White House Diary of a Sociopath
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
As we've mentioned before, BuzzFlash gets a large number of review copies of books and publishing house preview catalogues, because we are a major independent
seller of progressive books. And from time to time, we come across a book description that strikes us as particularly relevant to current events and personalities.
As we read the marketing copy for The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us by Martha Stout, Ph.D. (Broadway Books, March, 2006), we were reminded of an essay last year that the author E.L. Doctorow wrote on Bush. It included the following sentence: "He
[Bush] cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn
But is there more to what ails Bush from a mental health stand point?
Maybe the forthcoming book, The Sociopath Next Door, can help explore that question. Here is how the Broadway Books (a Division of Random House) catalogue describes the content:
We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, clinical psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people have an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. They can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt.
One of their chief characteristics is a charisma that makes them more charming or interesting than other people, and tricky to identify. Sociopaths learn early on to show sham emotion, but underneath they are indifferent to others' suffering. They live to dominate and thrill to win.
We all almost certainly know at least one or more sociopaths already. To arm us against them, Dr. Stout teaches us to question authority, suspect flattery, and beware the pity play. Above all, she warns, when a sociopath is beckoning, do not join the game.
Ah yes, it appears, as Cindy Sheehan and countless others who have been on the receiving end of a "sympathize publicly and smear privately" Bush campaign know, this is a man who is truly disassociated from honest grief, pity or sympathy. He sees no relationship to his errant, narcissistic actions and their impact on people.
So we looked further into the issue and found out that the contemporary clinical term for being a sociopath is called APD (Antisocial Personality Disorder.) One can appear to be the most gregarious person in the world, but still be detached from sincere concern for the plight of others.
Just examine some of the essential characteristics of the APD/sociopath:
It is under the DSM-IV™ Associated Features and Disorders [scale] that individuals with APD are described as lacking empathy and being callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and suffering of others. They may have an inflated and arrogant self-appraisal, display a glib, superficial charm ... [and] The fondest APD image of self reflects unrealistic notions of superiority. When they encounter evidence that they are only human, they will attempt to restore self-esteem by exerting power. Individuals with APD have learned that they can, or should be able to, ignore the needs of others, do whatever feels compelling, and seduce or bully others to avoid adverse consequences.
Although not every possible characteristic of the APD/sociopath may apply to George W. Bush, some ring so true, you feel your head is clanging inside a bell:
These individuals are untroubled by guilt or loyalty and may develop a talent for pathological lying. Individuals with APD place their personal desires against those of others; they believe that they alone deserve every advantage and become adroit at feigning innocent victimization to absolve themselves from blame.
We might add that the emotional/interpersonal scale for assessing APD/sociopathology looks for indications of:
glibness and superficiality
egocentricity and grandiosity
lack of remorse or guilt, lack of empathy
deceitfulness and manipulativeness
It is always nothing more than speculation to be an armchair psychoanalyst, but sometimes you just got to go with the evidence at hand. Bush is a guy who is packaged as the "compassionate conservative," but acts like the mob boss who sends out his minions to stick shivs in the backs of anyone who crosses him, even if they are doing it in the service of America, of which he is supposed to be the leader.
Yes, there are sociopaths among us. One of them, it would appear, has weaseled his way, twice, into the presidency.
* * *
BuzzFlash After note: Of course, APD/sociopathic behavior "lacks subtlety, depth, and modulation. Individuals with severe APD appear to live in a presocialized emotional world; feelings are experienced in relation to self but not to others. Such individuals are unable to experience emotions such as gratitude, empathy, sympathy, affection, guilt, or mutual eroticism that depend on the perception of others as whole, real, and meaningful. Dominant emotions are anger, sensitivity to humiliation, envy, boredom, contempt, exhilaration, and pleasure through dominance."
I think we've brung' em on and found our man's true nature.
As for the rebellious side against the status quo that sometimes manifests itself in an APD/sociopathic personality, one need only remember that the mission of the Bush Administration, as one insider told the New York Times, is to mold reality to the will of the Bush/Cheney world view through the use of unrestrained power. They don't accept reality; they seek to alter it as they wish. Furthermore, Bush's contempt for working with the world community is an indication of sociopathic behavior on an international level. His disregard for the standard conventions, courtesies and rules of governance is also an indication of rebellion against existing institutions and organizational precedents.
Finally, his unrelenting willingness to descend into the gutter and embrace the treasonous and slanderous activity of Karl Rove is a clear indication that he is among the 4% of Americans who hide their sociopathic pathology behind a thin veneer of cordiality and amiability.
Just remember how he sneered and smirked every time he put someone to death in Texas. This guy gets high off of having the power to send people to die, and even higher off of using it.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS