Skip to main content

Do you know someone who is too manipulative and full of himself? Does someone you know charm the masses yet lack the ability to deeply connect with those around her?

Grandiosity and exaggerated self-worth. Pathological lying. Manipulation. Lack of remorse. Shallowness. Exploitation for financial gain. These are the qualities of Almost Psychopaths. They are not the deranged criminals or serial killers that might be coined “psychopaths” in the movies or on TV. They are spouses, coworkers, bosses, neighbors, and people in the news who exhibit many of the same behaviors as a full-blown psychopath, but with less intensity and consistency—and with a higher degree of awareness of the impact they have on others. They possess charm, glibness, and a lack of empathy that allow them to live their lives somewhere between the boundaries of commonplace “not-so-bad” behavior and psychopathy.

This is a description found in the book Almost A Psychopath  by a Harvard psychiatrist and a former prosecuter, criminal defense lawyer.

As I read about this book, I thought about people I had encountered who might fit this description. One prominent name popped out

Mitt Romney.

There have been many comments about how Romney is a pathological liar, bully, vulture capitalist, an etch-a-sketch and so on. All of these traits can be summed up in one phrase, "almost a psychopath". A quick google search came up with an article with the same conclusion.

The three major patterns of qualities that characterize a psychopath are:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/...

1) interpersonal conduct such as dishonesty, narcissism, and arrogance, along with a marked lack of consideration for the rights and well-being of others
2) affective deficits such as lack of empathy or guilt, and
3) impulsiveness or risk-taking.

Hare pioneered the diagnosis of psychopathy. His work was based on inmates so it's a bit skewed towards that population, not those individuals with enough control and savvy to mask what they truly are. Here's his checklist.

Test for Psychopathy

For each of the 20 characteristics, give a score of 0 if it does not apply, 1 if it applies partially and 2 if it is a perfect match.

1.) Glib and Superficial Charm: The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.
Score 2

He's certainly slick and charming on the surface. His appearance certainly helps here as well. He never seems tongue tied, even when he has everyone else's head spinning. He lies and makes laughable assertions with a complete straight face. A good example of this is his statement that corporations are people or that Seamus enjoyed being up on the roof of the car in an "air tight" kennel.

2.) Grandiose Self-Worth: A grossly inflated view of one's abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.
Score 2

From an article entitled The Meaning of Mitt in Vanity Fair,

“Mitt is always the star,” said one Massachusetts Republican. “And everybody else is a bit player.”
3.) Need for Stimulation or Proneness to Boredom: An excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Psychopaths often have a low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.
Score 0

4.) Pathological Lying: Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.
Score 2

I'll let you run wild with this one.

5.) Conning and Manipulativeness: The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one's victims.
Score 2

Ditto for this one.

6.) Lack of Remorse or Guilt: A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one's victims.
Score 2

Lack of remorse in the treatment of his dog. Lack of remorse and lying about it with regards to the bullying incident. Lack of any remorse towards the many people who he fired.

7.) Shallow Affect: Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.
Score 2

From The Meaning of Mitt in Vanity Fair

He has little patience for idle chatter or small talk, little interest in mingling at cocktail parties, at social functions, or even in the crowded hallway. He is not fed by, and does not crave, casual social interaction, often displaying little desire to know who people are and what makes them tick. “He wasn’t overly interested in people’s personal details or their kids or spouses or team building or their career path,” said another former aide. “It was all very friendly but not very deep.” Or, as one fellow Republican put it, “He has that invisible wall between ‘me’ and ‘you.’”
8.) Callousness and Lack of Empathy: A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.
Score 2

We've all seen the videos of him saying that he's not concerned about the poor, that he likes being able to fire people, let Detroit go bankrupt. Even when taken in full context these remarks are damning, cold, contemptuous and tactless. Then of course there's the lack of empathy he showed towards the many fired workers of the companies he gutted. Here's a more personal example from The Meaning of Mitt in Vanity Fair In 1983 Romney was the bishop of the ward that included a 23 year old nurse's aid who was a single mother of a three year old that had gotten pregnant again. Romney visited her at her home.

They chitchatted for a few minutes. Then Romney said something about the church’s adoption agency. Hayes initially thought she must have misunderstood. But Romney’s intent became apparent: he was urging her to give up her soon-to-be-born son for adoption, saying that was what the church wanted. Indeed, the church encourages adoption in cases where “a successful marriage is unlikely.”

Hayes was deeply insulted. She told him she would never surrender her child. Sure, her life wasn’t exactly the picture of Rockwellian harmony, but she felt she was on a path to stability. In that moment, she also felt intimidated. Here was Romney, who held great power as her church leader and was the head of a wealthy, prominent Belmont family, sitting in her gritty apartment making grave demands. “And then he says, ‘Well, this is what the church wants you to do, and if you don’t, then you could be excommunicated for failing to follow the leadership of the church.’ ”

In The Sociopath Next Door, Psychopathy expert Mary Stout states that psychopaths often show their hidden selves by how they treat their pets.  Romney's treatment of his dog Seamus is a classic example of the kind of treatment psychopaths exhibit towards pets.

9.) Parasitic Lifestyle: An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.
Score 2

Two words: "Bain Capital". No one forced him into this line of work. He could have done many good things with his talents and education. Instead he chose live off the suffering of others.

10.) Poor Behavioral Controls: Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.
Score 2

This article chronicles a number of temper outbursts and the arrest of disorderly conduct.

11.) Promiscuous Sexual Behavior: A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests.
Score 0

12.) Early Behavior Problems: A variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.
Score 0

13.) Lack of Realistic, Long-Term Goals: An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.
Score 0

14.) Impulsivity: The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.
Score 1

15.) Irresponsibility: Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.
Score 2

I'd call what he did while at Bain very irresponsible, especially saddling companies with debt and leaving the government with the tab for pensions, while making millions for himself. He didn't honor obligations to those employers or to the companies he took over.

16.) Failure to Accept Responsibility for Own Actions: A failure to accept responsibility for one's actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.
Score 2

Even after being confronted with the story of bullying, he denied remembering it, abdicating responsibility for his actions while at the same time belittling the effect they ad on the victim. Similarly, he doesn't take responsibility for causing many workers to loose their jobs through his actions while at Bain. His usual response is that those jobs would have been lost in any case, that it's part of the business cycle.

17.) Many Short-Term Marital Relationships: A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.
Score 0

He's been married to the same woman for many years. I believe that his his Mormon upbringing has a lot to do with this, not so much his personality attributes.

18.) Juvenile Delinquency: Behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.
Score 2

The bullying incident clearly fits here. Moreover, this wasn't an isolated case of bad behavior. As reported a few months back when the hazing incident at Cranbrook School, this was fairly typical behavior for Romney.

One former classmate and old friend of Romney’s – who refused to be identified by name – said there are “a lot of guys” who went to Cranbrook who have “really negative memories” of Romney’s behavior in the dorms, behavior this classmate describes as “like Lord of the Flies.”

19.) Revocation of Condition Release: A revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.
Score 0

This one technically doesn't apply to Romney since he never was under probation. However, I can easily imagine Romney thumbing his nose at the law and simply not appearing before a court.

20.) Criminal Versatility: A diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes.
Score 1

Romney was arrested for disorderly conduct due to not obeying a park officer. He later sued and got the charges dismissed. His bullying in high school should be counted as a criminal offense.

A more detailed description of some of these items can be found here.

In this link, the test for psychopathy was applied to Romney. The maximum score is 40. The author gives Romney a score of 27. I rated him as a 26, with 30 being the cutoff for a psychopath and a score of 5 being that of a typical person not in prison. It seems to me that the test is designed for psychopaths that are so bad at masking and controlling their nature that they have ended up with criminal records (The original test by Hare was devised to diagnose criminals in prison). Though what much of Romney has done is legal, many would argue that it's criminal. This fits well with the thesis of Almost A Psychopath.

The important question is how would this affect a Romney presidency? The most obvious effect is that the income gap would continue to increase and the safety net would continue to become more porous due to his callous view of everyone except the ultra wealthy. An example of this impacting policy can been seen in this diary by Laura Dawson

I want to make sure that we keep America a place of opportunity where everyone has a fair shot, they get as much education as they can afford and with their time they're able to get and if they have a willingness to work hard and the right values they ought to be able to provide for their family and have a shot at realizing their dreams.
It's show's a clear lack of empathy, not being able to put himself in the position of someone who wasn't born with money.
Poll

What is your psychopathy score for Romney?

7%3 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
2%1 votes
12%5 votes
30%12 votes
25%10 votes
20%8 votes

| 39 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  well he fails miserably on this point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yastreblyansky
    3) impulsiveness or risk-taking.

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:46:07 AM PDT

  •  Clearly a sociopath. (6+ / 0-)

    I see no evidence that he was born brain damaged -- which is the case with Bush the Lessor.

    For Romney, I'd say it is a learned behavior -- sociopathology.

    However, ost political leaders, many religious leaders, and all CEOs are sociopaths. Sociopaths are best suited for these jobs -- and people who need leaders in order to find their way through life, tend to select for sociopaths over altruistic types. It's a standard human survival mechanism.


    Reality: "The world doesn't work that way."
    Pluto: "So? Change the world."

    by Pluto on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:59:22 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, I kept thinking about W., (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, historys mysteries, mookins

      while I was reading this diary.

      Granted the total accuracy of this diary's theme, I still don't know where it gets us.

      There seems to be a solid segment of voters who not only don't care that a candidate has some obvious and disturbing personal characteristics, it's like they PREFER such types.

    •  Also generals (Patton and Mac Arthur and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mnemosyne, Pluto

      Westmoreland) and criminal defense lawyers (not all, but some really care only about the money and the victory, not whether they're letting a dangerous killer or rapist back into the community) and corporate lawyers who'll defend a company where there's hard evidence the company polluted or discriminated.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 02:21:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and not a few prosecutors and police... (0+ / 0-)

        who are into the career and self promoting thing... winning and really weak on the empathy thing while they railroad innocent people or use their power to abuse those in their clutches...

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 03:44:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Honestly, I bet most of our politicians would (4+ / 0-)

    score high on this, and a lot of our corporate CEOs and CEO and Political Wannabes too. I have met more than a few doctors like this.

    They are common and widespread, especially in the political field.

    It says a lot about the ailing nature of our entire political system, that it attracts people like that, and grooms other nominally healthy people, to emulate this sick behavior.

  •  For #3 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, Quantumlogic

    "They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine."

    Like Massachusetts disaster relief.

    Score = 2.

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:50:29 AM PDT

  •  First, what's your personal score? n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Are you sure the good professor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    isn't just describing politicians?

  •  There may be clear brain variations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins

    Unlike many psychiatric conditions, which are more clearly seen on functional scans, psychopathy may be associated with clearly thinner than average cortical tissue in two nodes of the circuits hypothesized to be critical to empathic functioning.

    This is as of the latest issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

    I jokingly thought that the two Presidential candidates should be dared to get an MRI.

    Of course, this is preliminary.

    For those of you who prefer Bartlett to Obama, re-watch the West Wing. For those who prefer Clinton, re-watch old news videos.

    by Ptolemy on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 12:35:35 PM PDT

  •  Kurt Vonnegut pointed this out already in his book (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, Quantumlogic

    "...psychopathic personalities, or PPs, the medical term for smart, personable people who have no consciences. To say somebody is a PP is to make a perfectly respectable diagnosis, like saying he or she has appendicitis or athlete’s foot. The classic medical text on PPs is The Mask of Sanity by Dr. Hervey Cleckley, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia, and published in 1941. Read it! Some people are born deaf, some are born blind or whatever, and this book is about congenitally defective human beings of a sort that is making this whole country and many other parts of the planet go completely haywire nowadays. These were people born without consciences, and suddenly they are taking charge of everything. PPs are presentable, they know full well the suffering their actions may cause others, but they do not care. They cannot care because they are nuts. They have a screw loose! And what syndrome better describes so many executives at Enron and WorldCom and on and on, who have enriched themselves while ruining their employees and investors and country and who still feel as pure as the driven snow, no matter what anybody may say to or about them? And they are waging a war that is making billionaires out of millionaires, and trillionaires..."
    "Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they don’t give a fuck what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club..."

    Kurt Vonnegut (2005). A Man Without a Country, Seven Stories Press.

    •  well... it is a Darwinian trait that persists... (0+ / 0-)

      it has strong survival benefits and does reward those with it by giving them measurably greater reproductive success.

      The more amoral warriors in some traditional societies ,which have a more violence prone set of norms, have been shown to have more children and women.

      The key thing to realize is that in dangerous times, descents into barbarism, when there is upheaval and disruption, these kinds of people can prosper even more. And in fact their successes and methods can perpetuate these conditions and make it more likely that they (and their progeny) continue to dominate and be rewarded.

      Worse, scary, dangerous dominant men are particularly attractive to a subset of women. Getting the protection of the most powerful male (which comes with its own dangers) helps assure offspring with a better chance of being alphas...

      Of course when rational, more moral, logical empathetic traits dominate a society in more stable and constructive times the Sociopaths are particularly disruptive... and stand out more easily as being that.

      But even then... there is a thin line between dynamic leaders and gangstas... and they can also have creative sides that do contribute something positive... however incidental that is to their own narcissistic nature... and still get a lot of reproductive attention and success.

      So we will always have these people with us... and we all may have some of this in us too... It is an unstable balance with them always pushing against the restraints that a rational society puts in place for the greater overall good.

      We can send the more amoral to war where they prosper compared to normal people who are damaged from the experience... (but how ofter are psychopaths/sociopaths on the battlefield counter productive in the long run when they commit barbaric acts they mostly get away with?) but then back in civilian life we have empathetic people struggling to get back to normal while for psychopaths it is a similar but opposite situation... and they can find it hard in other ways to fit in to normal society.

      I hope in the future these traits can be identified early and redirected and harnessed so the kids learn more empathy, find rewards for being more that way but without losing the competitive and creative components of their personality... so too there are those with just a tendency but early experiences can make them take the more selfish, and even violent path... Just avoiding that poison in society would  be a major help.

      We are shaped by our experiences to become a version of ourselves that has a chance to at least survive if not prosper. If we shape society to be a more fraught dog eat dog existence we will cause more and more of the smarter and effective people to choose a survivalist world view that will give cover and even rewards to psychopaths/sociopaths... the ones born to it and  and those remade into a form of it. The more horrors and un-love a child experiences the more they will reset to a primal survival mode.... Emotions, feelings besides rage, vengeance, greed and selfishness become surplus encumbrances to just surviving if not becoming  the Alpha human in a wasteland.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 04:14:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Almost isn't trying hard enough- (0+ / 0-)

    but seriously folks, primitive terms like "psychosis" and "Psycopath" have fallen out of favor due to an absence of meaning; do you hear me, PoliSci (and psych) undergrads?

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site