Is Bush a Sociopath?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Buzzflash wants to know. To explore that question, they reference Martha Stout's "Sociopath Next Door" and note the following criteria.

As Martha Stout explains, a sociopath is defined as someone who displays at least three of seven distinguishing characteristics, such as deceitfulness, impulsivity and a lack of remorse. Such people often have a superficial charm, which they exercise ruthlessly in order to get what they want. Stout argues that the development of sociopathy is due half to genetics and half to nongenetic influences that have not been clearly identified.

Actually one of the biggest indicators that Bush is a sociopath, incapable of empathy, was noted by Bob Cesca over at the Huffington Post. Cesca was disturbed by Bush's performance on "60 Minutes." I watched every moment of that interview and I actually thought it was his most life-like performance yet. Silhouetted as he was against a fireplace in an obvious nod to FDR, he came across as "warmer," if you will, than he usually does. But Cesca is right. For a man talking about death and mayhem, he was grinning and laughing way too much. It is what we call an "inappropriate affect." Cesca documents three instances, with still shots, of Bush grinning and laughing in conjunction with statements of grave seriousness. The observation is deeply disturbing. Bush seems incapable of grokking the horror of the reality he's created with his decisions.

The part of the "60 Minutes" segment I found most troubling was when he was interviewed after speaking to bereaved family members of the fallen. He was quite animated and a little melodramatic. It rang false to me, though I'm sure to those who want to be convinced of his sincerity, his hammed up performance was believable. Readers of Mark Crispin Miller's "Bush Dyslexicon" would recognize the most obvious indicator of his insincerity. It was his most linguistically compromised moment. He was completely incoherent. Miller's analysis led him to the conclusion that Bush's outrageous verbal gaffes correlate to those instances when he tries to convey empathy. It is these attempts to communicate that he understands the little people that give birth to iconic idiocy like, "You're working hard to put food on your family." When he is in an aggressive pose, talking about "evil-doers" and such, he is much, much clearer.

Bush does aggression well. He does anger well. Most sociopaths do. Marcia Stout claims that anger is the only real emotion sociopaths feel. Their only sense of suffering comes from feelings of frustration or boredom. Like many sociopaths he vented those feelings on helpless animals. As childhood friend Terry Throckmorton conveyed to the New York Times's Nicholas Kristof:

''We were terrible to animals,'' recalled Mr. Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the Bush home turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come out.

''Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them,'' Mr. Throckmorton said. ''Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up.''

Today he just blows up third world countries.


Anonymous said...

Definitely he's a sociopath - or to use the current terminology, he displays "antisocial personality disorder." He exhibits all of the diagnostic characteristics described in DSM-IV for APD -- not just some, but ALL.

But beyond that, Bush lives inside a carefully constructed bubble of defensive delusions. This is why he ignores the advice of generals, diplomats, James Baker, the voters - anybody who disagrees with him. To accept their advice would mean admitting he was wrong, and that would break the protective bubble of delusions, which would psychologically destroy him.

Inside Bush's public persona, all swagger and bravado, is a very frightened little man.