In an insightful City Journal article, Christopher Rufo observed, “There is a creeping sense that our society has turned upside-down.  Healthy debate is replaced by activist hysterics.  Speech is declared violence; violence is excused as speech.  Masculinity is condemned as ‘toxic,’ while men in dresses are celebrated in the public square.  It feels as if we are in the midst of a society-wide mental breakdown.”

Rufo goes on to say, “A strange new pattern of psychological dysfunction has infiltrated all our institutions … that creeping feeling sets in: our society is sick; our institutions are out of balance; our public life has been consumed by a cluster of disorders that appeal to our worst instincts and derange our most vital social functions.”  What is emerging is something new: the “Cluster B society,” which is “heavily influenced by the rise of personal pathologies and the power of … social media.”  

Four psychopathologies and personality disorders capture the spirit of our modern culture, thus creating the Cluster B society: the narcissist, the borderline, the histrionic, and antisocial.  The narcissistic personality has a sense of entitlement, the borderline personality is marked by an unstable sense of identity, the histrionic personality exhibits excessive emotionality, sexual provocation and attention-seeking, while the antisocial personality displays impulsivity, manipulation, disregard for others, tending toward violence and aggression. 

The emerging Cluster B society can also be found in positions of power and our highest institutions.  “The Cluster B traits have been formalized and entrenched in our human resource departments, government policies, cultural institutions, and civil rights laws.”  Rufo maintains, “The modern university is the primary replication site for the Cluster B pathologies.”  Pathocracy rules, that is, psychological dysfunction.  

Rufo sites social critic Heather MacDonald, who argues that with the rise of female college administrators, an obsession with “safety” and “victimhood” has emerged, in which students are validated for their self-pity.  From the university, the culture of Cluster B has spread outward.  Social media accelerates the trend.  “Sites such as TikTok have become a petri dish for incubating mental illness, especially in teenage girls, who mimic the Cluster B behaviors they see online and register skyrocketing rates of anxiety and depression.”

Some critics see this development as “the Longhouse” effect – “a matriarchal form of society that privileges the values of care, concern, and feminine social strategies.”  Rufo worries that this shift to a “female future” has consequences.  “Overly feminized leadership produces exactly the kind of Cluster B society we observe today: one in which identity is rewarded over merit, victimhood is prized over competence, and antisocial behavior goes unchecked.  Moral narcissism becomes the coin of the realm, and political conflicts are settled through blackmail and manipulation.”  

Rufo concludes by warning, “We must understand the peculiar logic and rationality of Cluster B society … If we do not, we will resign ourselves to a world gone mad.  The spontaneous life and beauty that are the fruits of a more balanced society will be snuffed out by grim commissars administering a Cluster B pathocracy.” 

In my humble opinion the Cluster B society is a crisis in masculinity.  A 1985 quote from Leanne Payne in the past sounds almost prophetic: “A crisis in masculinity is always a crisis in truth.  It is a crisis in powerlessness of the feminine virtues: the good, the beautiful, and the just … A culture will never become decadent in the face of a healthy, balanced masculinity.  When a nation or an entire Western culture backslides, it is the masculine which is the first to decline.” 

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” (I Cor. 16:13)