Over the weekend, President Donald Trump addressed the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), making multiple misleading claims about the economy, the wall and his tax cuts. According to the Washington Post, the speech contained 104 misleading claims, bringing his total number of false or fishy statements to roughly 9,014 over the course of his administration.
Raw Story spoke with Dr. Henry J. Friedman, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, about why the President finds it so easy to lie and the unique dynamic he has with his base that lets him get away with it.
Friedman is a contributor to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” edited by Bandy X. Lee, the expanded edition of which is to be released this month. He brings a psychoanalytic perspective to understand the totalitarian mindset, which presents a multifold threat to the world.
Tana Ganeva: According to one report, Trump’s CPAC speech contained 104 instances of lies. Why do you think the President finds it so easy to lie?
Dr. Henry J. Friedman: When facing an audience that responds to him with adulation, he is inclined to present his worst tendencies in excess because he knows it pleases his base if he is extremely opposed to established standards of truth and politeness.
Trump’s base love him for liberating them to hate illegal immigrants and indulge their hatred of social change, of same sex marriage or woman’s rights and the rise of African Americans as a powerful political and social presence in the United States. His stance against equality for disavowed minority groups is exactly what they find attractive in him. He liberates their worst inclinations and fights against those who want to see the best in humanity dominate our society.
Tana Ganeva: How is the President different in front of his supporters?
Dr. Henry J. Friedman: He is empowered by such an audience to state things he wants to believe in as facts, as truths. He flirts with open totalitarian positions because these please this particular audience who find his authoritarian positions compatible with what they desire in a leader.
His base prefers a leader who is authoritarian and ruthless about getting what he personally wants, as this often reflects their experience with parents, particularly fathers who insisted on obedience. Trump demands that the world operate as he wants it to be, not as it actually is. Authority isn’t authoritarianism, hence it is easy to confuse a strong leader who represents all of our citizens from an authoritarian leader who panders to the worst desires of some groups in terms of their destructive impulses directed at other less powerful citizens.
Tana Ganeva: Can you explain why the President still has such a fervent following, despite arguably breaking a lot of his campaign promises, such as having Mexico pay for a wall at the Southwest border?
Dr. Henry J. Friedman: They respond not to his campaign promises or even to his actual accomplishments, which may be against their actual interests, but because his grandiose paranoid character appeals to them.
He always is ready to attack anyone who opposes him. His enemies are constructed by him, but they are what many individuals personally do in their own relationships with those around them. What his followers want is his immoderate, rash and destructive “self directed against an enemy.”
His followers are pleased with his leadership because they believe in the dangers that he insists are present when in fact they are non-existent except in his paranoid thinking. A grandiose paranoid leader appeals to and preys upon the paranoid fears of the many citizens who constitute his base.
Tana Ganeva: How does your psychoanalytic background inform you about what is happening?
Dr. Henry J. Friedman: Absolutely, this kind of grandiose paranoid character is frequently encountered in our work with patients, but in a much attenuated form or only directed at those in the grandiose paranoid individual’s family or who are employed by him or her. Those of us who work with paranoid patients understand the insistent need to find an enemy, to see an exaggerated form of danger coming from the hated others who will damage you unless they are contained and ultimately destroyed either by deportation or simply being kept out of the country.
Tana Ganeva: How can mental health expertise help the nation?
Dr. Henry J. Friedman: By giving words and concepts from our work that help the public in putting words and concepts to the anxieties that they feel, without being able to label it in such a way that they understand why Trump must be opposed, not allow to do his “Hitler routine” and destroy the free press and any criticism of his behavior and desires.
The more Trump is able to destroy the free press by denouncing it as fake news, the more he will be able to keep the public uninformed and unable to oppose his draconian approach to anything or anyone who threatens his domination and control. We in mental health can see more clearly what others see, because we recognize it from our work in treating and evaluating those who are fearful and aggressive because they are filled with hatred and loathing of all who are different from them.
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Seven Florida Republicans File Slew of Anti-LGBTQ Bills
Seven Florida Republican lawmakers have filed four bills attacking the LGBTQ community.
NBC News reports “the bills would ban gender-affirming health care for transgender children, repeal municipal and county ordinances protecting LGBTQ workers, and legalize so-called gay conversion therapy in places that had banned the medically debunked practice.”
Conversion therapy has been compared to torture by those who have been victims of it, and states have been banning the practice given its ties to suicide and attempted suicide.
The lawmakers are Rep. Anthony Sabatini, Sen. Dennis Baxley, Rep. Bob Rommel, Sen. Joe Gruters, Rep. Michael Grant, Sen. Keith Perry, and Rep. Byron Donalds (images above, in order of NBC’s reporting.) (NCRM has added links to their Twitter accounts.)
Orlando Weekly’s Solomon Gustavo reports on House Bill 136, filed by Sabatini and Baxley, “which would make it a second-degree felony for health care practitioners to administer treatment for transitioning or changing a child’s sex.”
Elizabeth Warren Calls for Investigation Into Legality of Trump Tipping Off Mar-a-Lago Guests to Soleimani’s Killing
Elizabeth Warren is calling for financial regulatory agencies to investigate whether President Trump broke the law when he told guests at his Mar-a-Lago resort to expect something “big” in response to Iran’s killing of an American contractor in Iraq, The Daily Beast reports.
“Individuals who were guests at President Trump’s resort may have obtained confidential market-moving information,” a letter Warren sent to agencies read. “These private individuals … would have had the opportunity to obtain significant profits simply by being guests or members at President Trump’s private resort.”
Read the full report over at The Daily Beast.
Rupert Murdoch’s Son Rips Fox News for Pushing Falsehoods About Australian Wildfires
Rupert Murdoch’s younger son and his wife launched an attack on News Corporation for promoting conspiracy theories about Australia’s devastating wildfires.
Columnists and broadcasters from News Corp Australia — which dominates the country’s media — have questioned climate change’s role in the fires and downplayed the devastation, and James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn condemned the family business, reported The Daily Beast.
“Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” said a spokesperson for the couple. “They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary.”
James Murdoch is CEO of the investment firm Lupa Systems but sits on the board of News Corp, which publishes more than 140 newspapers in Australia, and his brother Lachlan runs the Fox News Channel in the U.S.
“They are pissing inside the tent and that’s unusual,” said a longtime News Corp executive. “It’s evidence of how high tensions are within the family over climate change. The majority of people who work here agree with James. We are hoping this may be the tipping point.”
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