Saturday, April 17, 2010

Is Barack Obama Mentally Ill?

Back in August '08 I blogged that Barack Obama showed signs of sociopathy.  Since I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist, there is no specific reason to trust my call, which was based on intuition derived from various business dealings. Since then I've learned that there is no clinical diagnosis of "sociopathy." Rather, the term is used loosely to suggest psychopathy.  But there is no reason to trust the judgment of psychiatrists or psychologists, who are notoriously incompetent.  A famous book on this subject is Thomas Szaz's Myth of Mental Illness, in which Szaz argues that the term mental illness is vacuous. Szaz's book has become a classic.  In other words, is there really any meaning to terms like psychopath or sociopath?

I interviewed Paul Babiak on workplace psychopaths for the AICPA Career Insider newsletter. Babiak coauthored with Robert Hare a great book on workplace psychopaths, Snakes in Suits.  If you are a Sopranos fan you may recall the name Robert Hare from the third or fourth to last Sopranos episode, when he is quoted at a dinner that Dr. Melfi gives for her psychiatrist friends that leads to her reading an article that in turn leads to her dropping Tony Soprano as her patient.  It must be something of a kick for a researcher to be quoted on the Sopranos.

The psychopathic model that Babiak and Hare develop in their book about workplace psychopaths does not fit Obama.  However, I do not doubt for a moment that most politicians have elements of psychopathy that take the form of conscienceless lying; the ability to send people to their deaths for frivolous reasons; the ability to adopt policies that they know to be wrong but that satisfy popular opinion, and the like.

President Obama seems to have a bit more of this psychopathic quality than most politicians, although in different ways.  There is an alternative diagnosis.  Soon after I wrote my blog Gagdad Bob, a blogger and professional psychiatrist, suggested that Obama suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, which  is probably true of the majority of politicians.  More recently, Live Leak quotes Roger Simon who claims that Obama is mentally ill and his illness is getting worse.  Live Leak writes:

"A recent case in point was Obama's bizarre and meandering 17-minute, 2,500-word answer to the simple question about how he could justify raising taxes for ObamaCare during a recession when citizens are already overtaxed. Obama's wildly inappropriate answer left the audience stunned and led commentator Charles Krauthammer to mockingly say, "I don't know why you are so surprised. It’s only nine times the length of the Gettysburg address, and after all Lincoln was answering an easier question, the higher purpose of the union and the soldiers who fell in battle."

Moreover, points out Live Leak, Obama laughed during a televised discussion of Americans losing their homes.   More recently Obama's discussions about the Tea Party demonstrations have been incoherent and confused.

There seems to be a risk of a serious breakdown that could impact Americans in various important ways.  Too bad no one checked his birth certificate.

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