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The Modern Conservative Movement: A Study In Antisocial Personality Disorder

November 21, 2010

A person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.


Characteristics of people with antisocial personality disorder may include:

  • Persistent lying or stealing
  • Apparent lack of remorse or empathy for others
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Poor behavioral controls — expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper
  • A history of childhood conduct disorder
  • Recurring difficulties with the law
  • Promiscuity
  • Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others
  • Aggressive, often violent behavior; prone to getting involved in fights
  • Inability to tolerate boredom
  • Disregard for right and wrong
  • Poor or abusive relationships
  • Irresponsible work behavior
  • Disregard for safety

The World Health Organization’s ICD-10 defines a conceptually similar disorder to antisocial personality disorder called (F60.2) Dissocial personality disorder. It is characterized by at least 3 of the following:

  1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.
  2. Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
  3. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.
  4. Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
  5. Incapacity to experience guilt and to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
  6. Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the subject into conflict.
  7. Persistent irritability.

Cognitive Style
Charm develops into a tendency to lie and “con” others for profit or
enjoyment. Decision making is more rigid and inflexible, and can be
motivated by “getting even” for real or perceived “slights.”
Impulsiveness can lead to spur of the moment decisions that result in
joblessness and homelessness. They externalize responsibility for
behavior, and blame all problems on others. They can easily default on
debts and obligations, and leave others suffering with no concern.
Resentment of authority can take on an aggressive quality.

Emotional Functioning
Lack of empathy develops into a lack of guilt, shame, or even basic
remorse for the harm they cause to others. Impulsivity and emptiness can
lead to recklessness with no appreciation for the danger, sexual acting
out, and substance use in order to relieve the boredom. Can be
assaultive and abusive when they feel frustrated.

Reads others to manipulate them because they see others as basically
ways to gratify their desires. No real loyalty or accountability to
“loved” ones. Assume others are like them, so highly distrustful; likely
to see environment as a “dog-eat-dog world” and think it’s best to
“get” others before they “get” you. Sometimes they show a cold disregard
for others, while at other times a contemptuous disdain. When told of
someone being victimized, they may not care or may say the person
deserved it for being stupid.

Spend money carelessly, fail to honor financial obligations, can’t
maintain stable work due to the discipline this requires; leave one job
without another

Cognitive Behavioral theorists say that Antisocials suffer from a number
of mistaken cognitive beliefs. They learned these and they were
reinforced somewhere. OK so that’s not much on how they started, but
it’s worthwhile to look at the way they think:

  1. wanting something or wanting to avoid something is sufficient
    justification for acting in any way needed to obtain it or avoid it
  2. thinking or feeling is a fact, and so if you think it then it is true; the result is that you are always right
  3. undesirable consequences will not happen to you or won’t matter
  4. you’re on your own in this world

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…

The Modern Conservative Movement

Lack of Empathy

“So if you don’t have any teeth, so what? What’s applesauce for? Isn’t that why they make applesauce?”
Rush Limbaugh, responding to Rep. Louise Slaughter speaking of a woman with no teeth and no health coverage who was forced to use her dead sister’s dentures.

Paranoia and Violent, Aggressive Outbursts

“As long as we have illegal aliens let them be from Ireland, at least I can understand them.
… I hate all of you left-wing vermin! …go to hell all of you left-wing, communist bastards!”
Michael Savage in a violent, paranoid rant.

Habitual Lying, Mistaken Cognitive Beliefs

“Do you know, where does this phrase separation of Church and State come from? Does anybody know? . . . Actually, that’s exactly, it was not in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists . . . The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolf Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from. Next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State ask them why they’re Nazis.”
— Delaware Republican congressional nominee Glen Urquhart

Rationalization, Passing Blame, Lack of Respect for Rights of Others

“The hate crimes bill that’s called the Matthew Shepard bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay. This — the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it’s really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.”
— North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx

Disregard for Rules and Authority, Mistaken Cognitive Beliefs

“…who we are is to uphold the rule of law, and the rule of law in this country since our founding has been that in the case of enemy combatants, and certainly in the case of terrorists who are not American citizens and not entitled to the full protection of our American criminal justice system because they are not subject to our constitutional protections, that we have every right, and in fact, I believe an obligation, to try them in military tribunals so we can do everything in our power to bring justice to those who murdered so many of our fellow Americans who were innocent of anything but trying to lead their lives!”
— Former Governor of New York George Pataki criticizing the U.S. judicial system for throwing out evidence in a terrorism trial gained through torture.

Paranoia, Lying, Manipulation of Others for Self Gratification

“This is the perfect storm I told you about … all of the enemies of the republic are uniting”
Glenn Beck

Cold Disregard for Others, Disdain for Victims, Lying, Lack of Respect for Authority, No Consideration of Consequences

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Bill O’Reilly defending torture… yet again.

Lack of Empathy, Disdain for Victims, Disregard for Rights of Others, No Consideration of Consequences

“I just don’t see this next Congress raising the debt ceiling.”
— Incoming Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA)

“Well, look, I’m going to vote against raising the national debt ceiling.”
— Senator-elect Mike Lee (R-UT)

“I think it will not be without some strings attached if it happens, because they’re going to have to seriously address spending and debt”
— Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Fox talking about raising the debt ceiling.

“No, I won’t. Not- not unless this debt ceiling is combined with some path to balancing our budget: Returning to 2008 spending levels. Repealing Obamacare… We have got to demonstrate that we have the resolve to cut spending.”
— Senator Jim Demint on NBC talking about voting for an increase in the debt ceiling

“I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. … When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat, real meat,’ …And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,”
— Former Senator Alan Simpson, co-chairman of a Special Commission on Deficit Reduction

These are but a few examples from the maelstrom of insanity that is the conservative movement.  I could do this for pages and pages.  None of these individuals are necessarily full-blown sociopaths themselves, but there are hundreds, even thousands of other voices on the right saying the same things or worse, and have been for the last thirty years.  We now face a distinct antisocial core in the message of the conservative movement that has pushed a huge portion of the electorate into a delusional state of self-destruction.

This is a serious problem.  Our nation cannot survive in the hands of nihilistic and self-serving public officials backed by mobs of deranged fools who are willing to act out violently, living off a steady stream of manipulative propaganda designed to keep them in a constant state of anger and agitation.  Couple that with a crushing economic crisis and you get the kind of situation that violent insurrections and tyrannical government regimes are grown out of.  If our leaders do not begin to wake up and push back against this onslaught of sociopathic, violent, and destructive rhetoric, we may well witness the final days of the U.S. as we know it.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2010 2:51 pm

    Excellent post, Aramis. In its own way, this is as good as anything Steve Benen did at the Washington Monthly, and that’s my favourite source for U.S. political news. I only hope people will listen to this and other voices like it, because in today’s American political arena, it seems you cannot be too crazy or too up-front with your loathing. Twenty years ago, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t get an audience bigger than college radio – today, they’re conservative icons right up there with People Who Aren’t Real, like Jack Bauer. The risk shouldn’t be downplayed; the assumption is that America can just bounce back from anything. But maybe it can’t.

    • November 23, 2010 7:16 pm

      Right you are. It wasn’t long ago that Republicans where using Jack Bauer as a muse for every terrorism policy decision under the sun. Obama hasn’t proven a great deal better over the last two years on many of those policies, but at least he’s publicly denounced torture.

      Fascists are not some anachronism. They have many faces and act with varying degrees of severity, but they always exploit the scared and angry into acting against their own interests. Modern democracies are in a constant struggle to keep these well funded monsters at bay. A battle we seem to be losing, sadly. I hope that will change.

      Thanks again for the support.

  2. T. Floyd permalink
    December 2, 2010 9:32 am

    This post should be sent to every Republi-nazi serving (their own self interests and those of their corporate owners) in the House and the Senate. Unfortunately, they think such anti-social behavior is normal, because they all do it!

  3. January 2, 2012 11:02 am

    You left out the Bill O’Reilly quote that you intended to post.

    • January 2, 2012 2:44 pm

      The embed code broke. Should be fixed now. Thanks.

  4. No brainwashed liberal permalink
    June 14, 2012 11:40 am

    Rather high and mighty.
    Attempting to promote your own political ideologies with carefully selected and/or skewed incidents does nothing to promote your own personal levels of ’empathy’.
    It was a liberal in power both in the US and Canada who in 1939 declined landing access to the liner St. Louis carrying over 900 Jew’s fleeing from Nazi Germany; in effect sending them to slaughter.
    Liberal emapthy?

    • June 15, 2012 11:17 am

      See, this is why we can’t have nice things. This country is populated by yammering fools like you who try to excuse bigotry, hate, and stupidity in your own party today by siting an obscure tragedy that happened 70 fucking years ago.

      And for the record, the MS St. Louis was turned away not by the personal order of the President, but because of the blatantly anti-Semitic Immigration act of 1924 that was written by two Republicans, based on the work of a eugenicist quack, and signed into law by Calvin Coolidge.

      Please try to restrain yourself in the future from committing open douche-baggery on the internet. It’s embarrassing for us all.

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