An ideologue is someone who fabricates simple, soothing ideas to disconnect from the chaos he perceives to be reality. Someone who has ideas, however, uses them to correctly identify and so understand reality.
The allure of an ideology is it’s a defense against painful emotional issues the ideologue has yet to manage. As such, an ideology is more like an illness than a chosen philosophy—it’s something that happens to us when we don’t take care of our mental health.
Here are five indications you’re using ideas to tune out from reality instead of understanding it.
1. You cannot portray the opposition well
Ideologues are more likely to convince themselves they’re right in contrast to an opposition, which is a fabricated projection that makes their side seem sympathetic by comparison. If Trump is indeed on the same moral plane as Hitler, then your opposition to Trump will only indulge your savior complex—hence, you’ll always be right. Unless you can make your opponent’s case better than he can make it himself, you will unconsciously allow yourself to feel more right than you are.
2. Your IQ is lower than 115
The uncomfortable emotional issues that ideology assuages usually stem from childhood trauma. This takes the form of repeated abuse, whether physical, sexual, or emotional. We can overcome this trauma through the conscious processing of it, and even use it to our advantage, but only if our IQ is at least 115.
This may seem controversial but it’s an accepted position among psychologists behind closed doors. If we’re in the lower 85 percent of the population regarding intelligence, then we lack the conceptual ability required to make meaning out of trauma. As a result, we’ll inevitably construct a simple ideology as a way to soothe the pain.
3. You had sex too early, or too late
There isn’t anything technically wrong with having a first, sexual experience at 13 years old, but an early onset of physical intimacy indicates a problem with forming healthy attachments. If we could form healthy attachments at that age, then we will be more comfortable in our childhood and so more likely to hold off on sex until at least age 16. This is more true for women but it’s also true for men.
Conversely, anyone who’s still a virgin at 24, and who isn’t physically deformed, typically has serious anxiety issues. It’s these sorts of anxiety issues most people (see above point) have a difficult time coming to terms with. Distraction, even a clever one, is much easier and can feel much better in the short term.
4. You have unhealthy relationships with your parents
The two relationships that have the most bearing on our lives are the ones with mom and dad. Freud was right about this. If we cannot develop close connections with them that mature from benevolent dictatorship in childhood to one of deep friendship in our early to mid-20s, then it’s going to be much more difficult to relate with the rest of humanity.
Without the secure relationships our nature craves, anxiety accumulates and we must latch on to an ideology as a psychological salve. Pick up the phone and call your parents to inoculate yourself against the benzo effects of the crowd.
5. You’re a pragmatist
Men who believe they are above ideological trappings by proclaiming themselves to be pragmatists are usually the ones most riddled by an ideology. Philosophy—or religion, which is a kind of philosophy—when consciously chosen, is a framework through which we can navigate the messy world of thought. No man is above ideas like no lion is above using his fangs. The question comes down to how well our ideas reflect reality (i.e. how sharp are our fangs?).
There’s nothing wrong with ideas or ideologies. What matters is their accuracy and how we use them. Though it’s difficult to develop ideas that reflect reality and venerate man unless we become in touch with the reality of who we are, our virtues and faults. Only by first looking at ourselves correctly can we then turn out and look at reality correctly.