Alec Baldwin, the American actor, is of course right to say that climate denialism is a mental illness:
However, Psychology Today author Jean M Twenge Ph.D. points out that Alec Baldwin himself is mentally ill, suffering as he obviously does from intense narcissism. She writes:
Not every narcissist who gets thrown off a plane makes the news, but actor Alec Baldwin did today. According to the airline, Baldwin refused to turn off his iPad after repeated requests and then—with the seatbelt sign on—went to the airplane bathroom to try to continue playing a game (“Words with Friends”) on the device. The airline also says he swore at the flight attendants and slammed the bathroom door.
Is this necessarily narcissistic? (I do research the trait, so could be accused of seeing nails everywhere because I have a hammer). But here the answer is pretty clear: Yes. When playing a game is more important than following FAA rules, and more important than not abusing underpaid flight attendants, a good deal of self-centered thinking is clearly involved. It’s the classic thought of a narcissist: The rules do not apply to me.
Baldwin’s previous history also provides some clues. In 2007, Baldwin was caught on tape calling his then-11-year-old daughter a “thoughtless little pig.” Sure, everybody loses it occasionally with their kids. But his language in the rest of the message was even more telling, especially this line: “You have insulted me for the last time.” It sounds like a line from a Hollywood shoot-‘em-up movie, not like a conversation between a father and a daughter.
It also sounds exactly like a narcissist.
We hope therefore Mr Baldwin—a man clearly burdened with his own difficulties—will join with us in trying to develop a more understanding attitude towards mental illness and consider, in line with all the great mental health campaigns of our age, that the best approach to climate denialism is to lower the stigma associated with it. At least one in four people suffer from climate denialism, although some estimates go as high as three in four (based on the complete, utter and intense apathy the general voting public has towards green policies), suggesting to a degree that we’re all climate deniers somewhere along the spectrum. Something to bear in mind, perhaps.