Confabulation is an unintentional event where someone’s memory creates “fabricated, distorted, or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world.” Parataxic distortion is when a person tends to “skew perceptions” of others based on fantasy. Then there’s political opportunism, a “diagnosis” that plagues politicians almost exclusively. Regardless of the cause, Washington Post syndicated columnist Michael Gerson noted President Donald Trump is not only creating his own reality, he’s inviting his supporters to live inside of it.
Gerson noted the recent accusations against Trump from yet another sexual assault accuser. When other politicians face accusations, he said what typically follows is an assault on the truth.
“This was again on display during a recent interview of President Trump by NBC News’ Chuck Todd. When asked his reaction to losing the popular vote in 2016, Trump returned to the narrative that he had been robbed of a popular-vote victory through fraud,” wrote Gerson.
“I’ll say something that, again, is controversial,” Trump told Todd. “There were a lot of votes cast that I don’t believe. I look at California . . . Take a look at their settlement where California admitted to a million votes.”
The claim isn’t just a “controversial” opinion, it’s an outright “fabrication by the most ambitious fabulist in presidential history,” he wrote. The reference Trump was making is about a voter registration purge where 1 million inactive voters were removed from the state’s rolls. All states do it, some using targeting methods to purge people of color. In this case, Trump is claiming that 1 million votes were purged from the 2016 election. Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, but continues to dispute the reality of the numbers.
“Is Trump’s determination to inhabit his self-blown truth bubble a psychological compulsion or a political ploy?” asked Gerson. “That is an interesting question, but an academic one. Each explanation reinforces the other.”
He noted that most of Trump’s lies come from the reflex of self-protection or to inflate things to make himself look bigger and better. His wealth, the size of Trump Tower, his rally crowd and even the size of his hands are all examples.
“Sometimes Trump’s self-serving deceptions are hard for followers to keep straight,” Gerson wrote, citing the Mueller report. In that case, Trump both trashed Mueller and the report while also saying it vindicated him. It’s what Gerson called “the bending of reality to serve his self-perception.”
“Some kind of personal pathology seems to be at work,” he continued, speculating on what the diagnosis might be. “Trump’s epistemology is not so much relativistic as solipsistic. He has a bottomless need to project himself as wealthier, stronger, smarter and better than he actually is. This is a sign, not of strength, but of psychological fragility. Desperation for the illusion of mastery is the evidence of deep brokenness. It indicates a hunger for affirmation that reality will never fill. This encourages both self-delusion and the spinning of elaborate, self-serving lies.”
He explained that narcissism isn’t Trump’s only problem. While psychologists and biographers have said it’s Trump’s psychological disease, Gerson noted that Trump’s problem is different because he distorts the world itself.
“Part of psychological wholeness — and of responsible political leadership — is the ability to consider reality from someone else’s perspective,” he wrote. “But Trump seems incapable of escaping the small, dark cell of his own immediate needs and desires. He can’t see the world from the standpoint of an ally or an enemy. He seems immune to empathy for a minority facing prejudice, or a refugee fleeing from oppression, or a migrant child separated from his or her parents.”
“There is apparently nothing he won’t say to maintain the mythology that he is the winningest winner there ever was or will be,” he continued. This, he believes, is what causes Trump to bounce from crisis to crisis with no ability to deal with actual reality.
Of course, anyone who attempts to warn that the emperor has no clothes is slapped with the allegation of “fake news” because the facts don’t fit inside of the president’s chosen reality.
Trump has alleged that former Vice President Joe Biden is mentally disabled, but psychiatrists joined together to warn of Trump’s mental stability and how it is putting the United States in danger.