Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[books|politics] A strange intersection between the literature of psychopathy and our president

bravado111 loaned me Batavia's Graveyard Powells | Amazon ], a fascinating piece of narrative nonfiction about a terrible, bloody mutiny following the wreck of a Dutch East Indies Company ship in 1629. (I'm going for Black Tulip flavoring here...) Completely tangential to fiction or research, I ran across this striking set of comments in the epilogue, where the author is discussing the clinical definition of psychopathy.

Other relevant symptoms of psychopathy include glibness and superficiality, impulsive behavior, and the lack of any sense of responsibility. Psychopaths are deceitful and manipulative people; they like to exercise power over others. Most possess good social skills and can be highly persuasive, even though they also lie "endlessly, lazily, about everything." They remain characteristically unperturbed when their deceits are exposed; if one lie is disposed of, they will simply spin another, often unrelated, to take its place. They lack the capacity to plan ahead, preferring grand fantasies to realistic short-term goals. Above all, as Hare explains,

"psychopaths have a narcissistic and grossly inflated view of their self-worth and importance, a truly astonishing egocentricity and sense of entitlement, and see themselves as the centre of the universe, as superior beings are justified in living according to their own rules."

This bears an astonishing resemblance to the behavior of our president and his administration, and to a large degree the neocons in general. By the lightest stretch of metaphor, this is also a close analog to our national behavior on the world stage under Republican leadership.
Tags: books, politics

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