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