Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Romney is a psychopath AND a sociopath


Is Romney a psychopath? Let’s check the criteria:
  • Glibness/superficial charm
This is not  a Romney failing, although they are trying to coach it in to him.  The lack should not be taken for evidence against psychopathy, however, due to his unusual background.
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
There are few men on earth with a sense of grandiosity equal to that of Mitt Romney, but all candidates for president tend to share this fault.
  • Need for stimulation, with a proneness to boredom
It is hard to measure because of Romney's non-traditional lifestyle.  He doesn’t work at a paying job, but he does put in many hours as a Mormon bishop.  He is running for president, but his knowledge of issues seems poor, and his evaluation of places like Europe quite wrong, suggesting he has done no particular research for the role.  However, these could be focus group tested opinions and not his real mind. 
  • Pathological lying
Yes. One of the stories about Mitt that most liberals remember is the time he strapped his dog to the roof for a long-distance trip.

Here he is lying about the incident, but he lied from the first.  In the original story, the Boston Globe reporter took at face value the claim that Romney had “built” a “windscreen” for the dog kennel, something a busy professional like Romney would never have done. Indeed, the only reason for thinking a very large dog would “enjoy” riding on the roof is if he sticks his head out of the window to catch the wind on normal rides.  Most likely, Romney simply turned the kennel backward where it was still subject to some wind.  On this video, he claims the container was “airtight.”  We know this is a lie because it was confirmed by his son that they saw diarrhea running down the back of the car –  if diarrhea can get out, wind can get in.  Romney took the dog out, hosed down him and his kennel, and put him back inside for the remainder of a long ride.  In the linked video version, Romney has the dog climbing onto the roof by himself!  In an expressway ride, the wind is violent and unrelenting and comes with small objects as projectiles.  In addition, the kennel might move around and is likely to be thrown off the car.  This transport mode was illegal in Massachusetts, but Romney says it’s okay because he wasn’t familiar with the law!  The smartest thing to do here would be for Romney to admit he made a mistake, but Romney can’t do it because he doesn’t feel mistaken and it is more comfortable to him to lie than to admit error. And that is a big red flag.
  • Conning and manipulating behaviors

In this video, Romney has been confronted by a reporter after he claimed that he would be free from lobbyist influence as demonstrated by his campaign. The reporter pointed out he had a registered federal lobbyist advising him, and Romney in outrage immediately reframes the issue to be one where a lobbyist who advises him could not be said to be with the campaign since he isn’t paid (and of course that might be a new lie).  Then Romney comes over to the offending reporter and demands he stand up, where the larger Romney might attack him, and then a Romney flunky comes over to accuse the reporter of unprofessional conduct.  In short, Romney's response to being caught in a lie is to attempt to deflect public attention and try to intimidate the accuser, an example of conning and manipulative behavior.
  • No sense of remorse or guilt
Romney has never admitted he was wrong, even when he told Michigan they were in a “one state recession” during the 2008 campaign, when the whole country was in recession.
  • A  very shallow emotional affect - they display emotions they don't really feel
Everyone, even his supporters, has noted his lack of emotion when speaking, his “robotic” delivery.  Some might say that means he is not a psychopath in that he hasn’t learned to mimic emotion for his own gain, but I would respond that he was raised in an environment so privileged that he never had to learn to be ingratiating and if he had, it would have made people view him as less powerful.  The Detroit he grew up in was a vertical auto dictatorship where the politics of the auto companies were followed with the fervor of kremlin watchers in the old USSR. Romney's father was the Governor and an Auto CEO.  In addition, Romney was prominent in the Mormon Church, where a cousin was a high official.  The church has no professional clergy outside the top levels, and rich businessmen run it at the local levels.  Deference in Mormondom is so extreme that Romney’s dad named him after wealthy Mormon J. Willard Marriott, who lived a thousand miles away.  Romney also attended a small private school for "arty" rich kids called Cranbrook.  

Thus, he would have been used to deference in school, in church, and everywhere he went because of his family.  In this situation, distance=power and he would have learned to be less than charming with people.  In this he is different than both Clinton and Bush, who did feel a need to ingratiate themselves with people.  Bush was a privileged psychopath and acted it, but he also knew that politics involves ingratiation.  Of course, both Bush and Clinton were raised in the South, where bonhomie and bullshit is a high status activity. In the Midwest, where Romney grew up, nobody cares about the well told yarn, but rather where you stand in the power structure.   Romney instead went into management consulting, where he bluffed his way into making people think he had expertise by arrogance, not smarm.
  • A lack of empathy for others
Romney has made repeated gaffes, from telling some unemployed workers he too was unemployed, to making a $10,000 bet during a debate, to saying that enjoys firing people. He clearly has no empathy for anyone.
  • They are parasitic - they live off of others
Romney has his own wealth, but it was made through the corporate parasitism of Bain Capital. He did not create a product or service, he merely supplied the money.  Nonetheless, he may be more energetic than Bush, who was infamously lazy.
  • They are impulsive, and show poor control over their behaviors
This is not clear.  He does not seem to be impulsive, although undertaking a long drive with the dog on the roof might indicate impulsiveness, as might his spontaneous $10,000 bet offer in one of the debates.   His frequent gaffes may also be a crazy kind of risk taking,a  rebellion at being held to script.  In one sense he doesn't really want the public to like him, but to win in spite of their not liking him. 
  • They tend to be promiscuous
Romney was highly promiscuous as a teenager.  Where his inclinations have led him since we do not yet know.  When he was a freshman at Stanford, his wife was still in high school.  He would sneak home to see Ann without his parents’ knowledge, which may indicate a sexual relationship.It may not have been statutory rape, since the age of consent in Michigan is 16.  On the other hand, it may have been, since the age of consent in Michigan is 18 for "authority figures" and he may have held a teaching position in the church by that age.

sneaking home to see high schooler Ann:

  • Their behavior problems start early in life.
We don’t know if Romney was a problem child, but that he worked one summer as a security guard at a Chrysler plant may suggest he had some issues. Security guard is not the sort of job that someone being trained for high positions in an auto business would ever hold.  They might have put him in accounting, or sales, or production, or legal; or even give him a line job to learn the business.  A security guard at an auto plant does not necessarily learn anything about the business.  We also know that he was an unfocused child who had at least one semester at school with no A’s and was called “irresponsible” by a teacher.  We also know he got his girlfriend arrested for trespassing on a golf course, and held a “dinner party” in the median of an intersection.

  • They cannot form long-term plans that are realistic
Romney is singularly vague in his plans for his presidency.
  • They are impulsive, and irresponsible
He was irresponsible enough to have it noted by teachers, and impulsive enough to sneak home to see his high school girlfriend repeatedly.
  • They do not accept responsibility for their actions - another caused it
This is a big red flag about Romney.  He has never been at fault about anything ever.  Even the dog story which threatens his presidential aspirations was the fault of the dog!
  • Marital relationships are short, and many
This does not apply to Romney, but may say more about his wife than about him.
  • They display juvenile delinquency
He had at least one juvenile arrest, but we may not know the whole story.
  • They violate probation often
Not apparently a Romney problem.
  • Their criminality is diverse
Yes.  He once counseled a woman who might die of childbirth not to get an abortion even to save her own life.


In short, Romney meets most of the criteria for psychopath, and even where he doesn’t, it appears to be more the result of being raised in a sociopath environment where antisocial conduct is the norm.   That is to say, Romney is a psychopath in having no empathy for others and seeing others only as tools to be used; but he is also a sociopath in that he inhabits a gangster world where being on top means controlling every aspect of others’ lives, a power he is keen to exercise.  Most people who run for president are high on the psychopath spectrum.  But being  high on both the psychopath and sociopath spectrum not only explains Romney’s lack of charm, but why his presidency would be frightening to so many.


  1. What's the difference between a sociopath and psychopath? According to the Diagnostic Criteria (DSM-IV) there is no difference...Politicians share personality traits with serial killers but serial killers ruin families. Corporate and political psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies. Capitalism at its most ruthless is a manifestation of psychopathy. - http://hubpages.com/t/2f616c

  2. Well, now we know he was a violent bully who held a classmate down
    and forcibly cut his hair because the classmate was gay. He led a blind teacher
    into a door and laughed hysterically. And former classmates claim Romney in the
    dorms at prep school was like Lord of the Flies.

    I say psychopath.