The Suppression-Expression Paradox

wailing wall

Source: The Rawness

The suppression-expression paradox simply means that the more a person or group suppresses a natural human urge, the more intense their expression of that natural urge will be once/if they ever do decide to express it.

For example, modern progressive liberals, especially of the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert generation, choose to engage in politics with a certain type of hip, snarky, cynical detachment. There have been several studies alleging that The Daily Show has an effect of causing people to distrust the whole political process, because they end up viewing Democrats as inept, pandering, and bumbling, although well-intentioned, and Republicans as evil and ill-intentioned, and as a result end up becoming cynical and disengaged in politics in general.

There is a natural human urge to want to believe in something bigger than ourselves, and to elevate certain people to a heroic status that we can believe in and look up to. Because of our modern era where we get to see how the sausage is made in every area of our lives, and where nothing is too sacred to mock anymore, a whole generation of people began to suppress this natural urge to want to elevate our political leaders to a heroic, exalted status.

(I know some of the more pedantic readers may chime in for me to cite proof via peer-reviewed studies or statistics that there is a human tendency to want to elevate people to an exalted, superior heroic status. I can’t do that, or more accurately, I won’t do that because I think there are more than enough historical examples in our textbooks and anecdotal examples in our everyday lives that provide proof of this. But if you want to see a great case made for this, I suggest trying Ernest Becker’s Escape from Evil)

This suppression, I believe, is exactly what caused the level of crazed, uncritical cultlike adoration of Barack Obama that we saw among this same generation of Daily Show viewers in 2008, something the Onion mocked in this video clip:

They’re over-the-top cynicism and detachment regarding politics and religion suppressed their natural urge to believe in something bigger than themselves, to give themselves over to a cause and trust in heroic figures. Natural urges that get suppressed build up pressure and start demanding release, and oftentimes once you do release them even a little bit they explode out.

It also works in reverse. Many people who are overboard when it comes to acting out any of their natural urges, when they decide to start reining those urges in they often go to the opposite extreme and go overboard in suppressing them. People who started out adoring heroic figures in politics and religion, when they dial it back, often end up becoming incredibly cynical or become proseletysing atheists. Someone who was a hardcore hedonist, when he dials it back, instead of coming to a point of moderation when it comes to vices, instead becomes a hardcore religious person, reading scripture constantly, always trying to convert others, and bringing up God all the time.  That’s why I always believe that the more fervently a person converts to religion and ascetism later in life, the more of an unrepentant hedonist they were earlier in life.

Ponder for yourself how this relates to the superhuman/subhuman dynamic.