Those around a mentally impaired person who is unable to face facts will often give into that person’s wishful narrative—the sheer drive is often difficult to overcome. — Bandy Lee, in Salon’s Trump’s Mental Health Is Now A National And Global Emergency
That line has haunted me since I read it back in June. Dr. Lee was referring to Mueller’s testimony before the House and how someone as mentally ill as the Ol’ Pussy Grabber can bend otherwise intelligent wise people to their insanity. It is a testament to the absolute power of gaslighting. Gaslighting is the Death Star of politics; it can destroy entire planets. It is destroying ours.
Gaslighting is the vernacular for narcissistic personality abuse. It is what we are all subject to in increasing amounts each and every day. But, it isn’t just the Ol’ Pussy Grabber gaslighting us. It is every surviving member of his administration, it is Congressional Repubes, it is his followers, it is people who have left his administration.
The question is how. How can otherwise sane rational people go out and peddle this utter bullshit? This feeling you’re having of being slowly strangled into a gasping choking suffocating death while thousands watch unwilling to help is the feeling of being gaslighted. Anytime you feel it, you know you’re being gaslighted.
But, shouldn’t major generals, and competent pollsters, and licensed lawyers, and people like that be a little more immune to it than us full-time citizens even if we are part-time bloggers? How can the rich and powerful, like Ken Volker, DNI Vice Admiral-R Joseph Maguire, Pat Cipollone, or even Mother Pence himself be convinced to use the power of the presidency to pressure Ukraine into helping his personal re-election efforts. It boggles the mind that these competent and upstanding (Mother Pence maybe the exception here, but that may just be partisan politics talking) people who have long served the public good to do something so obviously against the law and risk their reputations, careers, and freedom for it. Some of these folks are going to jail. You know that.
These folks join a long list of staffers and cabinet members who have jumped the tracks and followed the Ol’ Pussy Grabber into conspiracy theory self-serving la-la land. How can this keep happening? Why aren’t these people doing like others who are further removed from the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, Bill Taylor and Masha Yovanovitch, and saying no at the outset and testifying at the end? It doesn’t make much sense until you consider the corrosive effect that prolonged gaslighting has on the psyche.
Gaslighting is the interpersonal communication technique in which the communicator convinces the target that what they believe and know to be true is wrong and false. The gaslighter tries to get those who push back to believe that everything they know to be true is not true, in other words that up is down and the sky is green and grass is blue and that dogs meow and cats bark and cats chase dogs.
When you put it like that, it sounds stupid. It sounds like it couldn’t possibly work. But, given the plain evidence before us, it has. Now the question is why. Collective intelligence and the associative network team up to allow the crazy-assed narcissist to bend everyone including the Robert Fuck-Me! Mueller’s, and James Oh-Come-The-Fuck-On Comeys, and the Rod Were-You-A-Fucking-Sleeper-Agent-This-Whole-Time Rosensteins of the world to do the unthinkable unbelievable shit that they’ve done.
Collective Intelligence & Truthiness Bias
Collective intelligence is the principle that describes the ability of groups to achieve complex goals that people could not produce if they had worked individually. The world is complex place. None of us have all of the skills it takes to accomplish all of the tasks that are needed to understand it or make it work. We rely on others to fill-in the gaps where we lack the expertise or knowledge. You know things like the news and other forms of media.
In order for us to work effectively together, we have to tell the truth. One part of the group cannot be actively trying to deceive the other if we are to actually achieve our common goals. We have to engage in good-faith efforts to work together. It is the violation of this tenant — a good-faith effort — that explains why Congress, specifically, is struggling to do its Constitutional duty: the Repubes are actively trying to undercut the rules and traditions. They are not engaging in that good-faith effort.
Human beings evolved to believe what we perceive. I guess all animals did, but since we can’t ask them, it is hard to develop solid evidence to support that claim. In evolutionary terms, if we didn’t believe our perceptions and quibbled about whether they were true or not, we’d get et by whatever predator was hunting us. Once et, your genes are removed from the gene pool and your quibbling fool-self didn’t get no offspring to carry your disbelieving genes forward.
So, we plunk someone like Ken Volker down in the middle of this morass of decaying morals and rational intellect that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber has produced in his White House, and he has to fight his human nature. Since we naturally do two things (a) look to those around us to help us solve problems and fill-in the gaps of our own expertise and abilities (collective intelligence) and (b) believe what those around us tell us they believe (the truthiness bias) in order to resist the gaslighting of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and his corrupt and corrupted minions.
In order to understand, interpret, and predict our world, we build an associative network. If two things happen together in close proximity of time and space, then they are linked. When one node of this vast network of associations is stimulated, the surrounding nodes are activated, too. For example, if I show you a sink full of soapy bubbling hot water, you’re more than likely to complete the letter string, S-O-_-P with SOAP than any other word. And, if I show you a picture of a pot and ladle, you’re more than likely to come up with SOUP. The pictures activate an area of your associative network and that makes it easier to come up with the word that fits the string.
Gaslighting accomplishes two insidious tasks here. First, it corrupts the associative network by inserting bullshit nodes and connecting them as if they weren’t bullshit. This is the reason the Ol’ Pussy Grabber keeps repeating crap like, “No collusion!” and “No quid pro quo,” because he knows it’ll get inserted into our associative networks and connected to his many scandals. When those scandals get stimulated, then those nods are activated, and we come away parroting his BS. That is unless every time you hear him, you think, Fucking pathological liar says what? which most of us, sadly, are incapable of doing because it takes tremendous effort.
Now, if you’re immersed in this world where everyone is running around repeating the conspiracy theories peddled by Rudy Giuliani and Sean Hannity and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber himself, it becomes harder to resist even if you’re determined to. You have an innate desire to believe what the people around you believe. You can only hold out against it so long. Eventually, it makes it into your associative network and the nodes that are connected to lies and conspiracy theories drop off if not exercised every time the node gets activated. And suddenly, you’re Kellyanne Conway appearing on the TV talking about alternative facts with a straight face.
The pure evil of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and #MoscowMitch is their willingness to undermine the very bedrock of our sanity. They are willing to corrupt our associative network which is the basis of our successful navigation of the world around us. It is as if they embedded an explosive within us and are allowing us to walk around until it goes off. They take advantage of our very human truthiness bias, our need to believe our perceptions. If we question our perceptions, we get our current state of polarized and divided electorate on the one hand and the turned off tuned out disaffected electorate on the other. If we question our perceptions, we cannot effectively work together to resist the BS they ladle unto us to cover their transfer of the wealth of our nation to the 1%.
The key to resisting gaslighting is to keep repeating the truth out loud. To tell yourself and each other the truth in the face of the lies. Every time. No matter how often repeated. But, not just to yourself, but to those around you. when the horrible man who was married to my mother for 35 years would say, All politicians are alike, I’d immediately interrupt him and say no. If they were, we wouldn’t have social security, Medicare and Medicaid, a minimum wage, civil rights, and a host of other progressive achievements. And, you’ve got to call your MoC and state legislators and local officials, too.
Tell them that there is obviously a quid pro quo with Ukraine, it is illegal, and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber should be impeached for it. Be polite, but let them know.
Contacting Your MoC
Find out how to contact your MoC using these links!
- Common Cause will give you the names, party affiliation, direct phone number, website link, and social media platforms of all of your federal, state, and local elected officials.
- Call My Congress: Uses your zip code to locate your Congressional Representative and your Senators. And, it returns phone numbers, tweeter handle, party affiliation, voting record, and link to C-Span appearances!
- 5 Calls: I am sad to report that Call Your Rep is no longer supported, but you can sign-up for 5 Calls which is a service that will help you contact your Congressional representatives and keep you abreast of on going issues that are important to you! Now, that is a good deal.
- The Capital Hill Switch Board: (202) 224-3121.
- MassacreMitch and #MoscowMitch: (202) 224-2541. Call him throughout the recess!
- Nancy Pelosi: Her DC office, (202) 225-4965; her California office, (415) 556-4862