Cognitive Psychology

Gaslighting, Groupthink, and Cognitive Dissonance: The Perfect Storm resulting in Trump’s #COVID19 Infection

Any regular reader of Ye Olde Blogge knows that I’ve defined, explained, and documented instances of each of these phenomena over the past four years. This trifecta of insidiousness has combined to produce the WH cluster. Looking back at it, it was inevitable, wasn’t it? It certainly had been speculated about.

Here’s how we’ll proceed in this blog post. (1) I’ll define each, so if you know the definitions, you can skip that section. (2) I’ll discuss how they interact to produce the shitshow in the dumpster fire at the flying monkey circus that we are currently witnessing. And (3) we’ll close with a smug group tsk-tsking session.

Definition of Terms: Gaslighting, Groupthink, and Cognitive Dissonance

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser denies plainly obvious events, emotions, thoughts, perceptions, and behaviors in an attempt to intimidate, confuse, control, or otherwise manipulate the target of the abuse (from Is Trump Gaslighting America?). You might think you’d just laugh such attempts outta the room, just like we laughed the Ol’ Pussy Grabber outta the race in 2016. For some of us, it is possible, but for others it is less likely. Those of us who have authoritarian personalities love us some authoritarian leaders because we NEED super simple solutions to complex situations and need black and white thinking with an ENEMY TO HATE! These people LISTEN to the abuser and find it hard to resist the reality that the abuser is painting. So, that’s gaslighting for now.

GROUPTHINK is a mode of thinking people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action (from Groupthink or Group Cluster… Explaining the Modern GOP). In other words, dissent is seriously discouraged and conformity is enthusiastically encouraged. Groups that emphasize unanimous consent and absolute conformity make increasingly bad and immoral decisions until absolute horrific disaster is achieved. You gotta admit that our national #COVID19 response and “plan” is nothing short of disastrous and immoral, right?

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE is the tendency to lie to yourself to justify your actions that are in conflict with past statements, beliefs, or current reality (from What will it take to cause the Cognitive Dissonance of Trump Voters and Supporters to Collapse?). The state of conflict is uncomfortable. The lie helps you tolerate the discomfort, so you’ll see ridiculous statements like, Your grandparents would gladly die so the 1% can make more money because patriotism. There is an inherent insanity at work here. There is a defiance of reality that cannot stand for long.

The Perfect Shit Storm


The Ol’ Pussy Grabber has used gaslighting, otherwise known as narcissistic personality abuse, to promote conformity and discourage challenges to his behavior and practices. Here are a few of the characteristics of this form of abuse:

  • Two sets of rules exist: one for them and one for everyone else.
  • They lack empathy and they do not care what it is like for everyone else.
  • They react strongly and negatively to the slightest criticism.
  • They are perfect and know the best way to do everything, so you can get on board or you can move on.
  • They are pathological liars, and when confronted will never offer a straight answer.
  • They will accuse you of what they are doing.
  • Arguments feel circular and nonsensical.

Their reactions are designed to keep everyone around them off balance, on the defensive, and questioning their judgment. If you don’t want to get slammed, you keep your head down and that way you’re only slammed when their bored or they notice you. Eventually, those who are willing to stand up to them are gotten rid of and those who aren’t begin to adopt their view of the world. They are co-opted into the narcissistic delusion of perfection.

To me that sounds like the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s White House and the Repubes in Congress. It also sounds like the conservative media. It explains why respected if not rational people like Sister Lindsey, Nikki Haley, and John Ratcliffe can got so far astray of their reputations and start spouting Russian propaganda. It also explains why the generals are no longer there, why none of the Congressional Repubes will challenge him, and his relationship with Fox News.

In other worlds, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber uses gaslighting to quash dissent.


As the culture of absolute conformity took hold in the White House and the wider Repube Party, fewer and fewer voices of dissent where heard. The curious thing was that self-respecting Repubes like Rep. Will Hurd and Rep. Martha Roby who decided not to run for reelection still voted against impeachment and won’t speak up for a sane national #COVID19 response or even support the HEROES Act. The threats to dissent and drive for conformity and unanimity extends even to those who have very little to lose.

“You are all deep state, and you need to get on Trump time”

Peter Navarro to FDA chief, Stephen Hahn

In addition, to gaslighting, though, the Repubes use a variety of mindguards or people who take on the task of bullying those who might dissent, like Peter Navarro, who, you may recall, was reported to have unloaded loudly and frequently on the FDA and it’s head, Stephen Hahn,because they revoked thier emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine in treating #COVID19 because of, for all things, evidence that it didn’t work. He reportedly told the stunned FDA officials, “You are all deep state, and you need to get on Trump time,” back in August. We’ve seen that both the FDA and CDC have been compromised and making dubious decisions seeming to conform more with the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s rhetoric and political goals than scientific findings.

We can also see the effect of groupthink in the decision by many in the White House and on the campaign to go maskless, shake hands, forego social distancing, and, probably, not wash their hands not even after being in the bathroom. You can see the distastrous results of those decisions for at least seven of the guests at Amy Coat-Hanger Barrett’s coming out party in the roseless Rose Garden. And, they’ve caught the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, Melania, and Hope Hicks in the infectious net of poor decision making.

This kind of very dubious decision making wouldn’t be possible without the shaming power of gaslighting — it is highly self-destructive to ignore the CDC virus containment strategies as we’re finding out — to limit dissent, opposing opinions, and independent thinking. Of course, it is all growing out of the fecundating pile of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s fragile narcissistic ego.

Cognitive Dissonance

Still, all of these people are intelligent, or at least of average intelligence. They understand the recommendations and what is at stake. No one really wants to get sick. So, they have to contort themselves using cognitive dissonance to keep the fear and angst at bay while they take enormous risks with their lives and the lives of their close contacts. There has to be tremendous psychic pain in the conflicting ideas and behaviors of trying to please the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, preserve your place in the Repube Paty and standing in conservative circles, and conform to the new behavioral and dogma that passes for conservatism in the Age of Trump and trying to preserve your life and health by following CDC guidelines in the Age of the Coronavirus.

Smug Tsk-Tsking

Without all three of these psychological phenomena working together, we wouldn’t be able to have 7.3 million+ real live Americans infected with the covfefevirus or living through its after effects, 209,000+ real live dead Americans, the tens of millions unemployed, and the utter chaos, confusion, and consternation that we all are suffering in the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s “plan” to deal with the covfefevirus. Each plays a vital role in producing the social milieu needed to keep the virus spreading. But, only one of them is rooted in the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s mental illness and only the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s narcissism and gaslighting could cause the extremely bad judgment and immorality that groupthink produces and the cognitive contortions of cognitive dissonance to keep the psychic pain of conflicting desires and behaviors at bay so that the spread of the virus can be maintained.

Sign of Life

I’ve really enjoyed the boost in signs of life that I’ve seen since instituting this section. Thank you one and all that have left me a sign that you’ve visited these hallowed posts. As always, choose from this generous menu of options! But, why choose? Why not do them all?

Image Attribution

“The Perfect Storm” by Michael Bolognesi is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Be sure to visit the link to the image to read the fascinating story behind it.

9 replies »

  1. I have to ponder what will happen if Trump becomes unable to continue or dies. How can that web of delusion and confusion maintain without the Gaslighter In Chief? Does the whole edifice of cognitive dissonance collapse, and if so, into what? There is nobody outside of certain past and present FOX “News” personalities who could possibly fill the role, and they are not reality TV stars and supposedly successful and unimaginably rich celebrities, they are not Donald. A cult of personality is about that particular personality. Perhaps he will be spotted in that secret resort where other supposedly dead stars (Elvis) hang out. Or, like Jesus, he will come back someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!
      Good questions all. I figure, ultimately, Trump will go the way of Elvis and and John-John Kennedy: rumors not to really be dead and, as you said, sited at various places around the world. Most of the MAGAs will drop out of the cult and grouse about some of their favorite gripes, and a small portion will try to hold onto something. Several pretenders to throne will try to lasso followers into a grifty following to make as much as possible off of them before that all falls apart. The whole MAGA thing will devolve into televangelist territory with a variety of Internet-cable TV hosts a la Jim Bakker and Alex Jones flogging their wares to the gullible. The GOP will move on, lie about ever having supported him, blame him for every mistake, deny, lie, distract, obfuscate, and distract hoping to win the next election.

      Whatever happens in the long run. If Trump is incapacitated, he can no longer drive the gaslighting that is the root of the slow-motion catastrophe and corrupt grift that has been his administration and try and steal the election. For everything else he is and isn’t, he is the center of the corruption. There’s no heir apparent to step in and take his place. Not his children, Jared, McConnell, Barr, no governor, cabinet member, White House staffer, or even Pence. You might could see Don-Don make a run at it, but he’ll make a bigger mess of it than Trump made of the fortune he inherited.

      That’s my prediction, anyway.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep. If Trump comes out of the illness looking weak, diminished, and unable to muster the troops, it will be almost impossible for him to get his MoJo back in time. A week or more on a ventilator does not leave anybody looking good. If he dies, the kids will make The Devil’s Brood (the children of Henry II and Elinor of Aquitaine) look well behaved, well trained malignant narcissists that they are. They will also be doing that if he i severely incapacitated.

        It is interesting that Mark Meadows is sounding more worried than the doctors. He was in the room when Trump was showing the symptoms that got him to the hospital. With Pence on the campaign trail, he and the VP’s COS have to do the contingency planning for the transfer of power scenarios, both temporary and permanent, and manage the WH in either case, and deal with the increasing number of staff and hangers-on testing positive. Well, he asked for the job and now he’s got it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!
          Pence believes that God wants him to be president someday. He figures it is all God’s will and his prayers being answered. I’m sure he’s hoping and will be relieved when and if it ever happens.

          You know there is only a 20% survival rate for those going on ventilators. If Trump is bad enough to need ventilation, he’s probably a goner. They won’t tell us unless they absolutely have to, though. Also, you have to be sedated to be ventilated. Having that tube down your throat is intolerable otherwise. If he’s ventilated, they have to transfer power to Pence. They probably will make an announcement that the transfer has taken place, but not report the ventilation. That’s my guess.


          Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!
              If you saw the first two videos “filmed” at Walter Reed supposedly on two different days. He was dressed exactly the same in both — in the suit he wore from the WH. What hospital wouldn’t take the clothes he wore into the hospital just to limit contamination? The background has white cabinets, but his suite at Walter Reed doesn’t seem to have a bank of white cabinets like that. Seriously, why would they film two videos intending on releasing them on two different days with the claims that they were filmed on different days. They were worried that he would deteriorate.

              Then his latest video of him working in a conference room, he appears to be signing blank pieces of paper. He’s not working. He looked and sounded like crap. I think he’s in much worse shape than what they’re letting on.

              They just keep flushing their credibility down the toilet. How can we have any a modicum of sympathy for him under these circumstances?


              Liked by 1 person

              • From what Mr. Meadows said, it sound as though despite “fatigue” and dropping O2 level, Trump was up and pretending to be OK, possibly for several days. These doctors have a bad patient who can easily think he knows better than they do. Part of the reason for moving him to the hospital was almost certainly to enforce their instructions that he has ignored or contradicted for so long.

                Liked by 1 person

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