Saturday, May 28, 2016

“Deep pockets and empty hearts rule the world. We unleash them at our peril.” ― Stefan Molyneux

There's this point of view -

Or there's this (edited from a post of mine dated June 2011)-

Is the USA run by psychopaths? It's tempting to say "Of course" in a flip, facetious tone, but it's a theory worth seriously considering. An article by David Schwartz at the weekend set me out on this tack: The Rise of the Second-String Psychopaths. David Schwartz refers to a comment by the late Kurt Vonnegut in his final book A Man Without a Country:

He was the man; the country was the United States of America. Vonnegut felt that his country had disappeared right under his – and the Constitution’s – feet, through what he called “the sleaziest, low-comedy Keystone Cops-style coup d’état imaginable.” He was talking about the Bush administration. Were Vonnegut still alive, he would not have felt that his country had returned.
Snip from the article:

The United States corporate and government spheres have become, Vonnegut suggested, a perfect habitat for psychopaths. What has allowed so many psychopaths to rise so high in corporations, and then government, he wrote,

“is that they are so decisive. They are going to do something every fuckin’ day and they are not afraid. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they don’t give a fuck what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich!

In a country in which much of human culture has been rendered into machines for the manufacture of money, psychopaths are the ideal leaders. They are very focused. They are outcome oriented. They are frequently charming, and usually very bright and able. They can lay off thousands of people, or deny people health care, or have them waterboarded, and it does not disturb their sleep. They can be impressively confident. Psychopaths can be dynamic leaders of enterprises, but are handicapped by their lack of feelings for relationships. They may be accomplished captains of industry, or senators, or surgeons, but their families are frequently abused and miserable. Most psychotherapists have seen the wives or husband or children of such accomplished people.
I know little or nothing about how a psychopath is properly defined, wondered whether astrology can be used to identify traits of it.

A check list to determine if somebody is a psychopath: Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), appears HERE. It's said to be the most commonly used tool to assess a person’s psychopathy.

Each of the 20 items is scored a 0, 1, or 2. If a person receives a combined score of more than 30 points out of 40 possible points, then he is considered a “psychopath.” Here is the list:

Item 1: Glibness/superficial charm
Item 2: Grandiose sense of self-worth
Item 3: Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Item 4: Pathological lying
Item 5: Cunning/manipulative
Item 6: Lack of remorse or guilt
Item 7: Shallow affect
Item 8: Callous/lack of empathy
Item 9: Parasitic lifestyle
Item 10: Poor behavioural controls
Item 11: Promiscuous sexual behaviour
Item 12: Early behaviour problems
Item 13: Lack of realistic long-term goals
Item 14: Impulsivity
Item 15: Irresponsibility
Item 16: Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Item 17: Many short-term marital relationships
Item 18: Juvenile delinquency
Item 19: Revocation of conditional release
Item 20: Criminal versatility

Is astrology capable of identifying a combination of such traits though?
At there's a review by Karin Hoffmann of Astrologer Liz Greene's book
The Dark of the Soul
A snip:

Can we see the psychopath in the horoscope?
It is fascinating, for example, that Moon and/or Venus often play a dominant role in charts of people whom we consider as psychopaths. In fact, the charts of a lot of allegedly "unfeeling" and "cold-blooded" psychopaths have an emphasis of the water element. Surprising?

From a psychological point of view it becomes clear that these people have often had difficulties to cope with their strong sensitivity and emotions in their past. They found it easier to lock their feelings away and keep them 'water-tight' so that they didn't have to feel them. But they have found other outlets for their watery side: they use their strong capacity for empathy to 'slip into their victims' skin' and find out about their weaknesses and fears in order to exploit them ruthlessly. To the psychopath it may "only" feel like striking back, like a revenge for their own hurt feelings...
So, are all people with an emphasis on water psychopaths?
The answer to the last question is quite clearly "No!"

I doubt that it would be possible, or ethical, to identify a psychopath from a natal chart. Too many variables, too much "grey area", too many unknown factors from the person's background etc. Given a certain set of life experiences it's possible that any one of us could display some psychopathic tendencies. Perhaps astrology might indicate those in whom "tendencies" could most likely mushroom into full-fledged psychopathy?

I'm taking the liberty of copying snips from two comments from the thread following the article by David Schwartz. These provides plenty of food for thought. First comment was written by "Giovanna" and can be found in full timed around 1 PM on 5th June in the thread beneath the original article.

.....It is an absolute mistake to dismiss psychopaths as simply crazy, wild-eyed serial killers. Serial killers are rare; and though it's true that most serial killers are psychopathic, most psychopaths are NOT serial killers and, by definition of law, they are absolutely sane: they distinguish the difference between right and wrong and they completely understand the nature and quality of the acts they carry out. Psychopathic individuals are not delusional and should not be confused with people who are psychotic and whose acts can be legally justified by an affirmative NGRI defense.

In fact, contrary to the myths surrounding them, most psychopaths appear quite NORMAL and even charming and charismatic... at first. They quickly reveal themselves, however, as parasitic, lying con-artists who are adept, cunning and ruthless masters at exploiting any perceived weakness, which is why they gravitate to authoritarian politics and find their comfortable niche in the capitalist/corporate/political imperial milieu. I've always found it interesting (and disturbing) that the most important decisions affecting society are placed in the hands of these shallow, superficial, career charlatans because absolutely nothing -- NOTHING -- is more important to them than their own self-interest.

...............Corporate and political malfeasance fall under the quaint euphemism known as "white collar" crime, which sounds very milquetoast. As the world is currently experiencing, there is nothing tepid or inconsequential, however, about the massive societal and evironmental destruction psychopathic corporate and/or political criminals leaves in their wake.

Many years ago I figured out that psychopaths are drawn to positions of power and domination like moths to flame. For instance, there are probably more psychopaths milling about Wall Street and "K" Street than anywhere else on the planet. There is not a doubt in my mind that these "people of the lie" are the poster children of imperial-corporate capitalism and responsible for most of the world's ills......

Second comment by Mairead dated 6 June at 1:59 PM

This first-string second-string stuff becomes more clear if we remember that psychopathy is at one end of *one* spectrum, with something like selflessness at the other end. The other basic spectrum we're dealing with is the skein of abilities that we lump together as "intelligence".

So down at the psychopathic end, we have the "obligative" psychopaths, who totally lack the ability to experience empathy. To them, other living creatures *truly* might as well be made of cardboard.

If those ones aren't smart, they'll eff up pretty quickly and end in prison. But if they are smart, they'll learn to feign the feelings they don't have. They'll learn the right words, facial expressions, etc. for any given situation and use them as a tool.

Further toward the middle of the spectrum, we have those who *do* feel, but not very deeply. They don't have the ethical "tin ear" that the obligatives have. They hear the music, they just don't always pay attention to it. They behave badly toward others whenever they think they can get away with it. The politicians who sell us out, the judges who take bribes, the brutal cops, the professionals who charge for unnecessary - and often unperformed - work, the priests who molest children, et lengthy cetera are in this category. They do it because they can.

The DSM has a big table of diagnostic criteria for "antisocial personality disorder". But it lets the rich off the hook because it's considered normal for the rich to treat the poor badly and the DSM addresses disruptive deviation from cultural norms rather than illness. Someone could be delusional as hell and if they are able to avoid being socially disruptive, they won't get a diagnosis.

So the real differential diagnosis for psychopathy, obfuscated by the DSM, boils down to just one question: does this individual routinely disregard, without remorse, the legitimate rights of other living creatures?

The "second string" psychopaths are the ones who don't have to be, and who know that they're not smart enough (or not quite depraved enough) to get away with it usually. They come out from the woodwork when the political environment has become so corrupted that even they can get away with it, as now.
("psychopath" and "sociopath" are synonyms. Some professionals distinguish them, but few agree on how)

After pondering on that little lot, I'd say the case to prove psychopaths are running the USA would be easy to make.


mike said...

Lots at play here and much can be said. I consider ALL of us quite capable of inner-outer malfeasance that could be described as psychotic, if not psychopathic, but better defined as "borderline personality disorder", which is being able to function within the domain of social-cultural expectations, but on the edge regarding certain aspects. I suspect that each of us have had times in our lives that could be described as off the beaten path of sanity. And what constitutes sanity? Or the edges of sanity?

My first organic chemistry professor emphasized the fact that the entirety of our thoughts-actions were induced via biochemical interactions in our brains. Does an Oreo cooky affect one's thoughts? My mother in her later years remarked that she was very pleased to finally be free of hormones, as she felt she was more herself without them...LOL. It's difficult to realize how extensively testosterone and estrogen do our talking in our younger, adult years...forbid there be an excess of either.

I don't think psychopathic behavior can be determined astrologically. I've seen some natals that contained very difficult aspects, yet that individual made good use of them. Jessie Botke's chart (yesterday's post) had Chiron-Saturn-Pluto conjunct and a possibility that her Moon made a square or two...maybe she was crazy in her own way, but she was creative and successful. Husband-wife astrology authors of "Parkers' Astrology" discuss the easy vs difficult chart and in their experience, there was more to fear from an easy chart full of benefic aspects. Those individuals didn't acknowledge boundaries and were more manipulative, but always with a big smile on their face...LOL.

Peter Thiel (Facebook) has been scrutinized for his tad psycho behind-the-scenes backing of anti-Gawker Hulk Hogan. Power (money) tends to corrupt the polite logic allowing methodical revenge to dominate:
"In America today, almost no one wields the concentrated wealth and power that the new rulers of Silicon Valley have. As the prodigies grow up, they’re realizing just how much they can flex that power."

One of my favorite lines attributed to various sources, "There is the worst in the best of us and the best in the worst of us." We are all crazy on this bus...just a matter of how much and when.

mike (again) said...

And I see that Oklahoma is stealing the thunder from Texas, speaking of crazies:

"Is Oklahoma trying to be America’s least progressive state?"

mike (again) said...

This is a female version of my bipolar neighbor:

Twilight said...

mike ~ Well yes, we're all, as a species, prone to occasional or even frequent bouts of psycho-malfunction, due to body chemistry or whatever - BUT are those who rise to the top in government (or a high percentage of them) particularly prone to psycho-malfunction, or are they even of a permanently malfunctioning variety, of which there are bound to be some in each generation. Or is it, perhaps, that in attaining power there's an increase in tendency to malfunction, even to a level of psychopathic?

I considered doing a post on Peter Thiel, then changed my mind. He's one of several techno-giants on the scene at present. What they originally brought forth was helpful to many (e.g. Pay-pal, E-bay, Google, Amazon, Blogger, et al) but all has now become way over-done, and corporate. They have become billionaires - which is fine, as long as they pay requisite taxes. I liked Ian Welsh's take on Thiel's financial assistance to pay for legal matters, for not only Hulk Hogan but for many others who allegedly have been affected by Gawker's publications. Welsh says:

"The real story here, so far as I’m concerned, is that the civil law system in the US only works if you have the sort of money a billionaire has.

The problem isn’t that Thiel is making it work for a few people; the problem is it only works for a few people."

I thought Oklahoma WAS the US's least progressive state - The Guardian has been slow on the uptake! :-(

Oh my! That neighbour is one scary dude then!

mike (again) said...

Thoreau: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things."

mike (again) said...

Some thoughts from Jeff Bercovici, "Why (Some) Psychopaths Make Great CEOs"

"There are absolutes in psychopathy and the main absolute is a literal absence of empathy. It’s just not there. In higher-scoring psychopaths, what grows in the vacant field where that empathy should be is a joy in manipulating people, a lack of remorse, a lack of guilt. If you’ve got a little bit of empathy, you’re kind of not a psychopath. ... And then you’ve got this question of what came first? Is society getting more and more psychopathic in its kind of desire for short-term killings? Is that because we kind of admire psychopaths in all their glib, superficial charm and ruthlessness? ... There’s a terribly seductive power in becoming a psychopath stalker. It can really dehumanize you. I can look at, say, Dominique Strauss Kahn, who, if one assumes that what one is hearing about him is true, certainly he hits a huge amount of items on the checklist — the $30,000 suits, the poor behavioral controls, the impulsivity, the promiscuous sexual behavior. But of course when you say this you’re in terrible danger of being seduced by the checklist, which I really like to add as a caveat. It kind of turns you into a bit of a psychopath yourself in that that you start to shove people into that box. It robs you of empathy and your connection to human beings."

Sabina said...

I differentiate between the two - and the following sums up what I understand about how and why:

'The cause of psychopathy is different than the cause of sociopathy (1). It is believed that psychopathy is the largely the result of “nature” (genetics) while sociopathy is more likely the result of “nurture” (environment). Psychopathy is related to a physiological defect that results in the underdevelopment of the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and emotions. Sociopathy, on the other hand, is more likely the product of childhood trauma and physical/emotional abuse. Because sociopathy appears to be learned rather than innate, sociopaths are capable of empathy in certain limited circumstances but not in others, and with a few individuals but not others.' - Psychology Today

I believe in 'The Bad Seed' (read the book, see the movie), ie, psycho equals nature (genetic fuckup) and socio equals nurture (fuckupped family). Therefore, I do not believe psychopaths are capable of being 'rehabbed'. Sociopaths, on the other hand, may possibly be redeemable, altho, it depends on the extent of the damage and the age it occurred (look to Chiron and Saturn). A person three degrees of separation from me was lightly roasted in the kitchen oven as an infant and proceeded through early maturation to ascend the ladder of antisocial behaviours, beginning with theft. His adoptive parents did everything within their means to change his trajectory but to no avail. A case for Dr Phil? I cannot say.

As a 12th house Sun with Pisces on the 6th and 7th, Mercury 1st, Venus Scorpio, Neptune Libra 2nd, sociopaths flock to me like moths to a flame. Some are very dangerous people. Several times my life has been on the line.

I was two degrees of separation from a male/female pair of psychopaths who were well on their way to gaining serial killer status at three murders when they were stopped. These people were born broken: there is no 'fixing' them.

Some years ago here in Canada, a scion of the famous Timothy Eaton family was accused of murdering a young woman who had offered him a kip in her posh flat because she knew him and felt sorry for him. The young man's mother attested on the stand that she had known there was 'something' wrong with him since he was an infant of 3 or so and had taken him to innumerable experts who had pooh poohed her concerns.

As for the current fashion of pychoanalysing everything - from astrology to politics - according to the definitions of a self-perpetuating institutional 'oracle', it does seem worthwhile noting that the tribal human animal likes to disburden himself of social responsibility by winking at behaviours he himself would engage in, if only he too could avoid detection and possible prosecution. Therefore, to rush to judge our leaders by any measure than our own weaknesses seems downright dishonest and cowardly. Which is not say that is not exactly what we do.

Dave Roell made some interesting observations about won't let go the stick leaders and Saturn in the 10th - wish I could find it in his archive.

As for fascist and other suchlike dictators, I would also look to fixed house placements - no kidding, Sherlock?!

mike (again) said...

Sabina - you raise some interesting points. I tend to believe that our social-cultural norms constantly define and redefine the boundary of sociopathic behavior. Trump is a good example...he has tossed his hat into the presidential ring twice prior, but withdrew almost immediately, because the collective didn't support his ideology. Why is he the Republican choice now, particularly with his stringent platform, much based on fascist principles? Of course, not everyone appreciates him, but approximately 30% of the USA electorate does. Has our society become more sociopathic? Our POTUS candidates tend to reflect the electorates' desires. I don't think it's much different with corrupt, psychopathic, corporate CEOs. These corporate leaders are revered by share holders for shaping-up the structure, increasing productivity, therefore increasing the share price. Is the burden of allowing a psychotic CEO to do your bidding shared with the benefactors? Are the benefactors maybe more psychopathic, because they surrogate their needs? At what point does a social-cultural disorder become a psychopathic disorder...or can a society only exhibit sociopathic tendencies, while employing the true psychopathics to get the job done?

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Hmmm - Not sure I follow, or agree with, Jeff Bercovici's reasoning towards the end of the clip - but on lack of empathy etc - yes, that seems right! He's saying though - or is he - that we should empathise with psycopaths or we become one of their ranks?

Not a sip of coffee has yet passed my lips - so ....

Twilight said...

Sabina ~ Thanks for your contribution to this ticklish topic. I don't pretend to understand anything much about human behaviour, but I agree that psychopaths and sociopaths have core differences, as you pointed out.

Yikes - what some scary experiences with others you've had!

You also wrote - Therefore, to rush to judge our leaders by any measure than our own weaknesses seems downright dishonest and cowardly. Which is not say that is not exactly what we do. Not sure I follow or agree, but as I said to mike - no coffee yet, brain still barely turning over. :-)

Twilight said...

mike ~ Re Trump - I believe the reason most of that 30% of USA peeps who follow him are susceptible to his hypnosis. Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) was, I read, a guest on Bill Maher's show this week. Clip:

mike (again) said...

Hhhhmmmm - I watched the Maher-Adams clip and the subliminal-hypnotic explanation for Trump's success doesn't cut if for me. Yes, Trump pejoratively brands his opponents (a Gemini thing...nicknames) and his metaphors are fitting. We've had a dismal Republican candidate pool, so I'm not offended by his form of political bullying via name-calling, even against Crooked sentiments, too. He's left The Bern alone for some reason, at least up to now.

Which came first, Trump or his supporters? I believe that his supporters were ready for someone like Trump and they preceded Trump. Trump tested candidacy twice prior, but to no avail...voters didn't go for him at all. Trump is now filling a vacuum created with the advent of Bush-Cheney fascism and fear-mongering, carried forward by Obama, fulfilled by Trump's TV-reality persona, much like Ronald Reagan's Hollywood-movie-star persona elected him. Reagan played macho leading-man roles, often of the war hero genre. Likewise, Trump appeals to a wide array of voters' objectives, while not bogging-down in the details...simpleton rules..."Make America Great Again". Can't critique platform solutions to issues when no details are provided. Electorate greed seems to be the biggest factor and Trump has verbally demonstrated his net-worth greed...his followers want what he's having. His voters are ready for a new sheriff in town to allay their fears and bring a sense of security to a wide range of woes.

If Trump is using hypnosis, it's only working on a portion of America, but enough to get him this far. I simply believe that we have a kooky-balooky electorate. Much of the astrology of the past years can explain how we got to here and now we are contending with the Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune T-square, active until the actual election in November.

We have social-cultural pathology arising (showing its ugly head) with the advent of Trump's popularity that has a fascist twang. It isn't much different from history's predecessors. The American voters forfeited pride and democracy under the Bush administration, as demonstrated with our willingness to give-up freedoms for greater security. We ate it up. Bush-Cheney were the instigators of American-fascism disguised as security and now we are seeing a potential POTUS platform on outright fascist issues.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Which came first? Yes that's a question without an easyRanswer. I remember typing in a comment, not long ago, on a similar issue - it's down to a chicken and egg question.

Re the hypnosis idea - I decided that hypnosis might be a bit too strong a term for what Trump does, but he has certainly studied his audience very carefully - more than the average Republican candidate anyway. He speaks to them in ways they cannot fail to understand, and had caught on, from the start, to the fact that The Establishment is in their very bad books at the moment.

We could say that Bernie isn't far from doing the same thing, albeit in a more straightforward, honest way and, obviously, speaking to a different set of listeners.

The time was right and the two necessary characters arrived - "Cometh the hour, cometh the man"/men (could also be woman/women). Hillary isn't one whose hour has cometh though, her hour cameth years ago and passed.

If it hadn't been Donald and Bernie it'd have been two others. It was time. The fact that one of them might be borderline psychopathic and next-door to fascistic is unfortunate, but he'd have many of the same ilk as colleagues, should he succeed in his "mission". :-(

I agree that the electorate is kooky-balooky, one half kooky t'other balooky. Split down the middle - then apt to split yet again into two other factions on each side.

With regard to messing with people's minds - how about Chris Matthews (and others) declaring that on June 7th, after Hillary Clinton has won New Jersey (they assume she will), and it'd still be 3 hours before voting ends in California, Matthews says MSNBC and others will declare Clinton the Dem Nominee. A psychological trick, to demoralize opposition, and voters still waiting to cast votes in the West.
This kind of thing ought to be outlawed!

Twilight said...

mike- Forgot link to last topic

mike (again) said...

Thanks for the link...the first comment sums it:
"frosty zoom
May 28, 2016 at 1:00 am

hillary clinton was declared the nominee before any polls ever opened."