Limbaugh’s Contradictions

by | Oct 27, 2003

Q: Dr. Hurd, I am sure you heard about Rush Limbaugh’s addiction and subsequent hospitalization for prescription drugs. Doesn’t this show that addictive problems are a medical disease, and that Limbaugh’s (and your own) emphasis on choice and self-reliance cannot work? A: I know you would love it to be this way because of your […]

Q: Dr. Hurd, I am sure you heard about Rush Limbaugh’s addiction and subsequent hospitalization for prescription drugs. Doesn’t this show that addictive problems are a medical disease, and that Limbaugh’s (and your own) emphasis on choice and self-reliance cannot work?

A: I know you would love it to be this way because of your own apparent problems with the concepts of choice and self-reliance. But no, you’re wrong; Limbaugh’s problems no more obliterate the concepts of choice and self-reliance than do the personal problems of someone who spreads the victim viewpoint throughout the culture, as most cultural commentators do.

Whatever details emerge from all this–and most probably won’t–it’s clear that Limbaugh must have engaged in the worst form of deception: self-deception.

I always believed and continue to believe that Mr. Limbaugh is serious in holding the viewpoints he advocates. However, there were and are contradictions in those viewpoints: most notably, the idea that the ethics of religion can be reconciled with the secular values of capitalism, individual rights and anti-terrorism. Also, like most conservatives, Limbaugh tended to ignore the importance of psychological introspection in favor of adherence to faith and religion as the only true way to cope with life problems.

Yet if you only rely on faith, how are you to deal with the troubling emotions that come up from attempting to live in reality every day of your life? Attention to psychology and psychotherapy, at least at their best, offers a secular and scientific way to cope that Limbaugh’s vague mix of God, family and country cannot be expected to fulfill. It makes me sad to think that Limbaugh will be exposed to all the nonsense that the treatment addiction industry dishes up to vulnerable people; I await with interest his response.

Contradictions have consequences, including psychologically. I can’t imagine what it must be like to hold the viewpoint that a mystical God wants us all to serve humanity and, at the same time, to pursue capitalism and defend the rights of the individual as Limbaugh did. If he didn’t take ideas seriously, such an intellectual conflict would not matter so much; but Rush Limbaugh takes ideas seriously, so far as I can tell from his show and his writings.

Holding such a contradiction when you have an audience as large and influential as Limbaugh’s would, it seems to me, necessarily lead to psychological conflict of a magnitude where getting hooked on painkillers would be a temptation in order to cope. Life can be stressful enough without such contradictions–and, in this context, it’s no wonder he developed such a problem (added, of course, to whatever else he was dealing with personally).

I hope Limbaugh corrects his premises, for his own sake as well as the sake of those who listen to him. However, the rueful glee with which his troubles are greeted by some shows the true motives of those who attack the ideals of personal responsibility, individualism and capitalism. They’re glad to see Limbaugh go down, if he does; because if he does, then they need not take responsibility for their own lives.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

Have a comment?

Post your response in our Capitalism Community on X.

Related articles

Are the Democrats betraying Israel?

Are the Democrats betraying Israel?

Both Biden and his predecessor, President Barack Obama, promised that they had Israel’s back, but it now appears that they are painting a target on its back at a time of its greatest vulnerability.

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

Pin It on Pinterest