Colbert King employs a rude term!

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2017

What is a sociopath:
As he starts today's column in the Washington Post, Colbert King employs a rude term.

He drops his bomb on Donald J. Trump. Could his (apparent) assessment be accurate?
KING (9/2/17): The list of dismal topics eligible for weekly reflection in a column is long: the Texas Gulf Coast catastrophe; our sociopath in the White House; their sociopath in Pyongyang; the debt ceiling ticking time bomb; Daniel Snyder’s overhyped, overpaid, underwhelming football team. Issues worth pondering seem endless.

However, I can’t help but focus my musings on an incident that took place in our nation’s capital
—one that was so degenerate and vulgar as to take the breath away.
Did King really mean to say that Donald J. Trump is a "sociopath?" Was that just a throw-away bomb, or was it meant as a real assessment?

Kim Jong-Un is a sociopath too, King seems to say. But with respect to Donald J. Trump, was the veteran Post columnist/editorial board member offering an actual assessment?

We can't answer that question. We can offer two award-winning thoughts:

First, the question strikes us as real. We fiery liberals have tended to diagnose Trump with narcissistic personality disorder, the same disorder we widely diagnosed in the previous Republican president.

That said, the leading authority on psychopathy offers this thought-provoking description of the syndrome to which King refers:
Psychopathy, sometimes considered synonymous with sociopathy, is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, egotistical traits. Different conceptions of psychopathy have been used throughout history. These conceptions are only partly overlapping and may sometimes be contradictory.

[...]

There are multiple conceptualizations of psychopathy, including Cleckleyan psychopathy (Hervey Cleckley's conception entailing bold, disinhibited behavior.and "feckless disregard") and criminal psychopathy (a conception entailing a meaner, more aggressive, disinhibited, with persistent and sometimes serious criminal behavior). The latter conceptualization is typically used as the modern clinical concept and assessed by the Psychopathy Checklist...

Yet another conceptualization, the triarchic model, suggests that other conceptualizations of psychopathy emphasize three observable characteristics to varying degrees. Analyses have been made with respect to the applicability of measurement tools such as the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL, PCL-R) and Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI) to this model.

Boldness. Low fear including stress-tolerance, toleration of unfamiliarity and danger, and high self-confidence and social assertiveness. The PCL-R measures this relatively poorly and mainly through Facet 1 of Factor 1. Similar to PPI Fearless dominance. May correspond to differences in the amygdala and other neurological systems associated with fear. Psychopaths tend to have reduced fear.

Disinhibition. Poor impulse control including problems with planning and foresight, lacking affect and urge control, demand for immediate gratification, and poor behavioral restraints. Similar to PCL-R Factor 2 and PPI Impulsive antisociality. May correspond to impairments in frontal lobe systems that are involved in such control.

Meanness. Lacking empathy and close attachments with others, defiance of authority. The PCL-R in general is related to this but in particular some elements in Factor 1. Similar to PPI but also includes elements of subscales in Impulsive antisociality.
Does any of that sound like Donald J. Trump? We'd have to say it does.

Very few journalists will be equipped to discuss such matters without recourse to expert guidance. This would be a very difficult journalistic discussion to undertake. That said, King has dropped this particular bomb on this very morning.

We offer one other thought:

As he continues his column today, King discusses an incident which occurred in D.C. last weekend. It involved some grossly antisocial behavior on the part of a person who has been charged with a crime and required to get a "mental health" assessment.

"Mental illness" is a difficult concept. That said, it's commonly understood that people who are "mentally ill" may not be responsible for their illness, or for the conduct which may ensue.

Physical illness subtracts from a person's potential. But so does "mental illness." Is our current president "mentally ill" in some dangerous way? If so, in the end, would his condition, however dangerous, actually be his "fault?"

King seems to judge the D.C. resident about whom he writes quite harshly, in moral terms. For ourselves, we'd recommend Edie Doyle's humane perspective from the great film, On the Waterfront.

How did Donald J. Trump get this way? Are we looking at nature or nurture? (We note that reference to the amygdala.) What might Donald J. Trump have been like if he had somehow managed to sidestep whatever condition may be involved in his unappealing outlook and behavior?

In award-winning fashion, we sometimes wonder. Do you?

49 comments:

  1. 1. Cleckley is out of date. There has been a lot of study of psychopathy since his work.

    2. You can have more than one personality disorder at a time, so a person can be both narcissistic and sociopathic.

    3. Current thinking is that psychopathy is innate and related to brain function or chemistry but behavior is influenced by upbringing.

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    1. It is also important to note that sociopathy/psychopathy, however much one may regard it as a “mental illness”, does not count toward legal “insanity” as in achieving a “not guilty by reason of insanity” verdict: for instance, those two clear examples of sociopathy, serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, were both found guilty on multiple counts (30 and 17) of murder; their sociopathy was not a defense.

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  2. Lol. Everyone is a psychiatrist. And of course every public persona we don't like is a psycho.

    Personally, I too feel that most of the politicians and business executives are psychos, but I certainly wouldn't publish my 'diagnoses' in a major newspaper.

    I suppose I could publish them in a personal blog, but that would mean dropping all pretenses at being a Very Serious Blogger. Troll, more like. And so, here we are, dear Bob.

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  3. "How did Donald J. Trump get this way?"

    By being American. The Donald is a quintessential American character. For as long as I remember - for 30 years at least - I've been hearing stories about him. Legends. Eccentric, outspoken billionaire, losing it all, then getting rich - even richer - again, becoming a TV star, and eventually the president - it doesn't get any more American than that. That's what your 'tribe' is up against. Good luck.

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    1. "The Donald is a quintessential American character."
      Racist, misogynist, xenophobic, etc.
      Yup, Trump sure does check all the American character boxes.

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  4. Is there a psychopath in the Kremlin? Vladimir Putin sent Mao Cheng Ji to troll here.

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    1. But Mao actually says interesting things and makes good points. Does that really count for nothing? I am reminded of an observation from an ancient essay, where it noted how much people value others who share their views, comparing that fact to the way cattle prefer to graze while all facing the same way along a hillside. Such cattle have nothing on most of the commenters on this site, when it comes to craving constant reinforcement and agreement. Give me someone I disagree with who, nonetheless, says interesting things any day.

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    2. Has anyone noticed that David in Cal is MIA since Mao got here?

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    3. "Has anyone noticed that David in Cal is MIA since Mao got here?"

      Mao is the poorly trained stand-in while D in C attends Koch Brothers Summer Camp.

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  5. Trolls tend to have the dark triad (Paulhus): narcissism, psychopathy, machiavellianism. So does Trump. It helps explain his twitter addiction.

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  6. Ooh la la: "President Trump has asked advisers to prepare to withdraw the U.S. from its free trade agreement with South Korea, and will likely begin the formal withdrawal process as early as next week, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing officials."

    TPP and TTIP gone, NAFTA is getting there, and now Korea. Stay the course, Comrade Trump, and if it keeps going the way it is, I predict 10 million new decent blue-collar jobs by the end of the first term, and Bob's 'tribe' collapsing into utter irrelevance... Discussing forever and ever amateur psychiatry, shoes, and stage movements...

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  7. Unknown, if Mao says interesting things or makes good points, that's good. If he cuts out the trolling bullshit, that's better.

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  8. What difference should it make whether he is technically crazy or just a very bad person that's likely to get a very large number of people killed and has already ruined a lot of lives?

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    1. Somerby doesn't understand anything about abnormal psychology, so he missed the point that there is a legal definition of insanity that defines responsibility under the law and a different medical/psychological definition of mental illness that has nothing to do with someone's behavior under law but relates to their ability to conform to the norms and expectations of society and live a functional life.

      If Trump is technically unable to perform the duties of his office, for whatever reason, he can be removed using the procedure for doing so. If he is a bad person who is breaking laws, he can be removed using a different procedure and he can be tried by the courts for his bad behavior.

      If Trump is mentally ill but functioning and not breaking any laws, he cannot be removed unless he decides to resign. It is neither against the law nor against the rules of our government to be mentally ill. If he were "crazy" (a meaningless negative term) in the sense of being legally insane, it would mean he was unable to conform his behavior to law, unable to determine the difference between right and wrong, and thus not legally responsible for his behavior. He could be hospitalized without his consent in such a case. If he were "crazy" but hadn't broken any laws, he could be hospitalized without his consent only if there were evidence that he might be a danger to himself or others, and only held against his will with a court's ongoing order.

      So, clearly it makes a big difference whether he is technically crazy or just a very bad person. I think being a very bad person is much worse than being crazy because a very bad person doesn't have much chance of behaving differently in the long run whereas being crazy says nothing about behavior -- a crazy person does not necessarily do crazy things or hurt other people.

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    2. The 25th Amendment (Section 4)'s criterion is simply, quote, “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” — which could be due to mental incompetence [as in the kind that renders one unable to stand trial], a long-term comatose condition or ‘persistent vegetative state’, or even a physical paralysis such that one cannot sign/veto laws, sign executive orders, execute nuclear strike orders if worst came to worst; and if Trump indeed turns out to have Alzheimer’s as his father did by this age, that would be sufficient reason. “Insanity” is nowhere required as grounds, so you are transplanting a different topic altogether into this one.

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  9. So King could have written about a natural disaster in Texas or about some other issue of national import or about another issue he considers just as important apparently - the Washington Redskins, or about the flooding in Bangladesh, but instead he decided to write about the horrific crime of - tossing a cup of urine.

    And he thinks Trump is crazy.

    Of course, it is the rarity of events like this which makes it so bodacious. Houston and Bangladesh as just like Katrina VII. We've seen this movie before. And the 1.7 homicides in DC this week are just business as usual. Nothing new to see there.

    And the perp allegedly went to King's high school, so that gives him some interest or connection. Yeah, okay, the son of one of my classmates killed his mother with a sword, attacked his sister who ran away to load a shotgun with her bloodied hands, attacked the foreign exchange student living with them before attacking the police who shot him.

    Probably never got a column from King. Also, supposedly Antifa protestors in Boston were throwing bottles of urine at the cops while the media hailed them as heroes. Did King write a column about that?

    Thank goodness I was able to read King's column without having the website tell me "obviously you love great journalism, so you need to subscribe before you can read this column."

    Damn free riders, using up all the bandwidth.

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  10. “First, the question strikes us as real. We fiery liberals have tended to diagnose Trump with narcissistic personality disorder, the same disorder we widely diagnosed in the previous Republican president.”

    Proof of that latter diagnosis would be the horrifying footage of George W. Bush’s Caligula-like laughing and dancing in front of the families of five murdered police officers at their memorial. And the entire plutocrat owned mass media and conservatives of all stripes found ways to ignore it or excuse the behavior of this sick war criminal, just as they always have. We can’t be allowed to see the depth of sociopathy of the class of plutocrats that rule over us, and that of minions who support them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEvT_Dw9Bpw

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    1. "Poor impulse control"..."impaired empathy and remorse", etc. It's all there in full view, so it had to be covered up or minimized.

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    2. Trump: I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her. She was married. — and I moved on her very heavily. —I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look. Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

      We see the same thing here. “Impulse control” appears non-existent. “No remorse” for the marriage and family he tried to destroy, or even his own. Yet white evangelical/ born-again “family values” loving Christian voters voted him by an 81-16 margin.

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  11. "For ourselves, we'd recommend Edie Doyle's humane perspective from the great film, On the Waterfront."

    This film seems to have made a big impression on Somerby. It is far from the best film on compassion or empathy or even dockworkers and thugs. Somerby should ask himself whether Edie reminds him of his mother and whether she is offering Brando the kind of understanding he wished his mother had offered him. He should ask himself whether he identifies with Brando and sees his own life in a tragic light. Could he have been someone, under better circumstances? What was missing in Boston or Stanford (Palo Alto)? Does this empathetic scene represent an idealized romantic relationship in which women understand and forgive all and did Somerby fail at finding a woman who would forgive his sins as completely as Edie, a woman who would encourage him to be his best self? Does he never wonder whether such women exist in real life or are mythical filmic creations, just as Malala probably has undisclosed failings and we know what MLK did wrong. Somerby urges us all to become Edie, but who does he really want to become more empathetic and forgiving? Who is failing him now (clue: it isn't us)?

    Anyone with the slightest bent toward psychology could ask these obvious questions. Somerby has the least insight of any blogger I've read and seems to have avoided all psychological thinking over his lifetime, or he wouldn't be so oblivious to the dynamics of his life and our world.

    He should be asking himself why Clinton and Maddow creep him out.

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  12. Maddow is creepy because she acts like a precocious child. Child-like acting adults are just creepy. Ex. Michael Jackson.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. So the legal definition of insanity, or of anything for that mather, is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the Republicans in Congress seem to have no limit on the tolerance afforded the President of their party. Nothing will push them to initiate impeachment proceedings, whether Trump has Cooties or pile of corpses in the Oval Office.

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    1. Impeachment requires high crimes and misdemeanors, so it is not entirely political.

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  15. Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, 2004

    LINK

    [QUOTE] [Dame Anita] Roddick [founder of The Body Shop cosmetics company] blames the "religion of maximising profits" for business' amorality, for forcing otherwise decent people to do indecent things: "Because it has to maximise its profits... everything is legitimate in the pursuit of that goal, everything ... So using child labour or sweatshop labor or despoiling the environment ... is legitimate in the maximising of profit. It's legitimate to fire fifteen thousand people to maximise profits, keep the communities just in such pain."

    The managers who do these things are not monsters, Roddick says. They may be kind and caring people, loving parents and friends. Yet, as philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre observed - and Barry lives - they compartmentalise their lives. They are allowed, often compelled, by the corporation's culture to disassociate themselves from their own values - the corporation, according to Roddick, "stops people from having a sense of empathy with the human condition"; it "separate[s] us from who we are ..." "The language of business is not the language of the soul or the language of humanity", she says. "It's a language of indifference; it's a language of separation, of secrecy, of hierarchy". It "is fashioning a schizophrenia in many of us".

    Psychology, as Roddick's last comment suggests, may provide a better account of business executives' dual moral lives than either law or economics. That is why I asked Dr Robert Hare, a psychologist and internationally renowned expert on psychopathy, for his views on the subject. He told me that many of the attitudes people adopt and the actions they execute when acting as corporate operatives can be characterised as psychopathic.

    You try "to destroy your competitors, or you want to beat them one way or another", said Hare, echoing Roddick and Barry, "and you're not particularly concerned with what happens to the general public as long as they're buying your product". Yet, despite the fact that executives must often manipulate and harm others in pursuit of their corporation's objectives, Hare insists they are not psychopaths. That is because they can function normally outside the corporation - "they go home, they have a warm and loving relationship with their families, and they love their children, they love their wife, and in fact their friends are friends rather than things to be used".

    Business people should therefore take some comfort from their ability to compartmentalise the contradictory moral demands of their corporate and noncorporate lives, for it is precisely this "schizophrenia", as Roddick calls it, that saves them from becoming psychopaths.

    The corporation itself may not so easily escape the psychopath diagnosis, however. Unlike the human beings who inhabit it, the corporation is singularly self-interested and unable to feel genuine concern for others in any context. Not surprisingly, then, when we asked Dr Hare to apply his diagnostic checklist of psychopathic traits to the corporation's institutional character, he found there was a close match.

    continued...

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    1. [QUOTE] The corporation is irresponsible, Dr Hare said, because "in an attempt to satisfy the corporate goal, everybody else is put at risk". Corporations try to "manipulate everything, including public opinion", and they are grandiose, always insisting "that we're number one, we're the best".

      A lack of empathy and asocial tendencies are also key characteristics of the corporation, says Hare - "their behaviour indicates they don't really concern themselves with their victims"; and corporations often refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions and are unable to feel remorse: "if [corporations] get caught [breaking the law], they pay big fines and they ... continue doing what they did before anyway. And in fact in many cases the fines and the penalties paid by the organisation are trivial compared to the profits that they rake in."

      Finally, according to Dr Hare, corporations relate to others superficially- their who goal is to present themselves to the public in a way that is appealing to the public [but] in fact may not be representative of what the organisation is really like". Human psychopaths are notorious for their ability to use charm as a mask to hide their dangerously self obsessed personalities.

      For corporations, social responsibility may play the same role. Through it they can present themselves as compassionate and concerned about others when, in fact, they lack the ability to care about anyone or anything but themselves. [END QUOTE]

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    2. I don't believe we should be treating corporations as if they were people, including in psychiatric diagnosis. It involves a kind of absolving of responsibility to do so, in my opinion. If people are behaving in psychopathic ways in their work environment, they are still people and their motivation is less important than their actions, when it comes to judging either legal liability or moral culpability, in my opinion.

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    3. Cmike, I would posit that corporations are the apex predators of capitalism. They’re the result of the natural evolution of capitalism, and the fact that they’re now legally recognized as distinct entities, with all of the rights of a person, I think, proves this point.

      When the entire culture in which humans exist is subsumed by this politico-economic model, it ceases to even be noticed. It becomes the natural order of human life. Go to any city or town in America, and you will find the homogenization of corporate order. Walmart, Taco Bell, McDonald’s and so forth, are all part the natural landscape.

      Few seem to notice that this model is completely unsustainable, because they have no clue as to the externalities inherent in the corporate, capitalist model. Hence, the insanity of capitalism is normalized. Most operate under the delusion that capitalism is the natural order of things. And the one bulwark against the insanity of capitalism we seem to have, collective bargaining or unions if you will, are naturally under attack by this system, because they’re part of the natural evolution of labor towards anarcho-syndicalism.

      And it’s important to mention, to deal with the ongoing project of this site, the national news media is likewise compromised by the capitalist model. Bob’s criticisms are important, but even they sometimes seem to only scratch the surface.

      It’s no puzzle that someone like Trump would end up controlling the executive branch. He and all of his appointees are completely immersed in the capitalist system. Their sole purpose is to grease the skids for the apex predators of capitalism. Dog (sic) help us all.

      Leroy

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    4. Leroy, my big complaint with Bob Somerby's analysis is he leaves the impression that he thinks if he were to explain to corporate journalists the error of their ways or, rather, explain what these errors are to the heads of the various corporate infotainment divisions, the American people, at large, would subsequently benefit from what would be a flood of vital, incisive, and, what for them, would be the new information which they, as voters, need to bring about the changes in public policy their enlightened selves would want.

      Somerby doesn't seem to understand that corporate journalists are delivering the precise messages that their employers want delivered, the only messages that the corporate class is going to employ people to deliver.

      LINK

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    5. Somerby also seems to imply that if journalists were hired from state schools instead of elite universities, and paid less at the top, they would be less likely to do their corporate masters' bidding. I haven't noticed that poorer students are any less interested in making money (and doing what is necessary to make it) than richer students. People with non-financial motives for entering journalism tend to go work for different kinds of publications.

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    6. Cmike, I’m not sure I agree with your critique of Bob’s analyses. He has frequently noted the role of corporate power to determine how news is disseminated. What seems to infuriate him is that people willingly bow to those demands. And he notes, with good reason, why they do it. It’s for the bux. As anon @ 6:49 states, real, truth seeking journalists work for different reasons than financial reward, though that always plays some role.

      Good link to Chomsky, thanks! He is one of the most important sages of our times in my view. I think it reinforces the importance of the role Bob has taken on all these years. He knows he can’t change the mainstream structure that provides we lumpen with “the facts,” but he rails on anyway. Quite simply, I enjoy his writing, as contentious as it may seem.

      Here’s a link you might enjoy, comrade. Didn’t agree with everything he believed (just as I have my disagreements with Bob), but what a brilliant mind.

      Link

      h/t to Raven for sharing the code to insert a link

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    7. Ah well, I didn't get it right. I inserted the hyperlink to the word "Link" but it didn't work as planned. Need to do some of my own research!

      Meanwhile, here's what I meant to post.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6aKFKIDbQw

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    8. Cmike, I found the full interview from which that Chomsky clip was culled. He does seem to make Bob's efforts rather small, but Chomsky is a giant. Keep on goin', Bob, is what I say. Every bit helps.

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    9. Leroy, I'm guessing you left out the quotation marks around the url. This is what you want it to look like:

      <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6aKFKIDbQw">LINK</a>

      If you were to copy and paste that you would end up with this:

      LINK

      Do you not have the "preview" feature available to you here because you are not logged in with a user name?

      You could use a site like this one LINK to test your coding before you post.

      As for the video, that's Hitchens in '95 before his loathing of religion turned him into a vicious imperialist.

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    10. Whoops, that big space between the "a" and the "href" inside the tag didn't show up in the preview. It still works but you only need one space between them.

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    11. CMike, not your error. You'll note that comments are double-justified, the lines stretched to meet the right margins as well as the left. That space after the "a" was the only space on the first line, so it got stretched to the max....

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    12. Leroy, where the "test.c" was, is where the URL goes... which is why above CMike suggested I should have put the word "url" in that spot instead.

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    13. Thanks Raven/Cmike. Had to come back, and now I'll bookmark it so I can explore the technicalities of posting here further. I do get the preview and tried the link, but at that point decided not to try it again 'til I had it figured out. I've never fiddled with HTML code, and Raven has given me a tool to work with.

      And you're right about Hitchens. Never could wrap my mind around his support of the invasion. But that being said, I enjoy his critiques of religion as well.

      Cheers,
      Leroy

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    14. Sure, and add somewhere amidst your text block this, which I had neglected:
      ĀĒĪŌŪāēīōū ĂĔĬŎŬăĕĭŏŭ
      (That's the long and the short of it!)

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    15. Thanks again Raven. Definitely going to add that, though hard to imagine where I'll use it. I don't write, or speak, Romanian ; )

      And I somehow became confused - it was Cmike that provided the testbed link for html coding, the tool I was referring to. Much appreciated!

      You and I might not always agree, comrades, but who cares? More fodder for the mind. And I feel like I have a couple of new friends.

      As always, Cheers!

      Leroy

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    16. Well, we’ve also discussed Chinese (Mandarin) Pinyin tone-marked words, which use just such characters as in that last batch, e.g.: māo [1st/high], máo [2nd/rising], mǎo [3rd/falling-then-rising], mào [4th/falling], or mao [neutral].

      In plain English, these characters can also help distinguish between heteronyms such as băss [fish] vs. bāss [e.g. drum/guitar/voice], or “Pŏlish the Pōlish furniture.”

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    17. Aw man, don't go all dictionary on me. But you reminded me of something. Gallagher had a take on English. My brother turned me on to it. Even mentions calligraphy at the start. There are arguments to be made (Japanese being dumber than English), but it's comedy.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mfz3kFNVopk

      I know, I know, haven't learned the html thing yet, but I have a whole weekend ahead of me.

      It's Friday, so Cheers, and I mean it this time. : )

      Leroy

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    18. It’s a very funny video. Have a great weekend.

      Delete
  16. Hey Bob, look what I saw:
    "On August 25th, Gallup headlined “Republicans’, Democrats’ Views of Media Accuracy Diverge”, and reported that ever since America’s newsmedia in 2003 tried to postpone and suppress the findings that there had been no WMD (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq after 1998, Republicans’ trust in America’s newsmedia plunged from 35% in 2003 down to 14% today, but Democrats’ trust in America’s newsmedia actually increased from 42% in 2003 to 62% today — 14 years after the press’s deceit of the U.S. public, about that matter."

    Ain't your 'tribe' a bunch of morons? Yes, but now the good news (I think?): the other 'tribe' probably isn't any better. Read the whole thing:
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/09/gallup-republicans-trust-newsmedia-plunged-2003.html

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    1. better trolling please

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    2. That is better trolling. He stopped the Confederate bullshit.

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