Thursday, May 10, 2012

Is Romney a Sociopath?


This morning's Washington Post broke a troubling story, told by Mitt Romney's prep school colleagues.  Romney led a gang of bullies who assaulted a presumed gay student while Romney cut off the boy's hair.  When asked about it, the former governor seemed not to recall the incident, though the other boys involved had been troubled by it the rest of their lives, some contacting the victim years later to apologize.

When the story broke, my husband used the word 'sociopath' to describe the presumptive GOP presidential candidate.  I had to check.

Let me review here the characteristics of a sociopath.  These characteristics came from "Profile of the Sociopath", which I have quoted gratefully below (in orange).  These descriptions were posted in 2003, so are in no way crafted with Mr. Romney in mind.

Glibness and Superficial Charm -- What do you think?

Manipulative and Cunning -- Look not just at this incident, but Romney's history at Bain Capital and the way businesses, their employees and managers, were also victims.

They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
Grandiose Sense of Self -- Certainly his Republican primary opponents, both in 2008 and 2012, described him this way.
Feels entitled to certain things as "their right."
Pathological Lying -- The Etch-a-Sketch candidate may actually be the epitome of pathological lying.  No position has staying power and whatever wins him short-term gains flows easily from his mouth.
Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt -- Here is where Romney's initial reaction to being confronted about this incident is most troubling.  Cruelty in adolescence is less the concern than lack of remorse.
A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
Shallow Emotions -- This is his greatest weakness as a campaigner, feigned attempts at empathy like "I'm unemployed too" and "the trees are the right height here".
When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
Incapacity for Love -- No evidence.

Need for Stimulation -- No evidence.
Callousness/Lack of Empathy -- This behavior was evident in spades in the reports of Romney's classmates, but may also describe his tenure at Bain.
Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature -- The jury is still out.
Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency -- Clearly the case.
Usually has a history of behavioral and academic difficulties, yet "gets by" by conning others. Problems in making and keeping friends; aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, stealing, etc.
Irresponsibility/Unreliability -- Leveraged buyouts -- Romney's prime concern at Bain Capital -- were in the business of decimating company coffers, laying off employees and undermining contracts, all for investor profits.
Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.
Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity -- No evidence.

Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle -- Not likely.
Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively.
Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility -- Most definitely prone to changing his life story whenever convenient.
Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily.

The jury is still out and I'll leave it to psychiatry to evaluate Governor Romney according to the new DSM V (not yet out).  But I'm personally quite troubled by the parallels Mr. Romney shares with the majority of these sociopathic traits.

Will the GOP have to abandon its front-runner and bring in a ringer to stand for election in 2012?

See also:  The Case for Obama