Wednesday, December 29, 2004

It's All In Your Head, Silly [update] 

Okay, here goes. Examples of disturbing symptoms exhibited in public. There have been posts on so many of these. And this is only Bush. I haven’t touched the others. The list is far from complete, so dig in…

  1. Egocentricity—aircraft carrier display ("Mission accomplished", back when there were only 138 dead)

  2. Callousness; Impulsivity; Conscience defect—blowing up frogs (here)

  3. Exaggerated sexuality—codpiece

  4. Excessive boasting—claims about Air Force service (here)

  5. Risk taking—playing with chain saws, crashing bicycles (here)

  6. Inability to resist temptation—drunkard (here)

  7. Antagonistic, deprecating attitude toward the opposite sex—awww, honey

  8. Lack of interest in bonding with a mate—check with unsatisfied LauWa

  9. Glib and superficial charm—the kind of guy Joe Six Pack would have a beer with

  10. Grandiose sense of self-worth—repeat ad nauseam “war president”

  11. Need for stimulation—cocaine (Snort!)

  12. Pathological lying—oh, hell, where to start?

  13. Conning and manipulativeness—follows Rove’s script (back)

  14. Lack of remorse or guilt—Inerrant Boy, as Lambert aptly coins it (here)

  15. Shallow affect; Callousness and lack of empathy—call it collateral damage

  16. Parasitic lifestyle—well, he is a Bush, the haves and have mores are his base (here)

  17. Poor behavioral controls—easily angered with criticism (back)

  18. Promiscuous sexual behavior—the aborted maid story? Ewww! Don’t wanna think about it

  19. Early behavior problems—frogs again (here)

  20. Lack of realistic, long-term goals—iWaq (here), economy

  21. Impulsivity—turkey trip?

  22. Irresponsibility; Failure to accept responsibility for own actions—Inerrant Boy again (here)

And remember, a positive hit on a cluster of 5-7 of these symptoms warrants a diagnosis (see, e.g., here for the DSM criteria for sociopaths).

Catherine O’Sullivan over at a Tucson fishwrapper has a good terse take on this, too: Tucson Weekly : Opinion : Guest Commentary She starts with

The real problem with the idea of the president being a psychopath is that it generates the vexing question: What kind of nation re-elects a psychopath to the highest office in the land? The answer could be one or all of three things: a dumb one, a mean one or a thoroughly conned one.

and ends with

Maybe my friend's right. Anyone who could manipulate a tragedy like Sept. 11 into a mess like this must be a serious lunatic…Could be, could be. I've read up on the subject further and--according to the literature--egocentricity, deceit, shallow affect, manipulativeness, selfishness and lack of empathy, guilt or remorse are quite common in the realms of corporate America, the military establishment ... hell, even academia. The ability and willingness to ruthlessly exploit the fears and weaknesses of others so you can get what you want is not ultimately nor exclusively the domain of people who wind up in metal cages. Not even close.

This last bit is telling, because if, as some claim, Bush is merely a product of his milieu, then consider his corporate upbringing and who he surrounds himself with. Szasz and the Libertarians would argue that one person’s psychopathology is another person’s lifestyle, and to some extent I agree, but Bush’s own behavior on this front shows that he prefers profit to liberty. See Law Project for Psychiatric Rights for more, but remember this from it:

The Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) was developed with 1.7 million $ of initial financing from pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, provided indirectly through a connected Foundation, and subsequent direct cash funneled through subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutica. It was developed and implemented in the Lone Star State's hospitals, prisons, the Juvenile Justice system and the Foster Care system during George W. Bush's watch as governor. Bush used the "extended mental health care" scheme as a point in his 2000 presidential campaign. Before leaving for the White House, he recommended a 67 million $ spending increase to pay for additional medications for the Texas Prison and Mental Health Systems… TMAP, the Texas project, was also exported to other states, including Pennsylvania, where an investigation into what is called PENNMAP there, uncovered improper pharmaceutical pressures and financial enticements in connection with the program.

And I dug up this telling quote from a paper. You’ve probably seen it before:

Mark Crispin Miller, author of The Bush Dyslexicon and professor of media studies at New York University, who also sees the darker Bush, said in a Nov. 28 interview with the Toronto Star, ""Bush is not an imbecile. He's not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic personality. I think he's incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate sense of his own entitlement, and he's a very skilled manipulator. And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what a lot of people miss."

Miller said he did intend The Bush Dyslexicon to be a funny book, but that was before he read all the transcripts, which revealed, according to reporter Murray Whyte, "a disquieting truth about what lurks behind the cock-eyed leer of the leader of the free world. He's not a moron at all on that point, Miller and Prime Minister Jean Chretien agree."

"He has no trouble speaking off the cuff when he's speaking punitively, when he's talking about violence, when he's talking about revenge," Miller told Whyte. "When he struts and thumps his chest, his syntax and grammar are fine. It's only when he leaps into the wild blue yonder of compassion, or idealism, or altruism, that he makes these hilarious mistakes."

Yes, we all know people like this. But society usually puts some restraints on their behavior. That’s why we have corporate regulation, EEOC, etc. Now imagine a cabal in a position of what they think is ultimate power that actually likes this way of life—enjoys displaying these symptoms and intends to make them acceptable—and the only answers I can think of as to why he was reelected are: 1) fraud, 2) fear, 3) 51% of American society also shares these “symptoms” and sees no problem with sociopathy.

Peace, love and justice. Soon to be back by popular demand? See Xan's post below, and then go take a pill. It’s all in your head.

UPDATE I (Lambert) went through the list of Bush's troubling symptoms that RDF compiled, and added links to posts that give evidence for the symptoms.

Readers, some of the symptoms still don't have links; perhaps other links can be improved. Can you help?

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