Be that girl for a month

taylorOne of the fun things psychopaths do is play games with people who don’t know it’s a game. As Taylor Swift sang in Blank Space,

Find out what you want
Be that girl for a month

200_PandLcoverAs Adelyn Birch says in Psychopaths and Love, “When targeted by a psychopath, we unwittingly become an opponent in a game we dont even know were playing.” Except I don’t look at the other players as “opponents.” I just see them as actors in a play I wrote, directed and starred in.


walkerAs a child, I belonged to two “enemy gangs.” Just little kid stuff. I liked both gangs so I told each of them I was spying on the other so I got to play with both groups. When I got older, I liked to “be” a character in a book I read. I could play a chosen role for periods of time without anyone being the wiser. It’s a heady feeling. As John Walker said in Family of Spies, “You get the sense that everyone’s asleep and you’re the only one awake.”

Buddha is a Psychopath:

Siddhartha, Sociopathy and the Middle (Psycho) Path

It’s just like Kevin Dutton said in his book, The Wisdom of Psychopaths. Take that, Martha Stout!

Journey Chronicle in Letters and Science

“None the less, from Hannibal Lecter to Morgan, Dexter: etcetera… nada… formalis.” JR


1.        Abundant glib superficial charm/Love for all things.

2.        Poverty of emotions, flat affect/Let it go, all is as it should be.

3.        Unable to form strong emotional bonds/ ‘Spiritual detachment’.

4.        Impulsive/Live for this moment.

5.        Less fear, guilt, remorse/ ‘At peace’

6.        Manipulative, change story to fit situation/ ‘Zen’.

7.        Usually men/ Buddhas’ can only be men. Bodhisattva and higher ranks for females are a late edition. Oh yeah. Put that in your spiritual pipe.

8.        Grandiose, arrogant, narcissistic/ ‘Enlightenment’, svakkhatdo (excellent beginning, middle and end; ‘Higher’ mind, wisdom and virtue ect).

9.        Use others to feel powerful/ ‘Holy’.             (also temples, progressive rank hierarchy ect)

10.     Behaviourally prone to violate social norms/ Orange robes with sandals, a shaved head and extensive wooden beads: yeah that’ll about do it at most clubs. Especially after 6pm.

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People Who Died

kathyI met her in the nut house. At first, she was friends with another girl who didn’t like me and they made my life hell. But then the other girl left and I became best friends with K. Our friendship continued after we were both out of the place but it tapered off after years.

She was the first person to tell me I was a psychopath. She knew some woman who was some kind of expert. She described me to the woman and the woman told her I was a psychopath. The funny thing was that as soon as she told me, I just knew it was true although I had never thought of it before.

motherAfter years of now contacting each other, I felt nostalgic and called her. I had just found out that I could legally get my records from the institution. At one time, she would have been really curious about such information and would have been delighted to know one could get ahold of it. But this time, she was not interested. She was all upset because her mother was dying. I reminded her of when she told me I was a psychopath. “I’m not impressed with them,” she now told me. Hello? When did I try to impress her? I found her response chilling so I decided to write her off. We ended the conversation and hung up.

meanddadQuite a while later, I had another fit of nostalgia so I wrote her a letter. The letter came back undeliverable since the addressee was deceased.  I had experienced death of people who were “close” to be before. Both my parents, for example. It didn’t really affect me much. The death of my mother more because it meant my sister and I had to do all the housework. My father’s death was a relief.  He was already in a nursing home. My sister took care of the funeral and burial.

The death of this woman who hadn’t really been my friend for years was different because I miss her from time to time. Sometimes I think of something I want to tell her and then I remember she’s dead. It’s like a part of my life which I experienced with her can no longer be 410accessed in the same way.

I never cried for any of the people who died although I have cried for dead pets. I’m over all these deaths.

In Praise of Empty Minds

a review of Martha Stout’s review of

The Wisdom of Psychopaths

wisdompsyI found out about the review by reading an answer to Quora by Athena Walker, a psychopath herself who has probably provided more information about psychopathy on Quora than anyone else.  In answer to her opinion of Stout’s book, The Sociopath Next Door, she wrote:

 I thought she was dreadfully biased. She had nothing but negative things to say even when she was supposedly trying to be positive. It just came across as bitter. Her writing reminded me of Hare’s.

The most telling bit about her, however, is the review that she gave to Kevin Dutton’s, The Wisdom of Psychopaths. She didn’t review the work; she attacked the writer. That tells me two things.

One. She is not confident in her own work.

Two. She cannot separate between a person and an idea.

This is the crux of her biased analysis of psychopaths and sociopaths (that she conflates and wrongly calls us the same thing).

Her writing is terrible, but her lack of integrity and conviction in her stance is worse.

stoutI’ve never been a fan of Martha Stout, primarily for her biased attitude, as Ms. Walker said.  But I was curious of what her review of Dutton’s book looked like. The review was entitled: In Praise of Empty Souls—Can We Learn From Psychopaths? Three guesses what her answer was. Anything positive one could say about psychopaths is not only wrong, it is practically blasphemy. The review starts with an anecdote about an anthropologist who gave a lecture with tainted information. One of his indentured graduate assistants spilled the beans, “fairly gleeful in her disdain.” This phrase aptly describes Stout’s own attitude in her assessment of both psychopaths and of Dr. Dutton.

dutton1Stout starts by complaining that “nowhere in this book about psychopathy does Dutton accurately define psychopathy.” But this isn’t an elementary book on the subject. Knowledge of the definition of psychopathy is assumed. But Stout insists on rectifying Dutton’s omission by providing us with her own definition of psychopathy. “Psychopathy is a disorder of the brain and behavior, the central characteristic of which is the complete absence of conscience.” I’ll accept that. Our lack of conscience is the thing that really seems to bother people about us. In my blog post, Free to Choose, I explore the implications of living conscience-free. I pointed out at that time that being free to do whatever one wants to do does not necessitate one’s wanting to do the worst things possible. Of course, we can. And that’s what seems to bother people. At least, we are not hampered by guilty feelings. We are hampered by many other factors such as the long arm of the law and social repercussions. The restrictions are outside of us instead of built in as they are in that vast army of folk Martha Stout considers acceptable human beings.

pingpongNext, she accuses Dutton of making “allusions to intriguing psychological and neuropsychological studies.” But she pronounces the relevance of these studies “equivocal at best” and even “at worst downright misleading.” She doesn’t provide us with any examples of any of the studies and explanations of how they are irrelevant or misleading. I guess we’re expected to take her at her word.

She goes on to quibble about Dutton’s use of words which make us look too good. For leopardexample, what Dutton calls “mental toughness,” Stout calls “not giving a damn.” She accuses him of having a “misunderstanding of the nature of the predator.” But many animals are predators by nature but are still able to show caring and solidarity to those of their choosing. Furthermore, even humans are natural predators. Are we not? From the get-go, we have been hunters, stalking our prey and eating what we caught. Now that we have built an advanced and complex civilization, most of us don’t have to hunt. In fact, cunning humans have discovered the advantages of raising animals intended to be eaten. Hunting is primarily a hobby now since the predatory nature of our species makes the activity fun (at least for some of us).

What bothers people like Stout is that psychopaths have been known to prey on 728px-Identify-a-Psychopath-Step-9members of our own species. That usually doesn’t mean killing and/or raping them. Many kinds of behavior are labeled “predatory” when performed by a psychopath. One of these types of behavior is what is usually called “courtship.” When a psychopath seeks intimacy, this normal and even essential pattern of behavior is called “seduction.” The web is full of sites and blogs written primarily by women who have been “seduced” and abandoned. Psychopaths “love bomb” their prey, make them fall in love and then “devalue” them, breaking their hearts. One of these sites is called Love Fraud. The owner of this site, Donna Anderson, has written her own review of The Wisdom of Psychopaths. Not mincing words, Ms. Anderson calls the book “a disservice to society.” She, like Stout, takes exception to Dutton’s daring to find anything good about us or our condition. She accuses him of “cherry-picking” information, “emphasizing the ‘positives’ and ignoring the negatives.” But don’t Ms. Anderson and Dr. Stout do the same thing only in reverse?

conscience1Dr. Stout has a wealth of verbal imagery to pound home her abhorrence of psychopaths. Some of them are “the emotional black hole of consciencelessness,” “psychopaths, cold and conscienceless,” “psychopathy is a profound and tragic disorder.” Dr. Dutton, on the other hand, compares the mind of a psychopath to the mind of a Buddhist practitioner. The Buddhist strives to live in present-time. The psychopath is already there. Stout dismisses this fascinating discussion by denying the book “validly associates psychopaths with stoic saints and contemplative Buddhist monks.” She concludes by saying, “As a professional who has spent decades studying the bleak disorder of consciencelessness, I can say with beginnera fair degree of certainty that there is no wisdom in psychopathy.” Her reference to her professionalism is stunning when one compares it to Shunryu Suzuki, who celebrated his naivety. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” I can think of so many examples of how lack of expertise is liberating. In OTO, the first initiation to the Minerval Degree has the non-specificity of the higher grades but in a way it is the most powerful as it encompasses all of them. Or think of Harry Potter when Harry took his felix felicis potion. The first thing he noticed was the endlessness of possibility, “slowly but surely, an exhilarating sense of infinite opportunity stole through him; he felt as though he could have done anything, anything at all . . .”

hareFinally, although Stout is a “professional,” so is Dr. Dutton and Robert Hare who has recently questioned the idea that psychopathy is even a disorder. He has said, “Psychopaths may not suffer from a neurological disorder but instead the condition may be an evolutionary survival mechanism.” Again, he told Discover Magazine, “It’s just as reasonable, and more so in my mind, to interpret psychopathy as a developmental evolutionary thing.”

Such ideas seem to terrify people like Martha Stout. She is so fixated on conscience that her whole universe threatens to crumble at the possibility that we can very well do without conscience and still grow and thrive spiritually.

Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth

“Confessions” of a Thankless Child…

serpentstoothWhen I was a child, my mother told me I would feel guilty when she died. She didn’t say this in anger or reproach. She sounded fatalistic, as if everyone feels that way, it’s just inevitable. I knew that was bunk but I didn’t try to argue with her about it. She felt guilty when her mother died so I would too. As absurd as it is to feel guilt for something one hasn’t even done, I’ve seen examples of causeless guilt in many places.

myfamilyAt the age of 13, I went into a nuthouse. No doubt, this was a big expense financially, not to say emotionally, for my hapless parents. When I attempted murder (during leave while on the open ward), it made things that much worse. I had no idea of how alienated she was until years later when I got ahold of my hospital records.


mynuthouseMother discusses patient with little show of emotion and her warmth in describing younger sister reveals much that is not verbally expressed in her resentment towards the patient. Mother’s tensions toward patient have been more fully expressed since the latter’s hospitalization. She has shown increasing hostility toward patient’s visits home on week-ends, and once remarked to assigned social worker that her reputation had been ruined by the patient, and she could no longer accept her back in the household. By February, 1958, the mother had arranged to move into a more expensive apartment with fewer rooms, with the idea that the patient would not be allowed to return home. She also stated tearfully, “I no longer consider Frances my daughter.”

meandmomFortunately, she never made that move and I had no idea at the time that she had even considered it. I was discharged as “improved” after two years and went back to my “home.” I was enrolled in a private high school but I decided to quit school at age 16 since kids can legally quit school and get jobs at that age. My plan was to get a job and my own apartment. I was prepared to fight them if they tried to stop me but they didn’t. I guess it made old mom happy to have her wish to be rid of me come true. I followed through with my plans and had a blissful year of freedom. After certain experiences (see autobiography), I decided to go home to finish my education. By that time, my folks had moved to the suburbs and were living in a large rented house which afforded me my own large bedroom and superior schooling than I had experienced in the city.

franinsamoisWell, you can take a girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl. I still had friends I had made in the nuthouse as well as during my year of freedom and I kept up with these friends to my parents’ displeasure. At one point, I thought I was pregnant and refused an abortion which, in my family, was the proper thing to do (sorry, “pro-lifers”). It turned out to be a false alarm so I continued with my schooling and went on to college which I graduated.

me_at17But, while I was still in high school, my mother had some sort of breakdown. She would spend hours sobbing on her bed. I knew I was the cause of her grief but instead of moving me to pity or guilt, it only made me mad at her. Then she got cancer and died. False to her prediction, I didn’t feel the slightest twinge of guilt. It only meant that my sister and I had to take care of the housework from then on. After we graduated high school, I enrolled in a college in the city while my sister went to one upstate. Our father moved back to the city and we shared an apartment near my college where I took care of the cooking and cleaning in addition to my studies and social activities.

728px-Identify-a-Psychopath-Step-8The gist of my story here is that I never fit the image of the kind of kid my parents and society wanted and expected. Years later, my father once remarked, “You didn’t turn out to be the person I wanted you to be but you are the person you wanted to be.” He said it with approval. Thanks, Dad. He had always been the more accepting of my parents. He joined Parents Without Partners and married a woman he met there. She worked professionally in a facility for the elderly. So, when his  health failed in his old age, it was strange that she put him in a nursing home instead of taking care of him. She said it would have been too difficult. Maybe she’s right. Who am I to judge. My sister took all the responsibilities for his life. He choose to go to a home in our state, since he felt hurt and rejected by his wife. One of the few times I visited him, he tried to talk me into letting him move in with me. Yeah. Right. I could just see it, him living with my partner and I in our studio apartment. I wasn’t exactly living the life-style he would have approved of and his presence would have totally camped my style. I seldom visited him. His home wasn’t really easy to get to from where I lived anyway. My sister visited him often. Better her than me. It was boring there. When he died, she took care of the funeral. I didn’t even attend.

fran2Over the years, I have come to understand my mother and forgive her for her shortcomings. She was just a person who did the best she could. I am now in an assisted living facility myself. Since I never had children, I don’t the kind of family support others do. I’m living with my partner who has kids who visit her and support her to an extent, not as much as we would have liked. It sometimes feels lonely not to have visitors (except my partner’s visitors) and get taken out for lunch or visits to their house. But that’s what I get for not having had children. I would have had them but I never got pregnant. Probably for the better that I didn’t.

Perhaps my lack of guilt also helps me be more forgiving of their humanity. That’s maturity, after all, isn’t it? Realizing your parents are just people after all.

I’m not a demon. I’m a gal who fearlessly proclaims her humanity

It’s been called by many names but I call it “super sanity.”

“Bad Seed” or “moral imbecile?” I call that “inanity.”

You claim the moral high ground here but I just call it “vanity.”

Paralyzed by Empathy

I just finished reading The Camp of the Saints which I started a few posts back to try to figure out altruism-charlie-brownwhat’s going on in Steve Bannon’s mind. The book is notorious or infamous for its racism. I already discussed the racist and anti-immigrant implications of the book in Psychopathy, Altruism and the Right. But there is a lot more to this book than that. I see it as a study of a moral conflict many modern civilized discontents suffer from. Christianity seems to be the biggest culprit but other religions are probably also to blame. Not that I am condemning out of hand Christian moral values. I’m merely examining the implications for those who subscribe to those values.

altruism-1.jpgBefore going any further, let me be explicit in stating that I think the story in this book is very unrealistic. It concerns a culture clash between Third World people (especially East Indians), who are depicted as disgusting and subhuman, and Whites, who are so disarmed with political correctness and white liberal guilt that they are rendered helpless. In reality, Third World people are nothing like the ones in this book. They have their own culture and their own way of life. Whites, especially those in charge of running countries, are not nearly as squeamish about hurting Third World people as depicted in the book. Just look at all the bombing of civilians the United States is doing right now. With that disclaimer, I still think the book poses some interesting philosophical problems which I plan to scrutinize.

guiltyconscienceApparently, this story is meant to take place some time in the future when Christian (and Hindu) values of universal love had transmogrified into liberalism. The fact that these citizens of western civilization were confronted by a mass of hostile invaders who were, however, unarmed and starving, discovered they were unable to defend themselves. It is untrue that the invaders had no weapon. They had a very potent weapon: the guilty conscience of the people they were marching upon.

guiltyLiberals have always remarked upon the unchristian behavior of the rich. Christ would have shared his last shirt with someone who didn’t have one. How can they call themselves Christians? Well, in Jean Raspail’s dystopia, the more prosperous did have a Christian conscience. They were aware of how at odds the realities of the world were from the values they espoused. But, if the rich really do live with such cognitive dissonance, they don’t let it rich-ruler-cartoondictate their actions. Calvinists have the cleverest solution to being rich and Christian. They believe God bestows material wealth on those who He intends to save. At odds with the scripture, perhaps, but with a logic of its own. In The Camp of the Saints, however, even Calvinists also partake of the spiritual sickness of the Christian West (and I do mean sickness). “Edgar Wentzwiller, Calvinist leader and eminent humanitarian…has stated that he will abstain from all nourishment until such time as Western Europe has taken in all of the Ganges refugees, to provide them with food, with care, and salvation.”

sicilyrefugees-01Although the Europeans in this story don’t really want to let these people in, they can’t bring themselves to kill them which is the only way they could have stopped them. Even when soldiers are armed and ready to shoot, “As we passed alongside the first boat, suddenly you couldn’t hear a sound. Then one man piped up, as if to be funny: ‘Boy, take a look at that! They sure don’t give a damn what they do over there!’ A few moments later, the same one again, but this time his voice was very different: ‘Poor devils!’ And for the next hour, that’s all you seem to hear on board. Things like, ‘I can’t believe it!’ or ‘My God, those poor bastards!'” They are defeated by their own empathy.

correctEven when not actively experiencing empathy, the Europeans can’t bring themselves to admit that they would kill “helpless” people to save themselves. They can’t deal with what others might think of them and they can’t deal with admitting they are not the kind of idealized people they want to believe themselves to be. A slogan, “We are all from the Ganges now,” becomes popularized. Rather than deal with the choice of us or them, they embrace self-annihilation.

solidarityMeanwhile, the more disadvantaged members of their own society see Society’s weakness as a signal to savage the carcass of the ruling class. Either that or, perhaps they just wanted to be on the winning side. They proclaim the cause of “WORKERS, SOLDIERS, GANGES REFUGEES UNITED AGAINST OPPRESSION.” Nobody voices a plan of how the newly liberated society will support itself. They just want to feed on the carrion of the once-great civilization.  Perhaps Raspail wrote this book as a cautionary tale of what would happen if liberal ideas are accepted. The text repeatedly refers to “the beast.” Katharine Betts defined what Raspail probably meant by that. “This beast is made up of two parts, one of guilt and one of anti-racism.”

egodeathWhile this book has justly been called “racist,” I think the real villain of the tale is Christian values. “Universal love” is a phrase often repeated in the novel by the hypocrites who try to talk themselves into the suicidal course they are on. Of course, the same can be said for values of Hinduism and probably some other religions, including Hippy-style mysticism. “Ego” is the devil which must be defeated. Hard to do since even the humblest amongst us wants to live. To kill the ego is to kill the self. I have taken my ACID like a good hippy and experienced ego death. It’s like everything is one and every creature has as much right to live as I do. That faded quickly when the drug wore off and I had given my last dime away and craved a lousy cup of coffee which I couldn’t afford.flagellants

But let’s face it. We have all grown up in a culture that worships self-abnegation. In the Middle Ages, they tried to live up to those ideals in earnest. Fanatical monks and nuns would gleefully drink water in which they had washed the feet of lepers. Some even drank pus and ate scabs from these people. They would have well understood the characters in The Camp of the Saints.

Since Christianity is the religion of western civilization, it is hard to avoid the conclusion eros-e-thanatos-serena-sinigaglia-2that the weakness which forces France and the rest of western civilization to abnegate their right to exist to a hostile, inferior culture (or cultures) is an inner weakness, already present centuries before the problem presented itself. Christ, both the son of god and god, himself, allowed himself to be crucified by the sinful world as a way of redeeming it. The is the model of how believers are supposed to live. The life force consists of two opposing forces, eros and thanatos. It is strange that a whole civilization was built based on the latter force. But it is probably the yen to transcend mortal life that propelled this strange choice. Nevertheless, eros is an essential quality of all living beings. The will to live and reproduce had to be present in order for Christian society to exist and thrive. But the conflict led to a society that held all sexuality morally suspect, to say the least.

Christianity has always had it’s critics from Nietzsche to Anton Levey to Ayn Rand. Her novel, Atlas Shrugged is principally a repudiation of Christian morality.

powerless“We’re at our mercy,” said Lillian….”If you abandon us, we’re lost.”

“If you still want me to explain it, Mother,” he said very quietly, “if you’re still hoping I won’t be cruel enough to name what you’re pretending not to know, then here’s what’s wrong with your idea of forgiveness: You regret you hurt me and, as your atonement for it, you ask that I offer myself to total immolation.”

conflictsThe helplessness and suffering of the invaders from the Ganges is stressed over and over again in The Camp of the Saints. But the invaders are not helpless. They are not weaponless. They had a formidable weapon over the people of France. Their own conscience. If they harm the invaders (whom they keep referring to as refuges), they will be violating their morality.

thanatosSome of the people eagerly embrace the prospect of immolation. They see the end of their world with rapture, just as the Medieval monks saw their imbibing of disease matter. That’s pure thanatos. Most just accept it unwillingly rather than deal with the guilt they would otherwise have to live with. And still other would gladly wipe out the entire population of those heading their way if only they didn’t have to face being judged by their contemporaries. One has to wonder, do they really love goodness or is it only the self-image of goodness?

'Compassion fruit.'In an Afterword, Jean Raspail proclaims himself a prophet who was unfairly reviled as a racist when his book was published but who has be justified by history. France is now undergoing the multiracial destruction he tried to warn people against “when the slow, cancerous progress of compassion, which is only a misleading and lethal form of charity, duly said siege to the Western conscience — when it finally became apparent that in the future the denial of essential and basic human differences would work solely to the detriment of our own integrity.”

But is that true? Hardly. Non-whites have been accepted into European nations on conditions that suited the nations. They were not besieged by a mass of people just coming in uninvited it. They have integrated themselves into their host country and made themselves useful.

newyorkI grew up in New York, already a melting pot. I don’t think I have ever been in an all-white environment. I went to school with blacks and Puerto Ricans, worked with them and shared living areas with them. The kind of chaos and degeneracy depicted in Raspail’s book never occurred. Sure, there were riots in Harlem. But life went on not greatly altered. People were surprised when during the great blackout there weren’t epidemics of looting. If I know anything from growing up in an inter-racial world is that, Raspail, notwithstanding, people are people, after all.

Sure our society is rife with conflict. There is conflict between haves and have-nots, between thanatos and eros, between self-sacrifice and assertiveness. I expect these conflicts will continue for many years.

Hell for ‘Paths?

Hell is Other People imposing their Will

I am reading The Fourth Turning, by William Strauss and Neil Howe. It’s a theory of turningshistory which sees repetitive cycles resembling the seasons. There are four seasons and each cycle (called saeculum) has four “turnings.” Each turning is driven by a generation. The four generations each have archetypes called Hero, Artist, Prophet and Nomad. In the particular saeculum we are currently in, there are popular nicknames for each of these generations. Heroes are called G.I.s. Artists are the Silent Generation. Prophets are Baby Boomers and Nomads, Generation X (the authors prefer calling them 13ers for some reason). I was overjoyed to find I was a Boomer. I fit the description to a “t.”

Strauss and Howe say Boomers (who were indulged as children) are highly narcissistic. Certainly! A lot of people are critical of Boomers something I’m quite accustomed to. However, the book The Generation of Sociopaths, was wrong and I explained why in the previous post, Talking ‘Bout My G-Generation. OK. I’m one. But I don’t think this is a characteristic of my whole generation.

As a psychopath, I always felt resentful when society tried to put demands on my sovereign Self. In fact, I could not tolerate it. A line from the Culture Club’s The War Song, expressed my attitude. “What’s mine’s, my own. I won’t give in to you, no matter what you say, no matter what you do.”

Boy George clearly means to condemn this attitude as the root of the whole problem of war and strife. But, in a way, he reflects my attitude. “People are stupid.” And how! I’ve narcboomerbeen told by a shrink that it is narcissistic to say people are stupid. (I didn’t need to be told.) And the video shows little boys saluting which, to my mind, indicates that one of the stupid things about war is the regimentation, the enforced obedience. One of the most fundamental things I am aware of is the fact that I am a sovereign being. Even if forced to submit to society, I am still a sovereign being, maybe captive or in hiding but still sovereign.

protestAccording to The Fourth Turning, the saeculum ends with, first, an unraveling and, second, a crisis which profoundly changes things. A new saeculum starts. Boomers were raised to believe our individual needs were of great importance. As soon as we came of age, we imposed our values on society. Americans thought so well of themselves and their country but we confronted them with their sins, their hypocrisy. We rioted, refused to join the army, changed the rules of how people could interact, exposed the racism and started a counterculture. Of course, the values of most Boomers were so altruistic and empathy-based, it’s preposterous to call them “sociopaths.” But the counterculture was a rich environment in which to find oneself and it suited me fine until, one day, the conformity got to me and I left. The Punk Rock scene was refreshing in its rejection of the hippy cliches and all the readings of the I Ching. Still, I am proud of the Boomers, proud to be one. I think my generation accomplished more than any of the others.

goodieAccording to Strauss and Howe, we are entering a time in which the individual is no longer the center of the universe. The community now comes first. As I read on, I became more and more angry at the idea of the individual having to sacrifice for the group. “Wait your turn.” “Do your chores.” “Don’t offend.” It’s stifling! As Billie Holiday sang, “You can help yourself, but don’t take too much” — God Bless the Child.

Strauss and Howe who are conservative, see the Fourth poorseniorTurning as a time to do away with “entitlements.” Ah. That word. It’s like a red flag to a bull. A nasty, little right-wing word that means eliminating government benefits that were recognized as a right of every citizen since the New Deal. We seniors will just have to sacrifice. Our families can become our next “safety net.” How is that sickening? Let me count the ways. Only people who popped out kids have this particular safety net. And the safety is only as good as the will of the kids. If they don’t want to help, tough. Government “entitlements” didn’t make beneficiaries beholden to the benevolence of another person. Not that the kids in this brave new world get off Scott free either. There will probably be some sort of compulsory service. Schools will probably impose uniforms.

occupyThe Hero generation are called Millennials. Millennials will serve in the armed forces and kick the ass of our enemies. Of course, this is all hopeful thinking on their part. I think he has Millennials wrong. I worked with some of them in the Occupy movement. They were disciplined, egalitarian and democratic.

I really don’t like meetings and consensus. Still, I can subordinate myself to a group as long as the group is some something I believe in and support. That way, I’m still doing my own will. I think our next heroes thirst for social justice and will put an end to this serfdom the rich have imposed on the 99%. Of course, nobody knows what the next saeculum will look like until it’s here. But we all have our hopes.


Talking ‘Bout My G-Generation

sociopathsbookThere’s a book out called A Generation of Sociopaths, by Bruce Cannon Gibney J.D. And it turns out that Gibney is writing about the Boomers. Another, more interesting book has been available for a while. It’s called The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe. In a nutshell, the book propounds a theory that history is cyclical. Society repeats a pattern approximately every hundred years. Of course, the same things don’t happen. But a remarkable similarity can be seen in each repetition. The cycles are called Saeculum and each Saeculum has four “turnings” when generations start to move in new directions (new from where they are but repetitive in terms of other Saeculum. The authors named the archetypes of the four generations in each Saeculum Heroes, Artists, Prophets, and Nomads. I’m not going into this theory in any depth and I’m certainly not critiquing it except I recommend it as something worth reading. One reason this book is of interest is that Steve Bannon (see my last post) is an advocate of the theory and has his own take on it (see Generation Zero, Bannon’s video, also available in my last post). This should be sufficient orientation for a discussion of A Generation of Sociopaths.

Bruce_GibneyThe Boomers are born between 1943 and 1960 according to Strauss and Howe. Our archetype is Prophet. (Every generation has both an archetype and a popular nickname.) Gibney defines us as having been born between 1940 and 1960. Yes, I am a Boomer. I am very proud to be a Boomer. I think my generation is the greatest, perhaps, in the history of the world. (Remember, I am grandiose.) Grandiose or not, I am reasonably confident that the greatness of my generation stands on it’s own merit. Gibney doesn’t think so. When he calls us “sociopaths,” he is not trying to pay us a complement. In fact, he blames my generation for most, if not all, of the malaise of the United States today. As a psychopath, myself, I have wondered where people with quirks such as “personality disorders” fit into the pattern. But Gibney thinks sociopathy is the norm for Boomers and lack of sociopathy is the exception. He reassures Boomers in the introduction that he is not calling us all socios.

babyboomersSince he is devoting an entire book to dissing a whole generation, one has to wonder what generation he belongs to. I have done an extensive search of the internet. I have been unable to find his birth date. Even Wikipedia, which always contains the dates of birth of their subjects, is mute on this piece of data. I find it very strange that someone who puts that much emphasis on generations wouldn’t want us to know what generation he is. I do know that dazedhis college roommate founded Paypal in 1998. So, subtracting 20 from 1998, I can estimate his birth as having occurred around 1978 or maybe a few years earlier. That would place him in the Nomad Archetype, popularly known as Generation X. His generation has been often spoken of as a slacker generation. The movie Dazed and Confused is about Generation X. No wonder he has kept his birth date a secret. (An interview with Gibney later divulged the fact that he is, in fact, a Gen Xer.) Of course, according to Gibney, the relative stagnation (his word) of business during the early adulthood of Gen X is the fault of the Boomers. Another interesting fact about Gibney is his class position. He is a venture capitalist, one of the money guys who are naturally inclined to take a dim view of radicals and revolutionaries. This is a fact to keep in mind when considering Gibney’s opinion of the role Boomers (revolutionaries to the core) have played in American history. Comparing Gibney’s views with Steve Bannon’s shows as much similarity as “traits” Boomers have in common with traits on the PCL-R. According to both men, the Boomers are spoiled, narcissistic and self-indulgent. That is what has destroyed the US economy, not the giant suction of all the wealth from the rest of us to the 1%.

nosafetynetGibney has a lovely vision of what the United States ought to be and would be if not for us nasty Boomers. Social Security was instituted by FDR, not a Boomer, but a Missionary (also a Prophet Archetype but a different Saeculum). “A long and pleasant retirement is both a historical curiosity and a financial improbability. Until relatively recently, only the rich could retire. Everyone else simply worked until the arrival of disabling infirmity and then waited for the gruesome end: That was it.” Isn’t this a lovely look at what life could be if Bannon and Gibney had their way? All who would prefer the “sociopathic” Boomers’ way, raise your hands. It’s pretty rich for a Wall Street capitalist to accuse Boomers of lack of empathy. At a time when Trump and Ryan are trying their darnedest to realize the dystopian  vision Gibney has laid out, the modern, industrialized world is aghast that anyone would be deliberately trying to subject citizens of the United States to this kind of nightmare.

boomersSince Gibney is using the accusation of Sociopathy to attack the Boomers, my first impulse was to defend my generation against the charge. However, as a psychopath, I have always thought my “kind” is unfairly maligned. So, rather than try to prove Boomers are not sociopaths, I will revel in that description, only differing with it when I spot a glaring contradiction. (For example, I know of Boomers who show a great deal of empathy and are not promiscuous.)

lonelysilentsGibney starts by waxing nostalgic about the good old days in which children were not “indulged.” These golden days of discipline were ended when Benjamin Spock published his infamous Baby and Child Care in 1946. I don’t think child care really changed all that radically with the introduction of Spock. In 1950, The Lonely Crowd described changes in the rearing of middle class children, in any case. Instead of the rod, parents used arguments to persuade their kids to do what they wanted. Children learned how to debate parents with the skill of lawyers but also became super-sensitive to emotional nuances. A disapproving look could cause more fear in a middle-class child than a 20-minute whipping in a lower or working-class kid. Of course, The Lonely Crowd was talking about the Silent Generation, not the Boomers. Too bad for Gibney.

Concerning the good old pedagogy, where children were toilet trained at 3 months (before their sphincters were really developed), Alice Miller (For Their Own Good) wrote a critique of how such an upbringing can be harmful. She called it poisonous pedagogy and explained that children whose needs were silenced by those who didn’t “spare the rod” usually forgot spoiledtheir experiences all the better to repeat them on the next generation.

Besides the nefarious influence of Spock, there was the scourge of television turning these Boomers in to the little monsters that they became. Gibney claims that their performance on standardized tests went down. True, Boomers had “higher self esteem,” and less depression, but they were also more susceptible to peer pressure. One needs to recall that the Silents were described as “other directed” so this trend, for good or bad, was not exclusive to Boomers.

My_Lai_massacreBut then these monsters grew up and reached college age and the shit hit the fan with the war in Vietnam. Gibney doesn’t think that war as all that bad when one compares it to other wars. Gibney put the fact that children were napalmed, whole villages destroyed, atrocities such as My Lai were occurring in our names in perspective. What about the genocide of indigenous Americans which occurred long before us nasty Boomers came to spoil the grandeur that was America. Here is what one Boomer experienced during the era of Vietnam and why he ended up leading the patriotismWeather Underground Organization. “I felt as if my whole generation had turned a corner and walked smack into a violent mugging, a rape in progress: the victim, a total stranger—small, wiry, and ragged with odd, alien clothes, the bearing and whiff of the foreigner; she looked poor, she spoke no English, she held no currency. But—and this was the shock—the attacker was a man we all knew well, an everyday presence, someone we’d admired vaguely without ever actually examining the basis for that admiration.” I too remember the shock I experienced when news of My Lai came out. I was in high school. I looked around the classroom at the boys. They were just boys, classmates. How could boys like this have been capable of such horrors? I was very innocent then. But Gibney thinks Boomers overreacted to this. Instead of protesting, we should have sung patriotic songs and shown pride in being Americans. Our country right or wrong (except when led by Boomers). But isn’t it strange that a sociopath would have so much empathy for the Vietnamese?

farmBoomers did more than fight against the war. We were hippies, went back to the land, engaged in spiritual discovery through drugs, yoga, and group exercises, led the feminist movement, promoted sexual liberation, made great music, fought for civil rights and explored alternative healing. We had encounter groups, cults, and consciousness raising. We explored Asian religion and philosophies. We were the most creative and passionate generation ever. Gibney likes to lump the right-wing in with the tremendously progressive development that feministfistcharacterized our generation. But treating Boomers as one undifferentiated entity, Gibney likes to lay all the sins of individual Boomers at the feet of the entire generation. Is he willing to do the same to other generations? Like, say, his own. If only we knew what generation he belongs to. So far, it seems to be a secret.

But every bad thing any Boomer did, is our collective sin. Clinton was a neoliberal. He antiwarabolished Welfare (actually Gibney would probably approve as he doesn’t even like Social Security), signed trade agreements. But we are also “guilty” of the SDS and the Weatherman which was anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. We are “guilty” of VD and abortion, filthy libertines that we are. Yes, Gibney reminds us. Sociopaths are promiscuous. For “I-focused” people, we certainly managed to build many powerful mass movements. We lived communally, we built political movements. I don’t see the X generation continuing what we built. They would rather call us self-centered than try to build on what we started. But if we are all just “sociopaths,” then it’s alright because the movement they deserted is no damned good anyway.


Psychopathy, Altruism and the Right

The Sovereign Self

trumpIt has become popular in liberal circles to label Donald Trump a psychopath. Because conservatives generally show less compassion and more selfishness than liberals, such a conclusion seems natural to many. The novelist, Ayn Rand, has long been called a psychopath for the same reason. Rand is known as the advocate of selfishness as a virtue. Psychopaths are known for lack of empathy and putting ourselves first. As James says in How a Psychopath Views You, “People are resources to be used like any other.” In another place, he says, “I can care for others to an extent, but never more than I care for myself.” The Judeo-Christian world I grew up in espouses values that are at odds with this kind of unvarnished self-interest. To refuse to at least give lip-service to the prevailing values is a guaranteed way to incur hostility as I learned the hard way early in life and explains why most psychopaths hide their true nature behind a mask.

teresaWestern culture values selflessness in various forms and to varying degrees that can be anywhere between self-sacrifice and/or universal brotherhood based on a belief in equality. I hardly need to mention that mankind doesn’t often live up to this ideal. Those who manage to do so in a big way are often thought of as saints. Mother Teresa comes to mind. She dedicated her entire life to serving the poorest of the poor, people who often had disgusting diseases. She explained that we are put on earth to love and be loved. She vowed to see everyone as Jesus. Of course, Jesus was the quintessential example of self-sacrifice.  Arthur Schopenhauer was one of the first Western philosophers to bring Eastern thought to the West. His central idea was that we are one. The enlightened man says to everyone, “This is me.” This is quite similar to Mother Teresa’s seeing everyone as Christ. It amounts to taking on the suffering of the world. On a political level, the Weather Underground Organization devised a strategy of solidarity with the most oppressed. Otherwise, a prairiefirerevolutionary or reformer can be corrupted by his own stake in the system. Some people have criticized WUO and Prairie Fire Organizing Committee (an above-ground version) for being kind of moralistic and social-worker-ish. As one person put it, “You don’t take care of yourselves.” The traditional Marxist-Leninist understanding is that everyone fights for his own interests. It is in the interests of all workers to overthrow the oppressor. But the uneveness of privilege makes it hard to unite everyone. For example, white supremacy gives whites more privileges so they can  be tempted to support the System in order to hold on to them. The New Left of the Baby Boomers has always had a strongly moralist quality. The Right had long claimed the moral high ground with their adherence to Judeo-Christian values. By claiming that high ground from them, I think the Left obtained a potent weapon. The values in Left-Wing morality were really closer to what Christ actually preached rather than the kind of sexual prudery “morality” on the Right usually stood on. It will become more interesting and meaningful when we look at the philosophy claimed by President Trump’s main strategist, Steve Bannon.

It is obvious to anyone who is awake that the world is full of suffering. If we really are alvie_singersupposed to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” as we have been taught to do, the enormity of the need is quickly seen as overwhelming. Despite the lip-service to equality, it’s glaringly obvious that there is no such thing in our world. Some people are really lucky and some not. Is it OK for the lucky ones to enjoy their good fortune while others are in pain? Like a good liberal, Woody Allen’s character in Annie Hall, Alvy Singer, says he can’t be happy as long as there is one person in the world who is unhappy. Notice that this value of selflessness permeates society, whether through Christianity or secular values.

ayesdohrnSome people seem to be genuinely selfless, or, at least, a lot closer to it than the norm. People like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn are one such example. I just don’t understand how anyone can care so much about other people, people they don’t even know. I find them amazing but I realize I don’t really want to be like them, although, at times, I have told myself I did.

motherchildMy mother was a liberal humanist. It was from her that I learned what is considered good and bad. When I read Atlas Shrugged, and was exposed for the first time to the idea that selfishness and egotism were good things, I was scandalized, not by the idea but that someone would voice it out loud. Then I thought it through and realized that if I owe A my caring, concern and sacrifice and he owes me the same, it ends up a default. Nobody is enriched. It’s just a zero sum game. What was the point? From there, I got interested in conservative politics which I found very liberating having always been surrounded with leftist values. I must say, I found my conservative activism a lot of fun. Later on, when I returned to the Left, I didn’t usually enjoy the activism as much. There was always the feeling that no matter how much we did, it wasn’t enough. I think leftists are more like Christ, with the weight of the world on their shoulders. The Right was more free-spirited. A perk of selfishness? Ayn Rand has always said that life was about joy. Suffering was just an inconvenient incidence to be risen above but not taken seriously. The universe is ultimately benevolent.

Steve Bannon

Donald Trump’s chief adviser is a man named Steve Bannon who had most recently run Breitbart News Network. Created by Andrew Breitbart, this organization has been Andrew_Breitbart_by_Gage_Skidmore_2especially obnoxious to me because of the role they played in destroying ACORN. As a left-wing idealist, I had found ACORN very inspiring. They existed to organize the poorest, most dis-empowered people where they actually gained some power over their lives. Breitbart used a little termite named James O’Keefe who posed as a pimp and tried to get ACORN employees to compromise the reputation of the organization by giving him advice on how to pimp underage “illegal aliens.” They did nothing of the sort but he and Breitbart edited the footage from O’Keefe’s hidden camera to make it look like something it was not. Fox “News” put the story on heavy rotation and the right-wing politicos managed to get ACORN defunded. Andrew Breitbart died of heart failure about a week after eating a gourmet meal prepared by Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, having won a contest. Righties tried to start a rumor than these two revolutionaries poisoned him but it didn’t fly.

bannonbookI had thought that with Breitbart dead, that was the end of him. Unfortunately, his organization has lived on. Steve Bannon ran it until he joined Trump in running the country. Bannon is a fascinating character in himself. He is notorious not only for his associations with White Supremacists but also for his advocacy of a racist novel called Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail. In the story, the people of the Third World invade the West with the intention of destroying our entire civilization. They are grossly demonized, depicted as desperately poor, disease-ridden and disgustingly filthy. I believe I have discovered an underlying theme that relates to the above discussion of how the fortunate relate to the other side of the spectrum. Raspail’s main character, Professor Calgues, outdoes Ayn Rand in his whole-hearted embrace of selfishness. “He was in love. And like any successful suitor, he found himself face to face now with the one he loved, alone… unbridled charity is, after all, a sin against oneself.” (..the one true god) But the demands of the poor got in the way. “Then, after a while, there were too many poor… Through the slits in your mailboxes, campofthesaintsbegging for help, with their frightful pictures bursting from envelopes day after day, claiming their due in the name of some organization… And in time it got worse. Soon you saw them on television, hordes of them, churning up, dying by the thousands, and nameless butchery became a feature, a continuous show…. The poor had overrun the earth… if you did try to give some good linen away, they would just think you were being condescending. No, charity couldn’t allay your guilt.” There it is. The overwhelming demand of the have-nots, the bottomless pit of need. A nun who worked with Mother Teresa even wrote a book about it called An Unquenchable Thirst. Bannon is a billionaire, as are the main characters of the novel. It looks like the rich fear engulfment by the poor. I always wondered how the 1% could want to take the pittance people get from Social Security when they have so much. But if they see the poor as a threat to their well-being, it makes some sense.

suddenlyThe movie, Suddenly Last Summer, deals with desperately poor men cannibalizing a man who wouldn’t give them money they wanted. Another movie whose name I can’t remember showed some people giving charity to the poor and ending up being devoured by them as the hunger of the poor is insatiable.

guiltIn The Camp of the Saints, the West is paralyzed by conscience and cannot defend itself against people armed, not with weapons, but with moral high-ground, “with their woes, their wounds, their groans, their grievance, their hate.” It was a war, not between the West and the Third World, but between the values the West wanted to believe in and the values of self-love over selflessness.

As I look at the world I live in, I find the story rather unrealistic. Of course, Raspail makes the people of the Third World subhuman, truly repulsive. To someone who has never met a Third World human being, that image could have weight. But anyone who has encountered these people know how false it is. They are human beings with human dignity. They are not all starving either. They are more than hungry mouths ready to devour the people of Europe and the United States.

dronesFurthermore, Westerners are far less squeamish about killing the have-nots of other cultures than they are in this book. As the boats headed steadily towards Europe, I am sure they would have been monitored. As it became clear that they would actually reach their destination, concrete plans would have been made. It could be someplace like Ellis Island, where immigrants to the United States used to be housed. If such segregation appeared to be inadequate, they could have bombed the boats while still on open seas. The people in the book are horrified at the prospect of shooting women and children. Look at all the women and children who have died under American drones in various places the US Empire decided to cull populations for whatever strategic reason. The West is not at all squeamish about killing unarmed, Refugeeshelpless populations when it seemed to suit the empire’s interests. Jean Raspail and Steve Bannon needn’t have feared. In fact, this kind of moral dilemma already exists and has existed for decades (at least). In every big city, there are myriad homeless: people literally living on the streets. Christian ethics would have every good person take these people into their homes, offer them a good meal. But who does this? Only a saint like Mother Teresa. Christians and liberals find it quite easy to ignore need and suffering and go on with their lives. Even “aggressive panhandling” is forceably prevented. Israel has been particularly adamant in rejecting refugees from Africa, even Jewish ones.  But a Europe helpless to reject the call of altruism does make for good theater in which to play out the drama of two diametrically opposed moral paradigms.

Who is Steve Bannon?

Steve Bannon has made a statement that he is a Christian and a supporter of “enlightened capitalism” which is neither crony capitalism nor Ayn Rand’s libertarian form of capitalism. “It is a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people…” I don’t know how Objectivism (Ayn Rand’s philosophy) “turns people into commodities or objectifies them.” I also don’t know how his “enlightened capitalism” would differ from Ayn Rand’s version. His long statement doesn’t give specifics. Nor does he explain how the rich under this form of capitalism would be prevented from buying the government which is what created crony capitalism in the first place. Maybe if you read a whole book… But I have read that crony capitalism is thriving so far under Trump.

Bannon also said he’s not a racist and thinks racism in the right-wing movement will fade away in time (the way the state in a Marxist republic will “wither away?”). It’s kind of an interesting coincidence how someone like Rand Paul also has racist associations while denying any sympathies with those ideas. What is this “Alt Conservatism” that both Breitbart and Bannon support? I found this objective, on their website: “Make Racism Acceptable Again.” No ambiguity about that. Is there?

Bannon has made a video about his views of American history and where we are headed.

That Old Amygdala

Magnetic resonance scan MRI of the head computer enhanced and colorized to show the normal anatomy of the brain and headFear does seem to be a factor in political persuasion. Brain scans have shown that conservatives’ brains have enlarged amygdalas in the area of fear. Bad news for people who want to equate conservatism with psychopathy. Psychopaths have smaller amygdalas than average folk. If anything, psychopaths have less fear than most people, not more as conservatives seem to have. Alt.Right extols fear as a positive value. “To be happy with the familiar, one must reject the alien. If the stranger wants to dispossess, rape and kill you, why invite him into your house and feed and clothe him?” What a perfect expression of fear-driven ideology!


Reply to Lucky Otter

Courtney Love, Murderous Psychopath

courtneyArgh! I can’t write a comment under this (or the update). So I’ll write it here.

I think she was histrionic. Very. Also narcissistic. Obviously. And probably borderline too. She’s a whole Cluster B. She deserves a spot here.

I’m sure Kurt Cobain was murdered. No fingerprints on the gun. What? He shot himself and then wiped the fingerprints off? LOL! For all the reasons Lucky Otter gives. He was about to divorce her. She would have lost all rights to his music. His death insured she remains the sole owner of his creative achievements. And Eldon “El Duce” Hoke, who said he had been approached by her to kill him died shortly after he made that public statement. Just a coincidence, I’m sure. 😉