Thursday, October 26, 2006

Politics of Confabulation

Some time ago, when George Bush was confronted with Colin Powell’s line about the “world beginning to doubt the moral basis of our war on terror” at a press conference, I watched him give an incoherent response that was so completely out of context and delivered in such a frenetic manner that I actually began to wonder if this nation is being led by a man who is mentally deranged.

Then I read a piece today by Justin Frank M.D., a doctor of clinical psychoanalysis, titled Never on Sunday about George Bush, talking about Bush’s conflicting positions on the war in Iraq. I urge you to read the whole thing, but in part he says,

“Untreated alcoholics confabulate. Confabulation is a form of amnesia in which the patient gives detailed descriptions of what he has, and has not, been recently doing. While convincing, these descriptions are totally fictitious, although the patient truly believes what he is saying at the time.


“The rest of the administration is caught the way the family of an alcoholic is caught - trying to make excuses for its ex-drinker. (…) They go along with his confabulation without attempting to confront it. In this dire case they (the administration and its media watchdogs) have actually embraced Bush's confabulation, trying desperately to rationalize it to themselves and the rest of us - including, I suppose, our presidentially blindsided American soldiers who continue to fight and die overseas.

“It is clear Bush's ability to use narrative thinking is permanently compromised by his desperate need to manage anxiety. We see smiles of relief whenever he gets back on track. But getting back on track and constructing a narrative story-line for the war are not possible for him. He cannot link cause to effect. Put simply, George W. Bush is too concerned with managing his own feelings to think about the implications of his words beyond their function of ameliorating his immediate anxieties.”

I have some experience from the other side than Dr. Frank’s on this issue, since I am a recovering alcoholic. The key part of that statement is the “recovering” part. I am a treated alcoholic, with more than twenty years of continuous sobriety behind me, so I have learned about the disease and how to live without doing the things that I used to do.

I know a little bit about the kind of mind that confabulates. I can tell you that it is by no means a sane mind, it is an incredibly egotistic mind, and it is an uncomfortable and unhappy place to live. That kind of mind is definitely not in full contact with reality. Recovering alcoholics have a saying, “Everybody builds dream castles. An alcoholic builds a dream castle and then tries to live in it.” His ego will never, ever let him admit that the castle is not real.

The egotistic part of that mind resonates with what I see in George Bush, as well. Joshua Bearman "adds meat to those bones" with this post. Again, I urge that you go there and read it, but in part,

“Ego traps us in costly, losing battles, study finds

“A gambler plunges deeper into debt when crushing losses should scream to him to quit. A banker keeps lending to someone who clearly won't pay back. A leader pours troops and money into a war that has become a quagmire. These scenarios have something in common: in each, someone is entangled in a costly, protracted and losing venture. It happens quite often.

“Now, researchers say they may have confirmed a key reason why people fall into what the scientists call "costly entrapment in losing endeavors."

“Their finding, based on a study of monetary choices, might be unsurprising to many observers of human nature: it comes down to ego.”

So, count this as the third blog you’ve read (assuming you read the two I referenced) that suggests that this nation is being led by a man who is making decisions for reasons that are not completely sane.

Think about it. Is this whole power grab that Bush has been pursuing for six years the pursuit of a sane person? Is the incessant drumming of the demand for the right to eavesdrop in violation of the law, to detain without accountability, to torture, to contravene international treaties… Is that a rational pattern?

The Legislature passed a law requiring that the person appointed to head the Department of Homeland Stupidity be qualified for the job. That seems a perfectly reasonable requirement, but in signing it into law Bush added one of his infamous “signing statements” that he didn’t feel that he would be obliged to comply. He reserved to right to appoint the person of his choice, including someone unqualified for the job. Is that sane?

Nancy Pelosi ruled out impeachment in the event that Democrats win control of the House. Her reasons for that make good sense, but for one small thing.

That may leave the highest office in this land being held by a madman for two more years.

No comments:

Post a Comment