Quack Quack: 25% of Students “Traumatized” By 2016 Election

Quack Quack: 25% of Students “Traumatized” By 2016 Election

Headline 25% of students say they were traumatized by the 2016 election, study says

A quarter of students found the 2016 so traumatic they now report symptoms of PTSD, according to a new study.

Researchers surveyed Arizona State University students around the time of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, and some had stress scores on par with that of school shooting witnesses’ seven-month follow-ups.

Twenty-five percent of the 769 students, who were an even mix of genders and races and socioeconomic backgrounds, reported ‘clinically significant’ levels of stress.

The most severe cases were seen among women, black, and non-white Hispanic students, who were 45 percent more likely to feel distressed by the 2016 run between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

There is a reason many still believe psychology is not far removed from witch doctoring. And this paper is that reason.

The peer-reviewed paper is “Event-related clinical distress in college students: Responses to the 2016?U.S. Presidential election” by Melissa Hagan and a few others in Journal of American College Health.

“Did he say ‘Journal of American College Health‘?”

Yes, he did. A whole journal devoted to the well-being of our over-privileged tykes. Don’t miss the article “Understanding contributing factors to verbal coercion while studying abroad.

Anyway, back to Melissa and her pals. The paper opens:

Although U.S. presidential elections occur every four years, the 2016 election was perhaps the most polarizing and emotionally evocative political event for young people in recent history.

Why does this verbiage sound like it came from the Youth Synod? Never mind.

The current study surveyed a diverse sample of college students 2-3 months after the election to examine: (1) perceived impact of the election on close relationships; (2) prevalence of subclinical and clinical election-related distress symptoms, including intrusion and avoidance; (3) demographic differences in these symptoms.

Clinical distress symptoms. As is real trauma. As in medication-eligible mental maladies. As in genuine sickness. Could this be real? Does it matter?

How did these wondrous findings come about? By asking questions with quantified unquantifiable answers. Among others:

Participants responded to the 15-item Impact of Event Scale (IES), a measure of stress responses to a significant life event. Prompted to keep the U.S. presidential election in mind, participants indicated how frequently each statement was true for them since the election, with response options from 1 (not true at all) to 4 (often true).


Although total IES scores on average did not exceed clinically significant levels (M = 18.65, SD = 15.72, Range: 0–69), 25.0% of students (n = 192) were above the cutoff for clinically significant event-related distress.

Clinically significant event-related distress. I repeat: clinically significant.

Then came the wee p-values (regressions; I’ve cut out the wee-p details):

Significant predictors of event-related distress included being female (compared to male), Democrat (compared to Republican), Independent or other party (compared to Republican), dissatisfied with the outcome, non-Christian or no religious affiliation (compared to Christian), and reporting either a positive or negative impact of the election on close relationships.

Golly, what, uh, surprises. We don’t need the wee ps to realize women, Democrats, etc. would answer differently than non-women, non-Democrats, etc. They said “We identified a high rate of event-related distress symptoms, with certain groups reporting particularly high intrusion and/or avoidance symptoms related to the election…When examined independently, females, racial minorities, those from the working and lower-middle social classes, Democrats, non-Christians, and sexual minorities reported significantly more event-related distress.”

Sadly, their “data do not allow us to identify the cause of the relatively high rate of symptoms”. But they suspect “issues of identity and social inequality” as the culprits.

They warn “The high rate of clinical distress symptoms suggests that college health practitioners be aware of the potential for the state of U.S. politics to profoundly affect students’ emotional health and consider this possibility when interfacing with students about the causes and consequences of stress.”

Coddling and babying and pacifying are the solutions, we guess.

They close by emphasizing they are seriously serious and that these are genuine health problems they’re discussing.

Approximately one-fourth of the sample met suggested criteria for clinically significant distress, which is concerning because elevated event related stress is predictive of future distress and subsequent PTSD diagnoses.

Donald Trump caused PTSD diagnoses?

Glorious, if true. Alas, if it did, it leads us to suspect the veracity of PTSD diagnoses, or of the truthfulness of the kiddies when crying over spilt electoral votes, or the integrity of academics crying “clinically significant.”


  1. John B()


    It’s not PTSD, it’s TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome originally BDS or Bush Derangement Syndrome soon to be KDS Kavanaugh Derangement Syndrome) or LIbEral

  2. Sheri

    1. PTSD is garbage and should be removed from the psych manual, if the psych people weren’t as crazy as the people they claim to help. PTSD is why humans are still on the planet—it’s not a disorder, IT’S A SURVIVAL MECHANISM. Of course, if you hate humans and want them gone, calling it a disorder is a great plan.

    2. STUPID, WEAK, IRRESPONSIBLE parents did this to the snowflake students and I take this as evidence they HATE their offspring.

    3. Since we are destroying survival mechanisms and hate our offspring, life will be hell for those useless little rats we produced, at least those that survive. Welcome to what happens when humans go really, really stupid. Nature corrects this—violently and bloodily. I guess if you can’t use the brain God gave you……

  3. Insane, traumatized students? Reopen the mental health institutions. Lock them up. Now. (Before the election.) It’s for their good, and for the good of us all.

  4. Gary

    The election results are a convenient scapegoat. The cause of the distress lies more in the ability of technology, social media, and the mainstream media/entertainment complex to frame the psychological state-of-mind of impressionable people. Trump is just a poster boy for the swirl of vague threats amplifying the normal self-doubt and anxiety 18-24 year-olds have always faced. What’s different now is that the kids live more than ever before in a virtual world that diverges from reality in ways they don’t recognize and can’t handle. Additionally, there are more kids in college, many who would not have been there in decades past, who aren’t prepared for the demands it puts on them. The stereotype of coddled and privileged applies to some but not most. What does apply to very many is lack of grounding and stability in family and faith that would help them mature.

  5. Ye Olde Statistician

    Attention Deficit Disorder evident here:

    Although U.S. presidential elections occur every four years, the 2016 election was perhaps the most polarizing and emotionally evocative political event for young people in recent history.

    Evidently they have already forgotten 1968, and the direct Russian interference in our election, via the funding and directing of protesting crowds.

  6. Joy

    Mandarine ducks, Spring Spritely to mind and the famous case of misidentity…

    Trump has his head screwed on, anyway. Knows how to hire the best advisors, so it seems.

    There is no ‘clinically significant’ except in terms of relevance to the discussion of the given clinical matter at hand.

    The term ‘clinically proven’ is also something phoney, used in the unguent industry, in which I indulge and am not ashamed.

    For example, a certain symptom or sign might be present that is not said to be clinically significant to the problem presented. No more than that. The word “relevant “ would suffice.

    As for PTSD, I’ve changed my mind about it. Not taking notice of the above article duck chase, which is clearly liberal political doctrine. It’s a total abuse of privilege to use a ‘scientific study’ *excepting it’s rubbish, to claim a political point. It’s stinky. It’s immoral. Unfortunately, it’s typical. The mere fact that politics is even mentioned in the study makes it null and void.

    It’s fake science news. It worked so well for many years but people don’t make up their minds on the basis of such things. Perhaps the younger naive voter, although they probably were always going to vote liberal anyway. I agreed with Gary’s point.

    The symptoms of PTSD are real and can be observed in people, even experienced by individuals who have no treatment for it whatsoever. Like many other psychological symptoms.

    A syndrome is a collection of symptoms which are seen in a pattern and about all of which, including cause, are not fully understood. For example, Downs Syndrome, is now understood but without the genetic knowledge the appearance of certain signs together were called a syndrome.

    Many many diseases are like this. Even those which some think are clear cut, many in Rheumatology and orthopaedics.

    Seeing patients in high numbers, patterns do form and (talking on a trivial level), an experienced clinician knows where to check or look or ask for reasons that aren’t really always clear. Certain shapes and patterns go together. Just as some people can look familiar to someone who has met many people.

    Anyway, PTSD, is one response to any kind of serious trauma or stressful event.
    So what? The treatment is only going to become clear when the condition of the patient is fully understood. Ignoring it is a perfectly good solution, for many, but for some, this doesn’t work.
    Railing against it, because many do seem to abuse the thing isn’t the way to go. It just grinds your gears.
    Stress, anxiety, depression, all exist. Trauma is just one cause of such a condition.

  7. Ray

    “You Can’t Quantify The Unquantifiable”
    But the EPA does exactly that. Remember the famous study where the EPA claimed that exposure to second hand smoke caused 30,000 cases of lung cancer a year? The EPA didn’t measure any exposure, people were asked about their exposure and a numerical value was assigned to their response. That’s how you change qualitative data to quantitative data. It’s easy to quantify the unquantifiable.

  8. Hoyos

    If words can cause medical condition, then words can be violence, therefore…

  9. Joy

    I’ve got the solution, or the potion.
    Lavender, bergamot. a little dabadoya’
    Or as they say up north, a bit of what you fancy does you good.

    Tell the students to take some whiskey with their hot chocolate.
    Or just vote for trump next time round and stand a better chance of finding a job at the end of their course.
    Problems solved.

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