Armchair Psychology

A post in which I combine observable cues, McDonald’s, dementia, my family, and Joe Biden to make an amateur diagnosis.

When people face new or unfamiliar situations, they seek ways to define and therefore, understand them. In many cases people search for and find enough data to process so they can place the situation in a context that allows them to manage or understand it.

In the cases where there is simply not enough data or information, people look for “observable cues” to help define and understand.

A common example used as a teaching tool in business schools is the McDonald’s restaurant parking lot case.

McDonald’s managers are trained as a matter of process to keep the restaurant parking lots and store fronts clean, litter free and neat. Why would anyone care what the parking lots look like? Well, while the consumer cannot see into the restaurant as they drive by, they can see the parking lot. A clean parking lot becomes a proxy for the inside of the restaurant – a clean kitchen, clean restrooms, and a clean eating area. The observable cue of a clean parking lot registers in the mind of the hungry driver that this is likely to be a clean place with safe food. The same goes for the opposite. If the outside is dirty, trash filled and unkempt, we extrapolate that the inside is likely to be the same.

These are generalizations to be sure – but that does not make them wrong.

That the Democrats are complaining about Biden’s lack of direction and guidance on these major, nation-altering bills winding through Congress suggests something. It suggests there are observable cues to which we all should be paying attention.

Let me relate some experience I have with such cues.

In my family, we have had experience with dementia in senior members.

I have seen it outwardly expressed in a couple of ways:

In my mom, it was a sort of gentle confusion, a state of which she was seemingly aware but simply could not overcome, and one that led to her accepting decisions other people made for her, but once in a while, she would feel cornered and get into a offensive mood, digging in either for or against a certain decision or action.

In my paternal grandmother, it was combative bitterness and absolute disagreement. She questioned everything, rarely agreed with any action and the only time she didn’t seem sad or angry was when she was asleep. Like my mom, there were times when she would get into a defensive mood and be a meek as a lamb.

It almost appeared that the cognitive decline just amplified the central character of the person. Before the onset of the dementia, my mom was confident but outwardly shy and retiring, my paternal grandmother insecure and came off as being stern and demanding.

Of course, neither condition was absolute – there was always a mix of behaviors depending on the day or the situation, but more often than not, these two people fell into one or the other behavior most of the time. Setting aside the obvious visual evidence, and assuming I am even close, if Biden’s condition is an example of the former rather than the latter, it would explain a lot. It would explain why it appears no one is in charge because no one is, it is a group of people each doing their thing. That could explain the chaos in message and action coming out of 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It would also explain why the Congressional Democrats are complaining about the lack of leadership out of the White House. They are rolling in and asking his guidance, but getting back nothing because he is confused and and unsure.

Afghanistan could be an example of him digging in when confronted with too many inputs.

I’m not a medical or psychological expert, but if you have had first hand experience with dementia as I have, the President exhibits signs, observable cues, we all recognize and the outcomes of those cues serve as validation.

I speak with no malice, but Joe Biden is not, nor was he prior to the 2020 election, in any mental condition necessary to meet the demands of the Presidency.

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