He can’t hide his lying eyes

They are illuminated by the gaslight

Image by Wil Stewart

Donald Trump is a liar.

He is using his lies to coerce you into second guessing yourself and questioning what you have seen and heard with your own eyes and ears. He is purposefully trying to muddy the waters of reason and convince you to believe that the truth is a lie, and that the lies are the facts.

There is a word for what he is doing — it’s called ‘gaslighting’.

In a recent article in Psychology Today, Stephanie Sarkis, PhD and Licensed Mental Health Counselor states:

“Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think”.

Trump’s dishonest techniques are intentional and are calculated to specifically make you distrust reputable news outlets, to second-guess reliable organizations and/or data, and to doubt people who have a proven reputation of honesty.

This is not new. It is an age-old technique used by fascists and dictators like Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler and Kim Jong-il to maintain control of their populace and further their rise to power.

In fact, the term “Lügenpresse” — a favorite term used in Nazi Germany — was resurrected by supporters of the Trump campaign. It translates to “lying press”. Trump has embraced the notion and continues to use the term “dishonest media” and “fake news” to discredit reliable sources. A quick Twitter archives search will bring you to dozens and dozens of tweets from Trump where he is lashing out about dishonest, corrupt or lying media —especially when they’ve presented facts that oppose his own statements or agenda.

A gaslighter routinely accuses others of perpetuating the deceit that he is actually doing.

He is attempting to manipulate you in such a way that you will only look to him for answers. He is attempting to train you to be viciously loyal to him and to lash out against anyone who presents facts that could be threatening to him or his agenda. He is trying to convince you that anyone using his own words to correct his lies is attacking him — and thereby attacking you by association.

“Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders”. — Stephanie Sarkis, PhD

Trump is a developer, and he is trying desperately to develop an army of citizens that will fight the truth-sayers for him in the streets of his new America — while he pulls those very streets right out from under our feet.

Gaslighting is a sophisticated psychological technique.

This deception can be done subtly or aggressively — whatever it takes to gain and maintain advantage over other people or situations.

Trump is very blatant and repeatedly tells “alternative facts” about things that can easily be proven to be false — like written words he’s tweeted and audio and video recordings of himself saying the things he says he didn’t say. When confronted with facts, he becomes belligerent and accuses the bringer of facts of perpetuating “fake news”. He has already amassed a following of people he has convinced to do likewise.

For instance, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s advisor, recently tried to convince us that there was a massacre in Bowling Green, KY that the media never reported. It never happened. When she was caught in her lie, she lied again by saying that she misspoke — when there is proof that she’d said it before.

Likewise, Sean Spicer, Trump’s Press Secretary, has tried to convince people that an Iranian missile had recently struck a U.S. vessel, and that there was a terror attack in Atlanta, Georgia that the media refused to report — neither of these things were true.

Here’s a recent example of Trump doing the same thing:

To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting”, said Trump in his official statement concerning his Executive Order that banned immigrants.

Former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, admitted that Trump called him and asked how to legally do a “Muslim ban”.

His own website states his intentions as well: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

In addition to deliberately speaking untruthfully, his claim “as the media is falsely reporting”, is also an attempt to discredit anyone who holds him accountable to his own words.

By discrediting facts, gaslighters can more easily sell their lies.

Trump has been attempting to silence scientific information from the EPA, the National Parks Service and other interior organizations since his first day in office. Data concerning civil rights, climate science and healthcare was scrubbed from the White House website within days of his inauguration. He has repeatedly blasted media outlets for reporting the truth when it doesn’t agree with his agenda or his “alternative facts”. He has even attacked our Judicial branch for acting to preserve the integrity of our Constitutional processes.

And a couple more:

  • In November of 2016, Trump claimed 81 percent of murdered white people are killed by black people. In actuality, 84 percent of murdered white people are murdered by other white people. He used the “Crime Statistics Bureau-San Francisco” as his source, which does not exist.
  • In October, 2016, Trump tweeted that Ford Motor Company was going to “cancel their deal to go to Mexico and stay in U.S.” because of his “constant badgering at packed events”. The company’s response was, “We decided to move the F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks to Ohio Assembly in 2011, long before any candidates announced their intention to run for U.S. president.”
  • At a rally in Phoenix, AZ in July 2016, Trump boasted of 15,000 people in attendance. The Phoenix Fire Department discredited that statement — the audience had 4, 169 people for the event.
  • He also lied about releasing his tax returns. He lied about Walt Disney painting tiles in his daughter’s bedroom. He lied about seeking deferments to avoid enlisting for Vietnam. He lied about being sexually inappropriate to women and girls. And he lied about divesting his business interests.
  • Trump has lied over and over again about winning the election “by a landslide”, even though he lost the majority vote by 3 million. And he has a particular obsession of insisting that his inauguration crowd was the largest in American history — despite the evidence of the unusually low numbers of attendance proven by photographs, video, eyewitnesses and public transit numbers.

And these are just a very small sampling of the misinformation he has promoted. His lies are habitual and pathological — and purposeful. In fact, Trump’s statements were recognized as Politifact’s Lie of the Year in 2015 with only 4% of his public statements registering as “true”.

“Trump’s dishonesty is so awe-inspiringly pervasive that it would be nearly impossible to catalogue those lies in comprehensive fashion.” — Hank Barrien, The Daily Wire

The reason Trump’s lies are different than “regular” lies, is that they are used to manipulate specifically to gain power. Most people who tell “a white lie” here and there, generally do it for one of a few reasons:

  • To protect someone from a more hurtful truth
  • To protect themselves from embarrassment
  • To avoid punishment
  • To escape reality
  • To get a laugh, as in practical jokes
  • To avoid accountability

There are varying degrees of liars — the occasional, habitual, pathological and the sociopathic.

We are all occasional liars, we embellish stories, we compliment an ugly dress or we fib about why we were running late. It’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s generally harmless. More deceitful lies are generally told as an act of anger or aggression, or a means to gain power or control.

Habitual liars simply lie out of habit, often not even realizing they are doing it. This may be because they prefer a more interesting twist to otherwise boring details, or it could stem from childhood trauma or even an addiction.

Pathological liars are very purposeful with their tactics. They are particularly good at judging which people are most likely to believe their lies, and will seek them out in order to control or manipulate them or their circumstances. These people get unreasonably angry or defensive when confronted with their lies and will even seek to punish those who speak truth against them.

And then there’s the sociopath. Sociopaths are pathological liars with a particular lack of concern or respect for other people or their rights and/or feelings. They are often goal or power-driven and use their lies as a means to get their way. Sociopaths often lack empathy, remorse and/or a healthy conscience. They are generally charismatic and use their charm to manipulate others in order to gain control over them.

In Psychology Today’s article, Gaslighting: Know It and Identify It to Protect Yourself, Dr. Sarkis has identified 11 signs to help you determine if someone is gaslighting you.

Following is a summarized list of these findings:

  1. They tell blatant lies with a straight and convincing demeanor.
  2. They deny what they’ve said or done, even though you have proof.
  3. They use what you care about as ammunition against you. Often manipulating your beliefs or concerns to coerce you into following them.
  4. They manipulate you gradually over time mixing their lies and snide comments with things they know you want to hear.
  5. What they do is very different than what they say. Watch what they do.
  6. They throw in enough praises and positive reinforcement to keep you motivated to believe they have your best interests at heart.
  7. They purposefully try to keep you confused. Some of their power lies in keeping you distracted and coming to them for answers.
  8. They project. They accuse others of what they are doing themselves.
  9. They align you against people, and others against you. If you feel like you have been isolated from the norm, they gain more control.
  10. They work hard to create doubt and to discredit your own memory or others that may wish to call them out on their abusive behavior.
  11. They convince you everyone else is a liar.
“By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information — which isn’t correct information at all”. — Dr. Sarkis, PhD

One psychologist, John Gartner, has even started a petition declaring that Donald Trump must be removed from office because he has “a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States”.

There have been more than 18,000 psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals to add their names in agreement.

“His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception. Civil rights are now on trial, though before we can fight to reassert the march toward equality, we must regain control of the truth”. — Lauren Duca, Teen Vogue

Donald Trump is a liar.

And he’s attempting to gaslight you, and me too, and anyone else that will serve his purpose of rising to power. He’s most certainly a pathological liar and quite possibly a sociopath — and he’s in the big White House that belongs to all of us.

Don’t fall victim to his scheme. It only works if people refuse to follow the truth and buy into the lies he is selling. A good look at history tells us that these kinds of people never have the well-being of others in mind — it is always, always a self-serving means to power. And history also shows us that where you have a ruler who doesn’t respect facts, they generally don’t respect human life either.

Truth matters. And the way to extinguish the flames of a gaslighter is to spread truth like wildfire.


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