The Politics of Projection

Photo by Gage Skidmore. Photo edited by Hardpin Media

Photo by Gage Skidmore. Photo edited by Hardpin Media

I have seen first hand the power the human ego has to contort reality. It's a peculiar instinct we carry and it is in constant need of affirmation and gratification.  For many of us we’re are able to both manage and temper our ego and its need for attention. Especially when it tries to convince us of things that are not actually happening. That filter and self-awareness that many of us have is very much lacking in the psyche of the current President.

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Lance Dodes, M.D., Joseph Schachter, M.D., Ph.D. and 33 other psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, have stated that in their professional opinion the president is incapable of accepting facts when it goes against his version of events. In so doing, his ego constructs its own reality, and thus :

“Mr. Trump’s speech and actions demonstrate an inability to tolerate views different from his own, leading to rage reactions. His words and behavior suggest a profound inability to empathize. Individuals with these traits distort reality to suit their psychological state, attacking facts and those who convey them (journalists, scientists).”

Living with a family member with mental illness has provided me with a unique understanding of how ego-centric delusions can consume a person and their reality. I’ve also seen how it can destroy a person, and the relationships around them. Eventually, your conversations devolve into an endless cycle of outburst and self-victimization. The victim becomes the aggressor, and the aggressor the true victim. Objective reality is replaced with a subjective, self-serving projection of reality.

I recognized it as a self-defense for the ego. It’s a horrible thing to live through and a heart-breaking thing to see in a loved one. But it’s a truly terrifying thing to witness in the President of the United States.

On Inauguration Day we saw a display of self-obsessed egomania amidst the grandest setting. On the steps of the Capitol building, President Trump described “American carnage” flooding our streets. He described a country that bears little resemblance to the America millions of us live in. Immediately after taking office the President and his team began to dispute facts that were clear as day.  We saw this on the campaign trail and now in his efforts to combat critical press. In the latest jaunt of this never ending display of absurdity, the President accuses long standing news organizations of being fake news. Im sure the irony is not lost on anyone with the critical reasoning of a 6th grader and the memory of a puppy. Over the course of his campaign and brief time in office, the President and his team have continually - and successfully - peddled false narratives and ridiculous claims about their opponents. As a citizen, it's incredibly frustrating to listen to a grown man - and leader of the free world - play the game "I know you are, but what am I?"

Anyone seeking truthful dialogue and answers will be met with derision, hostility and deemed a liar and perpetrator of Fake News. This is more than classic fascist propaganda 101. This is a politics or projection, and an attempt by a mentally unfit man to project his behaviour on others to make himself look like the victim. The result is confusion and a constant stream of misinformation which sadly enough a very large portion of the country are eating this up as truth. It has never been more important to question and critique the information you are getting. As John Oliver put it so poignantly last weekend, “we all need to commit to  defending the reality of facts” and continue to demand the truth from our Government and Mr.Trump.