People Like Me

Lies and Confabulations

I wrote this post in June of 2015 when Rachel Dolezal was in the news.

Rachel Dolezal is the White woman claims that she’s African-American.

When I read Rachel Dolezal’s story I wondered if she dissociates.

If Rachel Dolezal believes she’s African-American she’s not lying.

When is a lie not a lie?

When it is a confabulation.

Confabulation is defined as the spontaneous production of false memories: either memories for events that never occurred, or memories of real events that are displaced in space or time. These memories may be elaborate and detailed. Some may be obviously bizarre, as a memory of a ride in an alien spaceship; others are quite mundane, as a memory of having eggs for breakfast, so that only a close family member can confirm that the memory is in fact false.

Confabulation is not lying and people who confabulate are not deliberately trying to mislead other people. In fact, patients are generally quite unaware that their memories are inaccurate, and they may argue strenuously that they are telling the truth. Neither should confabulation be confused with false memory syndrome, the phenomenon whereby otherwise normal people suddenly “remember” supposedly repressed incidents of childhood abuse or other trauma. Confabulation is a clinical syndrome resulting from injury to the brain.  Memory Loss Online

The primary function of the brain is the survival of the organism.

To that end, the brain will use all of its resources.

I did a Google search for Rachel Dolezal and got pages of outraged commentary along with video of her recent interview with Matt Lauer.

This was the second hit: The Nightly Show Goes in on “Crazypants White Lady” Rachel Dolezal.

Crazypants is a descriptive word that means weird or insane, not insane in the sense that it means cool as in crazy cool or that’s totally insane! Crazypants means insane as in a mental illness.  The Urban Dictionary

Crazypants is an N-Word for people with mental illness

This was the third hit: Rachel Dolezal’s parents: We taught our kids ‘always be honest’

Dolezal’s parents on TODAY denied charges they were abusive parents, calling the claims a “dramatic change” to what they knew of Rachel growing up, who always wanted to introduce them to her friends.

“We still hold out hope that we’ll be able to be reconciled someday,” Lawrence Dolezal said.

His wife added, “And we hope that Rachel will get the help that she needs to deal with her identity issues. Of course we love her, and we hope that she will come to a place where she knows and believes and speaks the truth.”

They say they were not abusive and they hope that she gets help with her identity.

How curious.

I decided to experiment and Googled Rachel Dolezal Abuse.

The first hit: Rachel Dolezal’s brother, author Joshua Dolezal, faces trial for alleged sexual abuse of a black child

Within that story is this nugget: Hours after their daughter told NBC’s “Today” show that she identifies as black, Rachel Dolezal’s white parents went on Fox News to dispute several elements of her interview. For starters, Ruthanne Dolezal told the cable news channel that her 37-year-old daughter’s claim that she self-identified as black starting at a very young age is a “fabrication.”

Rachel Dolezal told “Today’s” Matt Lauer that as a young child, she “was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon and the black curly hair. That was how I was portraying myself.”

The 37-year-old said she began to identify with the black experience at age five.

Her parents went on Fox News to accuse their daughter of fabricating the way she remembers her childhood drawings.

Did you show everything you drew as a child to your parents?

image of a child with a caption that reads there was no one to tell and no place to hide
There is no safety for children with abusive parents-Image found on Pinterest

This is where the story becomes painfully familiar:

According to reports, Rachel Dolezal’s biological brother raped an adopted sibling:

“In 2013, Joshua was charged with four felony counts of sex abuse of a minor. The incidents, according to an affidavit obtained by the Post, happened at his parents’ home in Colorado “in 2001 or 2002.” The victim “was 6 or 7 years old,” and Joshua Dolezal was “19 years older.” Dolezal allegedly made the victim perform oral sex on him twice and he performed oral sex on the victim “7 or 8” times, allegedly telling the victim “Don’t tell anyone or I’ll hurt you.” The affidavit also lists another allegation of abuse in 1991 of another victim that had a racial element.”

According to a police report obtained by People, the alleged victim told Ruthanne that Josh was abusing her, but Ruthanne “did not believe her and told her to stop telling lies.”

Joshua is an English professor at Central College in Pella, Iowa.

The same article describes the family from Joshua Dolezal’s autobiography, Down from the Mountaintop: from Belief to Belonging:

“Joshua Dolezal watches his mother praying while listening to his father read an entire chapter of the Bible before dinner, “as is customary.”

“Down from the Mountaintop chronicles a quest for belonging. Raised in northwestern Montana by Pentecostal homesteaders whose twenty-year experiment in subsistence living was closely tied to their faith, Joshua Dolezal experienced a childhood marked equally by his parents’ quest for spiritual transcendence and the surrounding Rocky Mountain landscape.” WorldCat

When I read Joshua Dolezal’s author comments, I felt that something terrible must have happened to him as well:

“From my earliest school days, when I wore handmade clothes to kindergarten and carried a fringed leather lunch satchel, I knew that my childhood experience in the mountains of Montana was different from everyone else’s. I write essays as experiments in explanation, efforts to make what was and is foreign in my life comprehensible, maybe even familiar, to a reader. In Down from the Mountaintop, like many memoirists, I try to make sense of my past.” Iowa Center for the Book

“What was and is foreign in my life.”

That’s an odd choice of words.

In an interview, Rachel Dolezal’s Mother states that the sibling that Joshua Dolezal is accused of abusing suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder:

“… A condition in which a child can’t bond with a parent or caregiver, and “seeks to cause trouble in the family.”

She goes on to say she never left the child alone with her son.

“The aligning with Rachel on this is a very bad combination,” she says. “Our son wasn’t even home a lot of the time it was alleged it was happening,” she says, “and I was a stay-at-home mother and very attentive to the kids because of her disorder. I never left her at home with our son or anything like that.” People.

Why would Ruthanne Dolezal be that specific?

Why insinuate that the child is “disordered” and “out to make trouble”?

She says she was a stay at home Mom and attentive to all the kids because of this one child’s “disorder.”

She never left the child at home with her Son.  Why?

Why does she describe the child as aligning with Rachel?

It all sounds so damned familiar because these were the kind of lies told
in my family.

The strategies survivors use to survive seem normal to us; even the act of becoming a different race is normal and possible for an abused child of five with an active imagination.

“Alters within the same patient may be of different ages, genders, races, and even species, including lobsters, ducks, and gorillas. There have even been reported alters of unicorns, Mr. Spock of Star Trek, God, the bride of Satan, and Madonna. Moreover, some practitioner’s claim that alters can be identified by distinct characteristics, including distinct handwriting, voice patterns, eyeglass prescriptions, and allergies. Proponents of the idea of multiple personalities have also performed controlled studies of biological differences among alters, revealing that they may differ in respiration rate, brain-wave patterns and skin conductance, the last being an accepted measure of arousal.” The Scientific American

If I told you my name is Mateo and I am a Black, would you call me a lying crazypants?


It sounds to me as if Rachel and Josh Dolezal are trying to make sense of a past that they can’t fully remember, understand, or escape.

Rob Goldstein 2015-2017








33 thoughts on “Lies and Confabulations

  1. Can you help me understand the copyright caution (excerpt, etc.) and the re-blog offer? This is great. I am an incest survivor, wrote a book about it and NO ONE wants to read it. Keep up the extraordinary work. Did I hear you say an alter wrote this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The copyright pertains to anything that I write excluding excerpts and quotes

      Basically if you use my material credit me as the source. The same is true of images produced by me. As for re-blogs, I think re-blogging someone’s post is the highest form of praise. Re-blog anything you like.I do have an alternate that ‘identifies as African-American’ and his experience informs this piece.

      The only people I saw who were treated as harshly as I was in the South of my childhood were African-Americans. At some point in the evolution of my dissociative process I must have thought I was African-American.

      Thank you for your encouragement. I know what you mean when you say people don’t want to hear about the bad things we let people do to their children. Our need to deny the consequences of budget cuts that deprive our kids of resources while letting their parents abuse them has taken a toll on our democracy which requires healthy and well educated voters.


    1. Thank you for mentioning it…I returned to her as as a topic today, noting that as more of the abuse history emerges the story fades–I don’t recall if I know that you have a history of sexual abuse–but the brutal refusal to consider the human dimension of this story says alot about us as a nation; and it ain’t good.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post! Information you won’t see in the news coverage, although I haven’t been following this story. I mean, just because she’s white, does that mean all her advocacy work has meant nothing? I don’t care what someone looks like — it’s what they do that’s important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This touches on the heart of the dilemma faced by abused children and those of us who survive. No one wants to hear about it and no one wants to see the behaviors of the survivors of abuse for the symptoms that they are.

      Parents can beat their children until their minds shatter and if those children survive they will face a system that blames them for what happened and makes the process of recovering more painful and costly than it needs to be.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As many things as the CDC informs and warns the public about, wouldn’t it be nice if they came up with a campaign that says something like, “Don’t beat your kids”?

        They’ve got a campaign going now, warning people about what happens when you become addicted to pain medications. Short videos of those who became addicted and what happened in their lives. I’d like to see the same thing for child abuse, and stories of what happens to these adults. After all, it’s all tied together, as drug addiction is so often a symptom of all kinds of abuse.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve never thought of it quite this way.

        Thank you.

        Yes…addiction, eating disorders, sociopathy, lost productivity, the perpetuation of abuse…when I was working with San Francisco’s homeless population what stood out was that so many of them came from violent, abusive families in regions that gave them poor more access to guns than to food, education or protection from pedophiles.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so, so human. What a humane comment on a controversial issue. You have brought compassion into it and asked readers to consider a facet of the issue that they would rather ignore.
    It says much about you. I hope to hear more sane and thoughtful voices like yours, about everything.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for such a kind comment. And thank you for reading the post.

      None of us can know another person’s pain. And in the scheme of things, her lie is nothing compared to the lies that we tell ourselves everyday, as we step over the victims of our collective abuse.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. RG,

    We’ve all heard of the experiment where rats were placed in a limited space & allowed to suffer from extreme overcrowding…. It has been shown people will, and ARE, reacting the same as the rats, i.e. increased violence and insanity overall in society. Our society, world wide, is beginning to fray at the center, not the edges, and it will unravel more over time unless we assume responsibility for the mess we have created….

    Heinlein’s Crazy Years are upon us, ffolkes…. and it will get worse before it gets better…

    I enjoyed your discussion; it’s very compassionate, which I would expect in someone so patently mindful. I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with this woman, but, I’m pretty sure about what is wrong in the world… and, both compassion and mindfulness would go a long way toward fixing things, if they were more commonly demonstrated…

    Well done, and well said…

    gigoid, the dubious

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank. I tend to be stupidly hopeful about everything. It’s what keeps me alive. 🙂 Thank you for reading my post and leaving a comment. If the refusal to create a fact based reality is a form of insanity then yes, we’re in deep –umm–water…:)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Once you get the info in one place it becomes more obvious. I really didn’t intend to write this post but the thought that this woman might have DID really stood out for me. What pissed me off was seeing her called a liar. And the crazypants thing. Don’t wanna leave that out. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

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