have conservative beliefs versus people who have liberal beliefs.

LEMON: Right.

WALSH: And the amygdala, the region of the brain that processes fear was much larger in people with conservative beliefs. So that means they're like more sensitive to fear. And in fact the statistics prove out. When people who tend to vote conservative have a perception that there is a threat to national security or that that's a big part of the campaign speeches of their candidates, they tend to come out to the polls in bigger numbers. Fear is what motivates them. So to have this kind of shocking loss can really stimulate their fear center. So, before I just say, yes, this is a real problem and yes, it's happening, Don, let's not forget to say that there are ways that we can heal and we can help.

I wouldn't say, usually I say venting and talking about it is good, but that let's people to ruminate in the fear and it doesn't leave their head and it increases the stress. Exercise, we know, is very good to reduce stress. Charity, altruism, helping people, close healthy family relationships, get close to your family.

LEMON: What about becoming friends with a liberal?

WALSH: Well, that may be down the road. Let's not rush things, Don. I think, you know, forcing people to do something out of the ordinary for them is not the thing to do. I think they need to get stability back in their life, understand that their breakfast didn't change that next day. Their workday was pretty much the same and to understand that this, you know, coming of the end of the world that their fear may have vacillated into is not real today and it probably won't be real in the near future. So, getting back to close relationships and family and love is what's important here.

LEMON: And probably trying to figure out why they were so revved up and possibly who revved them up so much to have this sort of –

WALSH: Oh, yes.

LEMON: -- letdown and feeling. That would be a good place to start the examining of what your feelings are. Dr. Wendy –

WALSH: But it's real, Don.

LEMON: And the world keeps spinning, though. That's the good news, as you said. Thank you.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014