OscarDecember 12, 2016 Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


The Cult of Trump


Can’t understand why a loved one would vote for Donald Trump? Let the experts who spend their lives studying cults help break it down.
America was watching, the world was watching, and Donald Trump needed everyone to understand just how dire the straits really were.


“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,” he proclaimed ominously as he officially accepted the Republican nomination for president at the party’s convention in Cleveland last month. It was a grim portrait of America, a once-great nation ravaged by terrorism, “poverty and violence” at home, “war and destruction” overseas.


The solution? Not God. Or patriotism. Or casting aside party loyalty to come together as a nation. No, politicians had rallied under those virtuous banners before, and where had it gotten us? Instead, the newly crowned nominee offered a more messianic promise: that Trump—and only Trump—can get things back on track.


That’s the moment, says Rick Alan Ross, America’s leading cult expert, when he realized Trumpism had striking similarities to the fanatical groups he studies.


Like many moderates in the party, Ross, the executive director of the Cult Education Institute and a lifelong Republican, had watched Trump’s rise with mounting distaste. But Trump’s rhetoric at the RNC—“I alone can fix it”—clicked the pieces into place. “That kind of pronouncement is typical of many cult leaders, who say that ‘my way is the only way, I am the only one,’” Ross says. “That was a very defining moment.”


When I called Ross, I cut right to the chase, asking, “Is Trump a cult leader?” I didn’t get more than a few words in for the next 20 minutes as he dove into the evidence: the nominee’s deep-rooted narcissism, his lack of transparency, many of his supporters’ blind, full-throttled adoration. A week later, he left me two voicemails outlining the warning signs of narcissistic personality disorder in the candidate, and a week after that, followed up with another batch of e-mails expounding on Trump’s similarities to the cults he studies. There was a lot to dig into.



The New Republic

October 15, 2016


Donald Trump’s Campaign Has Become a Cult


Friday’s rally in Charlotte took Trumpism to a frightening new level.



By Jared Yates Sexton


The Trump campaign has turned into something new: a cult.


The fact hit me a few minutes after I entered the Charlotte Convention Center on Friday night and heard supporters openly blaming the women who’ve recently come forward to accuse Donald Trump of sexually assaulting them. The Trump faithful were more than ready to cut down anyone standing in their leader’s way.


“They’re gold diggers,” I heard an old woman say.


“Let’s call them what they are,” said a woman in a “Proud Deplorable” shirt. “They’re whores.”


Throughout the night there were similar strains of the same conversation. Everyone was in agreement that there was no veracity to the women’s claims, that it was just another dirty trick by “Crooked Hillary” to defeat Trump, a man so good, another woman explained, holding out her quaking hand, “It makes me shake to think they’d hurt a man like that.”


But the questioning of the women’s accounts didn’t stop at skepticism. In a cult, when confronted with conflicting evidence, it’s oftentimes necessary to go to extreme lengths to sustain the shared narrative. Here, in Charlotte, they were more than ready to go to those lengths.


One man noted to his friend that it was suspicious that Trump was accused of sexual improprieties just as former Fox News head Roger Ailes has been. “You reckon Fox is in on it?” he asked aloud.


But the most disgusting suspicion concerned the accusers’ attractiveness.


“Trump dates models,” a woman in a red-white-and-blue blouse said, “Did you see that woman?” she asked, referring to Jessica Leeds, who says Trump groped her on a plane in the 1980s. “You think he was so hard up?”


Trump has continued to feed that same narrative by mentioning how unattractive he finds the women. At a rally in Greensboro earlier on Friday, Trump referred to reporter Natasha Stoynoff’s claim that he assaulted her while she was interviewing him in 2005 for a profile in People magazine. “Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so, I don’t think so.”


Trump’s followers didn’t think so, either.


“Women say all the time they’ve been raped,” said a man in a Trump/Pence shirt. “They lie all the time.”




A cult is only as secure as they are willing to isolate themselves from the outside world, and Trump, who has called for a wall along the Mexican border to keep out others, is busy building a metaphorical wall to protect his followers from outsiders who might contradict his message.


“Maybe we should boycott that issue,” Trump said of the new issue of People that details Stoynoff’s claims.


The crowd not only cheered, but they slipped into their now-familiar chant: “Lock them up, lock them up, lock them up.”


The “lock her up” chant, usually reserved for Hillary Clinton, has grown to encompass anybody who threatens the Trump cult.


Last night it was his accusers.


Lock them up, lock them up.


The FBI who chose not to indict Clinton.


Lock them up, lock them up.


The dishonest media.


Lock them up, lock them up.


They were chanting it on the floor before he got there, throughout his speech, on the escalators as they rode their way out of the convention space, and then outside, in the faces of the protestors holding signs reading “Don’t Grab My Pussy,” a reference to Trump’s now-infamous admission of sexual assault.


“You might live in Fairytale Land,” one supporter told a female protestor, “but you aren’t a princess.”


There were confrontations everywhere. Arguments between white supporters and black protestors. Rapid-fire insults. A young man told a black protestor he “still wasn’t free” and that he should have some pride and “at least make the Democrats work for your vote.”


Things reached a fever pitch. A protestor was chased off, tears streaming down his face. “I don’t want to go to jail tonight,” he said, before dodging cars in the street.


“Don’t believe the polls!” the man who’d chased him screamed. “Polls are lies! They’re telling you lies! Polls are lies! Don’t believe the polls!”




is the author of American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World but Failed Its People, forthcoming from Dutton/Penguin-Random House. Currently, he serves as an associate professor of writing at Georgia Southern University and is the co-host of The Muckrake Political Podcast.


Read More: Politics, Election 2016, Donald Trump, North Carolina



ABC News’ 20/20 Special Broadcast

November 12, 2016


Donald Trump’s Childhood | “The Making of a President” Part 1


Donald Trump grew up in Queens, New York, and his father Fred was a millionaire real estate developer.


Donald Trump stunned the world and won the presidential election. After the historic election, Trump’s opponents and supporters are all asking: how did we get here?



Psychology Today

September 21, 2013


Sex, Power, Money, and All of the Above


Who will win in the search for sex, power, and money?


By Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.


Freud may have believed that all humans are motivated by illicit motives, but research on the “Dark Triad” of personality suggests that some of us have stronger cravings than others. The Dark Triad refers to the set of three personality traits or personal dispositions generally recognized as undesirable – hence the term “dark.” 



Moyers & Company
April 15, 2014


The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight


Mike Lofgren, a congressional staff member for 28 years, joins Bill Moyers to talk about what he calls Washington’s “Deep State,” in which elected and unelected figures collude to protect and serve powerful vested interests. “It is how we had deregulation, financialization of the economy, the Wall Street bust, the erosion of our civil liberties and perpetual war,” Lofgren tells Moyers.



Why “Macho” Leadership Still Thrives


Authoritarian, narcissistic leaders are on the rise



By Ray Williams | April 4, 2016


Global economic uncertainty and the spike in terrorism has created a resurgence of the populist attraction to authoritarianism and male “macho” leaders. This trend is evident both in politics and in business.


Narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy, and psychopathy have one thing in common: they are disorders whose primary personality trait is the obsession with control, domination of, and power over others, whether that is people, animals, the environment, systems, or organizations.


Kevin Dutton, author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths, argues “Traits that are common among psychopathic serial killers—a grandiose sense of self-worth, persuasiveness, superficial charm, ruthlessness, lack of remorse and the manipulation of others—are also shared by politicians and world leaders. Individuals, in other words, running not from the police, but for office.” Such a profile allows those who have these traits to do what they like when they like, completely unfazed by the social, moral or legal consequences of their actions.


In their book, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, argue while psychopaths may not be ideally suited for traditional work environments by virtue of a lack of desire to develop good interpersonal relationships, they have other abilities such as reading people and masterful influence and persuasion skills that can make them difficult to be seen as the psychopaths they are. According to their and others’ studies somewhere between 3-25% of executives could be assessed as psychopaths, a much higher figure than the general population figure of 1%.


Manifred Kets de Vries, a distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change at INSEAD has completed some research and published a paper on the subject. He calls the corporate psychopath the “SOB—Seductive Operational Bully”—or psychopath “lite.” SOBs don’t usually end up in jail or psychiatric hospital, but they do thrive in an organizational setting. SOBs can be found wherever power, status, or money is at stake, de Vries says: “They talk about themselves endlessly; they like to be in the limelight. In some ways they are like children, believing that they are the center of the universe, unable to recognize the needs and rights of others. They appear to be charming yet can be covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their ‘victims’ merely as targets and opportunities; like master and slave, they try to dominate and humiliate them. For them, the end always justifies the means.”


Populist authoritarianism can best be explained as a cultural backlash in Western societies against long-term, ongoing social change.


Over recent decades, the World Values Survey shows that Western societies have been getting gradually more liberal on many social issues, especially among the younger generation and well-educated middle class. That includes egalitarian attitudes toward sex roles, tolerance of fluid gender identities and LGBT rights, support for same-sex marriage, tolerance of diversity, and more secular values, as well as what political scientists call emancipative values, engagement in directly assertive forms of democratic participation, and cosmopolitan support for agencies of global governance. This long-term generational shift threatens many traditionalists’ cultural values. Less educated and older citizens fear becoming marginalized and left behind within their own countries. This fear spawns a desire for someone to take control.


In the United States, evidence from the World Values Survey perfectly illustrates the education gap in these types of cultural values. Well before Trump, a substantial and striking education gap can be observed in American approval of authoritarian leaders. The WVS asked whether Americans approved of “having a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with congress or elections.” Most remarkably, by the most recent wave in 2011, almost half — 44 percent — of U.S. non-college graduates approved of having a strong leader unchecked by elections and Congress.


Many of today’s challenges are too complex to yield to the exercise of leadership alone. Even so, we are inclined to see the problems of the present in terms of crises and leaders. Our growing addiction to the narrative of crisis has gone hand in hand with an increasing veneration of leadership—a veneration that leaves us vulnerable to the false prophets, the smooth operators, the gangsters, and the demagogues who say they can save us . . .



When Bad Is Good:
Adopting the Psychopathic Lifestyle


The attitudes and behaviors of individuals with many psychopathic features are systemic, a natural and pervasive part of their general lifestyle. In a sense, they are what they are. However, there are others whose nature is less psychopathic than pragmatic; they adopt some of the trappings of a “psychopathic lifestyle” in order to succeed or excel at their work or profession. They are encouraged in this process by all sorts of pop-psych self-help books that promote a philosophy of aggressive greed, self-entitlement, and “looking out for number one.”


In his book What Would Machiavelli Do?, Stanley Bing, perhaps tongue in cheek, tells how to get what you want when you want it whether you deserve it or not. Without fear. Without emotion. Without finger-wagging morality. The following are some of his exhortations:


• Be cold-hearted: Replace decency and thoughtfulness with insensitivity and hardheartedness.


• Work hard to become bad: Most people aren’t naturally horrendous . . . but with work we can improve.


• Be narcissistic: View others solely as a function of your needs . . . You have enormous selfishness within you . . . Let it out.


• Be unpredictable: Very nice. Very mean. Big, big swings. Gigantic pleasure. Towering rage.


• Be ruthless: For your competitors and those who would bring you down. “Crush them. Hear their bones break, their windpipes snap.”


Of course, the more psychopathic one is, the easier it is to follow Bing’s road map to amoral personal and corporate success. For most of us, though, social brutality and predation are somewhat more difficult. Even if Bing’s book is viewed as a satire, it reads like a blueprint for a psychopath.


From Snakes in Suits, Chapter 3: What You See May Not Be What You See (pp. 42-43).



Machiavellian: Conduct or philosophy based on (or one who adopts) the cynical beliefs of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) whose name (in popular perception) is synonymous with deception and duplicity in management and statecraft. Born in Florence (Italy), Machiavelli was its second chancellor and (in 1513) wrote the book The Prince that discusses ways in which the rulers of a nation state can gain and control power. Although The Prince contains some keen and practical insights into human behavior, it also displays a pessimistic view of human nature and condones opportunistic and unethical ways of manipulating people. One of its suggestions reads: “Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature.”



Moyers & Company

April 18, 2014


What the 1% Don’t Want You to Know


Economist Paul Krugman explains how the United States is becoming an oligarchy – the very system our founders revolted against.



The Film Archives
October 3, 2017






Washington Post


Revealing the True Donald Trump: A Devastating Indictment of His Business & Life (2016)


Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power is a biography of Donald Trump, written by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher. More on the book:…


It was first published in 2016 in hardcover format by Scribner. It was released in ebook format that year and paperback format in 2017 under the title Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President. The book was a collaborative research project by The Washington Post, supervised by the newspaper’s editor Marty Baron and consisting of contributions from thirty-eight journalists, and two fact-checkers. Trump initially refused to be interviewed for the book, then relented, and subsequently raised the possibility of a libel lawsuit against the authors. After the book was completed, Trump urged his Twitter followers not to buy it.


The biography discusses the entirety of Trump’s life, from his upbringing, his time in military school, to his early experience in real estate investing under his father Fred Trump. Kranish and Fisher delve into Trump’s ventures to establish himself in real estate in New York City, and his efforts to become a famous celebrity. They discuss Trump’s first meeting with lawyer Roy Cohn, who advised him to always attack as a public relations strategy. The book recounts Trump’s usage of pseudonyms “John Barron” and “John Miller” in order to increase his own fame and standing, and discusses his successes and failures in business, and his increased celebrity through The Apprentice.


The biography provides an overview of major events from the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, including Trump’s comments about Mexican rapists, his conflict with journalist Megyn Kelly, and sexual misconduct assertions made by women against Trump. The work concludes with the 2016 Republican National Convention.



Business Insider

February 27, 2018


Lindsay Dodgson


Narcissists often recruit people called ‘apaths’ to help with their games – here’s why they’re dangerous:


People with Dark Tetrad personality traits — sadism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism — play games with their partners to break down their self-esteem. To succeed, they sometimes recruit helpers to help control and manipulate their partners. Apaths fit this role very well.


Shannon Thomas, author of Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse, told Business Insider an apath is someone who is apathetic to the harm in their social circle, particularly if someone is being manipulative, hurtful, or abusive. Their role, she said, is critical to the narcissist’s game.


“An apath is the wing-person to a narcissist and plays a key role in normalising the toxic individual and their harmful behaviors towards others,” she said. “A narcissist must have apaths in their life to keep the facade of social normalcy going. Apaths create the illusion that a narcissist has friends, is well-liked and can get along with everyone, except the target of abuse.”


Rather than standing up for the victim, or giving them support in the fact they are being mistreated, the apath will instead be completely indifferent to their suffering. When challenged, they come up with excuses and say things like “It’s not my battle,” or “well, they don’t treat me that way.”


By minding their own business, they are effectively being a pawn on the narcissist’s gameboard, making the victim believe they must be going crazy.


In some online forums, apaths are known as “flying monkeys,” like the Wicked Witch’s helpers in “The Wizard of Oz.” They do all the narcissist’s dirty work behind the scenes while the narcissist can sit back and watch.


“Many apaths are also hidden abusers themselves and they will cluster together in family and friend groups to keep each other’s secrets,” Thomas said. “Another type of apath believes it is better to join the abuser in their games than ever run the risk of becoming a future target of the narcissist.”



Self-Care Haven for Survivors


The Narcissist’s Pathological Envy Represents

How Powerful You Really Are


By Shahida Arabi | Nov 1, 2016


Abusers manipulate victims because they enjoy the feelings of power and control, not because victims themselves lack merits. In fact, narcissistic abusers feel particular joy at bringing down anyone whose accomplishments and traits they envy to reinforce their false sense of superiority.



Defending Health, Life and Liberty


How to spot a sociopath – 10 red flags that could save you from being swept under the influence of a charismatic nut job


Friday, June 8, 2012
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of (See all articles…)
Tags: sociopaths, cults, influence


One of the more offensive duties of being an investigative journalist is taking out the trash — exposing liars, fraudsters, con artists and scammers for the people they truly are. Each time we investigate a sociopath, we find that they always have a little cult group following of spellbound worshippers who consider that particular sociopath to be a “guru” or “prophet.”


Sociopaths are masters at influence and deception. Very little of what they say actually checks out in terms of facts or reality, but they’re extremely skillful at making the things they say sound believable, even if they’re just making them up out of thin air. Here, I’m going to present quotes and videos of some legendary sociopaths who convinced everyday people to participate in mass suicides. And then I’m going to demonstrate how and why similar sociopaths are operating right now… today.


Why cover this subject? I’ve seen a lot of people get hoodwinked, scammed or even harmed by sociopaths, and it bewilders me that people are so easily sucked into their destructive influence. I want to share with Natural News readers the warning signs of sociopaths so that you can spot them, avoid them, and save yourself the trouble of being unduly influenced by them.


Much of this information is derived from the fascinating book, The Sociopath Next Door, which says that 4% of the population are sociopaths.



Time cover - Evil



Essay | June 10, 1991




By Lance Morrow


     I think there should be a Dark Willard.
In the network’s studio in New York City, Dark Willard would recite the morning’s evil report. The map of the world behind him would be a multicolored Mercator projection. Some parts of the earth, where the overnight good prevailed, would glow with a bright transparency. But much of the map would be speckled and blotched. Over Third World and First World, over cities and plains and miserable islands would be smudges of evil, ragged blights, storm systems of massacre or famine, murders, black snows. Here and there, a genocide, a true abyss.
     “Homo homini lupus,” Dark Willard would remark. “That’s Latin, guys. Man is a wolf to man.”



Is The Root of Evil … The Psychopathic Mind?


by Randall Clifford
May 30, 2012
from ActivistPost Website



As such a useful tool of exchange, money is not inherently evil.


Money can be a springboard to such evil as bailout-begging banks too monstrous to fail gambling with taxpayer wealth – you know, private profits, public risk. Casino financing with taxpayers as a backstop. The $700 billion TARP bailout actually being a $23.7 trillion bailout. But the root of all evil is the human brain.


New research has exposed, shall we say, the root of the problem.


Pathocracy is its flower.


    Definition: pathocracy (n).


    A system of government created by a small pathological minority that takes control over a society of normal people (from Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes, by Andrew Lobaczewski).


A small minority of people are born psychopaths; they inherit a genetic deviance linked to certain structural abnormalities of their social brain.


The physical dynamic that exposes psychopaths is a reduction of gray matter in the anterior rostral prefrontal cortex and temporal poles. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is able to image this deviation fundamental to psychopathy. Potential benefits to humanity are immense; imagine something like a TSA screening (without the bureaucracy, groping and humiliation) to keep psychopaths from boarding the flight to power.


Psychopaths enjoy a perverse advantage over normal people in ascending pyramids of power.


Unfettered by conscience, empathy, morality…some might say, without the weight of a soul, psychopaths readily rise to the top in a society turned upside down by pathocracy. Lying, cheating, stealing, backstabbing – without remorse, psychopaths can claw for power in ways that make a person with a conscience recoil.


It’s not so much that power corrupts as that the corrupt seek power.


Politics and investment banking are prime waters for psychopaths to school. If people enjoying great power over others were screened for social-brain deviations with an MRI scan, and the psychopaths were weeded out, renaissance might occupy Capital Hill and Wall Street.


Judging from our current state of politics and financialization, there certainly would be many vacancies to fill in such a furthering of the humane.


It truly is right in our hands, an opportunity we may never see again.


But… possessing the means of physically detecting  psychopathy  and correcting the blight of psychopathic “leadership” may be irrelevant in the face of pathocracy fully entrenched. Psychopaths in power would never volunteer to have their social-brain deviations revealed, would never allow legislation regarding a brain MRI as a prerequisite to holding any elective office.


Perhaps it’s true, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.


Technology offers us the way – the key to identifying the human brain’s physical roots of psychopathy. The question becomes whether or not the American public has the will to force holders of great power over others, and seekers of such power, to bare their soul… or lack thereof.


Legislation requiring some “newfangled, junk-science” brain scan for leaders could only be forced from below. But our influence down here in the 99.99% is withering toward nothing but voting for a red psychopath, or a blue one, in elections controlled by unlimited corporate cash, and fraud.


And there’s: “Either with us, or against us”. Criminalization of dissent is plodding toward any questioning of entrenched pathocracy becoming “domestic terrorism”.



Oct 16, 2013


Daniel Amen: The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans



9 Brainy Facts About the Neocortex


By Jordan Rosenfeld | Nov 17, 2016


The human body is an amazing thing. For each one of us, it’s the most intimate object we know. And yet most of us don’t know enough about it: its features, functions, quirks, and mysteries. Our series The Body explores human anatomy part by part. Think of it as a mini digital encyclopedia with a dose of wow.


The brain is arguably the one organ that makes you who you are—and the largest part of the brain is the neocortex. Taking up a vast amount of space in your skull, the neocortex is what allows you to do many things you take for granted, such as write and speak, have social interactions, and muse philosophically about the meaning of life. But you might not have known these nine crucial facts about this critical part of your brain.



You are the world


Are your decisions made by your brain, or via the experience of the world relative to your body? A dialogue on consciousness


For any materialist vision of consciousness, the crucial stumbling block is the question of free will. A modern, enlightened person tends to feel that he or she has rejected a mystical, immaterial conception of the eternal soul in exchange for a strictly scientific understanding of consciousness and selfhood – as something created by the billions of neurons in our brains with their trillions of synapses and complex chemical and electrical processes. But the fact of our being entirely material, hence subject to the laws of cause and effect, introduces the concern that our lives might be altogether determined. Is it possible that our experience of decision-making – the impression we have of making choices, indeed of having choices to make, sometimes hard ones – is entirely illusory? Is it possible that a chain of physical events in our bodies and brains must cause us to act in the way we do, whatever our experience of the process might be?








Forgotten Memories of Traumatic
Events Get Some Backing from
Brain-Imaging Studies

A new wave of research seeks neurological signatures for a type of amnesia


By Joshua Kendal on April 6, 2021

When adults claim to have suddenly recalled painful events from their childhood, are those memories likely to be accurate? This question is the basis of the “memory wars” that have roiled psychology for decades. And the validity of buried trauma turns up as a point of contention in court cases and in television and movie story lines.


Warnings about the reliability of a forgotten traumatic event that is later recalled—known formally as a delayed memory—have been endorsed by leading mental health organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The skepticism is based on a body of research showing that memory is unreliable and that simple manipulations in the lab can make people believe they had an experience that never happened. Some prominent cases of recovered memory of child abuse have turned out to be false, elicited by overzealous therapists.


But psychotherapists who specialize in treating adult survivors of childhood trauma argue that laboratory experiments do not rule out the possibility that some delayed memories recalled by adults are factual. Trauma therapists assert that abuse experienced early in life can overwhelm the central nervous system, causing children to split off a painful memory from conscious awareness. They maintain that this psychological defense mechanism—known as dissociative amnesia—turns up routinely in the patients they encounter.


Tensions between the two positions have often been framed as a debate between hard-core scientists on the false-memory side and therapists in clinical practice in the delayed-memory camp. But clinicians who also do research have been publishing peer-reviewed studies of dissociative amnesia in leading journals for decades. A study published in February in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the flagship journal of the APA, highlights the considerable scientific evidence that bolsters the arguments of trauma therapists.


The new paper uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study amnesia, along with various other dissociative experiences that are often said to occur in the wake of severe child abuse, such as feelings of unreality and depersonalization. In an editorial published in the same issue of the journal, Vinod Menon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine, praised the researchers for “[uncovering] a potential brain circuit mechanism underlying individual differences in dissociative symptoms in adults with early-life trauma and PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder].”



Psychotherapy Networker


Editor’s Note
By Rich Simon
July/August 2016 (excerpt)


If post hoc diagnosis is any indicator, many of history’s most illustrious figures had some version of what we now call obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), including Thomas Jefferson, Ludwig van Beethoven, Charles Darwin, Marcel Proust, Sir Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein. Apple cofounder Steve Jobs even got down on his hands and knees to search for specks of dust on the floor during the rollout of the first Mac computer.


Certainly, in our time, many habits of mind associated with workplace success—single-minded dedication, concentration, persistence, intensity—might appear to have a certain OCD-ish quality. But anybody who’s truly experienced the real OCD, or known someone who suffers from it, realizes just how nightmarish the actual condition can be. It turns people into prisoners of their own minds, locked into an ever-shrinking cell of unwanted mental preoccupations and the frantic desire to escape them—which has the paradoxical impact of strengthening them, thus reinforcing the whole miserable cycle.



Treating Children with OCD
The Essential Component
By Lynn Lyons


Learning to Manage the OCD Bully
A Story of One Woman’s Journey for Help
By Diane Cole



You Are Not So Smart is a show about psychology…


By David McRaney



Dunning-Kruger effect/impostor syndromeRationalWiki


15 Common Defense Mechanisms PsychCentral



Insight SBS

June 3, 2014


What Makes a Psychopath?


Jim Fallon is a US-based neuroscientist. In a weird coincidence at work several years ago, Jim says he accidentally discovered that his own brain scans showed identical activity to that of a psychopath. This week, Jim faces questions from world experts to discuss his self-diagnosis and to broadly discuss empathy (or lack of it).



Sam Vaknin: Unmasking Narcissists, Psychopaths, and

Their Abuse


with Ruth Jacobs in Cambridge, UK | Feb 14, 2014



The Psychopath Next Door  (2014) Documentary




April 22, 2015


Psychopath BBC documentary



Feb 5, 2020


Host – Kyle Kittleson


The Psychopath & The Sociopath: A Masterclass


Some of what Dr. Ramani covers….
– What causes antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) – nature or nurture?
– What goes on in the brain of a psychopath or sociopath – and whether they can feel remorse or empathy
– A deep-dive into the signs and symptoms of a psychopath and a sociopath
– How to tell if your friend, coworker, or even your spouse is a psychopath or sociopath – The latest findings and research on ASPD, psychopaths, and sociopaths
– How to handle a child who is showing signs of ASPD
– How to cope with a parent, co-worker, boss, sibling, or family member who has psychopathic or sociopathic traits
– Whether someone with antisocial personality disorder can recover / be cured


“There is no ‘average’ person with antisocial personality disorder. You can find people with antisocial personality disorder everywhere from death row to the best table at the best restaurant in Los Angeles.” – Dr. Ramani Durvasula



The Gray Rock method of dealing with psychopaths





Religion and schizophrenia 


A common report from those with schizophrenia is some type of religious belief that many medical practitioners consider to be delusional – such as the belief they are divine beings or prophets, that a god is talking to them, they are possessed by demons, etc.



List of people claimed to be Jesus


This is a partial list of notable people who have been claimed, either by themselves or by their followers, in some way to be the reincarnation or incarnation of Jesus, or the Second Coming of Christ.


The Three Christs of Ypsilanti (1964) is a book-length psychiatric case study by Milton Rokeach, concerning his experiment on a group of three patients with paranoid schizophrenia at Ypsilanti State Hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The book details the interactions of the three patients, Clyde Benson, Joseph Cassel, and Leon Gabor, who each believed himself to be Jesus Christ.



God complex


A god complex is an unshakable belief characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility. A person with a god complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks. The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they were unquestionably correct. Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.



Cult of personality


A cult of personality, or cult of the leader, arises when a country’s regime – or, more rarely, an individual – uses the techniques of mass media, propaganda, the big lie, spectacle, the arts, patriotism, and government-organized demonstrations and rallies to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. A cult of personality is similar to apotheosis, except that it is established by modern social engineering techniques, usually by the state or the party in one-party states and dominant-party states. It is often seen in totalitarian or authoritarian countries.



The ABC of Sycophancy


Structural Conditions for the

Emergence of Dictators’

Cults of Personality


Dissertation presented to the faculty of the graduate school of

The University of Texas at Austin


By Adrian Teodor Popan | August 2015



Rachel Bernstein


Narcissists and Cult Leaders: Are You Being Controlled by One?



The Atlantic

June 2016 Issue




Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity — a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency.


By Dan P. McAdams


In 2006, Donald Trump made plans to purchase the Menie Estate, near Aberdeen, Scotland, aiming to convert the dunes and grassland into a luxury golf resort. He and the estate’s owner, Tom Griffin, sat down to discuss the transaction at the Cock & Bull restaurant. Griffin recalls that Trump was a hard-nosed negotiator, reluctant to give in on even the tiniest details. But, as Michael D’Antonio writes in his recent biography of Trump, Never Enough, Griffin’s most vivid recollection of the evening pertains to the theatrics. It was as if the golden-haired guest sitting across the table were an actor playing a part on the London stage.


“It was Donald Trump playing Donald Trump,” Griffin observed. There was something unreal about it.


The same feeling perplexed Mark Singer in the late 1990s when he was working on a profile of Trump for The New Yorker. Singer wondered what went through his mind when he was not playing the public role of Donald Trump. What are you thinking about, Singer asked him, when you are shaving in front of the mirror in the morning? Trump, Singer writes, appeared baffled. Hoping to uncover the man behind the actor’s mask, Singer tried a different tack:


“O.K., I guess I’m asking, do you consider yourself ideal company?”


“You really want to know what I consider ideal company?,” Trump replied. “A total piece of ass.”



The New Yorker

July 18, 2016


Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All


By Jane Mayer


“The Art of the Deal” made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth—and regrets it.



Tony Schwartz: The Truth About Trump | Oxford Union Q&A

Nov 4, 2016


“I wasn’t much older than most of you are today when I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’. At the time I told myself that doing it wasn’t that big a deal and wouldn’t have any enduring consequences. Ha.


The truth is, that decision – the book and my association with Trump – has quietly haunted and dogged me for thirty years.”



Journeyman Pictures



Trump: What’s The Deal?


Donald Trump is one of the richest and most famous men in America, but on what foundation has his success been built? From accusations of harassment to repeated flirtations with bankruptcy, his very public business career has been one of artifice and intrigue; a Machiavellian performance played out before the American media. Originally produced in 1991, Trump: What’s the Deal? investigates the unscrupulous reality behind this most public of figures.



You’ve Been Trumped Too



Investigative journalist Anthony Baxter travels between the presidential race and the timeless Scottish countryside . . .



Democracy Now!
January 17, 2017


Matt Taibbi Chronicles Election of “Billionaire Hedonist” Trump


As a new study by Oxfam finds the world’s eight richest men control as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity, the group says it is concerned that wealth inequality will continue to grow following the election of Donald Trump, whose Cabinet members have a combined wealth of nearly $11 billion. We look at the rise of Trump, and those joining his administration, with award-winning Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi. His new book comes out today, titled Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus.







When they have a problem, they focus on making it an opportunity to do more evil to as many people as possible.


I’ve noticed that psychopaths rarely have just one goal. They layer their goals. The first step is always to gather minions who will do their bidding. Whether the psychopath wants sex, money, power or just needs drama, he will bring his players together like a conductor at a symphony.


It’s not uncommon for psychopaths to bond their minions by polarizing all their hatred on a scapegoat.


Most all organic disorders that do not involve deliberate choices of actions and behaviors, or wanton depraved indifference (in regards to the legal definition) can actually be managed. Schizophrenia, BiPolar Disorder, and others can be successfully managed through medication + counseling.


Psychopathology, on the other hand, cannot be managed in any capacity. There is no medication, treatment, therapy, surgery, herbal remedy, or spiritual epiphany that can effect a meaningful change in the ways that these individuals process the world around them. In “Their World,” they are the only occupant – they are the emperor/empress, citizen, dungeon-master, judge, jury, and executioner. All other human beings that travel through their Universe are seen as tools or objects, literally.



New Scientist


Jan 20, 2017


Manipulative, dishonest and lacking in empathy – the traits that describe a psychopath aren’t particularly pleasant. But the idea that they are also fiendishly clever – as often portrayed in films and TV – isn’t quite true. In fact, in general, psychopaths seem to have below-average intelligence.


You have probably met a psychopath at some point in your life. They make up around 1 per cent of the population, says Brian Boutwell at St Louis University in Missouri. A person is classified as a psychopath if they achieve a certain score on a test of psychopathic traits, which include callousness, impulsiveness, aggression and a sense of grandiosity. “Not all psychopaths will break the law or hurt someone, but the odds of them doing so are higher,” says Boutwell.


Because many psychopaths are charming and manipulative, people have assumed they also have above-average intelligence, says Boutwell. Psychologists term this the “Hannibal Lecter myth”, referring to the fictional serial killer, cannibal and psychiatrist from the book and film The Silence of the Lambs.


But Boutwell wasn’t convinced. “Psychopaths are impulsive, have run-ins with the law and often get themselves hurt,” he says. “That led me to think they’re not overly intelligent.”


Not so smart

To investigate, Boutwell and his colleagues analysed the results of 187 published studies on intelligence and psychopathy. These papers included research on psychopaths in prison as well as those enjoying high-flying careers. They also included a range of measures of intelligence.


Overall, the team found no evidence that psychopaths were more intelligent than people who don’t have psychopathic traits. In fact, the relationship went the other way. The psychopaths, on average, scored significantly lower on intelligence tests. “I think the results will surprise a lot of people,” says Boutwell.


Matt DeLisi at Iowa State University hopes that the findings will help put the Hannibal Lecter myth to rest. “The character promulgated the notion that psychopaths were highly intelligent, and there were real offenders that embodied this, like Ted Bundy,” says DeLisi. “But I have interviewed thousands of offenders, some of which are very psychopathic, and I have found that the opposite is true.”






Don’t Be Trumped by Doppelgängers


By Paul Morantz | May 26, 2017


Author of Escape: My Lifelong War Against Cults (with Hal Lancaster) and From Miracle to Madness.


A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence…anyone who wishes to produce an effect upon it needs no logical arguments; he must paint in forcible colors, must exaggerate, and he must repeat the same thing again and again…(The group) wants to be ruled and impressed, and to fear its masters … And, finally, groups have never thirst after truth… They are almost as influenced by what is not true as by what is true… A group is an obedient herd, which could never live without a master. . .”


–  Sigmund Freud


“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”


“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”


– George Orwell


All that Freud and Orwell asserted about groups and political language has been proven anew with the improbable ascendancy of Donald Trump to President of the United States, an apparent doppelgänger of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard—from his hair to flair for revenge.


In a few short months of campaigning and governing, the pride of Mar-A-Lago has seemingly wiped out the last vestiges of civility, honesty and common sense in presidential politics and turned the Oval Office into a Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey side show.


And yet, after all the lies, position flip-flops, erratic behavior, brazen conflicts of interest, childish, thin-skinned attacks on the media, offensive comments about minorities, women and the entire Middle East, not to mention the investigations into his curious relationship with Russia that has led to the doorstep of impeachment, many of those who voted for him still maintain their unflagging support.


For the love of sanity, how is this possible?


I’ve been repeating that phrase for many months now, after each unconscionable act, events that would have torpedoed any other political campaign. And yet, here we are, on the precipice of calamity, with Trump eviscerating regulations that will loose the beasts of Wall Street and the energy industry, threatening to build a wall that will waste billions of dollars, spreading chaos in health and education, proposing massive cuts to programs that benefit the poor and promising to shut down any program or agency that could protect us from climate change and environmental abuses. Do you remember the megalomaniacal general played by Sterling Hayden in Dr. Strangelove? Don’t look now, but he’s President and commander-in-chief, the man with his finger on the button. Isn’t that a sobering thought?



BuzzFeed News
June 6, 2017




Kids Are Quoting Trump To Bully Their Classmates
And Teachers Don’t Know What To Do About It


BuzzFeed News reporters reviewed more than 50 reports of school bullying since the election and found that kids nationwide are using Trump’s words to taunt their classmates. If the president can say those things, why can’t they?



Psychology Today
July 19, 2017


Is It Narcissism or Sociopathy?


What is the nexus between narcissistic and antisocial personality?


By Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D.


It is near impossible to speak meaningfully about pathological narcissism without acknowledging and discussing its close connection with the conscious or unconscious striving for power. (We all seek some sense of power and control in life, but the narcissistic personality is consumed, possessed and driven by this excessive need.) As is so commonly seen in APD, people who suffer (or more aptly, make others suffer) from NPD seek to assert power and control over others, albeit in somewhat more subtle ways. Nonetheless, this power drive can be quite compulsive and unrelenting, motivated by an unquenchable need to overcome profound feelings of powerlessness, stemming usually from childhood.


This pathological pursuit of power can be expressed in a broad spectrum of behaviors: from cruelly teasing or bullying a younger sibling, to inflicting physical suffering on insects or family pets, to the abduction, torture, sexual abuse, and sometimes horrific killing of innocent victims by psychopaths. When such individuals seek and successfully attain to positions of power in industry, academia or politics, the results can be catastrophic, since it is especially in the pathologically narcissistic and power-hungry person that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But this same ruthlessness, sadism, cruelty, and unbridled will to power is played out in the daily lives of petty psychopathic narcissists, wreaking havoc and causing suffering to all those within their smaller sphere of influence.



Yudhijit Bhattacharjee | National Geographic

August 16, 2017



  What Science Tells Us About Good and Evil


After a killing and a violent neo-Nazi rally

in Charlottesville, the nation wrestles with

why we commit such unspeakable acts.



The horrific footage of a car plowing into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend—a purposeful attack that killed one person and injured many others—has sparked a national conversation about the roots of evil. The victim was protesting a rally by white supremacists, including neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home,” tweeted Orrin Hatch, a Republican senator from Utah. Hostility and hatred have fueled unspeakable evil, including genocides such as the one engineered by Nazi Germany. But humankind also is capable of astonishing acts of kindness.


We at National Geographic have been working on a story about what science tells us about good and evil. Given last weekend’s events, we’ve decided to publish the story now. A version will also appear in a future issue of the magazine.




August 23, 2017


What Mental Health Experts Can Say About The Presidency


By Bandy X. Lee, M.D., Contributor

Co-authored by Dee Mosbacher, M.D., Ph.D. and Nanette Gartrell, M.D.


“Now that he has won the presidency, why wouldn’t he just ‘pivot’ and become more normal?” Why would he say things in public that are destructive to him and the nation?” Why stir things up unnecessarily?” “The chaos and incoherence are much worse than expected.”


These are some of the questions and concerns that have been raised about President Trump by persons who are untrained in how mental impairment can manifest. Indeed, the vast array of healthy human behaviors makes it difficult for the ordinary person to detect disability other than in the most obvious cases. Further, the more impaired the individual, the more likely he or she is to deny pathological behavior and insist that it is by choice. In our culture, mental impairment, unlike other medical illnesses, still connotes a moral failure—leading to its denial or use only in epithets. Yet it can afflict anyone, it is nonpartisan, and we can identify it through objective criteria.


The Goldwater rule, which specifies that psychiatrists cannot diagnose a public figure without a face-to-face evaluation, has contributed to the lack of discourse and education about Mr. Trump. An expansion of the rule by the American Psychiatric Association in March 2017 further compromised that possibility.



A collection of scholarly works about
individual liberty and free markets.


Lord Acton writes to Bishop Creighton in a series of letters concerning the moral problem of writing history about the Inquisition. Acton believes that the same moral standards should be applied to all men, political and religious leaders included, especially since, in his famous phrase, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (1887):


“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. That is the point at which the negation of Catholicism and the negation of Liberalism meet and keep high festival, and the end learns to justify the means. You would hang a man of no position, like Ravaillac; but if what one hears is true, then Elizabeth asked the gaoler to murder Mary, and William III ordered his Scots minister to extirpate a clan. Here are the greater names coupled with the greater crimes. You would spare these criminals, for some mysterious reason. I would hang them, higher than Haman, for reasons of quite obvious justice; still more, still higher, for the sake of historical science.”


About this Quotation:


There is much more to these letters than just the occurrence of Acton’s most famous phrase that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The context is the question of how religious historians should handle the corrupt and even criminal behaviour of many Popes, and the appalling treatment of dissidents and heretics during the Inquisition. This leads Acton to talk about the universal nature of moral principles, the requirement for historians to use such principles in the assessment of historical figures, the tendency of these powerful historical figures to be “bad men”, and that it was the function of historians to “hang them” (whether he meant this literally of metaphorically is not clear). In the third letter to Creighton, Acton quotes with some approval a conversation he had with John Bright, one of the leaders of the Anti-Corn Law League, who stated to him that “If the people knew what sort of men statesmen were, they would rise and hang the whole lot of them.”









Psychology Today

Jan 22, 2017


11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting


Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used to gain power. And it works too well.


By Stephanie Sarkis Ph.D.


Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.


People who gaslight typically use the following techniques:


1. They tell blatant lies.


You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.




December 8, 2017


Bella Depaulo


I study liars for a living. I’ve never seen one like President Trump.


I spent the first two decades of my career as a social scientist studying liars and their lies. I thought I had developed a sense of what to expect from them. Then along came President Donald Trump. His lies are both more frequent and more malicious than ordinary people’s.


In research beginning in the mid-1990s, when I was a professor at the University of Virginia, my colleagues and I asked 77 college students and 70 people from the nearby community to keep diaries of all the lies they told every day for a week. They handed them in to us with no names attached. We calculated participants’ rates of lying and categorise each lie as either self-serving (told to advantage the liar or protect the liar from embarrassment, blame or other undesired outcomes) or kind (told to advantage, flatter or protect someone else).


At The Washington Post, the Fact Checker feature has been tracking every false and misleading claim and flip-flop made by Trump this year. The inclusion of misleading statements and flip-flops is consistent with the definition of lying my colleagues and I gave to our participants: “A lie occurs any time you intentionally try to mislead someone.” In the case of Trump’s claims, though, it is possible to ascertain only whether they were false or misleading, and not what the president’s intentions were.


By telling so many lies, and so many that are mean-spirited, Trump is violating some of the most fundamental norms of human social interaction and human decency. Many of the rest of us, in turn, have abandoned a norm of our own – we no longer give Trump the benefit of the doubt that we usually give so readily.



The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law


Pathological Lying Revisited


By Charles C. Dike, Madelon Baranoski and Ezra E. H. Griffith


In this article, we revisit the concept of pathological lying and explore how it has been discussed in psychiatric literature.



PEOPLE OF THE LIE: The Hope For Healing Human Evil by Dr. M. Scott Peck


From Chapter 2: A LIFE-AND-DEATH ISSUE (pp. 42-43)


It is a reflection of the enormous mystery of the subject that we do not have a generally accepted definition of evil. Yet in our hearts I think we all have some understanding of its nature. For the moment I can do no better than to heed my son, who, with the characteristic vision of eight-year-olds, explained simply, “Why, Daddy, evil is ‘live’ spelled backward.” Evil is in opposition to life. It is that which opposes the life force. It has, in short, to do with killing. Specifically, it has to do with murder – namely, unnecessary killing, killing that is not required for biological survival.


Let us not forget this. There are some who have written about evil so intellectually that it comes out sounding abstract to the point of irrelevancy. Murder is not abstract. Let us not forget that George was actually willing to sacrifice the very life of his own child.


When I say that evil has to do with killing, I do not mean to restrict myself to corporeal murder. Evil is also that which kills spirit. There are various essential attributes of life – particularly human life – such as sentience, mobility, awareness, growth, autonomy, will. It is possible to kill or attempt to kill one of these attributes without actually destroying the body. Thus we may “break” a horse or even a child without harming a hair on its head. Erich Fromm was acutely sensitive to this fact when he broadened the definition of necrophilia to include the desire of certain people to control others – to make them controllable, to foster their dependency, to discourage their capacity to think for themselves, to diminish their unpredictability and originality, to keep them in line. Distinguishing it from a “biophilic” person, one who appreciates and fosters the variety of life forms and the uniqueness of the individual, he demonstrated a “necrophilic character type,” whose aim it is to avoid the inconvenience of life by transforming others into obedient automatons, robbing them of their humanity.*


Evil, then, for the moment, is that force, residing either inside or outside of human beings, that seeks to kill life or liveliness. And goodness is its opposite. Goodness is that which promotes life and liveliness.



* Erich Fromm, The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil (Harper & Row, 1964)




Dec 8, 2017


Is Donald Trump’s mental health becoming dangerous?


By Bandy X. Lee, Forensic psychiatrist, Yale School of Medicine


Medical experts weigh in.
Medicine is an equalizer, and the president may find that he cannot outrun his own condition.


A group of us put our concerns into a book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. That book became an instant New York Times bestseller. Within days, it was out of stock at the big outlets and sold out in bookstores around the country. One of the nation’s largest publishers could not keep up with the demand for weeks. Clearly, our concerns were resonating with the public.



The New Republic
April 12, 2018


A Mind’s Eye View of 1984


Orwell understood the limits of mind control



By Win McCormack


The original inspiration for George Orwell’s novel 1984 lay in his experiences as a journalist and soldier in Spain from 1936 to 1937, during the height of the battle to save the Spanish Republic from General Franco’s fascist insurrection. Orwell discovered that the Soviet Union, while posing as a defender of the republic and a liberator of the Spanish people, was actually working to undermine the republic and to crush the social revolution then under way.


It was the enormous discrepancy between the illusion and the reality of Soviet behavior in Spain, and the Soviets’ almost complete success in obscuring their real role in that country through their Ministry of Propaganda, that caught Orwell’s attention. The experience planted in his mind the seed that was later to germinate into 1984.


In 1984, the Soviets’ Ministry of Propaganda in Spain became the Ministry of Truth in the fictional state of Oceania; the ministry’s function, contrary to its title, is to propagate lies. Orwell was one of the first writers to identify, among the twentieth century’s many novel horrors, the emergence of the horror that has come to be called “mind control.” He was also one of the first, if not the first, to identify correctly the essential technique for accomplishing this horror: the psychosocial isolation of the individual and the restriction of his independent access to information.


In a pioneering 1961 study called Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “Brainwashing” in China, Yale psychologist Robert Lifton in effect rewrote Orwell’s 1984 in academic, empirical terms. “The most basic feature of the thought-reform environment, the psychological current upon which all else depends, is the control of human communication,” Lifton concludes. “Through this milieu control the totalist environment seeks to establish domain over not only the individual’s communication with the outside (all that he sees and hears, reads and writes, experiences and expresses), but also— in its penetration of his inner life—over what we may speak of as his communication with himself.”


Lifton’s seminal study of mind control in Communist China has since become the primary theoretical source for understanding another new horror: the proliferation of contemporary cults like Jim Jones’s People’s Temple, the Reverend Moon’s Unification Church, the Church of Scientology, and other similar groups.


According to scholars, these organizations manage to achieve the same degree of totalistic control over their followers that Marxist dictatorships sometimes do. They do so, usually while purporting to be religious groups, by using parallel and equally sophisticated techniques of mental manipulation.


Their brainwashing process, according to students of the matter, severs individuals’ connections to outside supports like family and friends. Simultaneously, the ordeal ruptures their inner sense of identity and self-reliance, making them, finally, totally emotionally helpless and dependent on the group’s particular charismatic Big Brother.


Encouragingly, the bleak and utterly pessimistic and cynical vision of Orwell’s 1984 has not, so far, been fulfilled, except for brief periods of time in relatively short-lived circumstances. In both the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, in recent years, we have seen the emergence of open and partially tolerated political and social dissidence. A majority of mankind at this moment lives under the oppression of authoritarian regimes of the left or the right, but not under the kind of totalistic and hermetic mind control feared by Orwell.


As for cults, it has been proven time and time again that these totalitarian facsimiles, because they do not have the military or police power to keep their members in check forever, are transient in nature. We may see, in the real year of 1984, the cataclysmic collapse of a nefarious cult here in Oregon. The modern technology of mind control, it appears, is effective in quelling the human drive for freedom—but only temporarily.


Orwell, actually, understood this perfectly well, for he wrote, in a passage toward the end of 1984: “They could not alter your feelings; for that matter, you could not alter them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could lay bare in the utmost detail everything you had ever done or said or thought; but the human heart, whose workings were mysterious even to yourself, remained impregnable.”


Oregon Magazine, February 1984


This article was adapted from The Rajneesh Chronicles, published by Tin House Books.


Read more from The Rise and Fall of the Rajneesh Cult






News & Politics

June 25, 2018


Is Donald Trump truly incompetent? Not nearly as much as liberals hope.


Liberals keep underestimating Trump, but he’s been effective at enacting his racist agenda and trolling the left.


By Amanda Marcotte


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately it must be said: Donald Trump knows exactly what he’s doing.


To be clear, I’m not saying the man is a super-genius or even particularly intelligent. By most measures, Trump is likely of below-average intelligence. He’s incurious, half-literate and would almost certainly be flummoxed by a basic math problem or a grade-school reading comprehension test. He ran his business into bankruptcy multiple times because his sense of his own talents grossly outstripped what nature had given him. None of this is in dispute.


But when it comes to Trump’s true passion in life — being an abusive, bigoted bully and troll — he is highly competent and extremely successful. As I argue in my book, Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself, Trump’s voters elected him to do two things: 1) Impose his white supremacist vision on America and 2) Troll liberals into madness.


A year and a half into his presidency, we can say that by those measures, the Trump presidency has been a smashing success.


For some reason, there’s widespread resistance among progressives to the proposition that Trump might actually be competent, at least at the goals he set out to accomplish, i.e., liberal tears and white supremacy. New York Times reporters like Maggie Haberman keep portraying him as a dim-witted and lazy old man, not a person who has become an accomplished sadist after a lifetime of practice. Many liberals are eager to buy into that because the idea that the orange moron in the ill-fitting suit might actually be getting over on us is painful to accept.


So liberals keep chalking up certain horrors of the Trump administration to incompetence, when the likelier explanation is that Trump and his cronies are doing these things by design.


I usually agree with Salon columnist Heather Digby Parton, but her recent piece on this topic misses the mark by ascribing the fallout from both the Muslim travel ban and the family separation policy to incompetence. I would argue instead that things rolled out exactly how the administration wanted.


Digby writes that the administration “hadn’t thought through the logistical ramifications” of the Muslim travel ban, “resulting in confusion and chaos everywhere.” Similarly, she argues that a plan “for clear identification of the children and their parents, so they can easily be tracked and identified for reunification at the end of the process, was overlooked.”


She also argues for political incompetence, writing, that Trump officials “failed to anticipate how people would react” to “taking babies from their mothers.”


Michelle Goldberg, writing for the New York Times, makes a similar argument, writing that there’s “a multiplier effect” to “Trump’s incompetence and malevolence,” crediting that combination as the cause of “the White House’s catastrophically inadequate response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico” and “the cavalier way the administration took thousands of children from migrant parents with no process in place to reunite them.”


From where I’m sitting, there’s no reason to assume incompetence in any of this. Trump is a racist and a sadist, and both have been well-documented for decades. What more could a person with those qualities want than trapping Muslims in airports, destroying the lives of Puerto Ricans, separating Latino immigrant children from their parents and then “losing” the paperwork necessary to reunite them? This is the Trump who talks about immigrants from “shithole countries” being “animals.” Using assumed ineptitude as pretext for dishing out pain sounds about right to me.





Lack of Insight into Own Behaviour


The serial bully appears to lack insight into his or her behaviour and seems unaware of how others perceive it . . . The focus of this section is serial bullying in workplaces, but the character profile fits most types of abusers, including:


• abusive and violent partners and family members
• abusers of people in care
• bullying neighbours, landlords, authorities, etc
• confidence tricksters and swindlers
• (religious) cult leaders
• child bullies who are impervious to corrective action
• racial and sexual harassers
• sexual abusers and pedophiles, especially operating

  from a position of trust or untouchability
• rapists
• stalkers
• arsonists
• violent offenders, including serial killers


The common objective of these offenders is power, control, domination and subjugation, the only difference being the way they express their violence. Offenses committed by people in this list are typically regarded as criminal and arrestable.


One possible explanation for investigators and fellow managers being so easily manipulated by a serial bully appears in the research paper by Clive R Boddy, entitled “Corporate Psychopaths, Bullying and Unfair Supervision in the Workplace” (2011):


 “The cold-heartedness and manipulativeness of the psychopath are reported to be the traits that are the least discernable to others and this allows them to gain other people’s confidence and facilitates their entry into positions where they can gain most benefit for themselves and do harm to others (Mahaffey and Marcus, 2006).”






The Trump Cult



If you are defending ripping children from parents…you are in a cult.



In May, 2017, I posted this: Gaslight, USA! Today’s Trouncing –Your Healthcare.


In the post, I quoted cultic studies guru, Robert J. Lifton: cults see themselves as “…agents ‘chosen’ to carry out the ‘mystical imperative’ … which must supersede all decency or immediate human welfare. Similarly, any thought or action which questions the motives of the higher purpose is considered … backward, selfish and petty in the face of the great overriding mission.


Today, the Daily KOS posted this: Trumpism is a Cult. You may be interested in reading it. I suspect it will ring familiar.







The Trump Administration’s Family Values


The policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border was the purest distillation yet of what it means to be governed by a President with no moral center.


By Margaret Talbot

June 24, 2018






FRONTLINE investigates how President Trump turned immigration into a powerful political weapon that fueled division and violence. The documentary goes inside the efforts of three political insurgents to tap into populist anger, transform the Republican Party and crack down on immigration.



Do Democrats really believe that Russia influenced Americans to vote for Trump?


Lee Thé, works at Retired/working on a Novel
Answered on Quora May 19, 2018


I worked as an advertising copywriter and account executive for six years. During that time I studied the profession, and one thing I found was that the people most influenced by advertising sincerely believed—and with absolute certainty—that they weren’t affected by advertising in the slightest.


Republican voters have been proven to be highly susceptible to propaganda—just as the teens of Veles, Macedonia, could tell you. They make their living from fake news websites, but found that for Americans only the sites aimed at Republicans made them money. Reputable pollsters have found the same thing. Republicans will believe anything bad about Clinton and anything good about Trump, no matter how preposterous.




Does Trump act like a president, or does he act like a cult leader?


Edward Donner, Concerned Citizen
Answered on Quora Sept. 15, 2018


Below is a list of fifty characteristics of cult leaders taken from “Dangerous Cult Leaders”. Read ‘em. Keep track of how many apply to Trump, then answer the question for yourself.



See: POLITICAL PONEROLOGY: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes by Andrew M. Lobaczewski



Baudolino Aulari


Useful Idiots – Part 1 & Part 2



Former KGB Agent, Yuri Bezmenov


Deception Was My Job


Warns America



Malcolm Nance


How Russia Is Destroying Democracy



Bill Press


The Case Against Trump



Ronan Farrow


War on Peace





Agents of Chaos
The attack on the 2016 election


Agents of Chaos, a two-part documentary from director Alex Gibney (HBO’s The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley and Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief) examines Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Featuring interviews with key players and experts, classified information leaked by inside sources, and more, the film disentangles the complex details of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and highlights the frightening vulnerabilities in America’s political process.


The film is a product of years of reporting. With never-before-seen footage inside the Russian troll farms, and videos unearthed from the Russian deep web, the film digs deep into Russia’s sophisticated plans to undermine democracy, raising the alarm for the American public, but also proving that these “agents of chaos” weren’t Russians alone; they were also key players in the United States who, through venality, corruption or circumstance, furthered Putin’s goals, with a vulnerable and unsuspecting American public as their target.



WhaleRiderDecember 20, 2020Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


How “mind control” or “brainwashing” happens in the 21st century:


“If you bombard people (with lies or disinformation) in the present, few have time to dwell on the past.”



The Rape of The MIND: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing by Dr. Joost Meerloo


From Chapter Six: Totalitaria and its Dictatorship


There actually exists such a thing as a technique of mass brainwashing. This technique can take root in a country if an inquisitor is strong and shrewd enough. He can make most of us his victims, albeit temporarily.


What in the structure of society has made man so vulnerable to these mass manipulations of the mind? This is a problem with tremendous implications, just as brainwashing is. In recent years we have grown more and more aware of human interdependence with all its difficulties and complications.


I am aware of the fact that investigation of the subject of mental coercion and thought control becomes less pleasant as time goes on. This is so because it may become more of a threat to us here and now, and our concern for China and Korea must yield to the more immediate needs at our own door. Can totalitarian tendencies take over here, and what social symptoms may lead to such phenomena? Stern reality confronts us with the universal mental battle between thought control (and its corollaries) and our standards of decency, personal strength, personal ideas, and a personal conscience with autonomy and dignity.


Future social scientists will be better able to describe the causes of the advent of totalitarian thinking and acting in man. We know that after wars and revolutions this mental deterioration more easily finds an opportunity to develop, helped by special psychopathic personalities who flourish on man’s misery and confusion. It is also true that the next generation spontaneously begins to correct the misdeeds of the previous one because the ruthless system has become too threatening to them.


My task, however, is to describe some symptoms of the totalitarian process (which implies deterioration of thinking and acting) as I have observed them in our own epoch, keeping in mind that the system is one of the most violent distortions of man’s consistent mental growth. No brainwashing is possible without totalitarian thinking.




April 29, 2013


Thomas Sheridan – Consciousness Parasites and Psychopathic Society


First published July 10, 2012


Thomas Sheridan on the origins and development of psychopaths as individuals, the psychopathic nature of the institutions and systems which underpin our society, and ultimately how we can and will break free from both and evolve towards a truly humane and empathic world.


Topics discussed include:What is a psychopath? What makes a psychopath? Can psychopaths be cured? Are psychopaths here for a reason? Indigenous societies and psychopaths, government, corporations and religion — the unholy trinity, the role of mainstream education and media in shaping society, the distortion and destruction of the feminine, superficiality of society and culture, false ideals of perfection, psychotherapy, psychology and the mass awakening of human consciousness.


Born in Dublin, Thomas is an internationally renowned artist, author, musician, public speaker and independent researcher. His illustrations have appeared on the covers of newsstand magazines, books and websites worldwide. He is best known as the author of the book Puzzling People: The Labyrinth of the Psychopath. He has recently published the follow-up to Puzzling People, entitled Defeated Demons: Freedom from Consciousness Parasites in Psychopathic Society, as well as the DVD “Breaking the Babylon Mind.” Thomas continues to write, broadcast and tour internationally, bringing his message of consciousness empowerment, creative intention and transcendence beyond the Psychopathic Control Grid to the world at large.



Psychology Today
September 15, 2014


The Psychology of Terrorists (Pt.1): Radical Embitterment


What makes someone susceptible to recruitment by ISIS or Al-Qaeda?


By Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D.




This would, of course, be the nightmare scenario should the unstable situation in Iraq and Syria and the escalating battle against ISIS spark such an apocalyptic cataclysm. Hopefully, it will never come to that. But I was also reminded of my previous postings here about Al-Qaeda several years ago, in which I discussed the psychology of terrorists and their motivations, both conscious and unconscious. It seems appropriate and timely to revisit these posts (Parts 1 and 2) today, with an eye toward how they might apply to the phenomenon of ISIS, an even more virulent and violent strain of Al-Qaeda:


‘Yesterday, Christmas Day, 2009, a twenty-three-year-old Nigerian with purported Al-Qaeda connections, apparently tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet carrying almost three-hundred-passengers-plus-crew as it prepared to land in Detroit, Michigan. Miraculously, as with the infamous “shoe-bomber” Richard Reid in 2001, the allegedly “sophisticated” device he attempted to detonate did not work as planned, and disaster was once again averted.


But authorities, who are officially calling it an act of terrorism, are concerned that this could be part of a concerted effort by other similarly armed individuals intending to bring down passenger planes. In 2006, British police broke up a plot to blow half-a-dozen commercial airliners out of the sky on their way to the U.S., using a chemical explosive that may have been similar to the one employed yesterday. Eight men were arrested in that investigation. Hopefully, this is not the case for now, and we Americans have dodged yet another terrorist bullet. But where will it all end?


Whether politically motivated, as apparently in this case and possibly that of the recent Fort Hood massacre, or personally motivated, as in so many of the other recent mass murders I’ve been writing about here, terrorism is itself a type of madness. Perpetrators of terrorism express their rage and indignation at the world destructively, violently, in a desperate, last-ditch and sometimes suicidal attempt to gain recognition, fame or glory for themselves and their cause. And, ultimately, to provide some shred of meaning to their otherwise meaningless lives. Terrorism is typically an infantile and narcissistic act of violence stemming from profound feelings of impotence, frustration and insignificance. In their own ways, the vengeful shootings at Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, the Omaha mall and Pittsburg fitness center were, like the mad bombings of Ted Kaczynski (the “Unabomber”), all evil acts of terrorism.


Terrorists try to force the world to meet their own narcissistic, grandiose demands, and, when this doesn’t happen, they lash out violently. Terrorism is a failure to find a creative solution to life, to finding and fulfilling one’s true destiny. Terrorism is, in most cases, the madness of frustration and resentment. Terrorists harbor a wicked rage for recognition, both personally and politically. While we know next to nothing about yesterday’s would-be terrorist (see Part Two for more about him), it seems safe to surmise that he was seeking some kind of attention for his cause, in this case, the very negative attention of downing an airplane and killing as many people as possible to make a political point and to psychologically weaken the perceived enemy, America.


Such violent actions are intended to sow the seeds of terror among the American people, and to negatively impact the U.S. infrastructure and economy. To this end, the events of 9-11 did, I suspect, succeed to some extent, and are not totally unrelated to the current critical condition of our economy. If people become too fearful to fly on commercial airlines and avoid doing so for any significant duration, this could bankrupt the vulnerable airline industry and seriously impact the already crippled economic engine of this country. While it is still unknown whether Friday’s wanna-be terrorist was working alone or operating on orders from Al-Qaeda or some other radical Muslim group, the problem is that, though evidently still fairly inept, if they keep trying, terrorists will eventually succeed in destroying passenger planes on U.S. soil. The stakes here are terribly high.


Terrorists are fanatics willing to both kill and die for their cause. In this case, that cause is radical Islam and jihad. But what are the psychological factors that render such terrorists so susceptible to extremist ideology? Osama bin Laden was born in 1957, seventeenth of fifty-two children. His billionaire father died in an airplane crash when Osama was 12, leaving a vast fortune to his numerous offspring. Osama, possibly bored with his cushy lifestyle, became radicalized around the age of twenty-two when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, financially supporting and physically fighting with the mujahideen (freedom fighters) in this eventually victorious David and Goliath contest. This success presumably inflated his ego and provided a sense of purpose and meaning that may have been previously lacking despite of, or due to, his economically and socially privileged position. He likely bitterly blamed materialism and Western values for his former existential vacuum, and continues angrily lashing out against it today. Radical Islam and violent terrorism (jihad) against the West and all it symbolizes–including perhaps his wealthy, thoroughly Westernized father–became bin Laden’s raison d’etre. (See my prior posts.)


Yesterday’s attempted terrorist attack was reportedly perpetrated by a deeply religious young Muslim man, who, much like Osama bin Laden, hails from a wealthy and privileged family. He had been a mechanical engineering student, residing in a ritzy central London flat prior to this suicidally terrorist act. While he supposedly claims to be an operative for Al-Qaeda, one wonders whether his underlying motivation may have been more about violently rebelling against his own family and materialistic upbringing than hatred for the United States per se. The problem, of course, is that the United States makes a perfect target for the unconscious  transference–and I am using this term in the classic psychoanalytic sense–of anger, rage, resentment and embitterment toward parents and other authority figures onto the ultimate symbol of Western materialism, power, wealth and capitalism: America, “the great Satan,” as radical Muslims hatefully refer to it.


So long as there are angry young men like bin Laden, the 9-11 hijackers, Richard Reid, and perhaps yesterday’s alleged would-be terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Al-Qaeda and other political and religious cults will continue to find it easy to recruit and provide confused, embittered, disillusioned, frustrated, rebellious, alienated individuals with a rationale, purpose, and means to violently act out their personal rage toward their parents’ values and society at large.’





April 13, 2021


Why ISIS love to kill


Attempts to rationalise evil let its barbaric

perpetrators off the hook


By Simon Cottee



I used to think there was something demonically profound about Hannah Arendt’s diagnosis of Adolf Eichmann. He was “neither perverted nor sadistic… but terribly and terrifyingly normal”; he epitomised the “banality of evil”. Eichmann, in effect, was a bespectacled gimp who you wouldn’t look twice at in the street.


Yet he had played an active role in an industrial-sized enterprise of human cruelty and malevolence. There was something deeply unnerving about this: the disproportion between the smallness of this man and the Himalayan magnitude of the Holocaust. It didn’t seem to add up.


As a criminologist, I have been trained to think that evil is a social category or label that dominant groups impose on less powerful “Others” – the marginalised. If there’s a “criminology of evil”, it’s a criminology of how modern states and their elaborate network of enforcers succeed in demonising people who can’t or won’t follow the rules of the system. According to this account, evil people aren’t really evil; they’re just the convenient victims of the “problematic” use of state power. They’re the symbolic scapegoats we invent to signal our virtue so that we can feel good and exorcise our demons.


Arendt’s analysis of Eichmann, while recognising his quotidian evil, readily fits in with this. Far from being a monster, Eichmann, in Arendt’s eyes, is a “thoughtless” Everyman. Even his motives, according to Arendt, were bland and boring, more to do with needy imperatives like pleasing superiors, career advancement and wanting to be liked.


But there’s another part of the story of human evil that Arendt and today’s criminologists cannot or do not want to confront. This is the part that has to do with the monstrousness of monstrous people. It’s the part that’s so squalid and viscerally disgusting that we can’t help but stare at it, shocked and dumbfounded by the scale of human wickedness grimly staring us in the face. It’s the stories that, as the renowned scholar William Ian Miller puts it, “sicken us in the telling, things for which there could be no plausible claim of right: rape, child abuse, torture, genocide, predatory murder and maiming”.


If there’s a genre to which these stories belong, it’s horror. And yet there’s no criminology of horror. Indeed, all of those sharp insights about “the banality of evil” quickly lose their edge the closer we venture toward that region of, to quote Miller again, “dark unbelievability”.


If, as I have, you’ve watched a lot of ISIS atrocity propaganda, or listened to the testimony of those who narrowly missed appearing in it, you’ll know all about dark unbelievability. It’s the sheer insanity of filming a toddler shoot a defenceless man, of filming a group of hostages being decapitated, of filming a man burned alive in a cage. It’s the sheer depravity of inventing ever more creative ways to torture and kill people because you think your fan-base will love it and your enemies hate it.






Trump vs. Biden


In the midst of the historic coronavirus pandemic, economic hardship and a reckoning over racism, this November Americans will decide who leads the nation for the next four years: President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden. Ahead of the 2020 election, FRONTLINE’s critically acclaimed series “The Choice” returns with interwoven investigative biographies of both men, focusing on how they have responded in moments of crisis.


In this 2-hour special from veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk and his team, hear from friends, family, colleagues and adversaries about the challenges that shaped Trump and Biden’s lives and could inform how they confront the crises facing the nation at this pivotal juncture.





The Social Dilemma 


“Nothing vast enters the world of mortals

without a curse.” – Sophocles


This 2020 documentary-drama hybrid explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.



CNN News

June 4, 2019


Michael Wolff  predicts how Trump’s presidency will end, defends sourcing in new book, Siege: Trump Under Fire, and calls Trump presidency a political “meltdown”





Michael Shermer on Cults, Myths, and Religion
April 3, 2020


Dr. Michael Shermer considers the characteristics of cults, how they differ from sects, religions, and myths, the role that myths and religions play in culture and people’s lives, and what Scientologists really believe.



Pathways to Evil, Part 2

May 15, 2020


Dr. Shermer fleshes out the themes of Part 1 by exploring how the dials controlling our inner demons and better angels can be dialed up or down depending on circumstances and conditions.




George Salis: Whence Cometh Evil


Mari Konnikova: Cons


Robert Stern: The Devil’s Mark


Ted Daniels: Cults, Brainwashing, and Society


Arthur J. Deikman: Evaluating Spiritual and Utopian Groups


Phil Molé: Deepak’s Dangerous Dogmas


Michael Shermer: The Unlikeliest Cult in History


Gerald Larue: Was Christianity a Cult?


James Baldwin: Letter From A Region In My Mind


Steven B. Harris: The Resurrection Myth


Steve Allen: The Jesus Cults


Milton Rothman: Realism and Religion


J. Christian Greer: Religion Can’t be a Joke, Right?



Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath


Ash Sanders: Children of Scientology



Cynthia S. Kisser: Waco, Jonestown and All That Madness


Newsweek: Secrets of the Cult



Richard Dawkins: Enemies of Reason & Slaves to Superstition


Andrew Cooper-Sansone: Meeting Our “Enemies” Where They Are


Daniel Loxton: Understanding Flat Earthers


Jake Flanagin: How YouTube Became a Breeding Ground for a Diabolical Lizard Cult



David Silverman: The Cult of Falun Gong


John Glynn: 1984 in 2019



David Silberklang: The Main Principles of Nazi Ideology




The Washington Post

June 4, 2012


How Mark Felt Became ‘Deep Throat’
By Bob Woodward
June 20, 2005


In 1970, when I was serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and assigned to Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, the chief of naval operations, I sometimes acted as a courier, taking documents to the White House.

One evening I was dispatched with a package to the lower level of the West Wing of the White House, where there was a little waiting area near the Situation Room. It could be a long wait for the right person to come out and sign for the material, sometimes an hour or more, and after I had been waiting for a while a tall man with perfectly combed gray hair came in and sat down near me . . .



The New York Times

September 4, 2018


President Trump and his administration have been unsettled by Bob Woodward’s book Fear: Trump in The White House, which will be published next Tuesday. 


By Mark Landler and


WASHINGTON — President Trump so alarmed his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, during a discussion last January of the nuclear standoff with North Korea that an exasperated Mr. Mattis told colleagues “the president acted like — and had the understanding of — a ‘fifth or sixth grader.’”


At another moment, Mr. Trump’s aides became so worried about his judgment that Gary D. Cohn, then the chief economic adviser, took a letter from the president’s Oval Office desk authorizing the withdrawal of the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea. Mr. Trump, who had planned to sign the letter, never realized it was missing.


These anecdotes are in a sprawling, highly anticipated book by Bob Woodward that depicts the Trump White House as a byzantine, treacherous, often out-of-control operation — “crazytown,” in the words of the chief of staff, John F. Kelly — hostage to the whims of an impulsive, ill-informed and undisciplined president.




James Devlin



Nothing more than most people expected. Yet to read it from a world-renowned journalist of Bob Woodward’s caliber makes it all the more unsettling. The republicans are selling out America to get court picks. They well know Trump is insane, and yet are willing to play along with this lunacy of a presidency based upon lies so long as they get their agenda rammed through. That’s not politics, that’s shameful and morally and criminally corrupt.


Beware the insidious nature within.


“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.” — Cicero



Psychology Today

July 24, 2018


Trump Card Cults


The root cause of mass narcissism, sociopathy and gaslighting.


By Jeremy Sherman Ph.D.


Winter of ‘78: Jim Jones and his cult followers had just drunk their poison Kool-Aid in Guyana– 900 dead. And I was off to Guatemala with my spiritual commune to do poverty relief work. My family was worried.


They were also annoyed by what I had become, a know-it-all, confident that I could beat any challenge to my smug, all-knowing spiritual truths. I had fallen for the cult mindset, that heady sense that you hold all the cards, a high so self-aggrandizing that people are willing to drink the Kool-Aid.


Aid is the operative word. Though my commune was wholesome, I pretended it fool-proofed my life, like it had issued me a deck of trump cards to trump all challenges to my humble spiritual authority, the greatest aid any of us could ever crave.


Life is an anxious affair. We all fear failure and therefore might be tempted by the fake trump-card aid that cults provide – I once was lost but now I’m found instead of I once was lost and could be still.


Today we wonder whether the GOP has become the Trump cult. All cults are trump-card cults, issuing to members the same deck of fake get-out-of-fail-free cards. Cults don’t brainwash, they head swell. People throw all in to cults so they can keep all self-doubt out.



From The Mask of Sanity ~ An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About The So-Called Psychopathic Personality by Dr. Hervey Cleckley


It is perhaps worthwhile to add here that not all those suffering from a typical psychosis, even when the disorder is serious in degree, give an obvious impression of derangement. Severe paranoid conditions, particularly those of the most malignant type, may exist for years in persons who lack all superficial signs that the layman often feels should be apparent to establish psychosis (insanity).


Sometimes such people appear not only normal but brilliant, and their powers of reasoning in all areas except those dominated by delusion are intact. The delusions themselves may even be withheld when the excellent judgment of the subject discerns that they will not be accepted by others or may interfere with psychotic plans toward which he is assiduously and ingeniously working. “Why, if I’d let the public in on these facts, a lot of fools might have thought I was insane,” one such patient explained. Another patient, who had for years been hearing imaginary voices which he accepted as real, admitted that he denied this to the draft board because, “They might have thought something was wrong with my mind.” He had been doing a satisfactory job and, on the surface, making a good social adjustment in his community. He was accepted for service in the army.


Another man with clear-cut paranoid delusions prospered for years by selling stocks and bonds to opulent widows and to others in whom his enthusiastic optimism and shrewd reasoning powers worked marvelous conviction. He was indeed persuasive. To my definite knowledge he induced a friend to believe that a serious mental disorder threatened him, or was perhaps already present. Offering to help the friend, who naturally became alarmed, the paranoiac made arrangements for his hospitalization and, accompanying the other, had him voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric institution. After a period of observation the friend was found to be free of any such trouble. Months later the real patient’s delusional system was elicited and his commitment deemed necessary.


Even today one often encounters popular misconceptions of what constitutes psychosis or seriously disabling “mental disorder” that seem to belong to earlier centuries. Even when patients are speaking frankly and continually about hearing voices from the next county (or the next world), relatives occasionally express surprise at the opinion that anything could be wrong with his mind, insisting that he had been running the store as well as ever, adding up the accounts without error, and showing his usual common sense in daily affairs.

Fanatics and false prophets who show real but not so obvious signs of classic psychosis, as everyone must by now have learned, sometimes attract hundreds or thousands of followers who contribute large funds to projects founded on delusion. If news reports by many observers can be relied upon, even those showing plain evidence of very serious disorder, persons as fully psychotic as many on the wards of the state hospitals, also succeed in appearing to large groups not only as sage leaders or men with supernatural powers but also as God.



Psychology Today

August 23, 2018


What is Truth?


An overview of the philosophy of truth.


By Neel Burton M.D.


Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. –Thoreau


Today, God may be dying, but what about truth? Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trumps personal lawyer, claimed that “Truth isn’t truth,” while Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s counsellor, presented the public with what she called “alternative facts.” Over in the U.K. in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, Michael Gove, then Minister of Justice and Lord Chancellor, opined that people “have had enough of experts.”


One way to understand truth is simply to look at its opposites, namely, lies and bullsh*t. The liar must track the truth in order to conceal it. In contrast, the bullsh*tter has no regard or sensitivity for the truth, or even for what his or her audience believes.



Hollywood Reporter

September 5, 2018


Michael Moore Plays His Trump Card:
A New Movie, Modern Fascism and a 2020 Prediction


 By Gregg Kilday


He’s America’s most successful documentarian and one of the few on the left who predicted the 2016 election upset. Now, as Moore readies his anticipated polemic ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ for its Toronto film festival debut, he takes aim at Trump (and Nancy Pelosi … and Harvey Weinstein …) and those actually responsible for the president’s rapid rise to power (hint: Gwen Stefani).


The first time Michael Moore encountered Donald Trump, the filmmaker uncharacteristically held his tongue. The two had been booked as guests in 1998 on Roseanne Barr’s afternoon talk show, The Roseanne Show, taping at New York’s Tavern on the Green. Trump’s The Art of the Deal had been published in 1987 while Moore had already earned a reputation as a cheeky provocateur out to puncture capitalism’s balloon with his 1989 doc Roger & Me, and so when Trump spotted Moore, he threatened to walk.



npr KQED

All Things Considered

September 27, 2018


NPR’s Audie Cornish talks to Joanne Freeman about her new book The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War.


CORNISH: You spent years researching this book. How did you start to see this history in a new light as attention focused more intensely on how polarized Washington is today?


FREEMAN: Right. I do think there are a number of different moments in American history when we’re particularly polarized, when the American public becomes particularly distrustful of national institutions like Congress and of each other. Part of what I saw in working on the book was that pattern. Given what we know of what happened in the past with these kinds of incidents, it makes me want to keep telling people, wait; be careful. You don’t want to be that divisive with your rhetoric.


At the end of the book, there are a lot of people saying, be careful with your words because words could cause bloodshed in the House. And I sometimes feel the same way. Not that we’re on the cusp of a civil war, which I don’t believe. But I suppose the part that doesn’t feel reassured is the part that realizes the implications and the impact of a divisive America much like the one that we’re looking at now.




Nov 13, 2018


Psychiatrist Justin Frank on Trump’s “God complex”: He is “erotically attached to violence”


Author of Trump on the Couch suggests therapy: Trump struggles against “fear of his inner chaos,” and needs help


By Chauncey DeVega


. . . Donald Trump is an authoritarian in waiting who acts as though he believes himself to be God. How does he convince himself that the rules do not apply to him? What is the role of violence in Trump’s appeal and power? Is Trump responsible in some ways for the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and the other hate crimes and acts of violence which have taken place during his campaign and now presidency? What role does violence play in Donald Trump’s cult of personality? How do his apparent mental pathologies help him to manipulate his supporters and the American people at large?


In an effort to answer these questions I recently spoke with Dr. Justin Frank. This is our second conversation for Salon. He is a former clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center and a physician with more than 40 years of experience in psychoanalysis. He is the author of the bestselling books Bush on the Couch and Obama on the Couch. His most recent book is Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.



From WITHOUT CONSCIENCE: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us by Dr. Robert D. Hare


Psychopathic Violence – Cold-blooded and “Casual”


Even more troubling than their heavy involvement in crime is the evidence that both male and female psychopaths are much more likely to be violent and aggressive than are other individuals. Of course, violence is not uncommon in most offender populations, but psychopaths still manage to stand out. They commit more than twice as many violent and aggressive acts, both in and out of prison, as do other criminals.


Troubling yes, but not surprising. While most of us have strong inhibitions about physically injuring others, psychopaths typically do not. For them, violence and threats are handy tools to be used when they are angered, defied, or frustrated, and they give little thought to the pain and humiliation experienced by the victims. Their violence is callous and instrumental – used to satisfy a simple need, such as sex, or to obtain something he or she wants – and the psychopath’s reactions to the event are much more likely to be indifference, a sense of power, pleasure or smug satisfaction than regret at the damage done. Certainly nothing to lose any sleep over.


Psychopaths often come across as arrogant, shameless braggarts – self-assured, opinionated, domineering, and cocky. They love to have power and control over others and seem unable to believe that other people have valid opinions different from theirs. They appear charismatic or “electrifying” to some people.


Psychopaths have a narcissistic and grossly inflated view of their self-worth and importance, a truly astounding egocentricity and sense of entitlement, and see themselves as the center of the universe, as superior beings who are justified in living according to their own rules.


Psychopaths are seldom embarrassed about their legal, financial, or personal problems. Rather, they see them as temporary setbacks, the results of bad luck, unfaithful friends, or an unfair and incompetent system.


Psychopaths feel that their abilities will enable them to become anything they want to be. Given the right circumstances – opportunity, luck, willing victims – their grandiosity can pay off spectacularly. For example, the psychopathic entrepreneur “thinks big,” but it’s usually with someone else’s money.


. . . the psychopath carries out his evaluation of a situation – what he will get out of it and at what cost – without the usual anxieties, doubts, and concerns about being humiliated, causing pain, sabotaging future plans, in short, the infinite possibilities that people of conscience consider when deliberating possible actions.


Rape provides a good example of the callous, selfish, and instrumental use of violence by psychopaths.



BuzzFeed News
October 19, 2016


A high-profile defense attorney from Florida, Cheney Mason, is now representing “Jane Doe,” the plaintiff in a New York federal civil court case where she is accusing Donald Trump of raping her in the ‘90s when she was 13 years old, according to court documents filed Monday.



The New York Times

July 13, 2019


Jeffrey Epstein Was a Sex Offender.
The Powerful Welcomed Him Anyway.



By Jodi Kantor, Mike McIntire and Vanesa Friedman

[Update: A federal judge denied Jeffrey Epstein bail.]


A strange thing happened when Jeffrey Epstein came back to New York City after being branded a sex offender: His reputation appeared to rise.


In 2010, the year after he got out of a Florida jail, Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos dined at his Manhattan mansion with a British royal. The next year, Mr. Epstein was photographed at a “billionaire’s dinner” attended by tech titans like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. A page popped up on Harvard University’s website lauding his accomplishments, and superlative-filled news releases described his lofty ambitions as he dedicated $10 million to charitable causes.


. . .Over a decade ago, when Mr. Epstein was very publicly accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, he minimized the legal consequences with high-powered lawyers, monetary settlements that silenced complaints, and a plea deal that short-circuited an F.B.I. investigation and led to the resignation announcement on Friday of a Trump cabinet official who had overseen the case as a prosecutor. Socially, Mr. Epstein carried out a parallel effort, trying to preserve his reputation as a financier, philanthropist and thinker.


“I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an ‘offender,’ Mr. Epstein told The New York Post in 2011. “It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.”



With the recent elections and Trump’s behavior this past week, is there any indication that his solid support might be waning?


Bruce Spielbauer
Answered on Quora Nov 14, 2018


A significant portion of Trump’s solid support will never waver. (Especially the white supremacists, and the Evangelicals, and the 1% who support him for those tax cuts he gave to the rich and the corporations). Those who follow him as a cult leader. They will never waver, no matter what.


The same thing was true with Nixon, and Watergate. Even after the whole world heard the “smoking gun tapes,” there were those who still stood by their criminal. I have a cousin, who is one of these. He argued at the time that “well, all politicians do it!” I last spoke to him three weeks ago, and he still maintains that same support for a known criminal.


Trump’s disapproval rating (in polls), though, is the figure to watch. It has been higher than any other president since modern polling began.



PART   I    II