There are times when lies are the wisest and most compassionate choices. If Hitler is at the door and Anne Frank is in the attic, lying is the honourable choice. However, the human mind is a delicate thing and there are consequences to constantly distorting your relationship with reality.
It is more normal to talk about this in terms of the victims – people who have been gaslit, brainwashed, mislead and otherwise compromised by untruth. These kinds of experiences can leave a person not knowing who or what to trust, including no longer being confident in their own judgement. Gaslighting is designed to damage a person in ways that make them easier to control.
But what happens to the person doing the gaslighting? What happens to the person who has to keep asserting that x is really y and that z never happened? It doesn’t really spare them from having to acknowledge what they did or what really happened, at least not inside their own minds. It doesn’t liberate them from consequences, but it does tie them to an ongoing process of not being able to deal with anything. What happens to a person when they spend their time pretending that fake things are true, and/or that true things are fake?
What happens to the Emperor when people notice that he’s naked and that his story is a lie?
UK politics is a mess at the moment. We’re watching people who have spent years lying, trying to explain how they’re going to fix the problems they helped cause, while not admitting they helped cause the problems. Not that any of them are proposing any actual solutions. The sounds coming out of the government are peculiar and nonsensical. I find myself wondering what it must be like to have spent the last few years lying about how great Brexit is for everyone, how great a job your party is doing of handling the pandemic, and what a fine, upstanding chap your leader is. I would think that could take a toll on anyone’s mental health, and I cannot help but wonder if we’re seeing the consequences.