Psychological explanation and Brexit, Trump and a lot more.

Is there a root cause of the psychological angst caused by Brexit?

In a post here about why Brexit has caused me such depression and anxiety, despite the fact that in a narrow sense I gain some from it, I listed a lot of pretty bad things that will – or at least may – follow from it.

Similarly, lots of us are upset about Trump’s success for an array of reasons, some having to do with the validation he seems to give to base racisms and xenophobias. Since I am white, the racisms won’t directly make my life worse even though I, along with many others, most certainly don’t like living in an unjust, racist society.

I also quoted an article from the Guardian that purported to explain the psychological upset so gripping the UK, it says. They take as the starting point for the anxiety not that, e.g., millennials have their dreams of having access to all the EU countries at least put into question. (And a lot of smaller scale, but very important, events make the question a lot more than hypothetical. UK scientists are losing places on EU grants, important institutions are getting ready to move to Europe, etc.)

Rather the Guardian article holds that the anxiety stems from our bodily reaction to a change in borders. For the body, borders protect us from infection and even annihilation, and the threat of such things forms the basis of our anxiety.

There seem to be two styles of explanation operating. One appeals to societal harms as sufficient explanation, while the other seeks to locate the harms as stemming from a very individual bodily sense.

Can we have societal concerns not based on individual concerns? I would really like to hear what readers think.

I would myself have thought that the answer is pretty obviously “yes.” But social discourse in the US at least appears riddled with the assumption that our likes and dislikes are firmly based in the individual. (“Riddled with” might be thought to be evaluative, and it is. But I could be wrong.)

For those who don’t want to comment, let’s have a poll: