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I knew there was something funny about her soon after she began working for me. The casual lies, and the distortions of reality that came with that. But the last six months, with its increasingly serious falsehoods, the false accusations, the subpoenas, the changing of locks, the sleeplessness, the fear. That's when I realized that a sociopath had entered my life.

Relief followed for the six months after she was no longer working for me. And I could not help but read up on sociopaths, and the tell-tale signals: their lies, their lack of remorse and, in the case of some sociopaths, their violence.

Undoubtedly I am still not good at spotting sociopaths, but having dealt with one, I am a little more attuned than most. And yesterday it struck me: could Romney be a sociopath?

The first clue should have been the lies. Okay, "all politicians lie." The voters force them to lie. If you can't deal with having to dissemble, maybe you shouldn't be a politician. But doesn't it seem like Romney lies more than others? Lies about everything? Lies even when he doesn't have to?

And yesterday we found out that he as a teenager was guilty of assault and battery on a gay kid. Romney denies that he knew the other kid was gay, but really, we all know that kids who seemed gay were often targeted by the bullies.

Romney was a bully?

Up till now, we all assumed that Romney must be a really nice guy. Why? Well "Mormons might be weird" some of us might think, but the ones we've known have been "really nice people". Up til now the assumption has been that the reason we know so little about Romney the man is that he needs to hide his Mormonism. But last night I had a though: what if Romney isn't hiding his Mormonism so much as hiding behind his Mormonism. Using it to conceal the real man. Sociopaths hide behind things that other people think are good and wholesome.

It's not that Romney was homophobic, in the times he was growing up, almost everyone was.

And it's not that he picked on a gay classmate, that wasn't that uncommon.

But he apparently (1) was involved in a long and thought out act of violence against a classmate and (2) took a strong leadership role in doing so. Okay, that's a bit much, even for bullies and even for 50 years ago. It says something about his character, something ugly.

But it's not even that! As the popular refrain would have it, we all did things as teenagers that we regret. I remember doing things that, years later, I have come to regret. Acts of cruelty, acts of commission and omission.

But here's the thing: all the other boys involved in the assault against the gay student have expressed regret, often deep and profound, when interviewed as grown men. They are very sorry that they were involved. One even ran into the victim many years later, and apologized to him.

By contrast, Romney chuckled as he recalled the story. Apologized -if- he had hurt anybody. No empathy, no remorse.


Romney also claims that he doesn't remember. And that would be scary. The people who don't remember things like that are typically people to whom it made very little difference, people who lack empathy. What happened was not as bad as, say, rape, but it may be telling that rapists often don't remember their victims, and seem to act surprised that their victims should expect them to remember who they were. To forget something like an assault and battery on a classmate is something that one might expect, well, from a sociopath.

Or he remembers and is lying when he claims not to. Again, the casual lies, the lack of remorse, the lack of empathy. Typical of, well, sociopaths.

Lack of empathy and remorse? That would come in handy when buying companies, declaring them bankrupt, firing all the workers, productive or not...

Of course, most Democrats already think the Republicans are off in sociopathic territory with some of their policies. But this is different. What if the Republicans have picked an actual sociopath as their candidate for president?

And how do we know? Is there anything else in Romney's past that might paint him in such a light? Is it time to further explore this possibility?

What would it mean to the nation if one of its presidential candidates is an actual sociopath?


Is Mitt Romney a sociopath?

86%796 votes
10%99 votes
3%30 votes

| 925 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  While I am not a psychoanalist, I have (14+ / 0-)

    seen that look of stony disdain before on others, and I have thought for some time that "here is a man who has learned that he must keep his real impulses in check." Every so often, when people follow him with questions about things he doesn't want to talk about, you can hear that sharp edge in his voice grow rapidly, his body posture shift... maybe it's just me expecting the worst of someone like him?

    I don't know how to put a description to it or quantify it, but I am certain that he's a remorseless guy with a serious temper. Someone with a self-righteous sense of privilege who gets thwarted can become dangerous. He wants what he wants (because he thinks he deserves it) and damn anyone who gets in his way.

    I wonder-- are there any reports of what his reactions were like when he lost to 2008 nomination? Personal reactions, not the canned-for-TV stuff.

    •  It might explain the dog on the roof (19+ / 0-)

      Unkindness to animals is another sociopathic trait.

      Maybe the people who disliked Mitt for that are on to something...

    •  Republicans choose nominees (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Blue Bell Bookworm

      on the basis of pecking order - and it wasn't Romney's TURN in 2008.
      However, he was assured the 2012 nomination if he bowed out nicely.

      "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

      by MartyM on Fri May 11, 2012 at 06:05:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  American Psycho... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Blue Bell Bookworm
      We talked about how Martian-like [he] was, how he was looking at the world like somebody from another planet, watching what people did and trying to work out the right way to behave. And then one day he called me and he had been watching Tom Cruise on David Letterman, and he just had this very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes, and he was really taken with this energy.
      I ran across this quote by movie's director, Mary Harron, describing Christian Bale's inspiration for the "soulless Patrick Bateman*," a couple of months ago, and was immediately struck that the "Martian-like" behavior and "intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes" could have just as easily been a description of Mitt Romney...

      * Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, in this fictitious work is purely coincidental.

    •  I have been thinking the "robotic" manner (2+ / 0-)

      is the result of trying to control his impulses and hold them inside. Even the classmates who defended him and the yearbook entries described him as constantly having a wild and funny time. But there are different kinds of funny, and as we saw in the poncho episode, his kind of funny is mean and derisive.

      I don't see any evidence that Rmoney has any values other than, as you say, wanting what he wants. By birth, wealth, education and looks he always was able to expect the gratification of his desires. His desires were defined by a set of socially-prescribed goals: college, grad school, business, politics, and the sequence of roles in the Mormon church. He seems to have pursued those goals for their own sake, but seems to have no compass telling him what to do once he achieves them except to pursue the next goal.

      Maybe Rmoney is a person trapped by his own entitlement and the expectations that go with it, but it's hard to think charitably of a person who shows no empathy, no remorse, no awareness of simple human decency.

  •  I don't think so. (7+ / 0-)

    Like some other medical (psych) terms, I think that's one that gets thrown around too easily.  Does he have antisocial tendencies?  Sure.  Does he think the sun shines out of his rear?  Again, probably.  There are any number of personality flaws on display in Mr Romney, some of them quite deep and broad.  But I don't think he rises to the level of outright insanity that 'sociopath' implies.

    He's just a lousy excuse for a human being.

  •  I've frequently had this exact thought (10+ / 0-)

    so I wasn't too surprised at the news yesterday.  Cruelty to animals fits right in as well.  

    I met a pathological liar once.  She was unbelievable.  She lied about big things, but the really weird thing was she lied about really stupid little things.  She got three guys fired for sexual harassment and then she accused a gay man because he was politely rejecting her advances.  We finally all put our collective feet on her neck to stop the bullshit.  She had the project manager completely snowed.  Interestingly, underneath all the pompous fake superiority, there was a truly frightened person, frightened of being found out.

    "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine." -- Patti Smith

    by followyourbliss on Fri May 11, 2012 at 05:35:41 AM PDT

  •  Well, Mr. Romney seems to have a lot of Captain (4+ / 0-)

    Queeg moments.

    Hope has a hole in it when Republicans come, bringing shackles and sorrow; branding their greed on the backs of the poor. - Wendy Connors

    by Wendys Wink on Fri May 11, 2012 at 05:36:12 AM PDT

  •  Eh You Could Write a Book on Romney's Social Flaws (5+ / 0-)

    ...and several people probably are.

    But this is the sort of Fristian diagnosis that we really shouldn't engage in.  He's "wrong" about enough things that we don't have to call him "sick."

    Too Folk For You. - No matter how progressive the jurisdiction seems, remember this: If you're going to flagrantly violate the laws, it REALLY helps to be white when sentencing time comes.

    by TooFolkGR on Fri May 11, 2012 at 05:38:14 AM PDT

    •  Maybe (8+ / 0-)

      I'm not completely convinced myself.

      But what gets me is the apparent ease of lying, the lack of any apparent discomfort in doing so. The obvious lies even about small things.

      The one person I was unfortunate enough to deal with, who I became convinced was sociopathic, shared that trait with Mitt.

    •  on the other hand, a goodly bunch of Americans (6+ / 0-)

      are willing to hand over the reins of this country to someone who (despite running for 6 yrs, or perhaps, because of it) they only know through carefully crafted, postured, air-brushed events and presentations. They know what they've been taught, not what or who the real Mitt may be. (The Faux Effect is strong  with this nation, Obewon)

      Asking the question does a couple of things. It focuses attention on truly bizarre bits of behavior which suggest some inner battles that rage within him. It also rips the scab off the beautiful, "Pro Business" facade that he worked so hard to create. Lastly, if it manages to out his inner core, with all of its malevolent, mormonistical workings, I suspect that Joe Six Pack is going to say, "thanks, but no thanks."

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Fri May 11, 2012 at 05:48:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We saw a sociopath in office. Bush II. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BluejayRN, hopeful, Kingsmeg, trumpeter

    Another one would be just as devastating if not worse.

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Fri May 11, 2012 at 05:45:31 AM PDT

    •  Not sure I agree (7+ / 0-)

      GWB had a lot of flaws, but he also had moments of what appeared to be true empathy. I hate to defend him, but I don't think Bush was a sociopath. He was a braggart, he was a bully, he was probably a 'dry drunk' (or maybe sometimes not so dry). But I can't imagine him tying a dog to the roof of his car, or at the very least, I can't imagine him thinking that an incident like that would make a funny story.

      •  Bush was the partier, the class clown (5+ / 0-)

        When it came to politics, he could be a bull dog, but outside of politics he was just a clown.  There are plenty of Republicans who are downright mean and selfish, but Romney is very different.  He's nothing.  He simply doesn't give the appearance of having emotions, it's almost like he's trying to fake emotions.  It's weird and it's scary.

        •  Bush animal cruelty: (0+ / 0-)

          blowing up toads with firecrackers.

          In the normal range?  I dunno.

          IANAP(sychiatrist), either.

          Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

          by tom 47 on Fri May 11, 2012 at 07:03:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In fairness to George W. Bush... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Blue Bell Bookworm

            I can't believe I'm defending him, but his mother is a cold aloof phony and his father a mean SOB. His father really wanted Jeb to be President but George screwed it up for him. That's why Poppy cried at some ceremony marking the end of Jeb's reign of error in Florida.

            I'm not sure how accurate the movie W is but IMO it was somewhat sympathetic to GW because of his cold unloving parents. He made him out to a guy who really wanted to be commissioner of baseball but not President. That was just a pissing match between him and Poppy.

            And so it goes w/ Willard and George Romney. Either GWB was a much more persuasive con or he simply isn't as phony (fake cowboy persona notwithstanding) as Slick Willard.

  •  Who would have predicted.... (13+ / 0-)

    ...that, in a candidate field that included Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, Mitt Romney would wind up being the scariest one?  But I'm starting to think he is.

  •  And he is Bush II on steroids (2+ / 0-)

    An empty suit puffed up with pure damn meanness.

    "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." - Emma Goldman

    by CamillesDad1 on Fri May 11, 2012 at 05:47:19 AM PDT

  •  One lesson we could learn . . . (16+ / 0-)

    it never hurts to look to the past, and to learn what we can from extremely telling events, etc.

    During the last presidential campaign, the D one, I mean, there was a story, repeated by several stations, and confirmed by at least one GOP candidate.

    All of the GOPers were at the urinal or combing, preening, or checking between their teeth, when Mittster walked in. They were all there in advance of a debate. McCain had not yet been preordained. The whole room shut up until he zipped and left. then, one of them, might have been the Huckster, "I really can't stand that man." and the whole bath erupted in laughter, with everyone agreeing that something was wrong, off, or disturbing about the Mitt.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Fri May 11, 2012 at 05:54:28 AM PDT

  •  Close enough as makes no never-mind. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, Ree Zen

    He certainly does not have what normal people would call a conscience.

    Too bad so many voters in this country actually want more cruelty and destruction.

    Don't let millionaires steal Social Security.
    I said, "Don't let millionaires steal Social Security!"

    by Leo in NJ on Fri May 11, 2012 at 05:55:37 AM PDT

  •  Something is not right with Romney (13+ / 0-)

    and the alien quote is spot on.  He is clearly pretty smart so he has observed that there is a certain way normal people act and joke and interact and he knows that it does not come naturally to him. That natural care and concern normal people have for others, even strangers, and animals, the ability to imagine yourself in someone else's shoes, to say there but for the grace of god go's not there for him.

    But it seems to me he knows he is supposed to behave in those ways and have those feelings, so he fakes it.  But it is not his native language, so he gets the idiom wrong.  It (it being what largely defines us as humans and members of a society) is alien to him.

    People like this are often successful - I imagine it allows them laser-like focus on their own wants and needs -   but they should never, never be entrusted with the welfare of others.

    Newt Gingrich: Believes marriage is between one man and a series of ever younger women. Wife #1 born ~ 1936, divorced when in her mid-40s...Wife #2 born ~1947, divorced when in her mid-40s...Wife #3 born ~1966.

    by trillian on Fri May 11, 2012 at 05:59:08 AM PDT

  •  Don't Ask Don't Tell, in Retrospect (0+ / 0-)

    DADT, in retrospect, seems perfectly designed for the Romneys of the world. You can be a little different, but if you dare to show any pride in that, you deserve to be expelled and shamed.

  •  Dunno. Does He Wreck Social Systems? (0+ / 0-)

    Is he some kind of American conservative?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri May 11, 2012 at 06:13:19 AM PDT

  •  Of course he is. (0+ / 0-)

    Or if he isn't, he's doing a really good job of pretending to be.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Fri May 11, 2012 at 06:24:31 AM PDT

  •  Bush II is a cool name, but i still prefer Bush (0+ / 0-)

    the Lesser.

    Falling in and out of love with you.

    by pure prarie on Fri May 11, 2012 at 06:35:41 AM PDT

  •  Just checked the DSM. (7+ / 0-)

    Sociopath? Nope.

    The medical term is "asshole."

    Fair's fair. I don't vote in your church; don't go preaching in my government New video: "The Future Just Ain't What It Used to Be"

    by Crashing Vor on Fri May 11, 2012 at 06:35:51 AM PDT

  •  Nixon? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Although he may have been more along the Asperger spectrum.

  •  No sense of guilt (9+ / 0-)

    What struck me this morning, watching his response, was that he didn't even remember the incident. Wow. I said something about a girl in my age group being fat (not realizing she would overhear) when I was in 10th grade and I'm STILL haunted by the look on her face and terrible, terrible guilt about hurting her feelings. And this was over 40 years ago. What is WRONG with this man? A lot, evidently.

    “Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

    by minglewood on Fri May 11, 2012 at 06:46:17 AM PDT

  •  Yes, no doubt he is. Next question? NT (0+ / 0-)

    WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

    by IARXPHD on Fri May 11, 2012 at 06:49:56 AM PDT

  •  rasmussen is working his magic (0+ / 0-)

    He has Romney leading Obama by 7 50-43 and Obama down to 44% approval. I assume the talking point will be it's worse to support gay marriage than assaulting gay people.

  •  If not actually one, he's awful close to it. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Blue Bell Bookworm, Ree Zen, gnbhull

    There's a category of "almost sociopathic" that describes many bullies. They are not quite clinically a sociopath, just as a habitual heavy drinker isn't quite (yet) an alcoholic. As a scout leader dealing with a troop with a history of these things, I've had to deal with adults who just feel "it's normal - why are you upset?" when confronted with pretty aggressive bullying - at least when they're not actively promoting the actions and ready to rip you a new orifice for insisting on proper behaviour (the BSA has a very tough and well thought out policy against such actions and will support adult leaders who follow through on their mandatory reporting).  

    The "almost" scociopaths tend to have suppressed empathy - it's not completely absent and occasionally they can show remorse, but they really only show emotion when they feel that their rights have been compromised or they are threatened with legal action. In their eyes, their needs make their actions correct and fully justified.  (in the scout case I had three boys involved, one set of parents was properly appalled with their son's actions  & the other two wanted to see me dead (not much of an exaggeration) & I had a real state court judge (one of their friends and another almoster) ask me, well order me and threaten consequences if I didn't, commit several felony offences (I didn't commit them)).

    "almost" sociopaths can be quite charming - as long as they get their way.  They'll lie, they'll cheat, they'll slander without compunction in order to get what they want.

    Sound's like I'm describing a lot of repub's, doesn't it?

  •  Last year local radio station (3+ / 0-)

    Had on an author who was talking about studying psychopaths.  

    He was talking about how there were a large number of people in positions of leadership and power who had some tenancies, but may not be classified as a psychopath.  

    That many of the people are not seen as evil or inhuman, but on first glance are seen as charming.  It makes things easier for them to advance their own agendas.

    KERA - THINK Psychopath Test

  •  I think back to the time when Reagan was (1+ / 0-)

    President. I never agreed with Reagan politically and thought of him as a bit corny at times - but I actually liked him. Of course, I never missed an opportunity to vote against him, but that doesn't change the fact that I really liked Reagan as a person.

    With Romney, I never can bring myself to like him. Try as I might - I am unable to find anything there to like. He's just plain repulsive and I can't stand his "shit-eating" grin nor his nervous laugh. I can't help but think - what an asshole - whenever I hear him speak. My only hope is that come November he crawls back into his Bain existence and I don't have to see or hear him ever again.

    "I cannot live without books" -- Thomas Jefferson, 1815

    by Templar on Fri May 11, 2012 at 07:23:09 AM PDT

  •  Not sure for lack of data. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ree Zen

    It's hard, at least for a non-PhD, to spot a sociopath without extended close observation and a list of criteria.

    They try to blend, through mimicry and fake countenance, so as not stick out like a sore thumb. But they lack insight, so this coping strategy isn't perfect.  They are anti-socials which causes them, among other things, to shoot themselves in the foot. They are at one end of the narcissist continuum, with no real friends but plenty of dupes who are made to think they are friends, and they work alone without long-term, close, trusted group associations.

    There is another thing to think about, and that's classification of psychological health. I think there's three general categories: Relatively normal, sub-clinical, and clinical.

    Relatively normal being from perfectly healthy to ever so slightly dysfunctional or disordered.

    Clinical being moderate to severe dysfunction and/or sufficient disorder to match diagnostic criteria.

    Sub-clinical being everything in-between.

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Fri May 11, 2012 at 07:51:00 AM PDT

  •  It's not even really a question at this point. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    freeport beach PA, carver

    The man literally says opposite things to different audiences mere days apart, so the only two possibilities are that he is insane or that he is a sociopath for whom constant, unbounded lying has no internal consequences.  And he is a member of a "party" that is basically a sociopath supremacist organization.

    Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

    by Troubadour on Fri May 11, 2012 at 07:55:26 AM PDT

  •  What minglewood said. (0+ / 0-)

    If anything, I remember the cruelties I've visited upon others far more vividly than those that have been visited upon me.  With one or two exceptions, I hardly remember the things people have done to me, but my own careless word or vicious riposte delivered in haste or anger, those stay with me.  The look of shock, then of pain, in the face of a friend or lover.  The sickening realization that my words had found their mark, and there was no taking them back.  And even if they forgive me, I'm usually much slower to forgive myself, and I remind myself of that whenever I need to crush the impulse to let fly when tempers are running hot.

    And those are just words.  I can't even fathom having actually led an unprovoked physical assault on a classmate.  And then to not remember it?

    There is something very much not right in Romney's brain.

  •  Please see my comment in (0+ / 0-)

    the diary "Mitt Romney does not have Aspergers".
    Sorry I don't know how to link.

    Everyone must read Martha Stout's 'The Sociopath Next Door".  Once you do, you will not speculate any more.
    You will have the tools necessary to discern a sociopath when you see one.

    Like the diarist, I too had an encounter with a person who was so non-empathic, who lied so carelessly, who had goals and used people and money to achieve them at any cost, who hated her child's dog to the point of abuse, who discarded people like old candy wrappers once she had gotten all she needed out of them to achieve her goals.  It set me on a path to learn what I was dealing with and led me to the book.

    People with compassion cannot conceive of someone without it.  We tend to project our own compassion on them, purely out of humanness.  We must learn that these people exist and what they are capable of.  Go, buy the book if you need more proof.  But, Mitt RMoney shows every classical symptom of true sociopathy.  He is a frightening dangerous man.

  •  The career choice (0+ / 0-)

    ..of vulture capitalist was my first clue. The inability to connect to people and the seeming lack of anything resembling empathy was the second.
    The dog on the roof sealed the deal.

    Sociopath or not? It's semantics at this point.

    He's not a decent human being - That much is for sure.

    The social safety net has essentially been replaced by the prison system, with the U.S. “getting rid of the superfluous population through incarceration -- Noam Chomsky

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Fri May 11, 2012 at 09:14:26 AM PDT

  •  While it is possible, (0+ / 0-)

    I doubt he really has the drive and focus to be good at it.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Fri May 11, 2012 at 09:35:19 AM PDT

  •  I've been considering this for some time (0+ / 0-)

    and have been searching for my Jon Ronson book, "The Psychopath Test." May have to buy another copy if I can't find it soon. Seems like each week Romney does something or says something that makes me think this is more than just cluelessness and being "out-of-touch" and that he may actually be a sociopath. And, yes, sociopaths can be very charming, intelligent and funny, etc... but it's all an act. They can be condescending, competitive, and manipulative. They lie with ease and have a sense of entitlement.  They will crush anyone who gets in the way of what they want. Look how the Romney campaign viciously detroyed his opponents with their attack ads! (that, imo, is why Santorum really hates him.) And of course they have no principles, no conscience, no remorse and no empathy. The more we get to know this man the more these characteristics emerge.

  •  Another point re: sociopaths... (0+ / 0-)

    I make no claim to be an expert, but if sociopathy is like most other personality disorders, it comes in a vast range of degrees.  It can be as little as someone who can't be trusted because he/she lies constantly - generally for their own benefit.  And it can be as great as a serial murderer who is incapable of feelings of empathy.  
    I think that the diarist is really on to something - and given Romney's record throughout his life, it would appear that Romney is a bit closer to the second example I gave above than the first.  "Corporations are people my friends" is the statement of someone who really doesn't understand what it means to be "people".  Corporations, people, dogs, trucks, rocks - all pretty much the same thing to this man.  That's why he "can't seem to relate to the common man", and why he really doesn't appear to understand when he is insulting anyone.  Thinking about it, much of what he has said and done in his life fits the description of a sociopath.  He would be an utter disaster as a President - giving someone like him that much power and deference is a prescription for disaster.

  •  I think there’s a lot of evidence (0+ / 0-)

    to support the notion that Willard is indeed a sociopath, if you define a sociopath as someone who engages in sociopathic behavior.  Check out these links.  I’ll report; you decide.

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