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The Politics of Personality Disorder

I’ve had a few commenters who think the posts on narcissism and the Dark Triad are interesting but they really wish I wouldn’t bring politics into it.

I’m confused about this.  This is a blog where Democrats in Exile and others can talk about politics and not be shouted down for not adopting the dominant narrative.  So, there’s that.

But more than that, humans are herd animals.  Being in the group is highly desirable.  Being out of the group makes us anxious.  So, if the dominant narrative is shaped by a small evil group of people, to whom no one we know belongs,  who use political rhetoric and religion as dissemination tools, we should be aware of it.  Shouldn’t we?  Isn’t it better to know what techniques may be used to manipulate us to act in a herd like fashion?  And if the people who are manipulating us have severe unchecked personality disorders, which looks more and more likely, isn’t it better to see them than to have them hide behind the masks of authority and holiness?

Now, I’m not saying that I have proof of any of it.  I’m just looking at behaviors that have been growing steadily for about 40 years and the results of those behaviors on all of us and trying to find cause and effect.  In the end, I don’t really care why people behave the way they do as long as they don’t behave badly.  In other words, it’s not interesting to me that a narcissist might have experienced childhood trauma or that a psychopath may have a genetic predisposition.  Not remotely interesting.  Psychologists might be interested in the sources of these personality disorders so that they can nip them in the bud in kids in the future but once those kids become adults, their behaviors are pretty much fixed.

Personality disorders are very difficult to treat. The first step in dealing with a person with a personality disorder is accepting the fact that you can’t change them.  You are not going to be able to teach them to be more empathetic, less selfish, less manipulative etc.  It’s not going to happen because they have no reason to change. Curing these people is almost impossible because they don’t think they have a problem. YOU have a problem.  So, getting inside their heads is not my goal.  My goal is finding a way to react to them in a way that neutralizes their power over us.

What I am concerned with is that we don’t always know when we are being manipulated and exploited, and we often fail to detect patterns of behavior that will lead to us acting against our best interests.  When we start to understand the patterns, we have an opportunity to take action to make it stop.  In other words, if we find that the finance industry is hiring a disproportionate number of psychopaths to play with our money, we can presumably take away the incentive to hire psychopaths or take away our money.  If we find that a bunch of Machiavellians are saturating the airwaves with manipulative language, we might be able to point out the way the manipulation works so that people turn off their radios and cable TV.

If we find that a couple of attention seeking, control freak authoritarians are getting narcissistic supply out of exploiting their kids on a reality show by adopting a super conservative religious lifestyle and parading themselves as holier than thou and then campaigning for a super conservative politician, we should be aware of what they are doing and promoting and what they are trying to accomplish.

Let’s just call it as we see it, shall we?  Let’s not play “these are not the droids you’re looking for” because we don’t want to look at the dark underworld of human interactions only to find our favorite politicians and religious superstars lurking there.

Politics and religion are two very powerful influences on human herds.  We need to make very sure that the people acting as shepherds aren’t coyotes in disguise.

My advice, whether you want it or not- 1

I’m dispensing advice to the blogosphere.  You’re welcome.

1.)To Digby, Corey Robin, et al, regarding whether the recent set backs in the rights of women in America have something to do with protecting the influence of the traditional hierarchy in the home, you’re not quite seeing the whole picture.  The backlash against women started about the time that more women were moving into the workforce, competing with men who used to get all the good jobs, frequently with little more than a high school diploma.  This was also about the same time that african americans were moving into the middle class.  It also roughly corresponded with a lag in wages compared to productivity.  We should do more research to find out if there is a correlation and what it is.

I think the push to put women “back in their place” has less to do with protecting the home than to protecting the traditional privileges of the workplace.  How can we decide which is the case?  We can look to countries with better and worse gender equity scores than the United States and do some comparisons of what cultural and legislative changes they have made in the past 100 or so years.  My gut feeling is that we are experiencing a backlash because we have rewarded the persons who promote it via their outsize representation in the media and through their culturally protected religious affiliations.  It is OK these days to say racist things and insult women by referring to them as sluts.  No harm done, says Limbaugh and the Fox News team.  There’s no law against being an ignorant bigot.

In other words, the language is being used in the service of the previously privileged.  It was and always will be the economy, stupid.  When money gets tight, women should get the f^&* out of the way and go home.  Making it hard for her to get out of the house when she’s tied to babies and lacks good childcare serves the guys very well indeed.  They’re just all hoping it’s the next guy who has to put up with the domestic situation, not them.  It’s purely opportunistic.

2.) Countries that have had a history of secret police and neighbors spying on neighbors in a manner that lead to mass murders and ruined careers tend to have a negative reaction to their allies spying on them for unknown purposes.  It’s just freaks them out in a way that Americans cannot fathom (yet).  Think twice (or thrice) about doing it.

From the NYTimes article on the expulsion of US spies from Germany, we get this nugget and advice from Angela Merkel:

As is usual with intelligence matters, the United States Embassy had no comment on the expulsion request. But in a statement, the embassy also said it was essential to maintain close cooperation with the German government “in all areas.”

“Our security relationship with Germany remains very important,” the embassy statement said. “It keeps Germans and Americans safe.”

Ms. Merkel, speaking two hours before the expulsion request was announced, said in response to reporters’ questions that spying on allies was “a waste of energy.”

“We have so many problems,” she said. “We should focus on important matters.”

Waste of energy indeed, not to mention money.  Money that could be used on mass transit and infrastructure improvements that the Republicans seem to think are unnecessary.  I guess it’s OK if New Jersey looks like Mississippi.  Mississippi might be what America looks like to Republicans and NJ is just being uppity.  How would they know the difference?  Come to think of it, I’m tempted to start a “…You might be a Republican” thing.  Like, If your friends would describe you as a greedy old prick, you might be a Republican.  Or If they would describe you as a grumpy old prude, you might be a Republican.

Wait, I’m getting off topic.

Yeah, don’t spy on your friends.  It’s unnecessary.

3.) With tensions and rockets flaring in Israel, be prepared for your local fundamentalist Christians to be almost ready to pee themselves with delight at the impending rapture.

4.) To the Republicans who are itchin’ to impeach the president- DO IT!  Yes, by all means, find something to nail on him.  Tie him up with congressional hearings.  But please, do it Blitzkrieg style, ok?  Don’t waste any time drawing the whole procedure out.  Wrap it up quickly.  Better yet, take Biden down first.  Then we can appoint Hillary to VP while you guys go for the jugular.  Then when Obama is forced out, Hillary can step up to the presidency.  It will save us a lot of money in 2016.  And it’s what everyone wants anyway.  You’d be doing us all a big favor.  Oh sure, we’ll have to put up with your nonsensical grandstanding and foaming at the mouth over a guy who is mostly ineffectual rather than criminal but when has reason ever curbed you and your destructive waste of legislative privilege?  Just do it and make it quick.

5.) When you’re planning your next kitchen renovation, do yourself a favor and pick the refrigerator first.  Make sure that the one you want will fit through your doorways and won’t bang into the expensive teak cabinets you just had to have above the refrigerator.  Because once those cabinets are up and you’ve spent thousands of dollars getting the look you want, you are going to have a hard time taking them down to accommodate the behemoth refrigerators that appliance makers are manufacturing these days.  If you have a small kitchen made smaller by those annoying cabinets that are only good for seasonal ice buckets and Rubbermaid containers, you should know that appliance makers don’t really make a lot of nice refrigerators in the small to medium category.  Yes, they are still living in 2008.  Adapt accordingly.

 

Revulsion

This is why more and more people are turning away from religion:

Any god that leaves little children to die because their government said their teachers couldn’t lead them in what would be overwhelmingly Christian prayers is an evil god. Or non-existent.

Yeah, I said it.  That god bystander who shrugs his shoulders at the bloody death of innocents when he could intervene and stop it?  That’s evil.

As one of the commenters to this video said:

so god is a petty, sulking baby because we dont kiss his butt?

stay classy god

God 2.0 needs a major rewrite and a better PR apparatus. (Hint: don’t hire this guy)

***************************
Update on the NPR “expert” and patterns:

This morning on Weekend Edition, it sounded like a different expert was on to tell us that, sure, we can find “patterns” but those patterns are not “profiles” and are therefore useless. It is only with “profiles” that we are able to predict the future and we can’t predict the future so that’s that.

Bullshit. Any dark skinned man passing through an airport or thrown off a plane by a bunch of hysterical passengers will tell you this isn’t true. Oddly enough, none of the recent shooters, with the exception of the psychiatrist at Fort Hood, were dark skinned or middle eastern looking dudes.

Any “profile” you develop is only as good as the data you have. You can’t predict with absolute certainty which compounds in a library of millions is going to be THE next PERFECT drug. All you can do is identify the potential drugs that you can work on. During the discovery phase, we add to our knowledge of the drug-target interaction and we get better at predicting future drugs but we’re never going to be able to just look at the structures of all of the compounds and pick out the blockbuster on the first, second or third go around.

What we can do is eliminate the non-starters and focus in on the potential winners. That investigation is still worth a lot of money because the potential winners still exhibit significant activity even if they are not perfect. We’re never going to get to the stage where we can identify them just by looking at them without any additional testing and that’s the case with people too.

So, it is still worth screening and testing even if you end up with a lot of first round hits that you have to narrow down later. I think most Americans would agree that we don’t want to take away the guns from every person who fits a pattern. What we want to do is take away the guns of people who can’t be eliminated. We don’t have to predict the future. We just need to find the pool of most likely shooters and take away their guns, if only temporarily.

The alternative is to treat all 300 million of us as false positives and force all of us to undergo ritual bodyscanning and metal detecting before we can pick up our kids from school for their dental appointments. While I’m sure the security industry is going to LOVE that idea, it’s another burden of time and frustration for busy parents and others who do not fit any pattern at all except that they’re human. Are “experts” suggesting that we are all potential shooters because they refuse to come up with a set of criteria that eliminates the vast majority of us? Is the second amendment so precious that a whole country has to be constantly inconvenienced to take off our shoes and be exposed to radiation on a regular basis? There isn’t any set of patterns that we could use to prevent that?

Right now, insurance companies can charge you a fortune based on your record and your peer group. Marketing companies can profile you and target ads to you based on your purchases, demographics and other behavior. But for some reason, the “experts” say that it will not be possible for the ATF to reduce the number of mass shooters from killing people because “we can’t predict the future”. There’s something very wrong with that picture aside from it being completely unbelievable. Normally, I’d be a freak about privacy but owning a lethal firearm puts things in a different light. Should you be able to own a gun for hunting purposes or to defend yourself against intruders or a potentially tyrannical government? Yep. Should you be able to own a gun if you’ve got the makings of a mass shooter? Probably not, at least not until you’ve been thoroughly checked out.

Today, we learn that the mother of the shooter was the registered owner of the guns. Leaving aside the fact that looking through patterns probably wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy, I have to wonder why she felt she needed these guns and how they came to be at her house. That’s a lot of firepower for a Kindergarten teacher. It was probably not to protect herself from 20 five year olds.

On the other hand, when your auto insurance representative asks you whether there are any permitted drivers or kids of a certain age living with you, they are recognizing the fact that cars can be dangerous in the hands of inexperienced or recklessly young drivers and presumably, their statistics back that up. So, gun buyers should be asked similar questions. Do you have any young males living at home with a history of behavioral or mental problems? Has your family undergone any significant changes lately? Divorce, loss of job, bankruptcy, relocation? This is not an insurmountable problem.

The Mourning After Pill

Brought to you by Mr. Deity and Lucy

Mr. Deity has a regular youtube series satirizing religion and features guest skeptics, like Michael Shermer.  But he’s gotten some flak over this video and accusations that he’s shilling for the Democrats, which shows that some people don’t really *get* Mr. Deity.  Mr. Deity is about how ridiculous religious judgmentalism is and pokes holes in the reasoning behind it.  While Mr. Deity and Lucy (for Lucifer) step out of character for this video, the video is not inconsistent with their criticism of religion in general.

Still, it must be annoying to have to answer comments like these:

  • When did Mr. Deity just become a spokeshole for the Democratic Party? I suppose there’s some snarky response chambered and “We’ll return to our regularly scheduled broadcast after the election” but I am disappoint. Lord knows I don’t want a social conservative in any office, let alone one that’s been insulated to the extent that he believes in mythical biological mechanisms, however it’s genuinely douchey to be a shill for the Dems and trying to tie in Paul Ryan.

    promontorium 1 day ago

  • First of all, I find it enlightening that in your mind standing up for rape victims makes me a schill for the Democrats. That’s apparently not something a Republican would do(?). Second, Ryan is connected because he and Akin co-sponsored a bill redefining rape as “forceable rape.” You don’t need an adjective before the word rape — as Ryan now understands… “rape is rape.” It saddens me when good people like you see this stuff only through the lens of politics, rather than right and wrong.

    misterdeity in reply to promontorium 18 hours ago

And that affects me HOW exactly?

The New York Times is all aghast that the Republicans are about to roll out a ginormous, humongous Super PAC ad campaign against Obama using all kinds of nasty wasty buzz words and meanspiritedness.

{{Yawn}}

Are we talking about the same Obama who bumped a whole generation of adult women down to “sweetie” status, brushed Hillary’s dirt off his shoulders and connived with conman extraordinaire John Edwards to monkeywrench the Democratic primary process in Michigan?  Surely, SURELY, he has nothing to fear from some well funded ad campaigns because his record of “accomplishments” will speak for itself.  And anyway, a guy this callous, ruthless and insensitive to the way his behavior will set a precedent for the actions of others won’t stay up at night worrying about whether people are calling him names.

At least a front group calling itself Citizens United Not Timid (oh, how droll their abbreviation is.  Jocularity! Jocularity!) didn’t produce a documentary about him.  Well, not yet anyway.  Still, nothing to worry about as long as unemployment is back to pre-2008 levels and GDP rises to a crisp 3% per anum, right?

Anyway, the only people who are going to believe that crap in the ads are the religious nutcases- er, that Obama seems to be dumping his base for…

Whatever.  Not my problem.

*************************

BTW all you Democratic blogger activists carrying Obama’s water, did you know that Robert Kennedy once broke a beer bottle over the head of one of his Harvard classmates who had the audacity to celebrate his birthday in the same bar that Bobby chose for his own birthday celebration?  Yep, true story.  Turns out the guy was an arrogant prick when he was young.  Most people grow out of it.

Not that we like Mitt but to those of us out of jobs with dwindling savings and 401Ks that are about to be swallowed by some bad bets on a European debt crisis, what Mitt did as a kid is just not very important to us.  It’s what the people in charge did as adults that makes the difference.  If we were going to judge character by youthful and college age behavior, you guys would be kissing the ground the Clintons’ walked.  They were the very models of responsibility and maturity.

A little consistency please.

************************

Hey, Bernie, why don’t you run?

***********************

My dream vacation:  Lake Powell, Arizona.

bliss.

“These men…are devils and the wrath of God is upon them…”

Father Gerald Fitzgerald

Father Gerald Fitzgerald

Those words were written in 1957 in a letter from Father Gerald Fitzgerald to the Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Edwin V. Byrne. The National Catholic Reporter uncovered documents containing letters that Fitzgerald wrote to Bishops, Archbishops, and even the Pope, warning that priests who sexually abused children could not be rehabilitated.

Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paracletes, an order established in 1947 to deal with problem priests, wrote regularly to bishops in the United States and to Vatican officials, including the pope, of his opinion that many sexual abusers in the priesthood should be laicized immediately.

Fitzgerald was a prolific correspondent who wrote regularly of his frustration with and disdain for priests “who have seduced or attempted to seduce little boys or girls.” His views are contained in letters and other correspondence that had previously been under court seal and were made available to NCR by a California law firm in February.

The NCR has made the letters available here (warning, PDF file). Continue reading

The President’s Preacher Help Line

Recently, The New York Times and the Telegraph uk have published articles about five religious leaders who are advising President Barack Obama. Supposedly Obama has sought these five men’s counsel (yes, they are all men natch) because he has been without a church and pastor of his own since he threw his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright under the bus on April 28, 2008 and subsequently on June 1, 2008 resigned from Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, presumably in return for the unearned Michigan delegates he was handed by the DNC on May 31 at the infamous meeting of the Rules and Bylaws Committee in Washington, DC.

The five men who have been chosen to attend to the President’s spiritual needs are “overwhelmingly opposed to abortion,” according to the Telegraph; and all except Otis Moss, Jr. are opposed to equal rights for homosexuals. Here is a little information about each of Obama’s “prayer circle”:

Otis Moss, Jr.

Otis Moss, Jr.


Otis Moss, Jr., whom The New York Times calls “a graying lion of the civil rights movement,” is pastor emeritus of Cleveland’s Olivet Institutional Baptist Church and a member of Obama’s White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He is also the father of Jerimiah Wright’s replacment as pastor of Obama’s former church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago (interestingly, this connection was not mentioned in the White House press release announcing Otis Moss, Jr.’s appointment). According to the Associated Baptist Press,

As a young preacher in his native Georgia, Moss helped lead sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and fought for voting rights for blacks. He went to jail several times for participating in sit-ins and marches.

He marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala., and Washington, and urged Jesse Jackson to run for president in 1983. Moss was co-chair of the National African American Religious Committee of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign…

According to the conservative Weekly Standard, Moss is close to Jeremiah Wright.

Otis Moss Jr. and Wright shared a mentor in Samuel DeWitt Proctor, who helped give rise to black liberation theology. In fact, it was the radical Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference that sponsored Wright’s now-infamous National Press Club appearance in late April 2008–which led to Obama’s break with Trinity and Wright. Less noted was the fact that the symposium’s guest preacher that day was Reverend Otis Moss Jr. Moss has publicly defended Wright and compared his preaching to that of Amos, Micah, Malachi, and John the Baptist.

Moss’s closeness to Wright is expressed most clearly in the 40-minute tribute sermon he preached from Trinity’s pulpit on the occasion of Wright’s 36th anniversary at the church in February 2008. Of Wright, Reverend Moss said: “All of us who know him and love him have been blessed by his genius, his creativity, his scholarship, his discipleship, his sensitivity as an artist, his boldness as a prophet, and, I agree, his rhythmic poetry.” This homage came long after Wright’s hit parade of sound-bites: “God Damn America”  . . .”America’s chickens are coming home to roost” .  .  . “Bill did us like he did Monica Lewinsky.” Poetry indeed.

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