SOCIOPATH-IN-CHIEF?: Try to stop picturing Son of Sam!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2020

Prevalence and symptoms:
On Thursday, February 27, Lawrence O'Donnell performed a public service.

The cable news host was breaking the rules! At the end of his hour-long program, he introduced a repeat guest:
O'DONNELL (2/27/20): The coronavirus crisis is going to get worse for Donald Trump. Even though the president will probably stay physically healthy throughout the crisis, his mental health could decline each day of the crisis.

Some mental health professionals, like our next guest, believe that the president's mental health has been, and will continue to be, in decline. The incompetence of Donald Trump and his administration is on dramatic and dangerous display every day now.

[...]

Joining us now is Dr. Lance Dodes, the former assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Dodes is a contributor to the best-selling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”
The book to which O'Donnell referred had been assembled by Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee.

During 2017, Lee attempted to trigger a discussion of President Trump's mental health. In January 2018, a New York Times editorial put an end to this effort.

All across the upper-end press, obedient members of the guild agreed to avoid any such debate or discussion. In doing so, they were following a time-honored rule off the cliff and onto the rocks below.

The journalistic rule in question is the so-called Goldwater Rule. Generally speaking, it holds that psychological and psychiatric assessments should be kept out of political journalism.

The Goldwater Rule is an excellent rule—until you find yourself with a president who seems to be mentally ill. In typical fashion, the New York Times stuck its head in the sand with its influential editorial.

Two years later, Dr. Dodes took a different approach. O'Donnell's interview started like this:
O'DONNELL: Dr. Dodes, what do you think you were watching last night when the president participated in that press conference, where we went from a president who seems to know nothing about what's going on—worried about the stock market—to public health experts explaining things that the president then immediately contradicted?

DODES: Well, I think that what was on display is what we really ought to have already known. As you pointed out, Lawrence, this man is about himself. He really is not about the country. He's not about public health.

Although he has already severely damaged the country by being a psychopath or sociopath, in many ways he's damaged democracy. I think people's lives will be lost now. Individual lives will be lost because of the way he's mishandling the coronavirus issue.

So you know, as you pointed out, he lies. He has contradicted his own health officials. And in a very dangerous move, he's apparently muzzled them so that they now can't speak out...
The conversation went on from there. You can peruse the full transcript here.

The misstatements and muzzling to which Dodes referred have of course continued, and have probably worsened. We ask you to focus on one point only—Dr. Dodes' striking use of the word "sociopath."

Is it possible that Donald J. Trump is a "sociopath?" Plainly, that's what Dodes said—and Dodes is a high-ranking psychiatric specialist. (At this site, we rarely refer to anyone as an "expert.")

Needless to say, the fact that Dr. Dodes said it doesn't make it true. But as the president's public behavior continues to deteriorate, it seems to us that the press corps should be exploring the president's possible mental health problems rather than giving him several free hours, every night, to misinform the public and to slime all comers.

Is it possible that Donald J. Trump could possibly be a "sociopath?" Let's think about that for a while:

As far as we know, the term "sociopath" isn't a formal psychiatric diagnosis. That said, the term is sometimes informally used by specialists and professionals, as was the case on O'Donnell's program that night.

It's widely said that the colloquial term corresponds to a specific diagnosis. This is the way the matter is explained by Psychology Today:
What Is a Sociopath?

Sociopathy is an informal term that refers to a pattern of antisocial behaviors and attitudes
, including manipulation and deceit, that often arises from environmental factors. Sociopaths may or may not be criminals.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), sociopathy is most closely represented by Antisocial Personality Disorder. It is important to note that sociopathy is not a formal diagnosis, but is often invoked in discussing people on the antisocial spectrum, who generally display callous behavior with little regard for others.

Sociopaths are often difficult to identify until one is very familiar with their behavior. Sociopaths are often manipulative, lie frequently, lack empathy, and have a weak conscience that allows them to act recklessly or aggressively, even when they know their behavior is wrong.
So says Psychology Today, at least in that one post. In the absence of a wider discussion within the cowering upper-end "press corps," we'll have to rely on such presentations in what we show you today.

As we start, we'll recommend one key statement from that brief synopsis: "Sociopaths may or may not be criminals." Here's why we point to that:

Informally, laypersons may associate the term "sociopath" with the most extreme, most unusual types of criminal conduct. We may think of Son of Sam; we may conjure Jack the Ripper.

As far as we know, the psychiatric disorder in question is far more prevalent than that. In another post at Psychology Today, some basic statistics are provided:
In 1994, the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published (the DSM-IV)... Regarding sociopaths (the DSM uses the equivalent term Antisocial Personality Disorder or ASPD), it said that overall prevalence “in community samples is about 3% in males and 1% in females.”

Between 2001 and 2005, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the largest study ever done regarding the prevalence of personality disorders in the United States.
Structured interviews were done with approximately 35,000 people who were randomly selected to be representative of the U.S. adult population in a variety of ways including age, income, gender and region. This study found that 6.2% of the general population would meet the criteria for [Narcissistic Personality Disorder] and 3.7% would meet the criteria for ASPD (5.5% male and 1.9% female).
If we assume that those assessments are generally accurate, so-called sociopaths really aren't one in a million, like a Son of Sam. Those studies produced assessments which comport with something we were told long ago:

Something like 3-6 percent of men could be so diagnosed. Very few of these people are Son of Sam, but they may be profoundly disordered.

Is it possible that Donald J. Trump is a "sociopath?" Could that explain the increasingly ridiculous and ugly behavior our cable networks are choosing to broadcast for two hours every night?

Could our commander be disordered in that particular way? Below, we show you ten of the Mayo Clinic's list of "signs and symptoms" for the technical disorder in question:
Symptoms

Antisocial personality disorder signs and symptoms may include:

1) Disregard for right and wrong
2) Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
3) Being callous, cynical and disrespectful of others
4) Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure
5) Arrogance, a sense of superiority and being extremely opinionated
6) Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
7) Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
8) Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead
9) Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence
10) Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
Persistent lying or deceit? Callous disrespect for others? Arrogance, a sense of superiority, being extremely opinionated? Lack of empathy for others?

Do those characteristics sound like anyone you may have seen in the public square?

When we watched the president's performance at last Saturday's televised marathon, we came away thinking that we had watched a rolling check-list of those symptoms and signs.

We thought we'd watched a rolling self-diagnosis. We googled the Mayo Clinic's site once again. Check, check, check, we said.

("Recurring problems with the law?" Despite the financial power he has long wielded, our president has routinely been in legal trouble on the civil side. His business life has been an extended series of cons and scams. So it goes with the many diagnosable "sociopaths" who aren't Son of Sam.)

When he introduced Dr. Dodes, O'Donnell said this: "Some mental health professionals, like our next guest, believe that the president's mental health...will continue to be in decline."

The president's absurd behavior at yesterday's "briefing" suggested that this prediction may have been correct. For ourselves, we've been telling you since last year that we may not even have a presidential election this fall.

In part, we based that warning on the exclusive nocturnal briefings we receive from future experts. But after watching the lunacy from Wisconsin this week, are you still unable to imagine what may lie ahead?

In Monday's New York Times, Jennifer Senior joined O'Donnell is breaking away from the herd. She said we need to start discussing the president's mental health.

She suggested a second possible diagnosis—Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But Jennifer Senior got it right when she made that general recommendation, although this too must be said:

There's little chance that our upper-end press corps would be able to execute such a challenge. Even if the spirit was willing, the skill level would be very weak.

This is the state of American mental hygiene in this, the fourth year of President Trump. So it goes at the current state of the evolution of "the rational animal."

We think that conversations should proceed, but it almost surely won't. And if that discussion did proceed, what happened wouldn't be pretty.

Tomorrow: Where do psychiatric disorders come from?

Additional disclosure: In our view, it will fall to today's 9-year-old kids to rebuild our intellectual culture. It's said that the Irish saved civilization. It seems to us that our 9-year-old children will have to follow suit.

In afternoon posts like these, we've been starting to describe one way they might start.

We're pursuing this subject because it's interesting—because it isn't stupendously dumb.

64 comments:

  1. "Plainly, that's what Dodes said—and Dodes is a high-ranking psychiatric specialist. (At this site, we rarely refer to anyone as an "expert.")"

    Dodes is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School. That title means he is a beginner, and untenured. It is not a high rank, although Harvard is a good medical school.

    Somerby doesn't understand how to evaluate qualifications in the medical field.

    For perspective, John E. Mack was a full professor at Harvard Medical School. He believed in alien abduction, because the stories recounted by his patients were so believable, he said. To Harvard's credit, they eventually investigated him.

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  2. I looked on the Mayo Clinic website and, by golly, I found symptoms of a disorder there that seemed to describe Wisconsin Republican speaker of the house Robin Vos:

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/wisconsin-speaker-robin-vos-2020-elections

    My (albeit non-expert) diagnosis is that he is a sociopath, and his behavior may not be his “fault.”

    Now, assuming one must first get elected by the people and then chosen by fellow House members as speaker, that’s a lotta people who seem to be ok with this guy’s sociopathic behavior.

    I am beginning to notice a pattern here...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Son of Sam was diagnosed at the time as paranoid schizophrenic, not antisocial PD or sociopath or psychopath.

    You do not diagnose anyone using a checklist from a magazine, not even Psychology Today (which is a popular magazine for non-professionals).

    Every election cycle, there are a few mentally ill people who decide to run for president. They typically get very few votes and are invisible except when someone considers them a fun distraction from the actual campaign. No one votes for them because they are not considered viable candidates. I agree with others here who have said that we do not need a diagnosis of Trump -- we need a diagnosis of the Republicans who voted for him.

    Somerby's informal diagnosis is asshole. Of course he doesn't refer to anyone as expert, because if he recognized the importance of expertise, he would have to stop this misuse of DSM diagnostic criteria and recognize that putting a psychiatric label on someone is just a form of name-calling.

    Why is Somerby unable to call out Trump for the actual things he does?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Corby, I think you’ve made pronouncements about Somerby having issues with women, personal failure, and paranoia, in general.

      No, you haven’t used psychiatric diagnoses, but this sort of analysis is far closer to saying that someone has a psychiatric disorder than calling him an “asshole”.

      It’s interesting that since Somerby is using the DSM in making the argument that Trump is unfit for office, I’m less inclined to criticize your penchant for mind shrinking him.

      It might be just one more avenue of kvetching
      about Somerby in your case, but I believe in karma too.

      Delete
  4. Dr. Lance Dodes is no longer at Harvard. He is at the New Center for Psychoanalysis (Los Angeles), Emeritus (having retired). While at Harvard and elsewhere, his specialization was in substance abuse and addiction. That has nothing to do with diagnosing political sociopaths. He perhaps feel that he can speak out now because he is at the end of his career and has no job to lose. Notice how the only reference by Somerby is to Harvard, as if the mere mention of that place is enough to confer authority, no matter what one's position there was. Somerby should know better.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Numbers numbers.

    “6.2% of the general population would meet the criteria for [Narcissistic Personality Disorder]”

    What percentage of the Republican Party would meet the criteria?

    “Trump’s approval rating, by contrast, has remained steady throughout his presidency and has ranged between 40% and 44% since the onset of the U.S. coronavirus crisis in early March, buoyed by the support of 85% of Republicans, according to the latest April 6-7 Reuters/Ipsos poll.”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-trump-politics-ins-idUSKBN21Q19Q

    “85% of Republicans.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What % of actors, singers and other performers would meet the criteria? Is it necessarily a bad thing or does it depend on context? What about all those celebrities and influencers (as Trump once was)? Why do they have the power to influence if they rate high on some psychiatric checklist?

      There is no absolute definition of what constitutes mental health. The disorders in the DSM use a definition based on norms and dysfunction. Placing in the tails of a distribution means you are abnormal but society decides whether that is a good thing (like genius) or a bad thing (like criminality). The dysfunction definition includes inability to maintain a relationship, hold a job, psychic pain, clashes with police, lack of productivity. You really can't say that Trump is dysfunctional on THAT checklist. If someone isn't dysfunctional, isn't seeking treatment, then it is unethical to assert that he or she must change. That would lead to a type of social control that is considered bad for us all, since the goal of treatment is not to produce Stepford citizens.

      Somerby is being lazy with this. He wants some magical psychiatric fairy to sweep in and remove Trump from office without any of the hard work of protesting his actions as President, finding an opposing candidate, getting out the vote and putting him out of office using the mechanism for doing so.

      There may be some satisfaction in labeling Trump using a derogatory term that sounds sort of scientific (but isn't very), but it doesn't achieve anything except to incite The Others who like him and make them mad, perhaps make them more cohesive and more motivated to vote and keep Trump in office. If I were a cynical person, I might believe that to be Somerby's actual purpose with this stupid repetitive theme of his. Notice that the Dems aren't rushing to support Bandy Lee.

      Delete
  6. "Although he has already severely damaged the country by being a psychopath or sociopath, in many ways he's damaged democracy"

    Yeah, Orange Man Bad, dear Bob: I believe we might've heard it somewhere already, in the course of the last 3.5 years.

    Keep hate-mongering, zombies; we do need it as a confirmation that things are going well.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Do those characteristics sound like anyone you may have seen in the public square?"

    Oh, plenty, dear Bob: pretty much every liberal politician, starting with your 2016 presidential candidate, The Psycho-Witch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My first thought too. Made me chuckle at the lack of awareness as I read the list.

      Delete
  8. Bob's analysis here is actually a little bit Dowdistic, really.

    I don't doubt, that if there is such as thing as "sociopathic tendency," that Trump's percentile value for this quality is well above the median. Maybe it's P90, maybe it's P95, who knows? That is, without crossing a lot of t's and dotting a lot of i's.

    But in the meanwhile, if some psychiatric person is diagnosing him at a distance, how do I know that their evaluation of Trump the Sociopath is not "contaminated" by their evaluation of Trump the Republican? I.e. when evaluating a left-wing politician they will not tend to underestimate their "sociopathic percentile rank" and when evaluating a right-wing politician they will tend to overestimate their "sociopathic percentile rank?"

    I can't, not if I have any sense at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. anon 12:08, you make a good point. There should be some critical thinking here, and a less ahistorical outlook. There have been leaders who were more apparently sociopathic than Trump - Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Caligula, Idi Amin etc., etc. It's not all that uncommon in leaders, of nations, given what it takes to get to that level. Trump so far hasn't been dragging liberals off to the Gulag, or lining them up to be shot. He hasn't nuked anyone yet. Before going down this road, we, and TDH, might want to find out what the counter-argument is, and weighing both sides objectively. Though how often is that ever done?

      Delete
  9. Hillary Clinton meets all of the criteria except the one about charm and wit.

    I've been impressed by Trump's daily appearances. I knew he was skilled with people but he's also much more intelligent than I thought. Much more in control of his impulses when he's not in rally mode, but the media asking him questions are unhinged and unbelievably dishonest. It's fascinating to see it on display like we are.

    I'd like to have his energy and stamina at 73 or 53.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See how this name-calling works?

      Delete
    2. Bill and Hillary are both up there.

      I'd say on a scale of 1 to 10:

      Mr. Rogers: 1 (please be good)
      Comedians: 1-3 (I'm not that good and it's funny)
      Obama: 6 (I will say what's good)
      Bill Clinton: 7 (being bad is necessary)
      Bin Laden: 8 (war is about getting even)
      Henry Kissinger: 8 (war is a game)
      Trump: 8 (I have won at life)
      Hillary Clinton: 8.5 (war is funny)
      Alan Dershowitz: 8.5 (torture is good)
      Neera Tanden: 9 (make victims pay us back for our war)

      Delete
    3. Well, and how about every liberal hack out there trying to discredit the life-saving medication ("unproven!") only because Bad Orange Man advocates it?

      Can you name anything more psycho than that?

      Delete
    4. Physicians are discrediting that medication because tests have shown it to be ineffective. There is only anecdotal evidence in support of it. Further there are side effects that make it undesirable as a treatment, so it isn't benign but ineffective either, but can actually hurt people. It is a last resort medicine for serious conditions such as malaria and lupus that haven't responded to other medication. The run on it, promoted by Trump and Republicans, is causing a shortage for those who need it to treat those life-threatening conditions.

      Delete
    5. "...promoted by Trump and Republicans"

      Very good, my point exactly.

      As Studs Terkel once said: “Suppose communists come out against cancer, do we have to automatically come out for cancer?” And of course you and your zombie comrades do, dear psycho.

      Delete
    6. Never mind the science or the effect on people, for you it is just about taking sides.

      Delete
    7. Just for the record, Hillary Clinton never said or implied that war is funny. Better trolling, please.

      Delete
    8. Example 1: "Hillary Clinton posts parody JFK letter mocking Trump's message to Turkey"
      https://www.thejournal.ie/trump-clinton-erdogan-letter-4860228-Oct2019/

      Example 2: "Clinton on Qaddafi: "We came, we saw, he died""
      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/clinton-on-qaddafi-we-came-we-saw-he-died/

      Delete
    9. Example 1: This is a parody of Trump’s ridiculous letter to Erdogan, who is the current President of Turkey and killer of Kurds, our erstwhile allies. The mockery is of Trump’s feckless enabling of the killing and nothing to do with war.

      Example 2: This is a flip comment about the killing of Muammar Qaddafi as a more-or-less direct result of a NATO bombing raid. Please feel free to express your outrage about Qaddafi’s death. I suggest you check with the folks in Lockerbie, Scotland before you do. In any case, the comment was about the death of a dictator and nothing to do with war.

      Care to try again?

      I didn’t think so.

      Delete
    10. 12:49,
      Tell me about it.
      I don't think there are many twenty or thirty somethings who could have the stamina to both, go golfing and ignore a pandemic, like Trump has for months on end.

      Delete
  10. Here is an interesting essay about conservatism by Tom Sullivan at Digby's blog:

    https://digbysblog.net/2020/04/bound-but-not-protected/

    ReplyDelete
  11. Couple of observations. First, the quote from “Psychology Today”:

    “Sociopaths are often difficult to identify until one is very familiar with their behavior. Sociopaths are often manipulative, lie frequently, lack empathy, and have a weak conscience that allows them to act recklessly or aggressively, even when they know their behavior is wrong.”

    That very last sentence begs for interpretation.

    But I think it’s worth pointing out that our ghoul of a President has a large base of support, not least of which is the entire Republican party. I suppose there have been a few outliers, including Mitt Romney, who in his vote on Trump’s removal from office showed that he only nuzzled one of Trump’s balls. Good political move, I guess. I can agree with the diagnosis of APD, from my own observations of Trump. If it’s correct, what does it mean when 40% of voters watch this guy, and cheer him on, even as he incites violence? Might it be that sociopathy runs deeper in our species than we think?

    The norms are easy to identify for moral behavior. If that’s a true statement, why do so many people, just we hoi-polloi, not see Trump for what he is? The Republican party knows what he is. Steady as she goes. The Democratic party has their hand on the tiller as well, for whatever it’s worth.

    Future anthropologists will explain, if there are any. The complexities and divisions in society, and how we got our information vis-à-vis corporate media, will most certainly lend some insight.

    Thanks Bob, for the good work you do. Yes, I’m a fan of your writing. And all you fuckers who can’t stand Bob and compose the stupidest, longest-winded nit-picking diatribes, I appreciate your nyms. That way, I can either ignore you or, if I’m feeling surly, explain to you why you’re wrong. Not like deadrat, or even mm, but I try. Sometimes. It’s almost as if as if you don’t understand that this is a personal blog, not fucking policy.

    Leroy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The majority of voters in 2016 were against Trump.

      Delete
    2. You said: "If that’s a true statement, why do so many people, just we hoi-polloi, not see Trump for what he is? The Republican party knows what he is. Steady as she goes. The Democratic party has their hand on the tiller as well, for whatever it’s worth."

      I am pointing out that more than half of those voting saw Trump for what he was and voted for someone else. Further, I do not believe the Democrats have any hand in enabling his wrongdoing. Pundits on the left certainly see Trump for what he is and do not support anything he says or does.

      Delete
    3. I know Trump appointed two conservative Supreme Court justices and about 200 federal judges. That's why I and just about everyone I know voted for him and will vote for him again. We like our right to protect our family, hate abortion, don't like left wing government forcing people to decorate cakes with messages that violate their conscience. That bakery case was a good window into the goals of the left to get their dirty hands on every protection under the first amendment.

      Delete
    4. A cake is just a cake. There is no act of conscience involved because it is just a cake.

      Delete
    5. Corby @ 2:05
      I don’t know why I’m doing this. Feeling surly, perhaps.

      “I am pointing out that more than half of those voting saw Trump for what he was and voted for someone else.”

      Duh! So? I didn’t address that point, which you brought up out of thin air. Your quote of me concerned wondering why such a large percentage of people cannot see what a miserable, wretched, empty human being Trump is.

      Perfesser, you need to keep your eye on the ball.

      Leroy

      Delete
    6. Corby, would you support government forcing you to write "We hate niggers" on a cake for a KKK celebration?

      Delete
    7. No one is forcing anyone to be a cake decorator. But if you are in the business of putting words on cakes, you should put whatever words are legal and not use your own sensibilities to decide what you will and won't write.

      I draw the line at attending KKK celebrations, even with really good cake.

      Delete
    8. The exercise was to assume you are the baker who is instructed to decorate a cake with those words. Sounds like you think your government should force you to do it. Democrat, right?

      Delete
    9. My job would force me to do it. I wouldn't be standing there in front of every cake, deciding whether I agree with the sentiment or not. I would be putting frosting on cake as quickly as neatness would permit. Not reading the cakes and deciding if they were suitable for whatever occasion I imagined was being celebrated. The government is only involved when I pay my taxes. If I don't like putting words on cakes, I should change my line of work. Do you imagine that printers read what they are printing? Do Amazon workers worry about what you are going to do with the products they put into boxes? It isn't anyone else's business. Government is saying that people have the right to their cake messages without some nosy baker objecting to their party.

      Delete
    10. Professor, you’re so bad at advocacy that a more suspicious person would suspect that you’re not inadvertently scoring own goals, but that you’re playing for the other side. You were asked,

      would you support government forcing you to write "We hate niggers" on a cake for a KKK celebration?

      You answered, in a burst of self-assured ignorance,

      My job would force me to do it.

      No, neither your job nor the government would force you to do it.

      Continuing in the same vein, you continue

      The government is only involved when I pay my taxes.

      No, public accommodations laws apply to non-profit organizations, which don’t pay taxes.

      You finish in the same abyss of cluelessness:

      Government is saying that people have the right to their cake messages without some nosy baker objecting to their party.

      No, the government is saying that people have the right to engage in commerce without providers refusing their patronage on certain grounds. The grounds vary between the federal government and the states, and they vary among the states. Here are California’s categories:

      sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, or medical condition. Sex includes gender identity and gender orientation.

      In general, a cake decorator, or any other business operator, may discriminate on the basis of party affiliation, secular ideology, behavior, or physical characteristic not otherwise listed. (I say, “in general,” because a state may impose stricter guidelines on those professions for which it requires licensure, like pharmacists.)

      So nobody with any understanding of the law would maintain that the government would force you to write hate speech in buttercream.

      Please, please, stop trying to help.

      Delete
    11. There are plenty of cake decorators who would write "We hate niggers" on a cake for a KKK celebration.
      You just need to make sure they are Right-wingers before you ask them to do so.

      Delete
  12. Talk about diagnosing from afar, they never caught Jack the Ripper so we don't know what his specific pathology may have been.

    Here is what PubMed says about the relationship between sexual sadism and psychopathy:

    "Psychopathic personality disorder and sexual sadism share several common characteristics, such as emotional detachment from the suffering of others or the preparedness to inflict pain or injuries. Based on a sample of 100 male forensic patients (all of them sex offenders, half of them sadistic), the concept of psychopathy and sexual sadism as a unified construct was tested empirically. Pooling indicator variables for psychopathic and sexually sadistic disorders showed that a two-factorial solution yielded a better fit than a single-factor model. The two factors identified psychopathy and sexual sadism as separate latent variables. More specifically, the data were compatible with a path model in which affective deficits and behavioral disinhibition of the psychopathy domain are precursors to sexually sadistic conduct."

    Law Hum Behav. 2011 Jun;35(3):188-99. doi: 10.1007/s10979-010-9221-9.
    Psychopathy and sexual sadism.
    Mokros A1, Osterheider M, Hucker SJ, Nitschke J.

    Aside from antisocial-personality disorder and its theoretical equivalence with psychopathy, psychopathy is conceptualized as different wiring in the brain, whereas the personality disorders are thought to arise from early environmental factors. Someone can be a psychopath but not be anti-social due to more fortunate early upbringing. Sadism is a separate PD. Serial killers can have different underlying pathologies and sexual sadists such as Jack the Ripper are a subset.

    In any case, it is ridiculous to have either Jack the Ripper or Son of Sam or any other highly visible serial killer come to mind when someone says "sociopath" because it isn't the right term. Somerby obviously never took even an introductory psych class or he wouldn't be making this huge mistakes about people, especially women.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It is clear that anonymous at 1:26 suffers from CDS
    (Clinton Derangement Syndrome). Dodes made a perfectly rational diagnosis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dodes didn't make a diagnosis because (1) sociopathy isn't the name of any disorder in the DSM, (2) he didn't examine Trump. He made a speculation.

      Delete
  14. Trump is putting pressure on the world to bend its customs and expectations to his own unique brand of obsessiveness and malice. That's wrong regardless of his mental health status. The president finds it difficult or impossible to be interested in what other people are thinking, he's inattentive and impulsive. He can barely read his teleprompter. When he sits down at a table he can't resist the impulse to move everything around. He picks on people knowing full well how much power is on his side.

    It's enough to say he doesn't belong in power, and for his own sake should get help.

    I won't say what I think his diagnosis should be, because not everyone with his diagnosis can be causing this much damage, but untreated mental illness can eventually open the door to someone spiraling out of control, maybe what we are seeing now. He shared his father's skin disease, so it's possible these behaviors also come from his high German breeding, as he likes to think of it. We can only guess what a genetic syndrome would be.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have yet to see anyone who agrees with Somerby offer any actual reason why
    1. it is so important to label Trump with some hypothetical personality disorder and
    2. what effect that would have on our discourse if the press engaged in this kind of speculation

    For that matter, I haven’t seen Somerby offer any solid reason.

    ReplyDelete
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