A psychiatrist reveals the fascinating reason Trump surrounds himself with liars — and the dark origins of his own deceit
On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers hammered at former Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s reputation, denouncing him as a liar and a criminal. They did not touch upon why Donald Trump would opt to associate with such a shady character in the first place.
Raw Story spoke with psychiatrist Justin A. Frank MD, the author of “Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.“
Tana Ganeva: So the big news today is the Cohen hearings. What did you make of them?
Justin A. Frank MD: The most interesting thing about the testimony is how embattled Cohen is by Republicans. And he’s frustrated and clear I think his testimony is pretty effective. He’s really trying to rectify having been a liar and I think that what became clear to me as the day progressed is that something must have snapped inside of him.
I think it happened after Charlottesville when Trump didn’t condemn the Nazi riots.
Today Republicans essentially didn’t defend Trump — they just attacked Cohen.
People with Donald Trump’s psyche usually surrounded themselves with liars. It’s interesting that the GOP is spending so much time calling Cohen a liar, because that’s what Donald Trump surrounds himself with. People have to lie in order to agree with him.
That’s his main focus. Saying whatever it is he feels he needs to say in order to get what he wants, Donald Trump.
I was struck by how people were attacking Cohen in a way that was sort of relentless. I’m glad I wasn’t him
Tana Ganeva: SAME. Can you go into what you see as Trump’s pathological lying?
Justin A. Frank MD: One of the things that’s very important for a liar is he has to find people who agree with him. It’s why he has these people around him who want to see things his way.
The origin of lying is very interesting. One of the most interesting facts about lying … a little child is mimicking his parents who he feels lie to him when they tell him they love him. He feels lied to. So he then he grows up to lie to others.
Being like his parents and identifying with them, punishing every other person by making them into the same type of victim that he felt as a child. It’s one of biggest motivations.
He also couldn’t read really well and couldn’t sit still. He was hyperactive and had a version of dyslexia. So he had to lie about how much he knew, how competent he was to avoid shame about his troubles. And he has to surround himself with people who have to go along with him.
When someone confronts him … he gets rid of them.
Liars at some deep level, know they’re lying. When they know their lying they really need affirmation. They need people to believe them. They find people who will go along with them and never confront them. Anyone who confronts him is in big trouble.
The problem is that … liars. He hates being lied to, but he wants other people believing his lies.
Like ‘I’m the best, the strongest, aren’t I a great president?’ He surrounds himself with people at his rallies who will agree with him and be moved by him and support him in his lies.
They believe him because they are seduced by him. He has a deep need to be supported and loved. A person who’s a liar has to compensate because they really do feel insecure.
It’s interesting. It’s so hard to psychoanalyze liars. One has to find a way to help them recognize that they once felt victims of being lied to. And that they flipped that and reversed it by projecting it onto other people.
He turns his audience into a kind of wild-eyed child, like he must have been when he was hoping that his parents loved him. He really has had a lifetime of lies. Getting out of going to war, Vietnam … just everything. The women, the businesses, the bankruptcies — across the board lies are in everything he does.
Also people with ADD … they tend to exaggerate things about everything. One can work through these things when they’re dealt with but it’s really hard.