The Accumulating Toll of Political Lies

There is a phenomenon known as “Murder-by-Suicide,” whereas people who’ve been exposed to emotional abuse (and other forms of abuse) for a long time, may come to believe dying is the only option for relief from their pain. You can look up the term by referencing the words “gaslighting” and “narcissistic abuse,” to learn more details from credible sources. Although human beings do not simply live on bread alone, it is common to take for granted the invisible and unspoken factors that support our quality of life, basic survival and a will to keep living. Are Americans taking stock of just how much lies — both political and personal — can kill the human spirit, damage the intellect and cripple the mind? Let us not minimize real risks posed to mental health and well-being by pretending that abuse on psychological and emotional levels is somehow less consequential. Let us not downplay the reality that abuse comes from various sources, with common denominators of manipulation and lies among those most invested in power and control.

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

During these times of tremendous confusion and uncertainty regarding the real extent of coronavirus infections and deaths, the physical threat is just one aspect of concern. I hope people do not underestimate the impact of living with lies from elected officials whom we should be able to trust in giving us basically accurate information. There is routine abuse happening on personal and political levels, so we need to be clear enough to notice, focus and assess the real-time and real-life consequences. Many with expertise on social justice issues, psychology and sociology, and various public health and cultural commentators describe ways we are living in an abusive environment — with America being similar to an abusive household — due to the patterns of lies, manipulation and gaslighting by those in political power and other authoritative and leadership roles.

These dynamics are more clearly pronounced under the administration of Trump, but one man alone is not responsible for all the damage and potential for long-lasting trauma. Routine fact-checking is required due to Trump’s preference for keeping himself in the media spotlight, given his patterns of lying absent shame or remorse among other indicators of major dysfunction. His army of enablers who readily support, reinforce or seek to excuse and justify Trump’s lies, are equally problematic. “Willful blindness comes to mind, and it may or may not kill the believer, but the repercussions of those who believe the liar can, in some circumstances, serve the liar’s mission and kill thousands in the process. Donald Trump wouldn’t have the power he does to place his narcissism in being the President above regard for human life, if he didn’t have a posse of patsies to believe, whether willful, or not,” said Kay Wilder, a long-time political activist.

The widespread political chaos and social disorder from gaslighting is affecting human functioning and energy, with symptoms reflected in bodies, minds, hearts and souls to different degrees. The well-known Cycle of Violence wheel chart (known as the Duluth Model) clarifies how extreme efforts to maintain power and control through lies, manipulation and exploitation happen on both blatant and subtle levels, amounting to abusive experiences for victims of bullying, whether on personal, political or both levels. As activist Del McCall says: “The repercussions of the lies can have a negative life long impact. It’s frightening to acknowledge how many people have accepted lies, and narcissistic behavior as normal, and how many people applaud this behavior and have adopted it. The lies have to be called out out loud in ways that let them know it’s unacceptable and will not be tolerated, and it should be told to those affected that they are not weak for feeling the results of abuse from sick bullies.”

Think about the toll from any experience in your own life when you were lied to for a long time — and acted on non-credible information to make decisions. Being misled to think one thing when something else is true all along, can have long-lasting effects on mental health and ability to function well. There is some suffering caused from believing false information. The repercussions of lies — even if one way of coping is by relying on humor to ease the harsher impact from dealing with many ongoing frustrations — can accumulate in ways that become deadly.

The effects of long-term emotional abuse needs more attention since physical abuse is only one aspect of abusive behaviors, and because abuse is never a one-time event. Increasing evidence-based research shows the relationship between pathological narcissism (anti-social personality disorders that encompass NPD, sociopathy and psychopathy) and various forms of abuse used to gain power over others. When an abuser continues to seek to punish and drive the victim crazy — gradually destroying her/his sense of safety, psyche and soul — this is referred to as soul murder. Eventually the victim may be left feeling suicidal. Covert psychological murder describes inflicted suicide as a result of mental abuse. Given that the term “Murder-by-Suicide” applies, we should become more motivated to stop dismissing the potential impact of lies that become toxic enough to compromise reason and sanity.

“We as a nation, are truly in a cycle of abuse. There’s a daily barrage of lies and mindboggling double talk, with the most recent example of Trump retracting his initial comments and then saying he was only joking about injecting bleach to kill the coronavirus. Given the residual trauma built into our genetic make up, it is being triggered. It is crippling and annihilating if and when we soak in the garbage and lies for too long,” said Psychotherapist Carolyn Riker. “What I find most important is to follow how I’m feeling and if I start to get overwhelmed, cynical, and/or triggered by the relentless toxic messages that amount to abuse, I take breaks from social media’s 24/7 overly- stimulating environment. We need to be our own ally regarding self-care. This is not a short race, but a marathon. There’s no sense in burning ourselves out.”

Social Entrepreneur, Activist, Psychotherapist and Writer/Editor. With Clarity that Gratitude and Decency Truly Matter.

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