Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Is George W. Bush A Pychopath?

Not many of us are that familiar with the science of psychology. While at best some of us may quote Sigmund Freud, most of us know virtually nothing about his theories, and how psychology has evolved over time.

In reality, much of Freud’s work has been completely debunked, as technology (such as CAT Scans and the such) has allowed us to see how the brain works in far greater detail. That’s not to say that Freud’s work wasn’t important, but it is dated. One could easily say that more has been discovered about how our brains work in the last 20 years than in any other time in the history of psychology.

The field of Abnormal Psychology has excelled greatly. It is the study of mental illnesses. Of those mental disorders, is the family of the personality disorders. According to the DSM-IV (the current classifications of mental disorders, it stands for “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition”), a personality disorder is identified by “a pervasive pattern of experience and behavior that is abnormal with respect to any two of the following: thinking, mood, personal relations, and the control of impulses.

Personality disorders have 10 different categories, as identified in the DSM-IV. Some of them are more famous than others. They are Schizotypal Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Paranoid Personality Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, and finally, Antisocial Personality Disorder.

For the purposes of the discussion, I will focus on Antisocial Personality Disorder. Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is a very damaging and harmful mental disorder. The majority of con-men and those who commit fraud have ASPD at some level. Some serial killers had it, such as Jeffrey Dahmer. ASPD is characterized as the “lack of regard for the moral or legal standards” and a “marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules.” They are sometimes called or known as “sociopaths” or “psychopaths”. Psychopathy effects primarily men, and are about 3% of the US population.

Some of the symptoms of psychopathy (emotionally and interpersonally) are that one is glib and superficial, egocentric and grandiose, has a lack of remorse or guilt, a lack of empathy, is deceitful and manipulative, and shows shallow emotions. Psychopaths also show symptoms of social-deviance. Some of them are that they are impulsive, have poor behavior controls, and show a lack of responsibility. Psychopaths also have a distain for work, and usually are quite successful in getting what they want by being very charming. Psychopaths also fail to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, repeatedly lie, con others for personal profit, have an inability to plan ahead, have a reckless disregard for the safety of others, are consistently irresponsible, and have a lack of remorse. They are comfortable with the deception and manipulation needed, in any situation, to do what they believe is right for them, regardless of the impact on others. They demonstrate a complete lack of guilt and are unable to admit that they are wrong or incorrect. They also tend to be deceitful, and many psychopaths have various problems with drug addiction.

Is any of this sounding the least bit familiar?


Blogger jb_ken said...

What a joke.

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup, it does sound familiar. Sounds just like Bill Clinton. Possibly Richard Nixon as well.

Cheerio, BikerDad

8:57 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Interesting theory. Of course, he could simply be a self-absorbed, moralistic, corrupt @$$wipe....

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see the documentary "The Corporation?" It also had a similar argument that big business is, by their actions, psychotic. Interesting stuff.

Nice blog, by the way.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Mark H. Foxwell said...

Freud, IMHO, developed a "theory of psychology" that was actually a pseudoscientific religion for the 20th century, one that perpetuated a bunch of patriarchial myths in an age that considered the foundations of Christianity and other old-time religions exploded by science. He started out as a bona fide neurological researcher and formed a theoretical model of nerve function that led to real progress. But then further progress began to suggest a different evolution of theory than the one he was comfortable with, since his extrapolations of the implications of neurology as he saw it for psychology led to the theories he is famous for today. So he covered up his neurological traces (since he knew advances in neurology would undercut him) and claimed he was basing his new psychology on purely experimental results of his clinical method of "analysis." But Freudian analysis is not science, it is a kind of shamanistic theater. Now such methods have brought aid and comfort to millions of people over the millenia long before the rise of what we know as science today, but they also serve to enforce social norms which are sometimes more of a disease, at least for some individuals, than the "disorders" they propose to cure--which include genuine sickness, but also legitimate individual behavior society proposes to repress or regulate for often selfish ends.

Thus, professional psychology is deeply entangled with some downright antiscientific interests, and so I doubt we can have a real science of psychology. We do have people who are trying but they are hamstrung by the institutions and traditions they work in. Then too, we expect doctors in general to be both scientists and engineers, and wrap both up in a mystique of showmanship and shamanology that probably _is_ important to healing actual people.

I am therefore skeptical of the value of labeling people with the terms of this pseudoscience. That said, if we did have a valid science of psychological medicine we probably would conclude that something severe is wrong with G. W. Bush. Clearly he is more dysfunctional than his father anyway.

But let us not forget that his father also left quite a trail of ruin in his day, despite his more flexible intellect. Clearly the dysfunctions of the Bush dynasty are connected to _social_ dysfunctions as well. The Bushes are chosen and apt representatives of powerful ruling interests in our society that rule in contradiction with the interests of the majority.

It could be that organic problems are part of what makes W himself. He might well be dyslexic for instance, thus far less able to be the kind of patrician his father was, but this is clearly an asset in portraying him as a "regular guy, man of the people." In some societies learning, erudition, and culture are universally respected, but in the USA there is a deep strand of downplaying such things as signs of weakness and corruption. In Russia, to say someone is "not cultured" is a terrible and dangerous personal insult, the very worse curse you can utter. Here it is practically a credential, especially in the last decade. Republican leadership in general is distinguished by a know-nothing, ethnocentric egotism, people proud to be comfortable only in gated suburbs with their kind of people. Our corporate leadership cannot afford to actually be that ignorant but they affect it, and their handpicked political agents can really be that dense, since the real decisions will not be made by them.

The general sociopathy of the Bushes is probably an outcome of their social position and a ruthless culture. But it might be that there is some organic reason for it in their bloodlines, and their culture is an adaptation of their weaknesses to the position they have fought their way into. I suspect Barbara Bush is a particularly poisoned branch of that tree, in whatever way. She is cruel and arrogant and her offspring emphasize that strand; they of course are the generation seizing power the most extensively and deeply. And just look at W's disgraceful daughters. Whatever is going on in that family, if they were not now postioned with great wealth and privilege, they would not last a week having to survive as ordinary working people.

I've known staunch opponents of Bush who believe his pathologies stem from abuse of a certain kind--that he is basically battered and terrified into being the creature he is. I still think he would be morally responsible for what he has done because he has had plenty of opportunity to break away, but perhaps I don't understand how familial abuse works.

Whatever is going on in that shallow head of his, W is serving a purpose and serving it well. He is revered as some kind of prophet or divinely anoited king; this enables a large minority of the nation who are not really privileged--more exploited than exploiters though they do that too--to reconcile the painful contradictions of their position in society with obedience and the relative privilege of being on the inside rather than scapegoated outcasts. These are the people he is god-king of, who hunger for authority and permission to act out their frustrations vicariously-or even to be fodder for a military-security machine that will send them to do the violence that is spectacle for rest of the plebians.

I believe that especially today (with the painful reality of the Iraq war messing up the picture) the majority of our soldiers and police remain sane, decent people, many of whom do not identify with the Bush crime family at all, but believe they are serving their nation as best they can. However the Bush regime is doing its best to put its loyal agents in power in every sphere. This is causing conflict and disruption in the military right now. That said, it is true that the military-security machine was always structured to be a comfortable stronghold for these thuggish people who are Bush's followers--indeed, a major purpose of the defense/ploice systems has always been ot exercise repression, and even their best people are adapted to that (as as are most of us, by our compromises). That military and other security people are starting to question their allegiance to Bush and the Republicans is the result of the latter's extremism and crude methods; I am a military brat and before 2001 I would assume without question that most military people would support the Republicans in all things, based on my lifetime experience.

The situation we are in is not the result of one dangerously placed bad seed. It is the outcome and fulfilment of deep social tendencies we need to get a grip on as a nation and as citizens of the world, if we are not to be ruined completly by them. If we ever manage to do that (and the military/security people rallying to take matters into their hands seems like a way it might happen now) I'd think that maybe W would benefit a lot from having his head competently examined; someone really concerned for his own mental health might do him a lot of good.

OTOH he really does seem to think life is good for him right now, and not be in the least concerned for anyone outside his comfortable circles. I'm betting he would not thank anyone who wants him to take real responsibility for anyone, and if he was abused into this, he likes it now. For whatever reason he's a dangerous snake, is my view of it.

Then there is the theory that he is actually the Antichrist. I don't believe in the Antichrist but if I did, he'd be a prime suspect.

1:36 PM  
Blogger MiamiMiami said...

Psychotic as compared to maybe Dean, or Durban, or Rather, or Saddam.....

Alva, you really are starting to run out of material here.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Running out of material? Not hardly. This is a fascinating subject. I bought Dr. Justin Frank's book, Bush On The Couch, and he makes a convincing argument for untreated alcoholism, and possibly other addictions.

He also discusses the symptoms of learning disabilities, tying many things together. An example is:

"Bush's verbal challenges represent much more than the occasional ill-chosen word or jumbled phrase. Other syntactical tics are just as common in his repertoire, though less entertaining and less likely to draw attention: his tendencies to repeat phrases, deflect questions, offer evasive answers, lose his thoughts in tangential speech, make quips, tell lies, even appear to lose momentarily the ability to respond. While one could argue that many politicians share one or two of these traits, it's difficult to name a single politician who exhibits all of them. When viewed together, they form a pattern of related linguistic misfires and abuses that raises startling and profound questions."

It's a very well researched book, going back to his childhood, using historical records, as well as his own observations and the words of people who know Bush.

Other Psychiatrists and Psychoanalysts have read the book, and agree with Frank's findings. It certainly gave me pause.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot to sign that last post.

11:38 AM  
Blogger MiamiMiami said...

This was the same lunacy that had people saying that Reagan was a bed president because he had Alzheimer's during his presidency. Meanwhile if you believed those idiots back then that would mean a senile old man was able to bring down the old Soviet Union.

So then if we follow this same lunacy this would mean that it will be a "psychopath" who brings freedom and democracy to Iraq and prevented over terror attacks on US soil for the last 4 years.

Don't yhou realize that by your accusation of Bush being a psychopath you only make your selves look silly in the sense that this "psychopath" is doing what your so-called sane democrats couldn't?


This is good comedy. Evan needs to use this in his act...I heard it's so-so. (Imagine me shaking my hand as if to express "so-so")

5:43 PM  
Blogger MiamiMiami said...

This was the same lunacy that had people saying that Reagan was a bad president because he had Alzheimer's during his presidency. Meanwhile if you believed those idiots back then that would mean a senile old man was able to bring down the old Soviet Union.

So then if we follow this same lunacy this would mean that it will be a "psychopath" who brings freedom and democracy to Iraq and prevented every terror attack on US soil for the last 4 years.

Don't you realize that by your accusation of Bush being a psychopath you only make your selves look silly in the sense that this "psychopath" is doing what your so-called sane democrats couldn't?


This is good comedy. Evan needs to use this in his act...I heard it's so-so. (Imagine me shaking my hand as if to express "so-so")

5:45 PM  

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