THE SORROW, THE PITY: We've never heard voices in our head!


Punishment versus pity:
We're going to start today with a pair of high-powered confessions:

We've never heard voices in our head. Also, we feel sorry for people who do.

It's hard to feel sorry for Donald J. Trump, so ruined a specimen has he long been. That said, we remember the ways our highest elites fed off his outwardly broken soul for all those long, soulless years.

Was sex with The Donald the best sex you ever had? So these broken-souled losers were willing to ask, on network TV no less. In such ways, they announced the emptiness of their own souls while lining their pockets with cash.

That was long the standard behavior of our exalted elites. It's hard to feel sorry for Donald J. Trump, but as part of a third confession, we'll admit again what we've said before:

We sometimes think of Bob Dylan's endorsement of pity when we observe the lost, ruined way this dangerous, disordered man plays:
I pity the poor immigrant
Who wishes he would've stayed home
Who uses all his power to do evil
But in the end is always left so alone
That man whom with his fingers cheats
Who lies with every breath

Who passionately hates his life
And likewise fears his death


Who eats but is not satisfied
Who hears but does not see
Who falls in love with wealth itself
And turns his back on me.
The song was published in 1968. We offer this assumption:

Dylan wasn't thinking of a literal "immigrant," a person who chooses, or is forced, to leave his homeland behind.

He was thinking of a figurative "immigrant"—a person who, through whatever procedure or means, has wandered away from human feeling, has left his soul behind.

Is Donald J. Trump a "sociopath?" (In theory, quite a few people are.)

In the parlance which has surfaced, is he in the grip of "antisocial personality disorder?" Here's how that disorder is characterized by the leading authority on the syndrome:
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD or APD) is a personality disorder characterized by a long term pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. A low moral sense or conscience is often apparent, as well as a history of crime, legal problems, or impulsive and aggressive behavior.

Antisocial personality disorder is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Dissocial personality disorder (DPD), a similar or equivalent concept, is defined in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), which includes antisocial personality disorder in the diagnosis. Both manuals provide similar criteria for diagnosing the disorder. Both have also stated that their diagnoses have been referred to, or include what is referred to, as psychopathy or sociopathy, but distinctions have been made between the conceptualizations of antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy, with many researchers arguing that psychopathy is a disorder that overlaps with, but is distinguishable from, ASPD.
Is Donald J. Trump in the grip of that syndrome? If so, should that be seen as "his fault?"

Might this situation have stemmed from some organic cause—from something present at birth? Might the situation have occurred because of the way he was raised?

We submit those basic questions in the face of general disinterest. But beyond that:

If a young man starts hearing voices in his head, is that the fault or the doing of the young person in question? Should we regard such a situation as a manifestation of illness?

Questions like these aren't being discussed at the present time. With respect to Donald J. Trump, the mainstream press corps has decided, as a group, that questions of possible mental illness mustn't be discussed.

With respect to our ongoing parade of mass shooters, pundits have quickly fallen in line behind fuzzy variants of the implausible claim that mental illness plays no role in such gruesome events. We'll show you what Maddow said last night once the transcript appears.

Should we "pity the poor immigrant" when he behaves in the ways Dylan described? Our species rarely takes that approach. We're more strongly wired for punishment, anger and blame—and also, for group recitation.

Over the course of the past year, the recitation went like this: Mueller Mueller Mueller Mueller impeachment impeachment impeachment. We were pleasured that way every night.

Now our pundit corps had moved on, to racist racist racist. That's pretty much as far as the thinking goes.

For ourselves, we're disinclined to think that that's the best way to go. We remember the other lyrics we have occasionally cited:
It was all very painless
When you went out to receive
All that false instruction
Which we never could believe

And now the heart is filled with gold
As if it was a purse

But oh, what kind of love is this
Which goes from bad to worse?
One of our hopefuls is running on love, though he also likes to say racist.

For better or worse, our species is wired to break into tribes and to start reciting. All stories must be simplified—novelized, improved, dumbed down—when a tribe starts to repeat.

Beyond that, we're wired for accusation and blame much more than for sorrow and pity. Gene Brabender put it best many long years ago:

"Where I come from, we just talk for a little while. After that, we start to hit."

Brabender was a big rawboned right-hander
—and, as quoted in Ball Four, an anthropological giant. He died at the age of 55, apparently of natural causes.

We've been thinking of [Name Withheld]: [Name Withheld] lived two houses down from us when we were a freshman, then a sophomore, in high school.

He was one year ahead of us in school; we didn't know him well. One day, our mother told us that his mother had asked her if we would be willing to be his friend.

He was a perfectly decent kid, but he apparently pretty much kept to himself. Our mother told us that his parents were worried about his behavior and felt that he needed some friends.

You really can't ask a sophomore in high school to serve as someone's psychiatrist. Beyond that, our mother didn't have the tools to insist that we try to help.

As far as we know, Name Withheld wasn't inclined to violence against other people—but one day, he took his own life. We don't think it was publicly mentioned at school. We don't know if other kids even knew.

Would anyone have been able to help this quiet, outwardly gentle kid? Name Withheld didn't grow up in the era of mass shootings. Today, though, our troubled kids do.

That includes the kids who hear voices, the ones who aren't mentally ill.


  1. Wikipedia is not the leading authority on anti-social personality disorder. Then Somerby asks whether Trump is in the grip of that disorder after posting a quote that argues about whether socipathy and psychopathy are the same thing or not. Which disorder is Somerby referring to? Did Somerby even read his excerpt?

  2. Dylan uses "immigrant" synonymously with evil, as a metaphor for someone who has lost his way. This is a deeply unfair and negative image because most immigrants come to another country on purpose, with highly positive goals of making a better life for themselves and their families. Somerby never blinks at whether this is an apt metaphor or whether it reflects a bit of anti-immigrant nativism on Dylan's part. Coming from MN, he is not above holding some ugly sentiments and being a famous singer-songwriter doesn't absolve him from saying ugly things, in this case tarring immigrants by equating them with sociopaths. What is a metaphor if it is not drawing a similarity between two entities?

    1. So now Dylan is a racist. Ya'll have completely lost it! It's sad.

      Maybe you're joking in this and your other insane posts. That would the most sense.

    2. Dylan sounds like a xenophobe.

  3. "Is Donald J. Trump a "sociopath?""

    Is Donald J. Trump, as a president, better than any zombie-cult alternative?

    A great economy, no wars: yes, most definitely he is.

    Now, if being a better president than any zombie-cult alternative requires being perceived by Bob Somerby a suspected sociopath -- that's a sad situation.

    Sad commentary indeed, but on whom, on what? On Bob Somerby? On the political system? On the power of the deep state?

    Tsk. Well, I'm not sure. We report - you decide.

    1. No so great an economy lately. I guess Mao has no stock market investments.

    2. Trump has had no positive impact, as the economy is following long term trends that pre-date Trump, additionally he has no economic policy.

  4. If a young man hears voices in his head, the voices are not necessarily his fault, but (1) failure to seek help is his fault, (2) deliberately plotting and executing a plan to kill numerous people is his fault, (3) failure to comply with medical care, such as not taking meds is his fault, especially when it leads to worsening of symptoms, (4) holding white supremacist views, seeking out association with terrorists and white supremacists, seeking out info and reading about and idolizing perpetrators of past atrocities is his fault. None of these additional beliefs and actions is inherent to mental illness, nor do the vast majority of people who hear voices do anything like this particular shooter.

    You do not forgive deliberate actions just because a person has an ancillary problem, such as mental illness, poverty, neglectful parents, physical disability, or any of a number of unfortunate conditions co-occurring with the voices.

    Trump is responsible for what he has done, for all that he has become. His parents, by all accounts, tried to fix him by sending him to military school and providing other interventions, but it didn't work. Trump sought that press coverage, including stories about women he was with. The press didn't seek him out or stigmatize him on its own initiative. Trump's narcissism combined with his business activities made him a focus of press attention. I don't feel sorry for Trump and neither should Somerby, or anyone else. Our country has many victims, but Trump is not one of them.

    Somerby, you should be ashamed of trying to portray Trump as a sympathetic character by comparing him to a mass shooter who hears voices.

    1. I would not say his parents tried to fix him, his Dad found him to be deplorable and unbearable and shipped him off, out of sight, out of mind - we are now living with the consequence of a parent abandoning a child.

    2. Yet Trump worked for his father after college. His father continued to give him gifts each year.

  5. Next up, a numerologist decides which "disorder" Trump suffers from.

  6. “With respect to our ongoing parade of mass shooters, pundits have quickly fallen in line behind fuzzy variants of the implausible claim that mental illness plays no role in such gruesome events.”

    Aside from the fact that pundits aren’t actually denying the possibility that mental illness may play a role, Somerby apparently wants pundits to debate what the right wing wants to debate, mental illness, rather than the reason that mass shooters are able to kill so effectively: guns. Every country has mental illness, but almost no gun massacres.

    If you allow the mainstream media to follow conservatives down their various rabbit holes, then you magically end up not debating gun laws. Somerby, the media critic, ought to recognize this all-too familiar pattern that has, at least up until now, prevailed in the so-called mainstream media. It is one of the ways conservative goals and talking points become so powerful and pervasive.

  7. Why doesn’t Somerby do a post chiding pundits for not taking up the other “reasons” conservatives are trotting out for these shootings, such as “video games”, “lack of God”, “lack of male role models”, “the gays”...etc etc. Anything can be a “reason” for shootings, right? Why not divert the discussion a bit more to a debate about these things? Anything to avoid the real problem.

  8. “We've never heard voices in our head.”

    This from a man who claims to live on a sprawling campus and to have a team of analysts working for him, and who refers to himself as “we.”

  9. Three acquaintances of mine have committed suicide. Although I had no responsibility for any of them, I continue to think about what I might have done to help them. I wonder if Bob Somerby has similar feelings about his neighbor.

    Bob wrote: "Name Withheld didn't grow up in the era of mass shootings. Today, though, our troubled kids do." I suspect that's a key. When someone reaches the end of his tether, mass shooting is in the air. I think an effective way to reduce mass shootings would be to give them less publicity.

    1. It’s the guns, David.

    2. No doubt. But, guns were always there in the past, and there weren't so many mass shootings.

    3. Bull. The firepower available today to the average Joe dwarfs anything in history, it is far more accessible and lethal than ever, and apparently mentally ill people purchase them with great ease, thanks to Trump ( No other country experiences this level of shootings, despite having mental illness, video games, news reports, etc.

    4. There is one situation where a depressed person kills those close to them (kids, spouse). It is when the depressed person feels they must die but worries about who will take care of dependents after his death. Better to kill them than to abandon them, he reasons.

      Other killings are the result of anger, not depression. Shooters kill masses of strangers because they have diffuse anger. Shooter kill their estranged spouses, exes, former bosses or coworkers out of a specific, focused anger over some wrong.

      Mass killers with ideologies are angry about perceived wrongs. Some also believe they will become famous, achieve religious goals, cause a focus on some problem. These people have instrumental goals for their "sacrifice." Dylan Roof thought he would start a race war with his actions. Today's white supremacists believe they will start an uprising with their shootings.

      Given the prominence being given to white supremacist views, the increase in shootings, the increase in mainstream people supporting such views, up to and including the President, it is hard to say the shootings aren't achieving their goal. This has nothing to do with mental illness. These guys think they are fighting a war and they believe they will be covered in glory, at least by other believers in their cause -- and that is what is happening. These guys are heroes on certain websites.

      Even the souls who look pathetic to most people, the ones who are angry because women don't like them, are heroes to the incels on the websites they frequent. Their names are known there and they have achieved heroic status after being considered losers in life.

    5. @1:08 Are you aware that the murder rate has come down steadily, while the number of guns has gone up steadily?

    6. David, the discussion was about mass shootings, not overall murder rate.

    7. Good post, 1:46. That diffuse anger you speak of certainly, and mainly, seems to play a part. But I wonder about someone like Dylan Roof, and many others.

      “These guys think they are fighting a war and they believe they will be covered in glory, at least by other believers in their cause.”

      Yes, they do think they are fighting a war. Bob alluded to that in his last sentence, “That includes the kids who hear voices, the ones who aren't mentally ill.” While that statement is ambiguous, what I took from it was the “other voices” which become internalized by pathetic fucks like Dylan Roof come from the MSM. Clearly, that’s not always the case, and probably not to the extent Bob imagines it.

      BTW, what do you think Roof’s family history might reveal? Might it point to a history of abuse and/or hateful teachings, leading him to latch on to anger-driven invective?

      I suppose that’s really the point of the current situation. You don’t have to be crazy to vote for Trump. You just need to perceive injustice, and latch on to the leader who most appeals to you. In Trump’s case, he has made anti-immigration rhetoric his central platform.

      Such is the burden of living in the freest country on Earth, which whilst exhorting that freedom, spits on a good public education, which should include the humanities, civics, music, art as well as the three R’s, all but the latter of which have been gutted.

      Mix that with 30 billion guns in the hands of free citizens, a fucking looney-tunes SCOTUS, and you see the results.


    8. @7:03 - we can make deductions about the impact of more guns from overall shootings. The fact that the number of overall murders declined as the number of guns increased is a piece of evidence suggesting that the horrific rise in mass shootings may have had a cause other than the increase in the number of guns.

    9. BTW, this is a pretty good take on fascism.



    10. August 2: Donald Trump Day.

    11. Mass murder can be committed in a number of ways, not just with guns.

      4 dead, 2 wounded in Southern California stabbings

    12. "August 2: Donald Trump Day."

      For you dembots every day is Orange-Man-Bad Day.

  10. Is Bob Somerby a pseudonym for Frank Luntz?

  11. "Would anyone have been able to help this quiet, outwardly gentle kid? Name Withheld didn't grow up in the era of mass shootings. Today, though, our troubled kids do."

    Here Somerby blithely suggests that anyone suicidal is a potential mass shooter. He maligns introverts, those who tend to be quiet people with few friends, as if they are all troubled potentially violent loners. Our society already disadvantages introverts (about 25% of our population) but Somerby lumps them together with shooters, implies that kids with friends never commit suicide.

    This is an example of how ignorance plays out in these discussions. Being quiet doesn't make one "troubled." Being quiet or having few friends doesn't make someone mentally ill. Being depressed has nothing to do with social awkwardness.

    Kids aren't supposed to be psychologists, counselors or psychiatrists. Those parents should have been directed toward actual help in their community. Most cities have family services. Schools have counselors. Hospitals have psychiatrists and phone books have private practitioners who could help. Today we have suicide help lines for the "troubled."

    But suicide is not necessarily the motive of these shooters. Anger motivates them. Their death is an ending to their rampage, not the goal. The shootings where a loved one is the target, or a workplace, tend to be committed by depressed men who want to end their lives. But mass shootings are different.

    If Somerby cared about this issue, he might do some reading. He didn't care about that kid in his neighborhood years ago and he doesn't care about the shootings today. Because he wants to use them to exonerate Trump -- he has no interest in decreasing the deaths of innocents, his motives are political.

    Today he displays the lack of empathy that typifies members of The Other tribe. If he ever was a liberal, he isn't one today, because liberals care about others. Somerby plainly doesn't.

  12. Bob, I read your post on Monday (your first day back from vacation in isolated Maine). In that post you never said one word about the murder of people in El Paso by a Trump supporter. In comments I told you about the killings you missed while you were out of touch with the rest of the world.
    On Tuesday, after you caught up with the news, you wrote (I paraphrase) that:
    Trump is nuts.
    The killer is nuts.
    Today you have said essentially the same thing.
    What struck me first is the sympathy you showed both days for Trump and the murderer.
    What really struck me though is that in both of your posts you did not show one iota of sorrow for the dead or condolence for their families.

    If you are a "liberal" then I am the Mighty Khan.


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