Clinical psychologist says specific language used in this political climate can lead to turmoil

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Central Oklahoma said specific language used in the United States’ current political climate could contribute to the turmoil we’re seeing across the country.

“I think that words are extremely powerful,” Caleb Lack said.

A social media post from a communications employee in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office mentioned the National Republican Congressional Committee putting house Democrats in “body bags.” The Governor’s Office said in response, “The phrase used wasn’t to be taken literally and any insinuation otherwise is ridiculous.” The tweet can be seen below.

A Psychologist we talked to said using specific language can spread like wildfire, leading to the turmoil we’re seeing today.

“I think that words are extremely powerful,” Lack said. “What it is I want to hear can make me interpret things that someone says very differently than what you are wanting to hear and how you interpret those.”

“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left democrats,” President Donald Trump said at his ‘Save America’ rally before a mob stormed the capitol. “We will never give up, we will never concede.”

“If you have a leader that is encouraging or inciting violence or using very violent kinds of words, then you’re going to see people who are already prone to engaging in that violence take that as ‘Yes, I can and should do this because my leader is saying we can,’” Lack said.

“Insurrection act is now,” a Trump supporter said near the capitol. “You have the power, sir, and we support you!!”

It’s been seen on both sides of the aisle. A Washington Post article from 2018 shows Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein from California saying, “This is the United States of America. Not Nazi Germany” in reference to the U.S. Mexico border situation.

A Huffington Post article from 2015 shows Hillary Clinton compare the views of her Republican colleagues to terrorist groups.

“When any authority figure lends credence to something that is factually untrue, what it does is it sort of opens the door for those people that look up to them to say, ‘Oh, well, maybe there is some truth to this,’” Lack said.

We’ve also seen it locally in the state of Oklahoma. Cleveland County GOP Chair Dave Spaulding said in a Facebook post that can be seen below that he is unsure why violence is unacceptable.

Photo goes with story
Facebook post from Dave Spaulding.

In another Facebook post that can be seen below, Republican Senator Rob Standridge compares the removal of social media accounts to Nazi Germany.

Photo goes with story
Facebook post from Republican Senator Rob Standridge.

“If we never pause and say, ‘Why am I doing what it is that I’m doing?’ or ‘What factors have led me to feel this particular way?’ then we’re very likely just to act just on those emotions instead of acting more rationally,” Lack said.

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