Former President Donald Trump Rallies Supporters In Georgia

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Former NFL star and Republican political candidate Herschel Walker is dealing with blowback after being caught in a lie about his academic prowess. The news leads to one question – why tout something that can be so easily proven false? The answer is slightly more complicated.

According to reports, the former Heisman Trophy-winning running back and GOP Senate candidate’s claims of being the valedictorian of his high school class and graduating in the top 1 percent of his class at the University of Georgia were found to be false. The claims were present on his campaign website, but further investigation by CNN found that Walker made the false claims repeatedly in previous speeches. Walker had been approached about the claims concerning the University of Georgia – he didn’t graduate – by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in December of last year, and he admitted to the falsehood. But the situation has raised questions about what would compel him to do something like that, especially as he’s aiming to replace Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in an election later this year. Walker already has the highly vocal support of friend and former President Donald Trump.

Psychotherapists such as Traumatic Narcissism and Recovery author Daniel Shaw state that this phenomenon occurs because “sometimes people tell lies because they believe they’re telling the truth. The mind is complicated, and it is possible to know something and not know it at the same time.” Those who engage in pathological lying tend to be classified into two groups: self-deception and willful ignorance. Those practicing the former are doing so to make themselves feel better. The latter group requires the practitioner to exclude information about how their action will impact others. According to researchers in a 2011 study on the subject from Duke University, people are more prone to practice self-deception if there are no repercussions for it. “Beyond merely sweeping transgressions under the psychological rug, people can use the positive outcomes resulting from negative behavior to enhance their opinions of themselves — a mistake that can prove costly in the long run,” they wrote in the report detailing their findings. In his interview, Shaw states that those who use self-deception operating in the vein of “malignant narcissism” can “tell lies with abandon, and double down on them when they are exposed as untrue.”

When it comes to Herschel Walker, the motivation for self-deception can be more clouded. The former football star has been open about his struggles with mental health, specifically detailing how he has been dealing with disassociative identity disorder for years. There have also been past incidents of domestic violence that Walker has been involved in, with controversy attached to them due to alleged coverups by his therapist at the time. That, coupled with the push behind self-deception could be an impetus for decisions by the aspiring politician which include the false claims about his academic prowess in addition to recent ethics issues that have shown up regarding his finances. Critics have pointed out a pattern of missing information regarding his earnings from his business entities, things that voters can see as glaring conflicts of interest.

Currently, Walker has been keeping out of the public eye save for coordinated press events and private functions, even missing the first debate for GOP candidates for the Senate on Saturday (April 9th). “I’m also certain that every coach that he had in the past instructed him that you’ll not play in the game if you don’t show up for practice,” said Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black during the debate about Walker’s absence. “But his coaches now have him locked in the basement of the locker room. I think it’s a shame.”