Post-Campaign Ad Stress Disorder

In the last one or two months, the person has been exposed, via television, to at least one of the following:

1. unremitting campaign attack ads,

2. intentionally obtuse or confusing campaign ads,

3. campaign ads intended to manipulate fears and emotions, deeply insulting the integrity and intellect of the viewer.

Persons with no televisions may only have been exposed to campaign junk mail or outdoor signage, which tends to present a milder or sub-clinical picture.

Person must have at least three of the following:

* recurrent nightmares that a political candidate has come to live with the person indefinitely (bedwetting and insomnia are associated symptoms)

* person has persistent, intrusive fantasies of what s/he’d say to a candidate, if given the chance. “Shut up, shut up, shut up, you racist anachronism,” is a common one, as is, “I want my campaign contribution back, if this is the best you can come up with.”

* preoccupation with moving to a non-democratic country with no election process and no hope for one in the future

* person drops to the ground and curls into a thumb-sucking fetal position when phrases such as, “my opponent” or “if elected” are heard, regardless of context

* person believes not one thing s/he is told for many months after the initial campaign ad assault

* person believes the television has extraordinary, evil powers and hides the remote from family members in an attempt to save lives

* impulse control primarily manifesting in property destruction of TVs

* disillusionment with humanity

* intermittent blink-less staring and drooling and/or uncontrollable yawning

* concurrent substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and chronic annoyance leading to homicidal ideation

Associated Disorders

The following disorders often occur with Post-Campaign Ad Stress Disorder.

Post-Campaign Ad Delirium The person has no recollection of his or her former life, believing he is one of the recent candidates. He attempts to be truthful, humble and interact well with others. Experts believe it is an unconscious attempt to “undo” the campaign ads the person has been exposed to.

Campaign Ad Dependence A rare associated disorder, but not unheard of. Some people become addicted to the vitriolic, absurd, manipulative quality of current campaign ads. They often Tivo the worst of the campaign ads and call in sick to watch them, or watch when family members are not home, or are asleep. Relationships suffer. Denial is a common feature. In those individuals, electroshock treatments along with long-term psychoanalysis is required. Campaign Ad Watching Anonymous is also recommended.


Hospitalization is seldom required for Post-Campaign Ad Stress Disorder, except in rare cases. A TV/radio/mail hiatus of several weeks is often necessary. Remembering sweet ads from yesteryear, like the “Please Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” ads of the 70’s, is sometimes effective. (Note: Many experts believe helping people associate happiness with advertising is not actually beneficial to a person’s long term functioning.) Reality testing such as, “People aren’t all blithering idiots” is often useful. Reassurances that ’08 is a long, long way away can be helpful for some, but realizing election season starts early only generates panic attacks in others, deepening the trauma. Discretion is advised.

Differential Diagnoses

These diagnoses are often confused with Post-Campaign Ad Stress Disorder.

Voting Apathy Disorder


Deciphering State and Local Propositions/Amendments Stress Disorder

This disorder is a pre-election and day-of election disorder, rather than post-election. It manifests in tremendous confusion and/or indecisiveness and intense questioning of one’s intellect when reading the fine print of local and state propositions and amendments, often leading to some form of brief substance abuse, uncontrollable swearing and/or blanks on the ballot.

Post-Just Listened to Rush Limbaugh for an Hour Stress Disorder

While this disorder is very similar to PCASD, sharing many symptoms such as severe annoyance, disillusionment with humanity and the fantasy of saying, “Shut up, shut up, shut up, you racist anachronism,” etc., Post-Rush Disorder can be distinguished from PCASD because it is a reaction to just one person. In addition, it is almost always an extremely serious and debilitating condition, often requiring long term hospitalization, and can happy year round. Prognosis is quite poor for those with this disorder.

Note: If symptoms of Post-Campaign Ad Stress Disorder linger for more than one month, the disorder may be confused with and/or exacerbated by Holiday Retail Ad Stress Disorder. But this disorder can be easily distinguished by its chief symptom, credit card debt.

CAROL NORRIS is a freelance writer, psychotherapist and long-time political activist. To see an archive of some of her articles, visit her tragically moribund, one day, maybe, to be resurrected blog: www.carolnorris.blogs.com


More articles by:

Carol Norris is a psychotherapist, freelance writer, and longtime political activist.

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