Trump biographer, Tony Schwartz, has a rare insight into Donald Trump's mind, way of thinking and entire psyche in a way that few do. He was a co author (aka, the only author) of Trump's book 'The Art of the Deal', a 1987 handbook that was part memoir and part guide on how to be a successful business tycoon.
Schwartz has been a strong voice since Trump started running for office and has been a frequent guest on Ari Melber's show, The Beat. Thursday night he joined Ari to talk about a somewhat complex issue called confirmation bias and 'gaslighting'. Gaslighting is a tool that people use to manipulate others via psychological methods that make them question their own sanity. It is a tool that sociopaths, abusers and psychopaths frequently employ to make their victims/cult believe that they are the only ones who are telling them "the truth." It is terrifying and once someone has been effectively "gaslit" it is nearly impossible to convince them that their reality is incorrect.
It is a great video in its entirety and I encourage you to watch it, but here are some excellent parts of the transcript:
SCHWARTZ: So he knows that, for example, the core base that he's always appealing to, the big confirmation bias they have is that the bad people are out to get them, that it's not their fault, that somebody else is to blame. And so he goes into a second technique, which is gaslighting. He says, what you see is blue is actually red. Then he repeats that over and over and over again until people begin to doubt their own reality.
MELBER: You're saying something really important, because if it works as gaslighting, in your theory, it both appeals to the people who feel in on it, while maddening or even confusing a lot of other people.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah. It first confuses those people whose bias it reinforces. It confuses them because even though they have that bias, in order to make it okay, they have to tell themselves that what is true is not true. And what is not true is true. The opposition is outraged because it isn't true. And what's so difficult for all of us who are stunned by the power of deceit from Trump, is that he can get away with it. And it puts us into an emotional state, it puts us into a fear state. And so he's kind of got the fear of -- aroused in the opposition and the confusion aroused in those who believe fundamentally that the world view he's expressing is true, even though the facts he's expressing are not true.
MELBER: Is that something that is unique to people who really don't care about the facts? Or is it something that anyone can abuse?
SCHWARTZ: It's an enormous advantage if you don't care about the facts, because what's happening with Trump right now, as the circle closes and as he sees the confirmation bias that always works on Trump is that the world is out to get him. That he either creates fear or he succumbs to fear. And right now, that's the way he's seeing the world. And so everything that comes along reinforces that. And if you've got very few good things happening and a lot of bad things happening that personality and that confirmation bias, what you're doing, you're getting more and more paranoid. You're getting more and more detached from reality.
Trump has effectively been gaslighting his base and most of them are buying into it. Will they eventually come out of the trance? November 2018 elections will be a huge marker.