As Hurricane Dorian makes its way up the Atlantic coast, the Dotard continues to insist that he was right when he claimed that Alabama was in the hurricane’s path. He tweeted this morning,
Alabama was going to be hit or grazed, and then Hurricane Dorian took a different path (up along the East Coast). The Fake News knows this very well. That’s why they’re the Fake News!
If only he would shut the f@ck up! Yesterday, he committed a federal crime by altering a weather map as “proof” for his false statement.
The Washington Post: Trump continues to push erroneous claim about Alabama as Dorian lashes Carolinas.
As Hurricane Dorian unleashed torrential rains on the Carolinas on Thursday morning, President Trump continued to push his erroneous contention from the weekend that Alabama could have been affected by the life-threatening storm.“What I said was accurate! All Fake News in order to demean!” Trump wrote.
In his first tweets of the morning, Trump insisted that what he first said in a Sunday tweet was accurate at the time and attacked the news media.
Trump’s latest tweets on the subject came a day after he attempted to retroactively justify his Sunday tweet by displaying in the Oval Office a modified National Hurricane Center “cone of uncertainty” forecast, dated Aug. 29, indicating Alabama could in fact be affected. The graphic appeared to have been altered with a Sharpie to indicate a risk the storm would move into Alabama from Florida.
The Dotard is loony tunes and he has access to the nuclear codes. He cares more about justifying his silly mistake than about the millions of human beings in the path of the storm.
The conventional wisdom is that Trump suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. That diagnosis no longer fits. Trump is a criminal psychopath, IMHO. In other words, he very likely qualifies for a diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Here are the DSM IV-TR criteria for ASPD:
A. There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the
rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three
(or more) of the following: having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from
1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful
behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that
are grounds for arrest.
2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases,
or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.
3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead.
4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated
physical fights or assaults.
5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.
6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure
to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial
7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or
B. The individual is at least age 18 years.
C. There is evidence of Conduct Disorder with onset before age 15
D. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the
course of Schizophrenia or a Manic Episode.
You can read the new DSM V criteria at the above link. That description is longer, so I won’t post it here. Tell me Trump doesn’t qualify as ASPD. The only thing we don’t know for sure is whether Trump had Conduct Disorder in childhood. But it seems like, since he is known to have attacked a teacher as young child and his parents sent him away to military school at age 13, presumably because of his behavior. On top of the ASPD, he likely has ADHD and worsening dementia.
Today’s news is full of Trump’s selfish, destructive, cruel behavior. Here are just three examples:
Migrant children in government custody who were separated from their parents experienced intense trauma that shelters were unprepared to handle, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general.
The findings echo reports from physicians and mental health advocates about lasting ills stemming from the Trump administration’s family separation policies. They come as the administration is trying to revise the so-called Flores agreement, a long-standing court order that outlines standards of care for migrant children and families.
Many children in HHS custody already faced trauma in their home countries or during their journey to the United States, according to the watchdog report, which was based on visits to 45 shelters operated by the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement in August and September 2018. Children then experienced additional trauma after they were separated from their parents, including intensified fear, feelings of abandonment and post-traumatic stress.
Shelter staff said that they were unprepared to address the problems because of a lack of resources and ongoing efforts to reunify children with their parents. The share of children under the age of 12 in ORR custody rose to 24 percent from 14 percent from April to May of last year.
Please go read the rest at Politico.
Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Trump Wanted to Obliterate the U.S. Economy to Get Revenge on China.
One of the scariest aspects of the current national nightmare that is Donald Trump is that for as much of a dystopian hellscape as his presidency has turned out to be, we’re periodically reminded that if he got his way, it would be even worse. Over the past two and a half years we’ve learned that he had to be convinced not to invade Venezuela, or nuke hurricanes, or escalate tensions with Syria by assassinating Bashar al-Assad, or scrap a trade deal with South Korea, the latter of which was avoided when then-National Economic Council director Gary Cohn reportedly swiped a letter from the president’s desk that Trump didn’t even realize had gone missing. According to a new report, the president also wanted to shiv the U.S. economy in a characteristically self-defeating attempt to get back at China—a move that was only prevented by a chorus of staffers and CEOs begging him not to go through with it.
CNBC reports that after China retaliated with $75 billion worth of tariffs last month, the president was so angry—and apparently surprised, despite the fact that China has responded this way every time he’s ratcheted up the trade war—that he wanted to double existing tariffs on Chinese goods. That such a move would have hit the economy even harder than the trade dispute already has, and undoubtedly send the stock market into free fall, apparently did not cross his mind, even though people have tried to sit him down and explain it to him many times. Unable to talk him off the ledge on their own, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer apparently enlisted multiple CEOs to call the president and get it through his seemingly impenetrable skull that the impact of such an action would be, in his own words “not good!” Instead, Trump simply chose to unleash a series of belligerent tweets about how he “hereby ordered” U.S. companies to cease doing business with China “immediately,” sending the Dow plummeting, which he later joked about. (He also settled for a 5% hike in tariffs on $550 billion in Chinese products.)
The news that Trump wanted to go nuclear on China comes days after aides confirmed that the president was lying about Chinese negotiators calling his “top trade people” and saying they wanted to “get back to the table.”
The Pentagon said on Wednesday it would pull funding from 127 Defense Department projects, including schools and daycare centers for military families, as it diverts $3.6 billion to fund President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Schools for the children of U.S. military members from Kentucky to Germany to Japan will be affected. A daycare center at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland – the home of Air Force One – will also have its funds diverted, the Pentagon said.
Trump declared a national emergency earlier this year to access the funds from the military construction budget. In March, the Pentagon sent to Congress a broad list of projects that could be affected.
A Pentagon official said in a briefing that the department was given a “lawful order” by Trump to divert the funds. She said the Pentagon is working closely with Congress and its allies abroad to find funding to replace money diverted for the wall, but that there are not any guarantees that those funds will come.
More articles on this topic:
I’m going to wrap this up, because it’s getting really late. Please post your own thoughts and links in the comment thread.
Good Morning!! I’m switching to strong coffee this morning, because I’ve had the sleepies for the past few days. It’s been really damp and humid here, so maybe that’s the reason. All I know is I keep dozing off, and I don’t like it! Anyway, let’s get to the news before I nod out again.
A few days ago, commenter madaha turned me on to an article about a fascinating new book that just came out last week. The book is called A First Rate Madness. The author is Nassir Ghaemi, a professor of psychiatry at Tufts University. From Salon:
Nassir Ghaemi, an author and professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, argues that many of history’s most famous and admired figures, from Churchill to FDR to Gandhi, showed signs of mental illness — and became better leaders because of it. Ghaemi bases his argument on historical records and some of the latest experimental studies on depression and mania, arguing that mild symptoms can actually enhance qualities like creativity or empathy.
After reading the piece in Salon, I immediately ordered the book and I’ve been dipping into it over the past couple of days.
So far, I’ve read the chapter on FDR, and I’m going to read about JFK next. According to Ghaemi, both of these men had hyperthymic personalities: basically, they were upbeat, enthusiastic, energetic, and creative, because they tended to be somewhat hypomanic (a milder, less disabling form of the mania experienced by those with bipolar disorder). In addition, both FDR and JFK suffered from serious physical illnesses–FDR from polio and JFK from Addison’s disease. These illnesses and other adversities these two men faced enabled them to develop empathy for the suffering of ordinary people–even though they were both from privileged backgrounds. Ghaemi argues that people with slightly abnormal personalities are better leaders–particularly in times of crisis when great creativity, empathy, and resilience are needed. According to Ghaemi:
Many people who experience traumas [like terrorism or war] don’t develop PTSD or other illnesses. So the question is, what keeps those people from getting sick? What creates resilience? The psychological research suggests that personality is a major factor. Resilience seems to be associated with mild manic symptoms, but you can’t develop resilience unless you’ve already experienced trauma. Many of these leaders faced adversity in their childhood and adulthood, and that seemed to make them better able to handle crises. It’s like a vaccine. You get exposed to a little bit of a bacteria then you can handle major infections and I think trauma and resilience and hyperthymic personality seem to follow a similar path.
Ghaemi does not discuss Obama’s personality in the book, but Salon interviewer Thomas Rogers asked the author whether Obama may be too “sane” to be a successful President in our current time of crisis.
Obama’s persona is that of a very sane, rational person who is good at compromise — which is definitely how he sold himself during the debt ceiling crisis. Do you think Obama’s sanity is hurting his abilities as a leader?
I didn’t discuss Obama and other current leaders in the book, because there are documentation and confidentiality issues, and a lot of speculation would have to happen. That said, Obama has said himself that he thinks he’s very normal. This no-drama-Obama persona is meant to reassure people about his normality, but I think that when you look at his memoir there’s a sense of a much more complex and profound person who may have experienced a great deal of anxiety and maybe some depression growing up, being half-white half-African-American. The [sane] parts of his psychology may hinder his leadership in terms of not being creative, and that may not be as useful in a crisis. But to whatever extent he’s not fully completely average, he’ll have some psychological reservoir to draw on to think more creatively and realistically about the current situation.
I wish I could agree that Obama might learn to deal with the nation’s difficulties, but so far he doesn’t seem to learn anything from experience. Most of the leaders that Ghaemi discusses suffered from mood disorders–depression or bipolar disorder. Obama, on the other hand, appears to have a different kind of disorder–either Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder, or both.
Dakinikat alerted me to an interview with Ghaemi on NPR. I haven’t listened to it yet, but here’s the link.
Getting back to current news, this coming Saturday, Rick Perry plans to announce that he’s running for the Republican presidential nomination.
Rick Perry intends to use a speech in South Carolina on Saturday to make clear that he’s running for president, POLITICO has learned.
According to two sources familiar with the plan, the Texas governor will remove any doubt about his White House intentions during his appearance at a RedState conference in Charleston.
It’s uncertain whether Saturday will mark a formal declaration, but Perry’s decision to disclose his intentions the same day as the Ames straw poll — and then hours later make his first trip to New Hampshire — will send shock waves through the race and upend whatever results come out of the straw poll.
Immediately following his speech in South Carolina, Perry will make his New Hampshire debut at a house party at the Portsmouth-area home of a state representative, Pamela Tucker, the Union Leader reported Monday. Tucker was among the Granite Staters who went to Texas last week to encourage Perry to run.
What can I say? This is ghastly news. Think Progress is reporting that besides being a fundamentalist religious fanatic, Perry shares a similar problem to that of fellow wingnut Michele Bachmann–he has taken lots of Federal money in farm subsidies–$80,000, to be exact.
Verizon workers have gone out on strike–45,000 of them.
More than 45,000 workers from New England to Virginia went on strike just after midnight today at Verizon Communications. Since bargaining began July 22, Verizon has refused to move from a long list of concession demands. As the contract expired, Verizon, a $100 billion company, still was looking for $1 billion in concessions from 45,000 workers and families. That’s about $20,000 in givebacks for every family, nearly 100 concessionary proposals remained on the table.
This despite Verizon’s 2011 annualized revenues of $108 billion and net profits of $6 billion. At the same time, Verizon Wireless just paid its parent company, Vodaphone, a $10 billion dividend. Meanwhile, Verizon’s five top executives received $258 million over the past four years.
The workers, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW), say they are striking until Verizon “stops its Wisconsin-style tactics and starts bargaining seriously.”
The second day of a strike by Verizon workers turned ugly after union representatives accused managers of injuring three workers while driving past picket lines, and the phone giant complained of a spike in network sabotage cases.
Verizon complained of network sabotage cases in the same statement where it said some picketing workers were unlawfully blocking Verizon managers’ access to work centers.
A spokeswoman for the Communications Workers of America, representing 35,000 of the strikers, said the union “does not condone illegal action of any kind.” The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, representing 10,000 strikers, also said members “are expected to obey the law.”
However, the CWA said some picketing workers were hurt by Verizon managers’ cars and that one worker was knocked unconscious when he was clipped by the mirror of a manager’s car that was speeding past a picket line.
Dean Baker had a great piece at Truthout yesterday: The Economic Illiterates Step Up the Attack on Social Security and Medicare
The nonsense with the S&P downgrade is yet another distraction – after four months of haggling over the debt ceiling idiocy – from the real problem facing the country: a downturn that has left 25 million people unemployed, underemployed or out of the labor force altogether. Tens of millions of people are seeing their career hopes and family lives wrecked by the prospect of long-term unemployment.
The incredible part of this story is that the people who are responsible are all doing just fine, and most of them are still making policy. Furthermore, they are using their own incompetence as a weapon to argue that we have to take even more money from the poor and middle class, this time in the form of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
The basic story is that the economy needs demand. The housing bubble generated more than $1.4 trillion in annual demand through the construction and consumption that it spurred. Now that this demand is gone, there is nothing to replace it. President Obama’s stimulus was replaced by some of the lost demand, but it was nowhere near large enough. We tried to fill a $1.4 trillion hole in annual demand with around $300 billion in annual stimulus in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, most of this boost has been exhausted and the economy is coming to a near standstill.
If we had serious people in Washington, they would be talking about jobs programs, about rebuilding the infrastructure, about work sharing, and any other measure that could get people back to work quickly. However, instead of talking about ways to re-employ people, the fixation in Washington is reducing the deficit.
We’ve heard these arguments again and again (especially from our own Dakinikat), but they bear repeating until the ignorant Villagers get the message.
Remember the “rape cops” in New York–the ones who were found not guilty recently? Well, one of them finally got a tiny bit of justice. A judge sentenced Kenneth Moreno to one year in prison for official misconduct. But then another judge freed him.
Disgraced ex-cop Kenneth Moreno didn’t stay in jail for long.
A couple hours after an angry Manhattan judge flat-out called Moreno a liar Monday and dispatched him to Rikers Island to being a year-long prison sentence, an appeals court judge sprung him.
Moreno, acquitted in May of raping a bombed fashion executive while his partner served as lookout, was released on $125,000 bail by Appeals Court Judge Nelson Roman so he can appeal his conviction on official misconduct charges.
It was a startling turnabout for the 43-year-old Moreno, who Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro ordered remanded.
I sure hope he ends up serving at least some jail time.
How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule spells out details of a six-part policy agenda to rebuild a sensible system of community-based and accountable financial services institutions.
1. Break up the mega-banks and implement tax and regulatory policies that favor community financial institutions, with a preference for those organized as cooperatives or as for-profits owned by nonprofit foundations.
2. Establish state-owned partnership banks in each of the 50 states, patterned after the Bank of North Dakota. These would serve as depositories for state financial assets to use in partnership with community financial institutions to fund local farms and businesses.
3. Restructure the Federal Reserve to function under strict standards of transparency and public scrutiny, with General Accounting Office audits and Congressional oversight.
4. Direct all new money created by the Federal Reserve to a Federal Recovery and Reconstruction Bank rather than the current practice of directing it as a subsidy to Wall Street banks. The FRRB would have a mandate to fund essential green infrastructure projects as designated by Congress.
5. Rewrite international trade and investment rules to support national ownership, economic self-reliance, and economic self-determination.
6. Implement appropriate regulatory and fiscal measures to secure the integrity of financial markets and the money/banking system.
Finally, in case you missed it, I want to call your attention to this article that commenter The Rock linked to last night: Hillary Told You So
At a New York political event last week, Republican and Democratic office-holders were all bemoaning President Obama’s handling of the debt-ceiling crisis when someone said, “Hillary would have been a better president.”
“Every single person nodded, including the Republicans,” reported one observer.
At a luncheon in the members’ dining room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday, a 64-year-old African-American from the Bronx was complaining about Obama’s ineffectiveness in dealing with the implacable hostility of congressional Republicans when an 80-year-old lawyer chimed in about the president’s unwillingness to stand up to his opponents. “I want to see blood on the floor,” she said grimly.
A 61-year-old white woman at the table nodded. “He never understood about the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy,’” she said.
Looking as if she were about to cry, an 83-year-old Obama supporter shook her head. “I’m so disappointed in him,” she said. “It’s true: Hillary is tougher.”
Go read the whole thing. That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about? Please share.
In 1991, Brett Easton Ellis published a brilliant satirical novel called American Psycho. The book is narrated by a young man, Patrick Bateman, a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Business School, who is now a fabulously wealthy Wall Street investment banker with a pricey apartment on Manhattan’s Upper west side. In other words, he’s a typical ’80s yuppie, benefiting from the “Reagan Revolution.”
Bateman is utterly materialistic and narcissistic, obsessed with things like getting a reservation at the most trendy, expensive restaurant of the moment and having a more perfectly designed and printed business card than any of the other yuppies he works with. He is engaged to another yuppie named Evelyn, but he doesn’t really have any feelings for her. She is just another status symbol for him to show off to his Wall Street colleagues.
As the book progresses, it becomes clear that Bateman is filled with narcissistic rage. He begins torturing and murdering people–a homeless man, his secretary, a business associate, and more. The crimes become successively more violent and horrifying. In conversations with coworkers, he tells anecdotes about serial killers and even confesses his own crimes, but no one takes him seriously. These other numb, detached young men simply assume Bateman is joking and laugh at his bizarre, inappropriate remarks.
Toward the end of the book, there are hints that Bateman’s descriptions of violent murders could be hallucinations or fantasies–or they might have really happened. The interpretation is left to the reader.
Ellis told an interviewer that he wrote American Psycho at a time in his life when he was living an isolated, consumerist lifestyle, somewhat like Bateman’s:
He did not come out of me sitting down and wanting to write a grand sweeping indictment of yuppie culture. It initiated because my own isolation and alienation at a point in my life. I was living like Patrick Bateman. I was slipping into a consumerist kind of void that was supposed to give me confidence and make me feel good about myself but just made me feel worse and worse and worse about myself. That is where the tension of “American Psycho” came from. It wasn’t that I was going to make up this serial killer on Wall Street. High concept. Fantastic. It came from a much more personal place…
American Psycho was not well received by reviewers–before or after publication. In fact, the original publisher, Simon & Schuster, cancelled their contract with Ellis based on “aesthetic differences.” The book was never released in hardcover, but was eventually published in a quality paperback edition by Vintage Books. After its publication, Ellis was on the receiving end of a flood of hate mail and even death threats.
Today, Ellis points out, the blood and gore that was so shocking in his 1991 book is all around us.
You see it in “Saw” movies or in “Hostel” or anywhere. The gore is mainstream. The stuff you see now wass unimaginable in 1991 and that’s one reason why it caught on. The availability of that kind of subject matter was limited. It was limited to maybe certain graphic novels or transgressive fiction or certain out-there horror films but it wasn’t part of the mainstream. the accessibility of it was unique. This is how we’re rolling now.
What I took from the novel when I first read it was that it was a perfect representation of the societal effects of Reaganism. In the ’80s, American culture became more materialistic, superficial, and value-free than ever before. Reaganism taught that “greed is good.” Becoming wealthy became the highest goal for many Americans. At the same time, anyone who was poor, sick, or disabled was reviled. Reagan made Social Darwinism fashionable again.
Under Reagan, we closed hospitals for the mentally ill and threw them into the streets to beg and to wander our cities muttering as they listened to the voices in their heads. The need for low-cost housing and maintaining public infrastructure was ridiculed, and poor families with children began to wander our city streets homeless, sleeping in their cars or in public parks. Meanwhile the rich continued to get richer, greedier, and more callous toward people who had less than they did.
What other result could we have expected than the America we live in today? We live in a country in which so many people are cold, callous, and calculating, seeking to amass as much money as possible at the expense of ordinary taxpayers. Investment bankers like Ellis’s Patrick Bateman are treated like gods, shielded from any negative effects of their own lying, cheating, and stealing.
Today the message I take from American Psycho is even more troubling to me than when I first read the novel years ago. I see Bateman’s serial murders as symbolic of the damage out-of-control capitalism is doing to us as a people. I look at our political leaders and see empty, cold, callous people with no core values except how to get the most money and power for themselves, and screw the rest of us. They are serial murderers too, only they manage to distance themselves from those they murder in their wars and through their pro-corporate, anti-human policies.
The America we live in today is much like the surreal world that Brett Easton Ellis created in American Psycho, except that we now have even more electronic gadgets, more stuff to do on the internet, more “reality” TV shows where we can ridicule fat people or people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or people trying to sing and dance. We have books and movies so violent that people become desensitized to depictions of blood and gore that seemed shocking in 1991. We are in decline in every way–our health, our incomes, our infrastructure, our rights, our values, our privacy. And the rich are richer and the poor are poorer now than at the end of the Ronald Reagan era.
I know I’m not the only one here who thinks we are being ruled by psychopaths–whether we’re talking about government officials or the heads of corporations. I really believe that, and I don’t mean it as hyperbole. I think the richest among us are the most likely to be detached and callous, because they don’t even have to see the poor and suffering people they are hurting with their greed. Their wealth insulates them from the daily struggles of the vast majority of Americans.
I think this is a subject that is worth talking about. Do you need to be at least a subclinical psychopath to be willing to do the kinds of immoral things government officials, corporate CEOs, and investment bankers do? Like lying in order to enter illegal wars so you can steal oil from other countries and murder hundreds of thousands of their citizens? Like sending young Americans to die for oil and a dying empire? Like taking jobs away from Americans and replacing them with slave labor in third world countries? Like throwing people out of their homes illegally? Like testing drugs on babies and children? Like polluting the water, air, and food with chemicals and refusing to clean up your messes?
I think you have to be a very sick person to do those things. And how is it different from what a serial killer does? First, government officials and corporate CEOs kill and maim and destroy people in far greater numbers and with more powerful weapons than a serial killer. Second, government officials and corporate CEOs don’t need to get close to the blood and death. They get other people to do their killing so they don’t have to see or hear their victims suffer.
So what exactly is a psychopath? Robert Hare, now emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia developed a checklist used by professionals to identify people with psychopathic tendencies.
People who are psychopathic prey ruthlessly on others using charm, deceit, violence or other methods that allow them to get with they want. The symptoms of psychopathy include: lack of a conscience or sense of guilt, lack of empathy, egocentricity, pathological lying, repeated violations of social norms, disregard for the law, shallow emotions, and a history of victimizing others.
Hare’s checklist (the PCL-R) is used in combination with a semi-structured clinical interview (an interview with set questions that allows the interviewer to follow up with his or her own questions when appropriate) and a detailed review of medical and psychiatric records. The following are the 20 traits for the evaluator to watch for:
•glib and superficial charm
•grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
•need for stimulation
•cunning and manipulativeness
•lack of remorse or guilt
•shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
•callousness and lack of empathy
•poor behavioral controls
•early behavior problems
•lack of realistic long-term goals
•failure to accept responsibility for own actions
•many short-term marital relationships
•revocation of conditional release
Not all of these characteristics would have to be met for someone to be diagnosed as a psychopath.
Each of the twenty items is given a score of 0, 1, or 2, based on how well it applies to the subject being tested. A prototypical psychopath would receive a maximum score of 40, while someone with absolutely no psychopathic traits or tendencies would receive a score of zero. A score of 30 or above qualifies a person for a diagnosis of psychopathy. People with no criminal backgrounds normally score around 5. Many non-psychopathic criminal offenders score around 22.
The checklist was originally designed for evaluating prison inmates, but not everyone with psychopathic characteristics becomes a criminal. I am arguing that many of them go into business or politics, am I’m far from the only one to suggest that. In fact Hare himself co-wrote a book called Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. Other books that make similar arguments are The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout, and The Psychopathy of Everyday Life: How Antisocial Personality Disorder Affects Us All, by Martin Kantor.
Just a bit about terminology. Psychopathy and Sociopathy are essential the same thing. Antisocial Personality Disorder is similar too, but could perhaps apply to people who wouldn’t score 30 on Hare’s checklist. I don’t know why the names of this disorder keep changing–it may just be because some psychiatrists see studying prison inmates as somewhat disreputable. Anyway, psychopathy is no longer listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (latest version: DSM IV-TR). Instead, it is subsumed under “antisocial personality disorder.” Here is the DSM-IV-TR criteria for APD:
A. There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
1. failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
2. deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
3. impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
4. irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
5. reckless disregard for safety of self or others
6. consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
7. lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
B. The individual is at least age 18 years.
C. There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
D. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.
That official characteristics of APD are much less extreme than the ones on Hare’s checklist. I think it’s fairly obvious that many of our political and business leaders could meet at least three of those criteria. But can anyone argue that someone like Bernie Madoff could not be classified as a full-blown psychopath according to Hare’s criteria? What about Alan Simpson? What about someone like John Ensign or Mark Sanford? I believe I could make an argument for many more of our political and business leaders being either clinical or subclinical psychopaths.
There is some evidence that psychopathy is at least partly genetic, although most criminal psychopaths who have been studied had very abusive childhoods. There is also evidence for differences in the brains of psychopaths compared to typical brains.
I’m going to get into this topic in more detail in a future post. But for now, what do you think? Would it be useful for us to stop denying reality and accept that the psychopaths are in charge of our society?