The chilling explanation of why Obama is cool

by CynthiaYockey on February 12, 2009

Much is made of Obama’s so-called cool and calm demeanor and how this makes him superior to ordinary mortals who get emotional about stuff, and how this means he clearly has magic powers to keep all of his contradictory and often mutually-exclusive promises because if he didn’t, why, then we would know because he’d act all nervous about what will happen when the jig is finally up and the chickens have come home to roost.

Well, besides Obama’s success in rigging the game in every possible way so that he comes out on top no matter what, so he doesn’t have to be nervous, there’s this: he is missing the vital faculty that would allow him to be nervous and have emotions other than anger, rage, gloating and glee.

Obama does not have a conscience.

God help me, and of all people, Ann Coulter spotted this first in her column, “Obama’s Dimestore ‘Mein Kampf’.”

In my first post on this, I recommended The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, Ph.D., as the best guide for understanding Obama (and his less-accomplished ilk).

Dr. Stout both amplifies and sharpens the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of “sociopath” as follows on pp. 6-8 of the paperback edition of her book:

Other researchers and clinicians, many of whom think the APA’s definition describes simple “criminality” better than true “psychopathy” or “sociopathy,” point to additional documented characteristics of sociopaths as a group. One of the more frequently observed of these traits is a glib and superficial charm that allows the true sociopath to seduce other people, figuratively or literally — a kind of glow or charisma that, initially, can make the sociopath seem more charming or more interesting than most of the normal people around him. He or she is more spontaneous, or more intense, or somehow more “complex,” or sexier, or more entertaining than everyone else. Sometimes this “sociopathic charisma” is accompanied by a grandiose sense of self-worth that may be compelling at first, but upon closer inspection may seem odd or perhaps laughable. (“Someday the world will realize how special I am,” or “You know that after me, no other lover will do.”)

In addition, sociopaths have a greater than normal need for stimulation, which results in their taking frequent social, physical, financial, or legal risks. [CY: Or running for president of the United States after serving just a few months in the Senate and having hardly ever done an honest day’s work in one’s life.] Characteristically, they can charm others into attempting dangerous ventures with them, and as a group they are known for their pathological lying and conning, and their parasitic relationships with ‘”riends.” Regardless of how educated or highly placed as adults, they may have a history of early behavior problems, sometimes including drug use or recorded juvenile delinquency, and always including a failure to acknowledge responsibility for any problems that occurred.

[CY: If you follow Obama’s recent “I screwed” up over Daschle’s nomination statement you’ll see he only admits an error when he can immediately shift the blame, trivialize what he did, demonize the people who object and turn the page to bring in his next con. So his “I screwed up” is not really an admission of an error at all. In fact, if you pay attention whenever he’s caught in an error or mistake, you see he puts on his Uncle Scar face, raises his voice a bit for emphasis, and begins to say simple declarative sentences that are true and in the general subject arena, but which have nothing to do with admitting any error. He goes on long enough to make you wish you were dead, and to give him credit for forthrightly answering the question. I’ll cover the whole sequence in a future post.]

And sociopaths are noted especially for their shallowness of emotion, the hollow and transient nature of any affectionate feelings they may claim to have, a certain breathtaking callousness. They have no trace of empathy and no genuine interest in bonding emotionally with a mate. Once the surface charm is scraped off, their marriages are loveless, one-sided, and almost always short-term. If a marriage partner has any value to the sociopath, it is because the partner is viewed as a possession, one that the sociopath may feel angry to lose, but never sad or accountable.

All of these characteristics, along with the ‘symptoms’ listed by the American Psychiatric Association, are the behavioral manifestations of what is for most of us an unfathomable psychological condition, the absence of our essential seventh sense — conscience.

Crazy, and frightening — and real, in about 4 percent of the population.

On p. 12, Dr. Stout points out how sociopaths can fool everyone at least some of the time and addresses the emotional emptiness of their condition — the emptiness that, joined with their abnormal fearlessness and need for stimulation, comprises the foundation of their ability to be cool:

Robert Hare, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, has developed an inventory called the Psychopathy Checklist, now accepted as a standard diagnostic instrument for researchers and clinicians worldwide. Of his subjects, Hare, the dispassionate scientist, write, “Everyone, including the experts, can be taken in, manipulated, conned, and left bewildered by them. A good psychopath can play a concerto on anyone’s heartstrings …. Your best defense is to understand the nature of these human predators.” And Hervey Cleckley, author of the 1941 classic text The Mask of Sanity, makes this complaint of the psychopath: “Beauty and ugliness, except in a very superficial sense, goodness, evil, love, horror, and humor have no actual meaning, no power to move him.”

To help her readers recognize the sociopath in his various guises, Dr. Stout presents stories of fictional sociopaths who are composites of sociopathic characteristics. Obama is most like her character, Skip, who is a scion of a wealthy family, intelligent and handsome, whose grades in school were only average, but who has married the daughter of a billionaire and risen to CEO of an international company through his daring and skill in business.

After profiling Skip and noting the he has attained the pinnacle of success — the opposite of our image that the sociopath looks evil and exists only in the dregs of society — on pp. 43-45, Dr. Stout notes:

… What is the worst part of this picture, the central flaw in Skip’s life that makes him into a tragedy despite his success, and into the maker of tragedies for so many others? It is this: Skip has no emotional attachments to other people, none at all. He is cold as ice. … Skip is intellectually gifted, and he is fabulous at the gamesmanship of business. But by far his most impressive talent is his ability to conceal from nearly everyone the true emptiness of his heart — and to command the passive silence of those few who do know.

Most of us are irrationally influenced by appearance, and Skipper has always looked good. He knows just how to smile. He is charming, and we can readily imagine him showering flattery on the boss who gave him the Ferrari, meanwhile thinking him the fool, and underneath it all being incapable of gratitude toward anyone. He lies artfully and constantly, with absolutely no sense of guilt that might give him away in body language or facial expression. He uses sexuality as manipulation and hides his emotional vacancy behind various respectable roles — corporate superstar, son-in-law, husband, father — which are nearly impenetrable disguises.

And if the charm and the sexuality and the role playing somehow fail, Skip uses fear, a sure winner. His iciness is fundamentally scary.

…What makes him tick? What exactly does Skip want?

Dr. Stout then writes about the emotional connections that motivate people who do have consciences, then contrasts their experiences of connection and emotion with how the lack of a conscience motivates Skip and structures his perception of others (pp. 45-47):

And so without our primordial attachments to others, what would we be?

Evidently, we would be the players of a game, one that resembled a giant chess match, with our fellow human beings as the rooks, the knights, and the pawns. For this is the essence of sociopathics behavior and desire. The only thing Skip really wants — the only thing left — is to win.

… Skip is brilliant at winning. He can dominate. He can bend others to his will….

He is Super Skip. Strategies and payoffs are the only thrills he knows, and he has spent his entire life getting better and better at the game. For Skip, the game is everything, and though he is too shrewd to say so, he thinks the rest of us are naive and stupid for not playing it his way. And this is exactly what happens to the human mind when emotional attachment and conscience are missing. Life is reduced to a contest, and other human beings seem to be nothing more than game pieces, to be moved about, used as shields, or ejected.

… Controlling others — winning — is more compelling than anything (or anyone) else.

The next book by Dr. Stout on my reading list is The Paranoia Switch: How Terror Rewires Our Brains and Reshapes Our Behavior–and How We Can Reclaim Our Courage. The book was inspired by the 9/11 attack. But I expect it will give me tools to use to cope with Obama’s use of fear-mongering and terrorism as his ever-reliable Plan B when charm, false promises and seduction haven’t gotten him the total domination to his will that he seeks.

Update: H/T to GayPatriot for a list from NRO’s Jim Geraghty of Obama’s flip-flops, aka statements with an expiration date, aka lies, here.

Update, 3/19/2009: The Anchoress has noticed Obama’s sociopathic behavior pattern and identifies it as alternating between “chaos” and “cajolery.” She chronicles the pattern over his first 60 days in office here. I hope her readers also will be interested in my other posts on Obama’s sociopathy, “Understanding Obama,” and “Why ridicule is Obama’s Kryptonite.” The more we understand Obama’s sociopathy, the more we are empowered to resist his lies, seductions, manipulations, fearmongering and bullying.

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  • Two things came to mind off the top of my head as I read the relevant passages of this post. Just throwing them out there:
    The first is: How do you get the duped to wake up and recognize the sociopathology they’ve been suckered by?
    The second is: self-confidence and self-reliance themselves are great foundations from which to resist succumbing to the effects of fear-mongering. Another beneficial effect!
    Thanks for your post.

    • Jeremy,

      Thank you!

      About how to get the duped to wake up — we just have to keep digging for the truth, showing it to them and educating them about the sociopath’s two-step (charm first, then bully and threaten and terrorize and fearmonger when charm doesn’t work). Sociopaths will mix truth and lies so you can’t say they are always liars, but what you can say about them 100 percent of the time is that everything they do is for the purpose of controlling others. Spread the word!

      Cynthia

  • Jan

    EXCELLENT!!! Cythia.
    I agree, entirely, that he is a sociopath. People are puzzled by his actions because they are outside the norm. But understanding a sociopath is understanding BHO. Thanks for sending the link from lucianne.com. I’m definitely bookmarking your site. Please continue to comment on Lucianne’ site so more of us can find you.

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  • Kelly

    I’m here by way of instapundit and have enjoyed reading several of your posts and plan on reading more when I have the time. While Obama has always struck me as cold, I’m leery of assigning the label of sociopath to him even as I agree with much that was written.

    Despite the vitriolic hatred conservatives had for Clinton he was elected to two terms. Same goes for Bush (despite the media campaigning against him). Unless Obama really screws up in a big way I’m afraid we’ll have him for 8 years as well. I think our only hope at this point is taking back at least one of the houses of congress.

    • Kelly,

      Thanks for your praise!

      The key thing about sociopaths, and about Obama as a sociopath, is their two-step process: (1) figure out what you want to hear and then say it in order to get what they want, (2), bully and shame you when they fail to keep a promise or pledge to keep it in the indefinite future. Once you know that, you know to expect him to lie and serve only his own interests at all times. This is helpful in knowing how to cope with Obama. Never believe him unless you know he is serving his own interests.

      Cynthia

  • Aces

    A dear friend sent me this link.
    You really hit it spot on.
    I had begun to view Obama as such but didn’t want to fall prey to being hysterical & casting aspersions on his character.
    I thought perhaps he is just an arrogant prat.
    But no, the case you lay out here for him being a Sociopath is compelling.
    Yikes.
    You write very well btw. Glad to know of your site now !

    • Aces,

      Thank you! Please check my “Humor” category, too!

      Cynthia

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  • Jan

    I thought about you and this great article when stumbling upon this opinion: http://samvak.tripod.com/obama.html
    Thought you and your readers would enjoy it.

  • Great post Cynthia, thx-

    IMO, Barack Obama is a full-on nut job… and a clinical narcissist.

    Tendencies include preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, omnipotence, brilliance, or beauty- harbors a belief that he/she is “special” and unique, control freakery, grandiose self-importance, feeling “above the law”, interpersonally exploitive, inability to handle criticism, lack of empathy, arrogant/proud behaviors, surrounds himself with sycophants… sound familiar?

    And how else to explain his writing a self-absorbed autobiography when he was still a nobody? Same as fellow narcissists Hitler and Stalin- no surprise there, to the narcissist… no topic is EVER as important as one’s self.

    And what kind of monster mocks the disabled on Jay Leno? I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised by Obama’s gauche and downright cruel comment, no different than his classless cheap-shot on 92-yr-old Nancy Reagan in his first presser… apparently the Dear Leader’s preferred targets are handicapped and the elderly. But narcissists are often callous- even ruthless. They tend to lack empathy and/or a conscience… as your post so well explains. This is also evident in Obama’s lack of interest in his own half-brother who lives in poverty in Kenya, or his aunt found living in public housing in Boston. They simply don’t get him power or glory… so they interest Barack in the least.

    It’s hard to imagine a worse combination in a leader than managerially-inexperienced, delusional narcissist with Bolshevik mentors and weird, vengeful grudges. This guy thinks he’s king of the universe, when his resume doesn’t qualify him to run a muffler shop.

    Obama is a mess- and his insecurities, bad childhood, and irresponsible, far-left-wierdo parents are all OUR problem now, too.

    • Reaganite Republican and Philip McDaniel,

      Thank you for your comments!

      It is possible to be both a sociopath AND a narcissist — and I do think Obama has both disorders. BTW, the easy way to spot a narcissist is to observe whether they are constantly putting others down and how easily they feel shamed. A narcissist creates shame out of thin air, then offloads the shame by insulting the perceived shamer.

      However, the reason we REALLY have to learn about how sociopathy works is that once you know the sociopath’s pattern of behavior, it is easy to match it with Obama’s modus operandi and see which step he’s on at any given time. Here’s the simplified pattern:

      Step 1: Figure out what people want to hear and then say it. Then use charm and persuasion or an appeal to shared noble goals. “Here are all the wonderful things that will happen for you/your loved ones/the environment/whatever after you give me your autonomy and all your money and power.”

      Alternate Step 1: Figure out what makes the mark feel ashamed or guilty. Then work it with the “pity me” or grievance group card. “I am a victim and you are so compassionate and powerful. Plus, really, it’s all your fault I am so pitiful and you owe me. But you will be redeemed when you give me your autonomy and all your money and power.”

      Step 2: The mark or marks hand over all their money and power and wait expectantly for the goods or behaviors that were promised.

      Step 3: The sociopath is outraged that the marks expect him to keep his word. That is for fools. Smart people say whatever they have to in order to get what they want. They are idiots if they give anything in return, no matter what they promised.

      Step 4: The sociopath uses a variety of techniques to stop the marks from demanding what they were promised. These include, but are not limited to: delay, “not now, but soon”; fogging, which is providing vague promises; gaslighting, “You are crazy! I did NOT promise that thing to you!”; shaming, “You are BAD for wanting this promise kept — YOU should be doing stuff for ME!”; providing a fake fulfillment of the promise, “Sure, I’ll give gay federal employees benefits — you can have everything on this list (insert long list of benefits) as long as that’s in compliance with DOMA (only one or two items in the list do not conflict with DOMA and actually can be provided — but Obama got credit for the list and gays won’t find out the benefits are not there until, one by one, they try to use them); substitution, “You don’t want THAT, you want THIS”; and overwhelm, “OK, I’ll do the thing but only after you do this list of stuff first,” or “OK, but I’m going to filibuster you first until you are ready to fake your own death and beg me not to do the thing I promised.”

      Rinse and repeat.

      By the way, one of the reasons Obama is able to take so many contradictory positions is that most people just listen for the messages they want to hear, and after they hear it, they stop listening. So he will tell the most amazing lies like, “My administration is the most open and transparent administration ever,” and with a lapdog media, people say, “THAT’S what I wanted to hear” and tune out. It takes a huge amount of effort to counter the lie and Obama tells so many lies like this that it is impossible to keep up.

      Master this lesson first: When Obama is saying something you want to hear, and suddenly you are thinking, “Oh, he is wise and good! I know because he agrees with ME!,”it only means he’s figured you out and wants something you have. Rest assured, you are not going to get the thing he’s promising.

      Master this lesson second: Do NOT tune out or relax after Obama says something you wanted to hear. He usually breaks the promise in some underhanded way within 72 hours of making it.

      Cynthia

  • Philip McDaniel

    Cythia;
    I came to your blog via Dan Riehl’s World View and am glad I did. I have been uncomfortable with Obama’s responses to certain situations and his approach to foreign affairs for quite some time. To me he exhibits narcissistic tendencies bordering on pathology. You are most likely correct in suspecting sociopathology. It is a sobering thought. I also followed your link to Ann Coulter’s article about Obama’s “Dreams From My Father.” I haven’t read it, but will surely do so now. With a few caveats, I think Dr. Stout’s descriptions in ‘The Sociopath Next Door’ are quite relevant. Thanks for an interesting and thought provoking post.

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