Politics

Is Hillary Clinton’s Lying Pathological?

From blaming Colin Powell for her email scandal to ducking sniper fire in Bosnia, Hillary can't seem to tell the truth

In an episode of “Seinfeld,” George Costanza is giving Jerry Seinfeld advice on how to “beat” a lie detector.

“You’ve got the gift, you’re the only one who can help me,” Jerry pleads. But George says he just can’t. “It’s like saying to Pavarotti, ‘Teach me to sing like you.'” Yet as Jerry heads out of the diner, George has some parting words of wisdom for his prevaricating pal: “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie — if you believe it.”

That is, in a nutshell, Hillary Clinton. When the Democratic presidential nominee tried to pin the blame for her use of a private email server on former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Hillary gave a new insight into her strained relationship with the truth. Does she believe the things she says — that are clearly lies? Does she think no one will know the truth? Or does her ethos of “the ends justify the means” simply give her — at least in her mind — the right to lie at will to get what she wants?

New reports say Clinton reportedly told the FBI during the course of its investigation into her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state that Secretary Powell advised her to use one. But Powell swiftly said that simply was not the case.

“There’s no question that when politicians lie they know they’re lying. There’s no doubt about it,” Berrill said. “And they’re lying because lying is indebted — it’s a structure or a symptom, if you will, of a larger personality disorder.”

“The truth is, she was using it for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did” during his own term as secretary of state, Powell told the New York Post Saturday. “Her people have been trying to pin it on me.”

So why would Clinton make such a clearly false statement? Certainly she knew that Powell just might refute her assertion (it’s not like the time Bob Woodward made up a lie about a dead man). And even though the mainstream media would no doubt go along with her clear fabrication, she must’ve known that the American electorate — some two months from going to the polls — might not be as forgiving.

Throughout her presidential campaign, Clinton has flirted with controversy and scandal — whether from her private email server, her shadowy dealings with The Clinton Foundation while working for the Department of State, or a myriad of other lies and half-truths (how did she make $100,000 from a $1,000 investment in cattle futures?). Clinton’s scandals have led Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to label Clinton a “PATHOLOGICAL LIAR.”

“The Washington Post calls out #CrookedHillary for what she REALLY is. A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR! Watch that nose grow!” Trump tweeted on Aug. 2.

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So what exactly does it mean to be a “pathological liar”? And does that explain Hillary’s non-stop stream of lies?

It has been notoriously difficult for psychologists and psychiatrists to agree on the set definition for the clinical disorder, and yet there seems to be agreement on a few core components:

“PL is characterized by a long history (maybe lifelong) of frequent and repeated lying for which no apparent psychological motive or external benefit can be discerned,” Dr. Charles C. Dike wrote in a Psychiatric Times article titled “Pathological Lying: Symptom or Disease?” “While ordinary lies are goal-directed and are told to obtain external benefit or to avoid punishment, pathological lies often appear purposeless. In some cases, they might be self-incriminating or damaging, which makes the behavior even more incomprehensible.”

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Dr. N. G. Berrill, the executive director of The New York Center for Neuropsychology & Forensic Behavioral Science, told LifeZette that the personality structure of a pathological liar usually has two main components: a high degree of narcissism with a certain sense of entitlement, and an “anti-social” component in which the liar does not feel obliged to adhere to rules or regulations. That seems the case with Clinton, who once said she endured sniper fire when landing in Bosnia (she was, in fact, greeted by little girls bearing flowers).

“There’s no question that when politicians lie they know they’re lying. There’s no doubt about it,” Berrill said. “And they’re lying because lying is indebted — it’s a structure or a symptom, if you will, of a larger personality disorder.”

Even though many people lie, exaggerate, and distort the truth at times, Berrill noted that when a politician pathologically lies, “they’re really lying to essentially manipulate … It’s a conscious desire to manipulate and control.”

These types of politicians have a compulsive urge to lie continuously — even if there is no logical reason or obvious personal gain to be gleaned from such a stream of deception. This is the tactic Clinton seems to be using — whether knowingly or unwittingly — in her Powell debacle.

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“[Politicians will] say stuff that’s ridiculous or outrageous, and as long as they feel that they’ve persuaded this group, reassured this group, made this group feel good, made the person like them more, trust them, whatever, then their mission is accomplished,” Berrill added. “And the thing with politicians, which I find fascinating … with this digital age, lying becomes a little more difficult, it seems to me.”

Because why on earth would politicians brazenly lie when they know that cameras and iPhone videos are rolling — and that social media in this digital age stand ready to pounce on anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the act?

“What’s really fascinating to me is that the politicians that lie — in a really bold and obvious way and not nuanced at all — they act as though they haven’t been taped saying these things,” Berrill said. “So it seems to me that this is the most dangerous period in our history for lying and acting like a con-man or a sleazy politician because the chances are so great that you’re gonna get caught.”

And yet Clinton seems to get away with it all, time and time again — even when she must know that sources and data will bring her lies to light.

“So the question is,” Berrill said, “what is that one lie or that one behavior that tips the opinion in the other direction?”

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