Christopher Rufo: The Cluster B Society
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From City Journal:

The Cluster B Society

Psychological dysfunction is now valorized and embedded in our institutions. We need to understand what we’re dealing with.

By Christopher F. Rufo

Sep 24 2023

Psychologists have captured the spirit of our modern culture in four specific psychopathologies that, together, make up the Cluster B personality disorders: the narcissist, the borderline, the histrionic, and the antisocial.

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by a sense of entitlement, obsession with one’s own importance, and deep feelings of resentment, often expressed through moral self-righteousness. Borderline personality disorder is marked by an unstable sense of identity, black-and-white thinking, feelings of emptiness, and recurring self-harm and suicide attempts. Histrionic personality disorder exhibits excessive emotionality, sexual provocation, and attention-seeking, often to serve a pathological need for sympathy. Antisocial personality disorder is typified by impulsivity, manipulation, disregard for others, and a penchant for violence and aggression that violates social norms.

This cluster of psychopathologies is no longer an individual matter, however, to be dealt with in the privacy of the analyst’s office. On the contrary, Cluster B psychological traits have begun to shape the patterns and structures of our culture. The scenes of American public life increasingly resemble a Cluster B psychodrama: victimhood replaces accomplishment as the standard of merit; accusation replaces disagreement as the means of settling disputes; false compassion becomes the primary method of manipulating citizens into compliance; and the whole scheme is enforced with the threat of violence: obey, or suffer the consequences.

For most of American history, significant personality disorders were treated as problems and their sufferers largely relegated to the fringes of society. But in the emerging Cluster B society, narcissistic, borderline, histrionic, and antisocial psychological traits can now be found in those elevated to positions of power and celebrated by our institutions. The new status quo is an emerging leadership class that rules through emotional blackmail and uses the cover of various “victim” groups to impose its agenda on society. If citizens dissent, they are branded hateful bigots, accused of lacking empathy, and sometimes banished from public life.

While these strategies are contemptible, they are also extraordinarily effective in controlling what we think, what we say, and how we act. And they have slowly transformed our institutions into what psychologist Andrzej Łobaczewski calls a “pathocracy,” or rule by psychological dysfunction. This has become our new social order. Once a thoughtful observer internalizes this phenomenon, he will start to see it everywhere: the Cluster B traits have been formalized and entrenched in our human resource departments, government policies, cultural institutions, and civil rights laws.

Examples abound. A recent CIA recruitment video valorized the Cluster B traits of narcissistic identity obsession, self-righteousness, and craving for affirmation. “I am a woman of color. I am a mom. I am a cisgender millennial who has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder,” intones the featured CIA analyst as the camera pans over her diversity awards. “I used to struggle with impostor syndrome, but at 36, I refuse to internalize misguided, patriarchal ideas of what a woman can or should be.”

In a Cluster B society, psychological disorders are job qualifications rather than problems to be solved; ideology replaces competence as a marker of distinction.

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