Friday, November 05, 2004
Blue America: The Therapeutic State.
Election loss like grief for supporters
MANSFIELD -- The 2004 presidential election may be over. But for many, the emotional aftermath will linger for weeks.
"There is a mix of emotions," said Dennis Marikis, a psychologist who oversees IntegriCare EAP Services and Mansfield Psychology Services. "There is a sense of relief. This has been a tense-filled time. But the emotion doesn't dissipate."
Anyone who has put their heart and soul into campaigning, only to lose, may feel anger and frustration, Marikis said.
Many will experience an "if only" attitude. They'll ask themselves if there was anything more than could have been done, he said.
Blake Wagner agreed. Wagner is a clinical psychologist at New Directions Counseling Center. He said supporters of Sen. John Kerry may feel emotions similar to grief.
"Some will be in denial," he said. "Some will be angry."
The stages of grief include denial. The next stage is anger, where they believe the Republicans must have cheated. Then comes depression, where they feel hopeless over the state of the country. Finally, people learn to accept, he said.
"The flip side of anger is helplessness," Wagner said. "The way to help is to take small steps." People should learn coping mechanisms such as increasing exercise or planning a vacation, he said. Also, people may want to take a break from all the election talk in the media.
"The big thing I tell people is to talk about it," Marikis said. "You have to let go of something you put yourself into for the past year."
Marikis believes emotions have been heightened because of the lingering threat of terrorism. The Nov. 2 election brought those emotions to the foreground as Americans were reminded of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Those attacks made people feel vulnerable, he said. He said Kerry and President Bush played on heightened emotions.
"There should be a lesson we learn from this," he said. "This has been the most negative campaign in recent history. What can we learn from this experience? We are not as strong divided. I think the campaign wasn't about the two candidates. It was about security and the economy. I just hope people can work toward letting go."
That is something adults can learn from children.
John Simpson Middle School Principal Ruby Haynes said her children don't seem to change following an election.
"(Kids) just observe what their parents do. Kids will move on," she said.