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sagemerlin

sagemerlin
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2012 6:00PM

Romney: A Long Distance Diagnosis

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Long distance diagnosis is frowned upon because the treatment professional really needs to see the client on a regular basis over a significant period of time in order to develop a supportable diagnosis. (Okay, in the real world, yes, counselors and therapists make snap judgments and those snap judgments are often right on target but that has a lot to do with the circumstances under which the treatment professional encounters the client.  Hint:  they are already incarcerated.)      

The scientific literature on anti-social, psychopathic  and sociopathic behavior (the terms are virtually interchangeable; the difference lies in the extent of the aberrant behavior)  is itself somewhat psychotic because, when you go down the checklist below, you eventually realize that almost anyone - or even everyone - could be diagnosed as psychopathic at one time or another in their lives.

Depending on which studies you believe, sociopathic behavior is either an inherited trait, a learned behavior, both or neither.  Studies have shown that there is a gene that is associated with sociopathic  or psychopathic behavior, but only 50%  of the children who have this gene become sociopaths and the denominator seems to be the presence or absence childhood abuse or neglect, which leaves us with the same nature-nurture conundrum that affects so much of this discourse, but, in this case, we have an almost unique example of a father-son comparison that might help illuminate the discussion. (The others, of course, are the Adams family and the Bush family.)

In this case, however, the subject of the analysis has been in the full glare of public attention for a very long time, and has a known life history that can support a differential diagnosis.

In public, Romney seems affable enough but somewhat distant from everyone around him, but he smiles just like a regular person, articulates well and appears normal in most respects - but more and more Americans are becoming uncomfortable with the idea of putting Romney into the oval office without really knowing why.

Now, after the release of the notorious "47%" videotape, the widespread reservations about Mitt Romney have even more currency than they did before the video was released.

Republication apologists have been quick to criticize Romney for his comments....and equally quick to dismiss the videotape as a blip rather than a game changer...except for those who have decided to embrace his comments and are urging him to double down on them.

They are, of course, 100% wrong, and here are the reasons:

First and foremost, if Romney tries to back off from the statements he made to a private gathering in Boca Raton back in May, he will prove, once again, that not only do we not know what he stands for....but he doesn't seem to know what he stands for either because, in the months since that private meeting, his public utterances have repeatedly contradicted his earlier statements.

If, on the other hand, Romney steps forward and says, "Yes, I believe these things and here are the reasons why," he will lose all the voters who, up until now, have been giving him the benefit of the doubt, holding onto the belief that Romney is a secret moderate.

In either event, the facts are that it has become increasingly obvious that the face Mitt Romney wears in public is really a mask that he only takes off in private when he is among people he considers friends - people from his own economic and social class - and, when Romney takes off his mask, we really don't like what we see without knowing why.

Romney's obvious obliviousness to the hurtful effects of his ill-considered public statements, such as the ones he made after the tragic events in Libya,  pale by comparison with his private statements about the 47% of the American people who "pay no income taxes."

The sheer number of false, misleading and ill-considered statements that Romney has made in public, and his apparent inability to anticipate the negative responses generated by those statements all point to the same diagnosis:  Mitt Romney is a sociopath.

Now, as previously mentioned, there are some fine distinctions between sociopathic ideation, psychopathic behavior and antisocial personality disorder. Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is defined in DSM-IV as  "...a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood."  Despite the efforts of the psychiatric establishment to differentiate between these three disorders, for our purpose, the overlap is more significant than the divergence.

Here, then,  is a list of diagnostic characteristics associated with a sociopathic behavior disorder, which was produced by collating and reducing several different versions of this checklist into a single document:

Glibness
Charming
Manipulative
Condescending
Pathological lying
Lack of Remorse
Emotionally Unresponsive
Lack of Empathy
Poor Self-Control
Early Behavioral Problems
Fails to Take Responsibility
Sexual Promiscuity
Parasitic Lifestyle
Frequent Changes in Occupation/Residence

 The identification of these traits within a specific individual are, of course, highly subjective and conditional upon the preconceived opinions of the observer....but some of them are incontrovertible.

Mr. Romney has no reported history of sexual promiscuity...but we can see evidence of the other 13 of these 14 markers for sociopathic behavior.

Go down the list and check off the ones that apply to Romney, remembering that three or more such characteristics is sufficient to support the diagnosis of sociopathic ideation.

In general, sociopaths are usually charming, seemingly self-assured people who have classic "take-charge" personalities that often make them into the kinds of  confirmed "control freaks" who find it difficult to accept advice or delegate responsibility to others. 

Romney has often been describe in precisely these terms,  and the problems in his campaign have been attributed to his headstrong attitude and his micromanagement of the campaign.  Where other candidates have teams of people to whom they listen, Romney reportedly has one.  The problem with this arrangement is that, when you have only one key advisor, that advisor has too much power over you but, at the same time, that advisor becomes more of an alter-ego than a real advisor because the only way for that relationship to continue is if the advisor follows the lead of the candidate in order to maintain his or her position.

Psychopaths  are hard-charging rule-breakers who are often unusually successful in life but suffer from poor impulse control combined with a marked disregard for the well-being of others and complete lack of guilt about the negative consequences of their actions. 

Romney's reputation in business exactly fits these parameters.  His success at Bain Capital has been associated with his willingness to break the rules of business by coming up with new management strategies while ignoring the effects of his decisions on the employees of the companies that he ravaged while he was the CEO at Bain.

Sociopaths  are also pathological liars who are incapable of associating contradictory lies with each other so that they are frequently surprised and often angered when confronted with evidence of their lies.

This one is harder to see, because we have the problem of opinion differences about what is a lie and what isn't.  When someone deliberately repeats a statement that is categorically untrue over and over again, that's not a difference of opinion.  It's lying.  Mr. Romney's occasional embracement of the "Birther" myth, and his categorical refusal to reject the Birthers supports the argument that Mr. Romney lies.   The deeper issue is the Big Lie, the constant repetition of patently false statements by Mr. Romney and his surrogates that have clouded the national debate and confused issues that need clarification rather than further confusion.

Tries really hard to be charming, but is disconnected from other people, thinks very highly of himself, but lack humility, lies compulsively but insists upon his truthfulness despite obvious evidence to the contrary,  needs constant attention, but dislikes being in the public eye,  seems self-disciplined, but  has poor impulse control, lacks empathy, is unable to accept responsibility for his own actions,  and lacks realistic long-term goals....these are all responsibly demonstrated by specific references to Mr. Romney's observable behavior.

This brings us to the "how" question.  How did a man like George Romney produce a son like Mitt Romney?

In the final analysis, the symptoms identified here are generally applicable to many people who have grown up in wealthy circumstances, and many people who become very wealthy on their own.  Romney special circumstances is that he grew up wealthy and then became wealthy on a higher order of magnitude than his parents' generation, a characteristic he shares with Donald Trump.

People like Mitt Romney and Donald Trump grew up in comfortable circumstances under which they were reasonably well assured that their lives would be all about what they wanted to do rather than what they had to do.

Because they grew up with silver spoons in their mouths, they cannot comprehend the challenges that the less fortunate face when trying to achieve the same success in life.   

In the final analysis, it doesn't matter how he got this way.  What matters is how it shapes his personality and how it motivates him in terms of his personal philosophy.

 At the risk of exhausting our collective attentions spans, please consider the following:

 Glibness:  is definable as repeating the same statements over and over again in response to different questions without substantiation .  His glib responses to criticism of his 47% comments are that he is running to govern 100% of the people.  That's the job, but he's only trying, by his own admission, to get enough votes to win, not to gain the trust of his fellow citizens.

Charming: Charming is hard to define but, like pornography, we know it when we see it.  Romney is definitely charming.  He has a devastating smile, but he switches in on and off with irritating rapidity.  By contrast, Obama rarely smiles as frequently.  Another term for charming is actually insincere. 

Manipulative:  Buying companies, loading them with debt, selling them off and walking away from the debt seems to me to be the epitome of manipulative behavior. Claiming that you are a job creator after exporting jobs to China and India supports the idea that Romney is a job creator but raises questions about where he was putting those jobs.

Condescending:  Condescending is the flip side of charming, and Romney is frequently condescending to reporters and questioners.  In fact, the other day, he insisted that a reporter reshoot her introduction for an interview because he didn't like her presentation.  That's both manipulative and condescending.   His comments about how might fare better as a candidate if he were a Latino were deeply condescending to Latinos.  So was the chemical tan.

Pathological lying:  This is a judgment call.  Constant repetition of the Big Lies about Obama, statements that we all know are false on the basis of further reporting on the subject indicates a pathological pattern of lying despite the evidence.  The biggest lie -that the Republicans can generate 12 million jobs by cutting taxes without cutting deeply into life sustaining programs - has been contradicted over and over again by just about every economist with any credibility....but he continues to make those statements. 

Lack of Remorse:  Romney is proud of his role as a job creator, but the truth is that he has exported more jobs than he has created, and cut more jobs than he has created.  In fact, he only actually created 500 jobs the ones at Bain Capital itself.  As financier he simply funded other people who were job creators but he continues to describe himself as a job creator, which sound delusional when repeated this many times, as though he's trying to convince himself.

Emotionally Unresponsive:  Never shows real anger, despite the many criticisms that have been directed at him.  His facial expressions, however, are incogruent with his affect. Emotionally unresponsive.

Lack of Empathy:  Already covered.  When you fire people and feel good about it, you are lacking in empathy.

Poor Self-Control:  Stories have been leaking out about outbursts by the candidate in response to the way the media has exploited some of his  more damaging malapprops. 

Early Behavioral Problems:  Stories have surfaced about some very abusive incidents toward gay people in Romney's youth. They were quickly quashed because there were so many other issues that they seemed inconsequential.  Perhaps they weren't.  Later in life, he got into a tussle with a Forest Ranger that resulted in a Disorderly Conduct charge.

Fails to Take Responsibility:  Romney is beginning to blame the liberal media for his faltering campaign, despite the fact that a majority the media outlets are now owned by conservative interests.

Sexual Promiscuity:  Absolutely no evidence, thank goodness. This is one Republican who really can keep it in his pants, for a change.

Parasitic Lifestyle:  What else do you call someone who has made a fortune by buying and selling companies and often tearing them up in order to create profits.

 Frequent Changes in Occupation/Residence:  On average, Romney has changed jobs every four to seven years, but each switch has been into a radically different occupation or environment.  Usually, sociopaths switch occupations frequently because they are moving on to escape the mess they made.  At Bain Capital, Romney had the unusual opportunity to create messes and walk away from them without leaving the company.  (Stories have surfaced about how Romney was actually a terrible deal maker; most of the deals he proposed fell through or turned out to be losers.  He excelled, however, at analyzing other people's deals and made good picks from those.)   

 Romney has seven homes.  Rich people have lots of homes?  Not really.  One or two, yes.  Not seven.  This suggests a peripatetic, rootless lifestyle in which he has not strong commitment to any given community.  He's rather like a stateless person.  It's interesting that he makes his primary residence in New Hampshire rather than in Massachusetts, where he served as governor for four years.

Individually, these characteristics can all be explained away; collectively, they present a troubling portrait of  man who wants power but is unable to accurately articulate exactly what he would do with that power once he has it.  And that is a good definition for the psychological profile for a demogogue. 

 

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I am going way out on a limb here. Speculations of this nature are dangerous to the speculator, but I have been asked by several people to publish this piece now instead of holding it back and trying to refine it further. In addition, while I working on it, Bill Beck sent me a note telling me that Chris Matthews had just made the same point, that questions about Romney's sanity are beginning to surface.

But, please, let's leave race out of this discussion. Please.
Disclaimer: Yes I really do believe this. I believe that Romney has serious sociopathic tendencies. I also believe that they aren't his fault and that he is succumbing to a psychotic environment characterized by media induced cognitive dissonance. More about that later. If I survive the onslaught. If there is one.
"This is one Republican who really can keep it in his pants, for a change."

After all the other things mentioned, I'd rather that be the only thing wrong with him. "He's very open with his zipper!!" :D

Great piece.
Frankly, I question the sanity of anyone who wants to be President. But some are crazier than others and more dangerous. Thank you for posting this.
Still waiting for rebuttals. I really want to hear them.
Apologies. I had to pull this and reformat the text. The contents remain unchanged.
This is probably petty to say, but his laugh seems like a bad high school drama student attempting to seem like they are really laughing...hahaha heh-heh hahaha. Weird.
Romney often reminds me of Richard Nixon, although Mitt it much better looking. They both had/have an unsettlingly distant demeanor and no authentic sense of humor. Whatever his pathology might be, he is a scary individual.

Lezlie
Glad you mentioned that laugh, AKA, because I find it unsettling too. He has what I call an insider's laugh, an up your sleeve laugh, the kind of laugh someone laughs when he's laughing at you rather than with you. Enough people have laughed at me in my life to have a sensitivity to that kind of laughter.
Mimetalker, I agree with you. Anyone who wants to be president right now has to be nuts because the next four years are going to be very, very difficult for whoever gets the job. But there's another aspect to this: Obama wanted the job because he wanted to fix health care. That was the driving force behind his candidacy. Romney wants the job so he can undo 50 years of social engineering, cut taxes and prove the myths of the ruling class with respect to the trickle down theory. At this point, Obama is in the position of the man who rides the tiger. As hard as it is to get on, it's much, much harder to get off. As the incumbent, Obama had to run in order to protect his landmark achievement. Usurpers are always egoists.
I tend to believe that true sociopaths definitely have different brain functioning, which has been written about extensively.
I also think Romney has sociopaths characteristics. Interestingly, I have read that the only place there is a higher percentage of sociopaths than in prison is in upper levels of corporate America. Both prison and corporations have much higher percentages than the average population.
As to Romney's lying: I consider him to be lying by the lies of omission in not answering about specific items such as whether he would do away with the mortgage interest deduction, as well as hiding his tax returns. I also consider all his policy changes and flip flopping to be lies as well.
The question is more where on the scale he would fall than whether or not he exhibits the traits.
r./
Gordon Osmond could not be here to rebut your argument and has asked me to stand in for him. I am flattered, of course, that he chose me for this honor, but, alas, I can think of no rebuttal. I could rebuke, obviously, in the cheapest, snarkiest terms, but I shan't. Sorry, Gordie.

Lezlie's bringing up Nixon reminds me of one of the parodies the comics used to do of his. David Frye, I think, is the one who could roll his eyes up and curl his brow in a frightening resemblance to Tricky Dicky. But the one that always had me rolling on the floor trying to avoid a seizure of hysterics was the lack of coordination. Frye would say something like, "Let me make this perfectly clear..." and the hand would shoot up out of sequence, as if the puppeteer had fallen asleep and missed his cue.
Fascinating post. Off the top, I will stipulate that I am biased. I think Romney is at least mildly nuts. I must say that I did not think so in 2008. Not knowing a great deal about him, I thought he looked the part. I was a little shocked that McCain won out in the primaries, and moderately shocked that Palin was chosen as the running mate. Soon it came out that McCain did not like him. Later it came out that none of the 2008 candidates did.

Then came the strange 2011/2012 primary season. The GOP seemed to do musical candidates for the longest time before settling on Romney. being selective and careful is one thing, but the choices were abysmal. Cain (moron). Perry (forgetful moron). Gingrich (bizarre). Santorum (scary crusader). Jon Huntsman (who)? Bachmann (Bachmann). Belatedly the GOP settled on a guy that no one liked. During the debates there were a few moments where Romney and Perry went at each other. Perry showed emotion. Romney looked back at him like a puppy had just wet on the linoleum. His expression never seemed to match what would presumably be his emotion. It certainly did not match Perry's.

There was the laugh when he was asked if he planned to follow his father's standard of 12 years of tax returns. Mitt laughed and said, "maybe." We know that he knew that he would not. And on a point that was a point of principle from his own father, he laughed as if to deride it. He looked nuts, again. Joking about being unemployed to the unemployed. The crack about the cookies from one cherished local bakery. "2 Cadillacs." Give special consideration to the comment about not working to solve the Israel-Palestine situation. If he really felt that way, why say it? It is all risk and no reward. he volunteered that answer. It just so happened that someone recorded it. Now how can he possibly be seen as an impartial broker in the region. Why offer that you have "misgivings" about the London Olympics a day or two before they begin? Ridiculous unforced error. Absolutely nothing could have been done at that point. The list goes on and on. Most of these were volunteered statements. "$10,000 dollar bet?" Really? Republicans should run screaming from this guy. Independents will.
Onislandtime, as a someone about to retire from the mortgage business to go back into psychotherapy on a full time basis (giving not receiving), I can tell you that nothing scares me more than the idea of tampering with with the mortgage interest deduction. I understand that the mortgage interest deduction is inherently regressive because it gives people with means enough to own a home a significant tax advantage over renters. However, the cost factors used to determine eligibility for a mortgage are designed to assume the mortgage interest deduction and without that deduction, middle income borrowers would probably only qualify for 75% of the mortgages they can qualify for right now. The fact that the borrower's overall tax burden might decrease doesn't affect the fact that the rationale for home ownership, rather than renting, for middle income people is the mortgage interest deduction. Without that deduction, the median prices for middle income homes, anything under $500,ooo, would drop by 25% almost instantaneously, because the market for those homes would dry up.

The other factor is that the mortgage interest deduction is what enables most middle income home owners to itemize their deductions. Without it, they would be stuck with the standard deductions.
CM, I haven't thought of David Frye for years. Good recall. I am devastated. I was hoping for some spry comments from Gordo. He's all right, isn't he? I would miss him.
OIT: Until the Republicans starting using the Big Lie, political campaigns were about laying out different proposals for how to manage the nation's affairs. Now, it is all about "the narrative," which is a creative way of describing a succession of lies the intent of which is to confuse and mislead the electorate. As political technique, the Big Lie was pioneered by Adolph Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, who used the technique to win the election that brought Hitler to power.

These are the same techniques that George Orwell satirized in "1984," right down to the use of mass media - and especially television - in generating a constant flow of contradictory information that ultimately creates a disorienting cognitive dissonance for the consumers of media to the extent that the consumers can no longer differentiate between fact and fiction, truth and falsehood.

This is the point that we are reaching in this campaign. The constant reiteration of lies about Obama's background and his actions in office have created a surreal environment where no one really knows any longer where the line between truth and fiction falls.

The net result of this technique is that the true believers maintain their belief systems, and everyone simply turns off to the entire process....and that's exactly what the Republicans are banking on to win this election.
OIT: Until the Republicans starting using the Big Lie, political campaigns were about laying out different proposals for how to manage the nation's affairs. Now, it is all about "the narrative," which is a creative way of describing a succession of lies the intent of which is to confuse and mislead the electorate. As political technique, the Big Lie was pioneered by Adolph Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, who used the technique to win the election that brought Hitler to power.

These are the same techniques that George Orwell satirized in "1984," right down to the use of mass media - and especially television - in generating a constant flow of contradictory information that ultimately creates a disorienting cognitive dissonance for the consumers of media to the extent that the consumers can no longer differentiate between fact and fiction, truth and falsehood.

This is the point that we are reaching in this campaign. The constant reiteration of lies about Obama's background and his actions in office have created a surreal environment where no one really knows any longer where the line between truth and fiction falls.

The net result of this technique is that the true believers maintain their belief systems, and everyone simply turns off to the entire process....and that's exactly what the Republicans are banking on to win this election.
I doubt he has the passion to be an effective demagogue. However, your analysis here is interesting.

r.
Sage, I appreciate your follow up. I mentioned the mortgage interest deduction specifically because of the harm it would do to people and the economy should it be discontinued, so I am glad to have that info from you.
And unfortunately, I also think you are correct about the calculated and continuous loop of lies by the Rwing.
I'll check in to see if you actually have any pro-Romney visitors. It will be interesting to read their take. I think that there are many people who have great admiration for corporate-type sociopaths due entirely to their financial success.
Question---I'm missing why "the overlap between the three disorders is more significant." I haven't looked at a DSM since I stopped teaching special ed and started being a corporate pig. So I am likely missing something. I see the stunning clarity of the sociopath in full bloom. Abundantly. I don't see the other two? Help!
No disagreement from me. My early mental health training taught me to pay attention to that uneasy feeling I got when I was around people with personality disorders. My mentor taught me to pay attention to it in terms of diagnostic criteria. Romney certainly makes me uneasy; however, I've never encountered him in person. The truth is, Richard Nixon did the same for me and I never met him either.

A related hypothesis of mine is that Romney exhibits some Aspergian (Asperger's syndrome) characteristics These include impaired social interaction ( has difficulty reading social cues, uses logic to the exclusion of emotion or sentiment) and impaired communication (problems with pragmatics, monotone speech). It also could account for his seeming lack of empathy for others. Using a cognitive schema (Piaget) it's as if he is developmentally arrested at a concrete operational level of thinking. He is really unable to hold two competing viewpoints at one time.

He is indeed intelligent; but, his focus is not on others. Never has been, never will. Egocentric thinking abounds with this man.

So we combine the personality (sociopath) with the cognitive (concrete) and we have Romney. Yikes!

Good post.
Chicago Guy: DSM-IV is fairly confused on the differentiation of the three "conditions" because there's actually only one. The term psychopath is actually a legalism and there's no real definitional difference between psychopath and sociopath. The antisocial personality disorder is the more modern definition, just as bipolar disorder is the more modern term for manic-depressive. The difference appears to be that the older terms are more descriptive than the newer ones. It's hard to visualize antisocial personality disorder, but relatively easy to ideate "sociopath." Operationally, someone diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder is more likely to be in treatment.

To my knowledge, however, there's no effective medication protocol for antisocial personality disorder.

Grif, you're quite right. One could diagnose some of the same symptoms as indicative of Asperger's. Extreme self-centeredness, the inability to read body language, facial expressions and voice tones, but those are hard to identify without spending time with the subject. Typically, one would ask the subject to directly interpret facial expressions from photographs that have been previously categorized with respect to the normative meaning of the facial expression. That's not going to happen here.

He seems to lack any sense of moral responsibility, which absolutely does put him in Piaget's concrete operative category.

In the final analysis, however, it doesn't really matter. What is clear is that there is something very, very wrong with this man...but it's not just him. The entire managerial caste in America is populated with people like Mitt Romney, because they are all collectively incapable of empathy, which keeps normal people from doing the horrific things they do on a daily basis.
Sage, no argument from me, either, but Grif--it's definitely not Asperger's. As the mother of an Aspie, I can tell you they are far from being manipulative, greedy, attention seekers who seek to control others. No way would any Aspie enter a career in politics, and if one ever did, he or she wouldn't be a lying sumbitch. They have a serious problem with lying: they can't do it.

Romney might be a sociopath, but I think it's also possible he could simply be a product of more mundane processes. To start with, he isn't naturally very smart--witness how many gaffes he makes when he has to speak extemporaneously. Now, take a guy who lacks imagination and isn't particularly smart, but who is good-looking, personable, and eager to please those whom he perceives as authorities; let him get born as the youngest child in a wealthy family who can buy him a solid place on the track to wealth and influence, and raise him in a church that places maximum value on conformity and material success, with a strong dose of insular cultural sensibilities. You could easily get someone like Romney: willing to do whatever is necessary to please the people whom he perceives as 'real' or 'legitimate;' naive to the point of insensitivity about everyone else; and mindlessly driven to pursue 'success' was it was defined for him by his forebears and his culture.

I'm among the few who is not convinced we saw the 'real' Romney (if there is such a being) in the tapes from Palm Beach. I think it's well within the realm of probability that he was willing to tell them whatever he'd been told they wanted to hear, exactly as he is willing to tell every other audience exactly what he's been told they want to hear. I see no particular reason for him to be more honest with five-hundred-thousand-dollar donors than he is with you or me.

Romney is the natural Etch-a-Sketch candidate because he doesn't believe strongly in anything beyond his own desire to win all the prizes, just 'cause. The Romney clip that rings the most sincere to me is the one where he says that when he was young, he thought that being rich and famous would make him happy, and now that he's grown, boy was he right!
Karen, you're right....I am rusty on my asperger's symptomology. Aspergers can't lie and they become very upset when lied to because it interferes with their ability to interpret the world. Good point.

I would also applaud you for your succinct theory about how Romney got this way; I think you are right on target, quite correct. However, what you've done - very nicely, by the way - to provide an operative description of HOW someone becomes a sociopath. It's a adaptive mechanism that enables them to live in an environment filled with cognitive dissonance, which might very well stem from being raised in a bizarre quasi-religious environment. Thank you.
One more: I really don't know where you guys are getting the idea that Aspies are "self-centered." They might not be eager to pay a lot of attention to othe people, but their attention is usually on things outside themselves (as opposed to being focused inward), and they can be among the most heart-of-gold people you'll ever be unable to make prolonged eye contact with.
Oops. Sage and I were writing those two last posts at the same time.
Sagemerlin, you've encapsulated so many things that bother me about Romney, that I can't really refute your analysis. Small revelations, such as treating the family dog like luggage; the "I like to fire people" or "It's not my job to worry about those people." are disturbing individually, but they create a chilling pattern when looked at together. This guy is an ice-cold customer so insulated and sheltered by his wealth that his opinion of most of us is close to viewing middle and lower class people as medieval serfs. He's the attractive exterior packaging of some really ugly ideas.

We aren't rich, and most of us will never be rich, or enrich Romney; hence we're expendable. He needn't worry about the devastation his and Paul Ryan's cuts would create--he'll probably never be in the same room with us. The Secret Service would keep inconveniently miserable people far enough away that he'd never have to speak to us, hear us, or respond to our protests.

rated
First a couple of professional clarifications: every mental health diagnosis is a "clinical diagnosis" meaning it's a judgment call. There are no objective tests such as blood work or detection of viruses present. Hopefully it is an informed, intelligent, thoughtufl diagnostic conculusion based on interviews, observations, and study fo the person's history, looking for consistent patterns in a variety of contexts over a long period of time. Secondly, many people are pure types. That is, they display some of the diagnostic symptoms, some traits or tendenceis, without manifesting the entire spectrum. Thirdly, labels are shorthand summaires that insurance companies and reviewers of presecribed medications demand. I myself used to be considered quite good at diagnosing new clients at the community mental health centers but since I went into private pracitice (and don't accept third-party payments) I find little use for diagnostic labels.
OK, now I'll stop sounding pedantic. We have every right to notice and be concerned about such evident traits as apparent lack of a conscience, pathological lying, dissembling, glibness & superficiality, lack of empathy, etc. Whether those satisfy the full criteria for a psychiatric diagnstic label or not, is irrelevant for most of us, irrelevant for all practical purposes. Roert Hare, the Canadian psychologist considered the leading expert of his generation on psychopathy, based on his research, his Psychopathy Checklist and the book "Without Consicence". He followed that up with a book called "Snakes in Suits" about how the modern corporate world admires, utilizes, promotes, and rewards psychopathic character traits that would be considered pathological and evil, ordinarily. (I blogged about this a long time ago). I think he was right but the book did not become anywhere near as popular as his ealrier work about psychopaths recongized as criminals, like Ted Bundy. People didn't want to hear what he had to say. It was too threatening to conventional wisdom. Hare was telling an unpopular truth, one we should revisit in today's world. Maybe Robert Hare was just ahead of his time--and the times are now catching up with his insights. You are certainly within your rights, Sagemerlin, to lay this out there and challenge any critics to produce evidence to the contrary. [r]
My last boyfriend was a sociopath. Charming and manipulative I watched him do his magic on many people. He was a rich man in Del Mar but lost it all and robbed banks. His years in prison made him a little less sociopathic and less republican and more humble but not much. He hated rules. Made his own way. Tremendous focus. We cant dismiss Romney because he has sociopathic tendencies. He is more powerful because of these traits.
Donegal: Very interesting comment. Quite a few of us here have psych backgrounds to one extent or another. In my practice, in substance abuse treatment, I was dealing almost exclusively with sociopathic personalities, a great many of whom were actually bipolars. When I look at Romney, I see a man who's drug of choice is attention.
He has that strange distance from everything, when questioned about most anything-taxes, specific plans, his statements and actions of the past he evades and then asks the same of his opponents. He was a missionary to France who never learned the language expecting the French to learn English to understand what he wants to tell them and, again unlike his father, he never questioned why he did not have a single convert. He was invested with the Chinese national oil company which is seeking to gain access to North American fields while running for President. You did an excellent job of setting criteria and exploring, but I think the English, in their long history of disassociated aristocrats summed it perfectly. "Mitt the Twit."
But leaders have always been psychopaths - born that way and take over, or were royal by descent and made crazy by their position.

I think what Karen said makes a lot of sense, about R's upbringing. He may well think he's on the way to having a planet of his very own. It's nutzeroonie, but there are lots and lots of Mormons who keep on keeping on with their particular line of nuttiness. A lot of people, however, manage the cognitive dissonance of crazy beliefs c/w a reasonable and compassionate life.

People are so crazy to start with, that it's almost like arguing angels on a pinhead to distinguish varieties and degrees... Outbreaks of sanity should be studied, to see if there's some kind of vaccine against craziness that could be developed from practitioners' blood...

That said, tho I have never known any upper=echelon corporate or government types, I have known from the other end that Islandtime mentions, namely psychopaths in prison (I did chapel prison visitation for a decade and a half). Haha, Hare did his study on psychopathy with Canadian inmates...but, I gather, on the west coast and not with 'mine'. It was his book that explained or, rather, described the oddness of one particular guy, who was a total classic case - so obvious, and yet had the entire prison, inmates and staff, in constant turmoil (I bowed out and left that prison). I can see echoes of that in Romney - the WTF moments.

Lastly, I think Karen is right about Romney not being any more 'real' at that fundraiser than he is anywhere else - he was just saying to those psychopaths what they believe or at least profess: that they have no responsibility for all those blind, lame, crippled moochers.

BOTTOM LINE - GET OUT THE VOTE. Think Obama and his drones and everything else is bad?

Hey, what about a long-distance diagnosis of that creep Ryan?
I have nothing to add and I'm not qualified to judge. This is certainly coherent.

He isn't Nixon, he's who Nixon wished he was, but not remotely as smart. Nixon was resentful and socially not adept, but not privileged and Nixon actually accomplished a lot of good things. Romney would only do so by accident
Romney's latest gaffe has every pilot in the country dumbfounded in the wake of his suggestion that airplane windows should be operable to let air into the cabin in response to the incident in which a plane that Ann Romney was on had an on-board incident in which the cabin filled up with smoke.

Ed Schultz took this up last night, along with Rachel Maddow. Schultz is a pilot and he was beside himself with disbelief that anyone would make such a suggestion.

For those of you who don't know - and, please, I don't want to know who you are - when you breech the integrity of airliner cabin at 30,000, explosive decompression takes place. Ear drums burst, people have heart attacks and often die of asphyxiation, and that's only if the plane isn't torn apart.

And, of course, Romney is wrong about the windows. There are two operable windows on every aircraft, the side windows in the cockpit. This is necessary so that the pilots can communicate with the ground crew. No one - except for Romney - would ever suggest or permit anyone to open one of those windows in flight. Even George Junior would have known better since he is also a pilot.

Romney's not stupid, but he is very ignorant outside a very narrow field of interest and the problem with ignorant people is that, unlike stupid people, ignorant people are ignorant of the fact that they are ignorant.
No rebuttal, but Mitt has chosen NH as primary residence because there is no sales or income tax in that state.

He is cunning; not brilliant and an excellent salesman for over promises and under delivers.
I guess that constitutes Romney's loyalty factor. If he can make more money in China, he will invest in China. If he can avoid sales and income taxes in NH, he will move to New Hampshire. Man's a snake.
You'll get no rebuttal here. I've been saying for some time that Romney is a sociopath and being accused of hyperbole. I don't think so. It's obvious to me Mitt suffers some sort of Oedipal rage similar to that exhibited by Bush the Least, who also had a severe "daddy" problem. You've gone thru the symptoms already, so let me just connect a few dots from his history:

Romney was a prep school bully, who forcefully cut the hair of another student while Romney's friends held the boy down. That incident is confirmed by the account of four other participants involved who remember the incident vividly; When confronted about the incident, Romney first chuckled (perhaps in recollection), and then tellingly, claimed not to remember it all.

The incident with the family dog Seamus has been thoroughly told and retold, so I'll skip the details. But this is another incidence where when confronted, Romney laughed inappropriately. Inappropriate laughter is another sign of sociopathy. Also telling is that Romney has yet to apologize for that episode. An inability to express remorse or to recognize the inappropriateness of one's behavior is yet another symptom of sociopathy.

Examples of sociopathy from Bain are legion, far too numerous and too grievous to warrant enumerating here. I think it's safe to say there are likely tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of former employees at Bain acquisitions who view Mitt as a sociopath -- and that's probably the nicest thing they'd call him.

Then there are Mitt's own words. "I enjoy firing people." "The poor are doing just fine." "Half the people are freeloaders and moochers who won't take care of themselves." Perhaps one or two of these could be dismissed as a gaffe, but taken in toto -- and there are many more such instances -- they are a sign of something far worse than hoof in mouth disease.

Comedian Frank Caliendo has a bit in his Bush the Least persona in which he talks about "inside words" and "outside words". Romney has a really bad habit of letting inside words come out, and those words are very revealing and very condemning.

I could write a book about Mitt the Sociopath, and I'll bet somebody somewhere is already in the process.
Hey, Tom. Thanks for stopping by.

A. Who is he going to apologize to? I think the dog is dead.

B. There's always been a question about whether sociopaths are insane or not. Of course, sanity is a legal concept, not a medical one, but consider this: Sociopaths are probable not insane according to the legal definition because they know the difference between right and wrong. They just don't care.

More specifically, they re-write the rules of right and wrong according to the needs of the moment. I think it's called situational ethics.

C. Well, why not? Between the two of us we could knock out a book in a few weeks. I'll write the first half. You write the second. I'll take everything up his stint as Governor, and you pick it up from there.
His gaffes and inability to get people, are more like an Asperger. He is not charming or charismatic. He is frightened to take risks, and psychopaths love risky behavior. But when it comes to lack of empathy, bullying behavior (starting in childhood), manipulative actions, lying with a straight face and no conscience, you make a good case. Psychopathy is very complex, and there may be a kind of compartmentalized psychopathy, which is revealed in Romney in business and politics, and not sexual behavior. I reviewed Arbitrage in an OS blog, and I think the Richard Gere character plays a true psychopath, though the parallels with Romney are striking. Thank you for your in depth look at this diagnosis.
Robert Elisberg has a great piece up today in which he points out the logical conclusion from Romney's 47% video is that he wants to increase taxes on the unemployed. His logic is impeccable.

Check it out:

http://open.salon.com/blog/robert_elisberg/2012/09/25/the_biggest_romney_tapes_revelation_thats_been_overlooked
No question in my mind someone running for high office in this country has to have traits in common with the definition of "socio-pathology," and certainly this is a question worth asking, and a "technique" the right wouldn't think twice about using against their opposition, but I don't think so--he's stood up to too many tests prior to this without cracking and at his age it's unlikely--not that it isn't possible.

If anything, he is driven by an overweening ambition that leads him again and again to fall into making the statements and gaffs he has (remember his ill fated trip to Europe and the Middle East.) But compared to Bush, he's a genius, not that it matters given the current polarity.

The best thing that could happen is more voters not brain dead or seeking vengence will see through the facade that he will say anything to be elected, and at least do the rest of us the service of staying home on election day.
You forgot about when he was in college, his dad gave him a Michigan State Police uniform. He used to stop people on the highway with a red flashing light he put on his Rambler. Now that's creepy!
I have more or less given up on the electoral process in the current presidential circus but a request has been made for me to express an opinion.
The most entertaining but nevertheless totally depressing Republican effort to marshal some rationality in their grotesque exhibition of the possibilities before Romney was chosen was evidently an exploration of the extent of grossly weird variations politicians can exhibit without ending up in a padded cell. I can not say Romney is an exception to this bizarre display but he does have core values manufactured from the more vicious arrogance of those financial monsters that are the puppet masters behind the political agendas of both major political parties. There is no question that his consistent public and private gaffes exudes a rancorous odor of total personal character decay but evidently there resides in a reasonably large sector of the voting public a taste for this disgusting offering much as the most rotten ill smelling cheeses have a sustainable market.

But one must assume that this riot of idiocy which has been decanted from what was assumed to be the basic concept of American democracy has some plan behind it.

Obama was exhileratingly welcomed into office as the strong medicine that would undo the open chicanery of the previous administration which smashed through whatever decency was left of the country after Clinton's exercise of freeing the beast of the financial sector to chew up what was left of FDR's New Deal. To say he was, and is, a total placebo instead of the strong medicine that was required is to grant him the neutrality he certainly does not deserve. Obama's enthusiasm for the expensive bloody fiascoes masterminded by G.W.Bush and his further explosive blasting of major constitutional civil rights granting him dictatorial powers presented such a total disaster to the founding principals of the country that only a political opponent who was an obvious complete asshole could guarantee Obama's re-election. The plot has wonderfully matured and bloomed with its repulsive flower of evil.

Mission accomplished.
Your good and Today your Excellent!
"The most entertaining but nevertheless totally depressing Republican effort to marshal some rationality in their grotesque exhibition of the possibilities before Romney was chosen was evidently an exploration of the extent of grossly weird variations politicians can exhibit without ending up in a padded cell."

Sometimes Jan can really write.
what Jan said......applause.....
JAN UNFAIR TO SMELLY CHEESE! Once you get past the smell, it tastes reeeeeelly good. The same is not true for Romney. Nor, I guess, for Obama, tho he smells much better and definitely looks good enough to nibble on.
I agree with you, Jan, but only to this extent: while both Obama and Romney serve the same masters, and while both will inevitably make the same bad decisions about the economy, Obama's solutions will be slightly more palatable to me, personally, because I am already on Social Security and I am one year away from Medicare. If those programs go away, so will I.
There have been indications that Obama is willing to put a least some of social security and Medicare on the chopping block. Helsinki looks better every day.
I am ready to strangle my old friend Bernie Sanders. He's the one driving this particular piece of bullshit. The item that the Obama administration is considering is an adjustment to the calculation of the consumer price index that would result in a .003 change in the way the index is calculated. Right now, the CPI doesn't change in response to purchasers buying habits. If beef becomes more expensive and people eat more chicken, the current CPI calculations are based on the same proportion of beef to chicken. Under the new system, the relative amounts of the commodities purchased will be taken into account, which will in practical terms mean a very slight adjustment to the monthly SSI stipends.

I live on my SS and I don't see anything wrong with that adjustment.

In the current projections, it looks like we will have a very close Senate, with a 50/50 split or a 51/49 split. In that case, of course, the VP has the deciding vote....except for the fact that Bernie Sanders can, by himself, block passage of any such legislation since, without him, the best the Democrats would be able to muster in a 50/50 senate would be a draw if Sanders decides to vote no.

As the only independent in a 50/50 Senate, Bernie Sanders will suddenly become the most powerful person in the room since he can make or break deadlocks with his vote. (Bernie is counted as a Democrat because he caucuses with them, hence the 50/50 projection. The Democrats may still get to 50 without Sanders, but some of those 50 are really DINOs, who can't be trusted in a showdown.
@kenneth houck
What? Romney was a Mormon missionary in France without ever bothering to learn the language so that he could, maybe, like, COMMUNICATE with people there? Weird, man...
Politics in a system like ours is never going to be anything other than one party being more inclined than the other to reform the status quo. Railing against it, as Mr. Sand does is largely the search for a perfect system that is never going to happen, but by its pursuit lessens the possibilities there are in a real world.

In fact, there is no choice in real terms for the vast majority in this election if they are thinking in terms of their own best interest, and understand the form of government we live in.
sagemarlin
As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I have made peace with the fact that I will never be able to "really" understand anyone, let alone change them or "truly get them" in any particular reasonable or logical manner.
Throughout my life, I have suffered much at the hands of a few and many. I have been sexually assaulted, physically abused, financially controlled and berated by people I thought I understood; people I thought loved me and who I swore I would always and forever love back.
And always . . . what did I do with this abuse and emotional torture? I forgave them before I even allowed myself to feel anger, shame, sadness or understand the meaning of forgiving myself for being in such horrible and dangerous situations.
I have stood by my men, stood with them and have defended them on all counts while I allowed my children to watch me cower and act like someone I no longer recognize.
When family members and friends told me I was being treated badly and could no longer sit by and watch, I let them go, and instead stood by my abuser as his first and greatest fan.
But I somehow made it through to the other side.
Today I am as strong as anyone could be. I am brave, feisty, fearless and yet I still have a sense of humor to soften the long hard blows I endured for too many years.
But this is why I became a writer; the pain I suffered at the hands of sociopathic and psychotic people made me the empathetic woman and mother that I am today.
Although I was a writer since early childhood as I felt ignored as a child, with no valued voice or sense of being-- hence my unstable and precarious relationships.
I am grateful that I did not become hard, callous, vengeful and damaged so much that I might not be able to smile and make ironic jokes with my coming of-age daughters; that I can still cook a meal that loved ones can enjoy; that I don't care much at all about what people think about me anymore; that the nightmares have stilled their once-spirited attacks on my every sleeping and waking hour; and that I can be still, quiet, serene and surrendering within myself.
As for Romney, I have no clue as to what he is about, how and why he thinks the way that he does, or if he has ever even ventured down the path that you and I have allowed our minds and curiosity to go.
I suppose that he is a very poor man in spirit, even though he is technically rich by any standards
I suppose the love he feels for his wife and boys is as genuine as he can possibly feel love
I suppose that he thinks he is quite charismatic, socially affable and even charming at times
I suppose he believes he is very smart, successful in all respects and has many friends who feel the same way
But this is all so strange and surreal at best.
As I wake each morning, I finally know that it is okay for me to not worry about how everyone else is feeling and why they do the things that they do.
What is important is that my feelings are real, my instincts are usually right, and I don't care much if they turn to be wrong.
Thank you sage for your piece as it was not only informative but enlightening for us all.
Rated my friend.
This is a great analysis and belongs on big Salon, or something similar to be more widely read. Posting to my FB.
Merlin, I have zero credentials to weigh in on whether sociopathy is an accurate diagnosis for this man. My lay understanding of a sociopath is that it is someone who is incapable of empathy, i.e., someone who acts to further his own ends and cannot understand why anyone could object, and so what if there are negative consequences for anyone else. The whole 47% flap is the clincher. It's the one time I've heard him speaking in what seemed to be an authentic tone, and he authentically seems to have no clue how offensive that was to MILLIONS of people. The dude is toast and he pressed the lever himself. ~r~ for opening this discussion --> I hope it has large and effective vote-for-the-other-guy ripples.
This is what I love about Open Salon. Francesca's comment is both self-revealing and also a commentary about the probative value of this site with respect to our ability support one another. Francesca's story takes my (relatively) objective analysis of Romney's personality and brings it into focus on the personal level. What happened to Francesca in her own life is exactly what Romney is offering us as a nation - the chance to be bullied into submission.

That's not an option I want to choose for myself or my country. The absolutely absence of contrary opinions about Romney in the comment thread to this post is perhaps the important commentary on Romney....no one seems to want to disagree with these observations and I know that there are Romney apologists out there who hate me, personally, hate my politics, and hate my observational methods. I say this only because they have privately told me so. I continue to allow them to post their comments on my posts for the simple reason that what they say reflects more upon them than they do upon me.

The fact that none of these people have even attempted to contradict this an analysis tells me that it really needs more attention. I just don't know how to make that happen.

On a more personal level, I am deeply flattered that Francesca calls me her friend. That's a high compliment from her.
sagemerlin
Thanks for thoughts
`
It's time to be honest
Read S. Freud or You
Adler, Jung, Old Sage
`
There are many Guides
`
I don't repeat all` Freud.
Read ` Narcism ` etcetera.
Society and The Discontents.
Just so we al think more clearly-
Because we can anticipate `Woes.
`
I gotta get. I get soup and a ` Hug.
I Blush if Amish Hug Stinky` Hick.
Doc think my clothes Smell ` Bad.
I'm told I have a Barn Cow` Odor.
An authentic Art James. Now I'm really styling.
Sagemerlin you are awesome! I appreciate and have a high respect of what you posted - I totally agree with you on all points.
Thank you sagemerlin for your kind, graceful and meaningful words.
Just to let you know, life for me was only "truly heartbreaking" for a few years, and I have so much more to be thankful for than most.
I grew up in an intellectual, creative and highly ambitious family where we were all expected to achieve our highest realm for whatever chosen passion that moved and inspired us.
My father is a Russian0Jew born and raised in Los Angeles and was a UCLA Art professor and Road Scholar, and is now a well known painter. My mother is a Japanese-Buddhist who was raised in Hawaii during the Second World War, and received a Masters in Education and then later became a successful fashion designer and business woman.
I loved childhood and still yearn for the safety and comforts that were my particular home, even though we were often discriminated against because of our ethnic mixture and religious differences.
But things were difficult as well, as "the pressure to be perfect" never ceased with a Jewish father and Japanese mother, especially in the realms of education, intellectualism and the arts.
I can't quite explain what led me to two men who treated me with such disregard, cruelty and inhumane treatment. I suppose I have simply always wanted to please anyone I happened to be around, and if you happened to be the father of my dear children, then I was particularly doomed.
How could I leave a marriage with little babes who clung to my skirt; who looked up to me for everything? Surely there must have been something terribly wrong with me, so I thought.
But now I think differently as I am free, safe and autonomous, and rather than being angry or bitter, I am forever grateful that I pulled through and still able to live a peaceful and even serene life.
We are all here together on this earth for such a very short time.
Through posts like yours, we can heal, explore and bond in a universe that seems to be flailing in nearly every atmospheric moment.
Thank you my friend.
Thank you sagemerlin for your kind, graceful and meaningful words.
Just to let you know, life for me was only "truly heartbreaking" for a few years, and I have so much more to be thankful for than most.
I grew up in an intellectual, creative and highly ambitious family where we were all expected to achieve our highest realm for whatever chosen passion that moved and inspired us.
My father is a Russian0Jew born and raised in Los Angeles and was a UCLA Art professor and Road Scholar, and is now a well known painter. My mother is a Japanese-Buddhist who was raised in Hawaii during the Second World War, and received a Masters in Education and then later became a successful fashion designer and business woman.
I loved childhood and still yearn for the safety and comforts that were my particular home, even though we were often discriminated against because of our ethnic mixture and religious differences.
But things were difficult as well, as "the pressure to be perfect" never ceased with a Jewish father and Japanese mother, especially in the realms of education, intellectualism and the arts.
I can't quite explain what led me to two men who treated me with such disregard, cruelty and inhumane treatment. I suppose I have simply always wanted to please anyone I happened to be around, and if you happened to be the father of my dear children, then I was particularly doomed.
How could I leave a marriage with little babes who clung to my skirt; who looked up to me for everything? Surely there must have been something terribly wrong with me, so I thought.
But now I think differently as I am free, safe and autonomous, and rather than being angry or bitter, I am forever grateful that I pulled through and still able to live a peaceful and even serene life.
We are all here together on this earth for such a very short time.
Through posts like yours, we can heal, explore and bond in a universe that seems to be flailing in nearly every atmospheric moment.
Thank you my friend.