Just Above Sunset
January 2, 2005 - The Madness of King George Diagnosed

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The doctor who writes fiction for Just Above Sunset probably knows all about the DSM IV TR – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by psychitrists and folks of that sort to as a basic way to fugure out if you’re one sick puppy or not, and whether you should be heavily medicated, locked away, or slapped silly – or a combination of all three.  You know – therapy.


Below is the argument that Bush (and implicitly his merry band of brothers) are, in fact, sociopaths.  Or psychopaths.  Or something. 


This explains a lot.  And raises the question – “What kind of nation re-elects a psychopath to the highest office in the land? The answer could be one or all of three things: a dumb one, a mean one or a thoroughly conned one.”


Or a nation of psychopaths. 


Lambert – one of the writers at Corrente offers this:


It's All In Your Head, Silly 


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


Egocentricity—aircraft carrier display

Callousness; Impulsivity; Conscience defect—blowing up frogs

Exaggerated sexuality—codpiece

Excessive boasting—claims about Air Force service

Risk taking—playing with chain saws, crashing bicycles

Inability to resist temptation—drunkard

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

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

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

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

Need for stimulation—cocaine

Pathological lying—oh, hell, where to start?

Conning and manipulativeness—follows Rove’s script

Lack of remorse or guilt—Inerrant Boy, as Lambert aptly coins it

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

Parasitic lifestyle—well, he is a Bush, the haves and have mores are his base

Poor behavioral controls—easily angered with criticism

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

Early behavior problems—frogs again

Lack of realistic, long-term goals—iWaq, economy

Impulsivity—turkey trip?

Irresponsibility; Failure to accept responsibility for own actions—Inerrant Boy again

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


Of course, if you click on the link you will see Lambert has links to explain almost all these items.  And Lambert supplies a link to one Catherine O’Sullivan in the Tucson Weekly asking some good questions. 


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

O’Sullivan ends with -


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


Lambert’s conclusion?

This last bit is telling, because if, as some claim, Bush is merely a product of his milieu, then consider his corporate upbringing and who he surrounds himself with. Szasz and the Libertarians would argue that one person’s psychopathology is another person’s lifestyle, and to some extent I agree …

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


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

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

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

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


Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, on the Miller quotes -


In my own thinking back on this to see how true this observation is, I immediately recalled Bush's quote, something about how our enemies are working day and night in search of ways to hurt the American people, "...and so am I."  I think there may also have been others, but there may actually be something to the point that he only fumbles when he finds himself in unfamiliar territory.


My own feeling about Bush being a borderline moron is that no, it's only that, in fact, I'm not sure he's any smarter than I am. I should add that I absolutely want my president to be smarter than I am.


And also that Bush may have something in common with Clinton, that they both may have been born with a "shameless" gene that allows them to never take criticism too much to heart.  But then again, as has been noted by others, in Clinton's case, of course, nobody died.


And one last question comes to mind in this Clinton-Bush regard and what was going through the minds of the framers of the Constitution: Although misleading America about your private life may be an impeachable offense, sociopathy is not?


Good question.


Bob Patterson adds this -


Yes, yes, yes.  All that you say may be true – but it conveniently overlooks one very relevant fact.  Kerry was a flip-flopper.


End of discussion.


Dick in Rochester points out this –


W just spun everything so fast you could not see the flip-flops.


And Bob points out this sociopath stuff really doesn’t matter.


Don Imus will often (when I used to be able to hear him) say: "Put it on a bumper sticker for me."


The issue of Bush's mental health is very complex and is not reducible to aphorism length.  Thus the folks who don't have time to read up on mental health symptoms, various emotional maladies, and complicated psychological behavior will grasp what they can to resolve the issue.  "Kerry was a flip-flopper" isn't much of a proper way of refuting the issue but when someone is busy with life and it seems like they are trying to bail a rowboat with a sieve, the "Kerry" bumper sticker will suffice.


When I visited my "honorary" niece and nephew on Christmas Eve, their mom was frantic with the Christmas preparations.  When she was single, she and I used to have long and convoluted conversations about very complex aspects of big issues.


Not now.


She does volunteer work for her kids’ school.  She really is a soccer mom.  She helps the father with his company's bookkeeping.  And so on.


The current events segment of this year's visit was:  "How did you like the election results? … Trevor, stop that right now."


Bush won, right?  I think she voted for somebody.


If Bush is emotionally disturbed, the election results don't carry much real significance.  It means that (as reported by the Columbia Journalism Review web site) the media did a lousy job (yet again) of reporting the complexities of the campaign for those few who have the time to read such stories and that for the folks (like my friend who is so busy) who did vote, they had time to see that Bush has resolve and Kerry is a flip flopper.


Pathetic?  You bet.


The best the folks with time to devote to these issues can do is to start publicizing the bad aspects of having Prince Jeb get his turn in 2008.


Pathetic?  You bet.


Would the public become alarmed if George W appointed Charlie Manson as the foreign affairs advisor?  Wasn't he convicted of stock fraud or something some time back?


"And that's the way it is…” - as Walter Cronkite used to say.


Yep, you can use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to show there is a cluster of symptoms that call for the diagnosis – but you can’t build a poitical campaign around your findings.  Can it be summed up on a bumper sticker?  Probabaly not.  And yes, folks are busy.


And there is the larger issue.  What do you do when this cluster of behavioral symptoms, while indicating a serious and dangerous pathology, are all traits the majority of voters admire?  And what if they are necessary conditions, or even the sufficient conditions, for success in this culture?


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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