I’ve written enough about the Ol’ Pussy Grabber being a gaslighter that when the idea of this post came to me, it seemed a natural. Also, too, my gaslighter posts have garnered the most views, the most comments, the most questions, and brought me some of my best blogging friends. So, you might say that I’m doubly motivated to blog about gaslighting, just like I’m doubly motivated to post articles about the Oxford comma (the Oxford comma and ambiguity, for those you scoring at home).
From a purely clinical point-of-view, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s gaslighting has been fascinating to watch on the campaign trail and in the WH. It’s been harder to keep the clinical perspective when the tragedy that is gaslighting abuse has been installed in the WH. It was much easier when I was assuming there was no way that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber could win. But, that’s why we play the sports ball games and still yell about the refereeing (pro tip: the team that scores more points wins, nothing else really matters after that) and that’s why we hold elections (pro tip: the candidate that gets more votes, in this case, electoral college votes, wins, and the polling don’t really matter. Yo, voting matters, yo!)
A few months ago, I got a comment from a reader that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber couldn’t be gaslighting because he wasn’t being subtle enough, which is a good point, sort of…
I don’t think Trump is gaslighting America, or anybody else. As someone who has been the victim of gaslighting for over twenty years, I can pretty confidently say that he’s not. Gaslighting is subtle, manipulative, usually low-key and difficult to detect. Trump is none of those things. Is he arrogant? Yep. Abusive? Absolutely. A liar? Without a doubt. But he’s totally in your face about it. He’s an asshole and he OWNS it. His name calling is not subtle at all. His lies are not difficult to detect. When someone is the victim of gaslighting, they rarely know it. The victim usually begins to think there is something wrong with THEM. The gaslighter projects an image of blamelessness, of goodwill, of competence. They play the victim, and they play it well. Their subtlety is what makes them so dangerous. If Trump is trying to use gaslighting techniques, he’s TERRIBLE at it. Because Trump is obvious.
Part of my response:
…I think the peddling of such absolute falsehoods and to be able to stand in the face of challenge and deny what is plainly obvious, i.e. on tape, really does challenge our collective understanding of reality. His ability to just reflect accusations back on his accusers is astonishing. I think his performance at the Al Smith Dinner is a clear indication of what it is like when a gaslighter’s game is exposed. But, gaslighting is a personal interaction, and I am trying to stretch it to the public stage. The analogy breaks down under those circumstances.
His followers willingly accept that he is blameless and his victimhood. The number of pundits who have noted his ability to project competence and confidence is testimony to his skills there. What’s the percentage that believe that a loss in the election is proof that it was stolen? What’s the percentage who think he is a successful business person and could be president? That he isn’t losing the election by a huge margin that he won the nomination surely suggests that there are millions of Americans who have been fooled by this guy regardless of your political affiliations.
Does gaslighting need to be so subtle that the victim does not realize he or she is being manipulated? I think the answer to that is yes. One of the ways you defend against being gaslighting is to focus on what you know to be true, to seek outside confirmation that your interpretation is closer to reality than the gaslighter’s.
Gaslighting Technique #1: Repeating a Lie
The Ol’ Pussy Grabber claims that Obamacare is imploding that it is in the proverbial death spiral. Clearly it is not true. This year marked the highest enrollment of any year as people scrambled to sign up before it was dismantled just so they could have a year of health insurance. No one denies that there are problems with Obamacare, but as Sen. Elizabeth Warren points out, the reaction to those problems as they develop is to tweak the law. The health insurance environment changes as a society changes, so the law must change with it.
As a citizen watching the news, hearing the Ol’ Pussy Grabber stake his claim, WH staffers repeat the claim, GOP Congressional misrepresenters repeat the claim, and news media anchors and reporters either not challenge the claim or just repeat it, goes a long way to helping the general public accept this gross misrepresentation of a complex reality as true. In part, this is due to the effects of the availability heuristic, which is a way of making a difficult decision based on a complex set of possibilities by using a more easily accessed memory.
Is Obamacare imploding?
Hmm… let’s think, gee I remember lots of people on the TV saying so, so yes, yes it is.
Rather than going through the complex and effortful process of recalling that before the sign up deadline, so many people were signing up that the deadline had to be extended, which means that the system is flush with money and cannot be imploding.
So, one gaslighting technique is simply to repeat a lie so often that it becomes remembered as true.
Repeated Lie Corollary: Convince Others to Repeat Your Lie, Too
If several sources repeat the gaslighter’s lie, then it becomes all the more convincing.
But, wait just a cotton-picking minute here! Which came first, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber claiming Obamacare is imploding or some other Repubic Congressional misrepresenter? Hunh? Maybe the Ol’ Pussy Grabber is as much a gaslighting victim as the rest of us. Maybe he is just believing other people’s lies.
The Ol’ Pussy Grabber is the fucking stupid president of the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid, but he don’t have to remain fucking stupid, do he? He could for example sit down with the Congressional Budget Office’s report or Standard and Poor’s report on the ACA and find out that it is not imploding. In an interesting article on Vox.com concerning how much the Ol’ Pussy Grabber actually knows about the Repubic’s healthcare bill, among other things it notes that he has adopted the far alt-right media’s distortion of the ACA and its current condition, and, whether he knows it is wrong or not is immaterial to his gaslighting, he’s trying to convince the rest of us.
My last point about the gaslighting repeated lie technique before moving on is that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber ain’t even trying to reach the enlightened liberal voter. He is only concerned with keeping his base under his spell.
Gaslighting Technique #2: Isolation Keeps ’em Dependent
It should come as no surprise when I claim that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber has put in a concerted effort to discredit the news media as failing, lying, fake news, right? I mean, who has heard him describing various news outlets, CNN, the New York Times, and others in such derogatory terms? Some people have claimed that it is because they report things that he disagrees with or that are critical of him, so he is counter-punching. Perhaps. But, it is also to keep the stooges that support him and the Awful Jindals and the Black-Hearted Brownbacks of the world from finding any contradictory information than that which they spoon feed them. Not that they would pay any attention to it any way since confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance putrefy into a particularly nasty sticky pustule preventing us all from changing our minds except under the most strenuous circumstances. Never underestimate Newton’s First Law of Psychology, an idea once believed no matter how preposterous tends to remain believed until it is met with overwhelming evidence to the contrary and even then it may lay buried and motionless deep in the unconscious just waiting for a force to act upon it to set it in motion again. Just look at the racism, bigotry, misogyny, and anti-Semitism that has been loosed across the land!
Keep ’em barefoot, stupid, pregnant, and in dead-end jobs believing that they are being held back by the mysterious other of foreigners and complex economics that they cannot hope to ever understand, but that super smart super rich super successful fellows like the Ol’ Pussy Grabber do and so you don’t have any other choice but to trust them to fix if it those evil libels don’t keep putting monkey wrenches into the works with their communist fascist socialist hatred of ‘Merica and its values like they’ve done from the very beginning.
So, another gaslighting technique is to keep your victim isolated so they can’t find any equilibrium or find a rescuer or some other help against you. The Ol’ Pussy Grabber is splitting the American electorate and playing us against each other.
Isolation Gaslighting Technique Corollary: Keep ‘Em Stupid
DeVos, ’nuff said.
Gaslighting Technique #3: Turn It Back on the Victim
The Ol’ Pussy Grabber tweets that Obama tapped him — Obama, I’m sure wouldn’t tap that — and now with the nation roiling with consternation — the way the Ol’ Pussy Grabber likes it. When asked for proof by everyone and his monkey, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber says, you find it. Ever the Ol’ Pussy Grabbers lapping lap-dog lackies, the Congressional intelligence committees vow to take up the investigative mantel. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Second-Rate Hack) drools on the news shows about investigating the Obama administration with eleven billionity more investigations hoping that one of them will make him president one day.
That is until it all starts to come undone and the heretofore cooperative Repubic chairs of the intelligence oversight committees come out and say that there is no evidence of a wire tap or any surveillance of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber. I mean these were the guys who came out at the behest of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and said that there were no findings that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s campaign had contact with the Ruskies sworn enemy of the United States of America but apparently the BFF of the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid.
When the chips and down and walls are closing in, what does a gaslighter do? He sends Sean Spicer out to do a pisser, er, presser and accuse the accuser of getting it all wrong! On Thursday 16 March, Spicer faced a press corps with many many questions about the wire tapping accusation, and he had answers!
You are mischaracterizing what happened! When something is in favor of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber (his words, not mine “honest engine!”), the press utters nary a peep, but when it is against ‘im, the press covers it ad nauseam… The words, wire tap, were in quotation marks! “Wire taps” means all surveillance, don’t y’all know nuthin? …Why are you defending the intelligence committees now when you wouldn’t defend them when they were doing the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s (honest, that’s what Sean is calling him these days! I “swear it!”) bidding and lying about the campaign’s non-connections to Russia? And, then of course you conclude by saying that your “opponents” are jumping to conclusions when they have zero intelligence… and then admit ruefully that you had meant to say zero intelligence clearance.
After all, our feelings for an event are determined by the emotions contained within the most intense moment and the end. So, this presser must have been good because everyone laughed?
So, a third technique is to blame the victim for whatever it is you’re doing: I wouldn’t hit ya, if I didn’t love ya! as the old blues song says.
The Victim Blaming Corollary: Change Your Story
Seriously, dudes and dudettes, wire taps was in quotations, so he meant surveillance in general. All kinds of surveillance. Not just the kind in James Bond movies, but the kind that come out of your microwave and stuff.
He didn’t mean like the FBI or the CIA or anything, he meant like Obama and the British.
The Ol’ Pussy Grabber couldn’t help but get in on this fun game himself, so he blurted to Tucker Carson — Tucker Carson for all love — that he read about the wire tapping stuff in the failing lying fake news New York Times six weeks ago — but, he tweeted that he had just learned about it. — and from an interview with Paul Ryan (R-Under the Bus) by Brett Baier whether the Speaker has seen any evidence of wire tapping of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber by Obama to which the Speaker says, no. In that same Tucker Carson — Tucker Carson for all love — says that in the future he’ll be presenting some very interesting thing. You just wait because there’ll be some complex and interesting stuff coming out next week maybe…
Most people chalk this up to distraction by shiny objects, but it’s more than that. If you shift the focus to the future, then maybe people will remember the the thing you promised — specific evidence — but not that it was ever delivered. Very clever.
Gaslighting Technique #4: Sling Shit
I don’t know what else to call it. As the wheels come off of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s delusional bus, he’s sling hash at anyone and everyone! In the presser with Angela Merkel that was bizarre, surreal, and as amusing as it was sad — who knew Merkel had such comic timing? But, here’s the shit, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber slung regarding the wire tap thing in response to a German reporter, We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind (Judge Andrew Napolitano) who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it (emphasis added). You shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox.
Of course, in his address to Congress, he blamed his generals for the decision to raid Yemen that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL, several children, and numerous Yemenis. He’s already said that he’ll blame the House Repubics in general and Paul Ryan specifically if the healthcare bill flops. He blames the judges for his failed Muslim ban — and bonus, he keeps stepping on his own dick by saying it really is a Muslim ban even though that just makes it all the more likely that more judges will find against it.
It is hard to systematically catalog and categorize the many ways that a person can deny another’s reality and make them feel crazy. But, in watching this president, you can start seeing an ephemeral ethereal elusive flimsy filmy pattern floating just beyond your reach almost like there is a master mind behind it all hidden from view behind a curtain. Then you blink and it is just another barely remember half-imagined dream that you give up on trying to grasp and pin down because there are better things to do be doing with your time.
And that’s, ladies and gentlemen is our president! Our president everybody. Our president. Oh for the love of god, that is our president. How are we ever going to survive this?