Some supporters of John Kerry shocked by President Bush’s victory in last week’s election continue to seek out psychological help, prompting at least one mental-health center to offer free counseling through the end of this year.
The Florida-based American Health Association has released symptoms of what it calls “post-election selection trauma,” or PEST, which include: feelings of withdrawal, feelings of isolation, emotional anger and bitterness, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, nightmares, pervasive moodiness including endless sulking, and being excessively worried about the direction of the country.
“Post-election selection trauma affects many people and they have a right to be taken seriously and to seek counseling,” psychotherapist Rob Gordon of the AHA told the Boca Raton News. “This is a real need and we’re a charity. This is not a matter of Republicans and Democrats.”
Some 30 people have reportedly contacted Gordon’s group for counseling since Kerry conceded the race to Bush Nov. 3, and more than a dozen others in Palm Beach County have undergone intense hypnotherapy by trauma specialist Douglas Schooler.
“The problem is out there and it’s not going to go away anytime soon,” Schooler told the paper. “Conservatives are calling me to say these people are weak-kneed kooks, but they’re not acknowledging that this is a normal psychological response to a severe and disillusioning situation. Any suggestion that this is not a serious problem arises from a political agenda. The Republicans don’t want this talked about.”
Other counselors, like Nancy Tabet of Delray Beach, Fla., are finding similar concerns among clients.
“It’s interesting to me that people in Palm Beach County, because they vote for Kerry and thoroughly expected him to win, are in somewhat of a disbelief stage,” she said. “We talk it out in our sessions and I help them realize there are people who share their viewpoint and who are there for them throughout this ordeal.”
But there isn’t unanimity among counselors about the existence of any actual trauma.
“I don’t disagree with their diagnosis, but I wouldn’t use the word trauma,” Elizabeth Foxman, a cognitive therapist in Delray Beach told the News. “That’s a loaded term. I would say there’s more sadness and anxiety than trauma. My own patients have been stressed, but only one or two have mentioned the election as a topic in therapy.”
Last weekend, a Georgia man fatally shot himself at Ground Zero in New York City. Friends of Andrew Veal, 25, stated they believed the suicide was a protest against Bush’s re-election and the war in Iraq.
“When someone commits suicide in New York and Kerry’s loss is even slightly connected, it’s serious,” Gordon said.
The issue is reminiscent of anxiety expressed earlier this year – especially among some Republicans and conservatives – when Bush announced he would seek legal status for millions of illegal aliens through what he called a temporary-worker program.
As WorldNetDaily reported, some Bush supporters felt it was a “slap in the face from the president,” as they experienced nightmares, sweaty palms and knifing pains.
Radio talk-show giant Rush Limbaugh addressed the Kerry-counseling issue during his national broadcast Tuesday, noting that he would offer his own brand of conservative help to those who felt anxious.
“We lost in ’92, we lost in ’96. We didn’t go out there and act like we had stress disorders and so forth,” Limbaugh said. “But each time we have won, we won in ’88, we won in 2000, and we won in 2004. That encompasses my 16 years. And each time after a victory, I have been magnanimous, and I myself have offered therapy and counseling to liberals who wanted to call and talk about it, and seriously so, and I have offered my compassion to those who seek it and I’ve also been open to accepting apologies from people on the left if that would make them feel better.”