ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Psychological Warfare

Jack Bragen
Friday March 17, 2017 - 11:57:00 AM

Trump's biggest weapon, in his quest to create a dictatorship, is his knowledge of how to manipulate people's perceptions. CNN has been unwittingly suckered into playing a supporting role.  

Probably ninety percent of the things he does are for the purpose of freaking out the liberals, the moderates, and the conservatives—anyone who is smart enough not to be on board with him. Quite intentionally, everything he is doing reflects his effort to appear as villainous as possible.  

I am not unfamiliar with psychological attack. When I was seventeen and first becoming mentally ill, someone who lived near me was waging psychological warfare, and it was a contributing factor in my first psychotic episode. Beforehand, in high school, numerous other students, on a constant basis, hammered into me the idea that I was a "freak" that I was unfit, and that I wasn't a person.  

Psychological warfare can kill.  

We have seen examples of teens ostracized on social media who have, sadly, taken their own lives. We have seen campus bullying in high schools, in some instances culminating with a student obtaining a firearm and shooting fellow students. The effects of bullying, whether this is physical assault, verbal ostracism, or some combination of both, are long lasting and can be devastating for people's development.  

A psychological attack is often more effective when the victim believes she or he is being attacked. However, if the perpetrator feigns that his or her behavior isn't an attack, and his or her intentions are good, this can add confusion, which then becomes another weapon.  

On the other hand, it is important that people who suffer from paranoia should not imagine being attacked, or presume being attacked, when in fact this isn't happening. It is easy for someone who suffers from delusions to become paranoid about others, when they are better off erring on the side of excessive trust. Speaking about how you feel to one or two people (not subject to psychosis, who you fully trust; e.g., a family member or a therapist) in order to do a reality-check, could be part of the solution. 

As adults, psychological warfare could take place in the workplace, or it could be in the form of battles among "frenemies." Adults are every bit as prone to hate as are teens, only the tactics of attack are different.  

Trump is utilizing CNN to make himself look more dangerous, more sinister, more overwhelming, than he would otherwise appear. Trump is not hiding the fact that he wants to do away with democracy in the U.S. CNN's role has been that of a conduit for Trump's induction of fear.  

Trump isn't merely trying to dial back the U.S. to a 1950's culture; his intent is to turn the U.S. into another China or another Russia, and do away with human rights altogether. CNN has been of use to Trump because that network continually conveys the message that the U.S. is becoming Trumpland.  

I don't know much about the Martial Arts. However, in Karate, it is said that you are supposed to yell at your opponent to strike fear into him. Fear is a weapon. When someone is attacking, one of the first things they may try to do is to make you afraid. If they can't do that to you, in most instances, the attack will not proceed.  

Any warfare will have a psychological element. In WWII, there were the Kamikaze pilots who would intentionally crash their fighter planes into a ship. They were intentionally not provided with enough fuel to fly back home. Kamikaze pilots and today's suicide bombers have been very effective psychological weapons. Not only are they physically effective attacks, they have a demoralizing and fear-inducing effect.  

Trump has fed on his opposition, and has actually used his opposition to his advantage. When the news media conveys the President's behavior as "unprecedented," and when he is painted as an unstoppable force, one bent on achieving domination and oppression, it gets people upset--and rightly so.  

However, President Trump isn't unstoppable. And, I believe that our Constitution coupled with the dedication of Americans in positions of power, not to mention concerned citizens who are becoming involved in the democratic process, will cause this aspiring dictator to be rendered impotent, voted out of office, or perhaps impeached.  

The "fallout" of widespread psychological warfare, for persons with mental illness—it is far more difficult to remain emotionally stable. Society has become filled with hate and fear, and this makes the environment caustic for those of us trying to get well.  

If you believe someone is waging psychological warfare, the first thing to do is to discover whether your beliefs are founded, or not. It could easily be something you're merely imagining.  

Secondly, attempting any sort of counterattack is a big mistake. Your best bet is to focus on your own mental health. If someone is bad for you, maybe you should find a way to get some distance from her or him.  

You do not need to be a doormat, however. If someone is bullying you in a way that you can actually document, then you should take notes on the specific incidents. These can be given to authorities or to the appropriate person who is in a position to be of help.  

By focusing on yourself, on your own mental health, you are protecting yourself in the best possible way. Attempts at a psychological counterattack, or any form of counter-aggression, will create more problems.  

A final word: Most people are not "out to get you." Most people are focused on themselves, on their own perceptions of being attacked, and do not have time, energy, or inclination to sabotage your life. In most cases, when a paranoid person believes people are plotting against he or she, this is a delusion and should be dealt with in therapy or with a psychiatrist's help. There are exceptions, but they are relatively rare.