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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Pathological lying destroys human possibilities

During Donald Trump's first 100 days in office, he was credited by the Washington Post with making 492 statements to the public that were false or misleading.  Since he entered the political scene,  mental health professionals have warned that he has all the symptoms of severe mental dysfunction.  The latest warning was issued in an open letter by 35 mental health experts.  

The resistance to Trump is not a political matter.  It's a matter of him exhibiting behavior that violates all standards of intelligence, decency,  and honesty.  If Trump were not extremely wealthy with the ability to exercise the power that comes from money,  he would be regarded as just another village idiot whose obsessive rants and prattle would be ignored.  The culture of wealth worship that has burgeoned in Americans is the only thing that enables and sustains Trump.  

Trump is remarkably incoherent.  His words violate the basic rule of language.  They do not refer to anything factual that can be perceived by others.  They are noises that have no substance in the natural world or in recorded human experience.  He speaks in hyperbole that names only his mental reactions, not anything that exists outside of himself.  When he is displeased with people around him,  he labels them "horrible."  When they conform to his purpose of the moment, they are "fantastic" people.  In using these expressions of approval and disapproval, Trump shapes the attitudes of the sucks who curry his favor because he is rich and powerful.  His words do not supply an accurate description or appraisal of the world around him.  They signal his sycophants whom to like and dislike,  like the alpha mean girls shape the attitudes of their dupes.  Trump's words are not in themselves significant as they have no validity in reality.  Their only reality  is the people who accept them and what those people mean for the future of democracy.

The National Review compiled some typical Trump expressions that appeal to his followers.  They reflect a contempt for anything factual and the purpose of manipulating those of deficient cognitive skills who form his base.  

1. “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
2. “I’m really rich! I’ll show you that in a second. And by the way: I’m not even saying that in a brag.”
3. “I’m the most militaristic person ever.”
4. “I will build a great wall . . . and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me.”
5. “Hillary Clinton was the worst secretary of state in the history of the United States. Hillary was the worst. In the history of the United States there’s never been a secretary of state so bad as Hillary.”
6. “I would use the greatest minds. I know the best negotiators. I’m in New York – I know the good ones, the bad ones. I always say: ‘I know the ones people think are good.’ I know people you’ve never heard of that are better than all of them.” 
7. “If you really love this country you have a very, very hard time convincing people that what you’re doing is right and that you’re really smart. And, like, a lot of us are really smart. I’m really smart – I went to the Wharton School of Finance.” 
8. “I would hit [ISIS] so hard your head would spin.”
The constant use of hyperbole detached from reality is symptomatic of a more serious aspect of Trump:  his pathological lying.  A pathological liar is a sociopath who lies to get his way, no matter what the effect on others.  He is a compulsive liar, which means he lies about everything, even trivial matters for which lying has no point or objective.  If the compulsive liar has a motive, it is to make all matters of the universe subject to his will.  

Trump also lies as a way of inflicting vengeance.  He makes defamatory false representations of people and he makes false accusations, such as accusing President  Obama of wire-tapping Trump Towers.  He began his political run by accusing Obama of not being born in America.  Trump,  partly because he is a part of it, understood the racist hatred that runs through Americans who look for any pretext to defame Obama without using the n-word.  So, he launched his political career by appealing to the Jim Crow sector, which forms a large part of his base.  He uses this technique of defaming perceived opponents to damage their reputations.  This is a device common in corporate business life, a major tool in the CEO kit of gaining power.  It damages people by branding them with false accusations,  and it is  effective in marshaling the loyalty of their knowing accomplices and their subservient dupes. 

The most serious damage lying inflicts is on the language.  When words are used to deceive, they become untrustworthy.  An environment of lies makes the language useless in conducting any kind of human transactions.  And when people cannot trust words, they cannot trust anything or anybody.  The misuse and consequent mistrust of language spreads into documents and the laws that govern us.  People realize that laws are construed to oppress some people and exempt others from any kind of responsibility.  

I am among those scholars who believe that the depressed state of American Indians is caused in large part by fraudulent language.  Native Americans signed treaty after treaty which was never adhered to by the U.S., and furthermore were openly devised to swindle the tribes out of their lands with no intention of honoring the "deals."  One of the reasons that Native Americans are protective of their oral traditions is to keep a reservoir of language that they know honestly refers to something they can believe in.  The language of America is counterfeit,  used only to deceive and defraud.  

The American population at large is now experiencing the demoralization and destruction that false language inflicts.  When you can't believe anything said to you by a leader and his supporters,  you can't believe in anything.  Cynicism is the only sane reaction.  When words themselves become inherent lies,  the possibility for human good is destroyed.  Literate people can retreat into books and other forms in which language is used with integrity, skill, and a regard for truth.  An acknowledgment of the essential function of language may be preserved,  but it is not operative in the way of life.

Trump is a cancer on language.  Like cancer, his lies diminish the opportunities of life, leaving death as the inevitable prospect for our nation.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States