Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Children Psychopaths? And Mitt Romney’s Bullying History
There seem to have been a lot of articles lately about whether or not children should be diagnosed as psychopaths again. This isn’t the first time we have had this and the way the discussion seems to have been occurring seems to be repeating the same negligent and incompetent pattern of behavior.
And there must be some well informed people that recognize this but they have little or no chance to present their views to the majority of the public while those with the most political power continue to dominate the headlines even though the quality of their work isn’t nearly as good, or to put it bluntly it is grossly incompetent. In many cases demagogues like Nancy grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell, get an enormous amount of media attention often with the help of less qualified psychologists while more qualified psychologists get little or no chance to present rational reviews to the majority of the public.
At about the same time there have been plenty of stories about the incident where Mitt Romney apparently held someone down and forcibly cut his hair in a clear demonstration of the fact that he acted like a bully as a child and that he now considers it a joke which he claims he can’t remember.
There has been little or no attempt to connect these even though I think there is a common cause; the closest things that I have seen connecting them aren’t much if any more competent than the stories about Children being psychopaths; and yet I believe there is a connection that can be made; and I’m sure that if the most credible academic sources were consulted on it they would do a much better job.
The corporate media has attempted to convince the public that they have to choose between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama who weren’t really chosen by the public since they never had access to the information they needed to make their decisions in the primary elections. Further more I suspect there may also be some problems with Barack Obama if a closer look is taken at his record in office and contrary to what the corporate media would have us believe there are other options that the public can pursue.
One of the highest profile stories about children being psychopaths is a New York Times Magazine article that was published recently, Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath? This article uses, as an example, Anne and her husband Miguel and the problems they have with their children. It goes on to describe their problems and how they’ve tried every thing and she has checked with all the books on the subject and that Anne has a degree in child psychology. The fact that she is having so much trouble with her own child might lead some people to wonder if she is really that good at child psychology. Without more information this may be a premature conclusion; however it is a possibility worth considering.
The lead researcher that they cite is Dan Waschbusch and they also mention Robert Hare, the co-author of “Snakes in Suits,” who I’m more familiar with since he is also the author of “Without Conscience,” which I have read and found to be seriously flawed. A more detailed review, which I might do later, might be in order; and I’m sure that there are some that are already out there most of which I have found that aren’t addressing the most important subjects; so I’ll just cover a few simple points about the problems with his work briefly.
Robert Hare is most widely known for developing the Psychopathy Checklist, which is essentially a list of negative characteristics that are listed to determine whether or not someone is a psychopath. This list isn’t very clear and there has been an enormous amount of disagreement about how or even if it should be applied. Furthermore it does very little to establish the cause of psychopathy (as he calls it) or find a way to rehabilitate them.
Robert Hare essentially tries to argue that the leading cause of psychopathy is genetic and he downplays or ignores the amount of influence by abuse of children. He makes an argument about the Nature verses Nurture debate that seems to misrepresent which is which. The following is a brief excerpt from his nature segment which covers four pages of his book, “Without Conscience.”
Many people might interpret this as an important aspect of the nurture side of the debate due to the fact that this clearly indicates that the child, and presumed future psychopathic son of another psychopath is being neglected by his father and he is being raised by a mother that has the poor judgment to choose this man to have children with. In both cases the parents may have had problems in their own upbringing; however Robert Hare doesn’t do much to look for this type of problem, whether it is because it doesn’t fit his hypothesis or not.
His review of the contributing cause of the nurture segment starts with a description of a comic strip that covers almost a quarter of the page designated for this segment.
Robert Hare might provide a slightly better argument if you check the sources cited above; however in my opinion it isn’t much better and it does more to confuse the issue without paying much if any attention to many of the most important research on the subject. Furthermore many the sources he cites in his bibliography aren’t the most credible sources that some might expect in a reputable academic review; he relies heavily on TV shows that were on the air at the time like Hard Copy, Inside Edition and other shows which do little or nothing to check their facts. There are an enormous amount of studies that he could have cited instead if he chose that have much more credibility but for one reason or another he chose not to. In some cases when he relies on true crime novels like Fatal Vision that might provide some indication that the psychopath that he was citing was abused in his childhood he simply ignores it; and there are many more cases where other academics like Dorothy Otnow Lewis was able to find the same material simply because she wasn’t in denial about it; and in the cases that she investigated personally she often found extensive court or hospital records to back up the claims of abuse.
If you want to find better work on this subject, it seems to me that you’ll have to check with academic sources that are routinely ignored by Robert Hare and many of the other so-called “experts” that follow his “school of thought.” This includes academic scholars like Murray Straus, Philip Greven, Alice Miller, Dorethy Otnow Lewis, Lonnie Athens and many others some of which I discussed in several other blogs listed on the left under the segment marked “Preventing violence before it escalates.”
The simple argument made in these posts and backed up by what I would consider more credible academics than Robert Hare is the theory that violence starts young with child abuse and escalates in life as it violence routinely begets more violence in the form of bullying, domestic violence, crime and even wars. This is routinely ignored by academics like Hare and possibly Dan Waschbusch as well.
In fact I came across stories about Robert Hare having legal problems a while back and when Googling “Robert Hare lawsuit” to see what it was about I found that he was both the defendant in some lawsuits and the plaintiff in others which he has either filed or threatened to file, including one potential lawsuit that has delayed criticism of his work in an academic journal and led to a controversy that hasn’t been widely reported in the mainstream press as indicated in a couple articles, Robert Hare Threatens to Sue Critics and Fear Review: Critique of Forensic Psychopathy Scale Delayed 3 Years by Threat of Lawsuit Another potential participant in the suppressing of this research might be the American Psychological Association, according to the second article, who I raised what I consider serious doubts about in a previous post about Corruption or Bias in the American Psychological Association; if they or anyone else is involved in suppressing the research that may contradict the ideology or agenda of those in power this should raise serious doubt about academic freedom especially when it comes to something that might influence the escalation of violence or the ability of many people to participate in the democratic system. My criticism of Robert Hare isn’t based on the criticism that has been suppressed, at least temporarily, since I haven’t read it; it is based on work that has been published but hasn’t necessarily been directly linked to Robert hare’s work. However after looking at both views it is clear to me that they’re incompatible and that the one that is getting the most attention from the press is the view that has the least academic credibility and most political or ideological backing.
In fact efforts by Robert Hare and others to use the courts or the threat of legal action to suppress the reporting of academic work in journals as well as the mass Media should raise some doubts about how much right we really have to free speech. Recently there has been a growing effort to indicate that “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech;” the way they used to address this was to say that if we want to defend all speech we have to include the speech that we don’t like. The claim was that if we started suppressing hate speech for this reason then the next thing they would do is to suppress other more important speech.
This argument should still make sense and if it was actually implemented then I would support it
The problem is that in practice it hasn’t been implemented this way.
Unfortunately the way it has worked is that they used this argument to defend bigoted speech so that in theory when it became necessary they could still defend the rebuttals. The problem is that when people weren’t paying attention the only rebuttals they were allowing to receive the most attention were the least competent ones or the ones that served the political agenda of those in power. If they actually allowed the debate to be fair and they followed up the hate speech with a public relations campaign to prevent child abuse and other debates from the most credible academic sources, including those that some people don’t like, about the most effective way to reduce bigotry and address other social problems then I would recommend that we go back to the old argument about defending free speech and get it right the next time. However if we continue the way we have been then the people that have been saying “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech” will continue to have a good point compared to the way it is currently being put in practice.
As I said, I’m less familiar with Dan Waschbusch however after taking a relatively quick look at the article and Googling his name along with some phrases that might indicate some interest in whether or not he has looked into the influence that child abuse might have in the escalation of violence I have found little or nothing. It seems to me that there is a strong possibility that he might be ignoring the subject as well, which seems to fit the pattern of behavior of many academics that adopt the same school of thought. However the following excerpt from the NY Times article may have indicated a possible hint at further problems which wasn’t researched further.
Drawing conclusions based on this might be inappropriate; however it might have indicated a possible problem that could be looked into further to someone that was more inclined to consider such a thing. The type of “structure and strict rules” that Anne adopts is often accompanied by corporal punishment that often escalates to greater violence. The article doesn’t say anything about this but it is something that probably should have been looked into if they were to get to the root of the problems, if nothing else as something that could be eliminated as a contributing factor if it isn’t present; in this case then they would have to look for other potential causes; however they decline to even consider it in the article. This is common behavior by those that are in denial on the subject.
The unwillingness to look into this possibility makes it difficult if not impossible to change the way the child is raised and prevent him from escalating into a more authoritarian and potentially more violent or deceptive person with some kind of social disorder, whether you call it psychopathy or something else like sociopath which many people prefer, although a large segment of the public is less familiar with the term. Many more credible child psychologists or academic experts on bullying and the prevention of violence like James Garbarino, Joanne Scaglione and others have attempted to recommend more effective child rearing methods that are less likely to lead to escalation of violence. These involve more reliance on less punitive methods that involve more interaction with the child and less authoritarian teaching methods. These aren’t always easy but they’re more effective in the long run and they’re more inclined to work.
Whether or not this is the leading cause to this case doesn’t indicate how this particular child would grow up, nor would it be reasonable to assume that he would turn violent as an adult or that he would be a ruthless businessman that might also be described as a psychopath. Some of the same research and the same conflicts of opinions about whether they feel empathy or not applies to many businessmen or politicians including, perhaps, Mitt Romney who might also be considered psychopaths. Recent articles that have covered this include Is Wall Street Full of Psychopaths? and Capitalists and Other Psychopaths. These rely on statistical analysis and the application of Robert Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist, which does little or nothing to explain many things like how it is developed and why our society allows these people to rise to power in a system that is supposed to be democratic. Some of the aspects of this checklist might be somewhat sound, as far as it goes, however if it continues to ignore many contributing causes of it then it may make it more difficult to adjust the statistics, if necessary, when there are variations in those causes and it does nothing to help people understand how to avoid raising more selfish people and allowing them to continue to rise the top of the power structure in our society.
The incident reported in the Washington Post article, Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents, doesn’t provide the full explanation but it does provide an additional piece of how violence or authoritarianism often escalates in many other cases. As I indicated in a previous blog about Child abuse and bullying link in study long over due this type of behavior is almost certainly not the beginning of a predisposition to violence and it was backed up with a study indicating that “students who said they had been involved in bullying, as both a perpetrator and a victim, were five times more likely to report they had been hurt physically by a family member, compared to those who said they were neither a victim nor a bully.” this statistical analysis isn’t a guarantee that Mitt Romney was the victim of domestic violence as a child however it does indicate that it is a possibility worth considering.
Another article may also shed some light on it;
Dan Gorton may have been close to the truth was his statement; however the ability to forget things may go beyond forgetting the incidents where he may have been involved in bullying; it may also involve suppressing the memory of incidents where the victim of abuse may have also suffered at the hands of others. There is no way of knowing whether this happened with Mitt Romney or not; however there is an enormous amount of research to indicate that it is common for many victims of domestic abuse.
Another thing worth noticing is the original claim that he couldn’t remember reported in the Mass Media which was on audio only and the more widely reported claim that came later which was on video as well. The first report was in an interview with Brian Kilmeade on his radio show, which was presumably on the phone. This was reported on the Rachel Maddow show where she ridiculed the way he was obviously laughing it off as if it was a silly event with no relevance to him. This was criticized for a day or two but then the corporate media switched to coverage of an video clip of him saying the same thing without the laughter; presumably his handlers informed him about how bad it looked that he was laughing it off. In addition to providing insight into how seriously he takes this subject it also indicates that since he has never been held accountable for it he may not take it seriously or regret it at all. Furthermore it gives those who study propaganda a chance to study how quickly the public forgets the way things are covered initially and the way the coverage often changes and is repeated more often; many members of the public quickly forget some things, which works for the benefit of some politicians.
There has been little investigation into the background of Mitt Romney and how he was raised that I know of but a recent article from Time magazine does provide some hints about the possibility that he may have been raised by a father that was very authoritarian, which would be typical for many people of the Mormon faith as I indicated in Previous Blogs including A Brief History of the Mormon Church.
This is still not much to indicate how Mitt was raised behind closed doors but it does provide enough information to indicate that his father may have been very authoritarian. Ironically his political positions and those of Mitt’s mother were much more moderate or even liberal; however they were pursued in an authoritarian manner and now Mitt seems to have indicated that he has abandoned the more moderate positions but he is still inclined to pursue his goals in an authoritarian manner that he may have learned from his father.
These reports are enough to begin to develop an idea of how Mitt Romney would govern if he was elected and whether or not he would be willing to consider all the facts that are applicable to the job he would be expected to perform; and he almost certainly wouldn’t be willing to acknowledge many of the most important facts for the majority of the public. He clearly has a history of denying many of the things that he doesn’t want to believe and it is often so obvious that most reasonable people wouldn’t have any problem seeing it.
A couple high profile meetings that he had on the campaign trail recently only reinforce these assumptions. One of them was the incident where he was criticized for commenting on the cookies that were offered to him. An incident that was reported before that may have deserved more attention than the cookies. He was told by the people at the picnic table that it’s OK to raise taxes and he clammed up in the coverage provided by the media. Then after they started repeating the coverage of the cookies over and over again this part was forgotten by many people. Then in a more recent incident when he was visiting a schools he made a statement about larger class sizes being just as good as small class sizes and he was called on that again. Once again he clammed up in the media coverage and said nothing.
It’s hard to believe he could believe some of these things that he says yet he keeps making these blunders; and there’s plenty more where that came from. Most rational people can easily see through this without thinking hard about it; yet if the polls that the media are always taking are close to the truth then there are an enormous amount of people who don’t seem to see through this even if Mitt Romney is behind in most of these polls; if everyone was rational enough to see through this his numbers would be much worse. There are probably some problems with the polls but they’re probably mostly exaggerations or modest distortion, due to the fact that when spinning it is easier if they don’t distort things too much; which means that there’re still a lot of people who support Mitt Romney.
Why can’t they see through the horrendous campaign that he has been running?
Part of the reason for many people is probably that they’re complacent and they aren’t aware of most of what is going on, or perhaps they just provide answers to the pollsters just to satisfy him without believing them. However this almost certainly doesn’t explain all of them especially since they have gone through similar things in past elections and fallen for scams that aren’t much if any better in many cases.
The reason for this almost certainly has something to do with the authoritarian upbringing in a large segment of the electorate that leaves them predisposed to believe what their leaders tell them as indicated in the following excerpt from Alice Miller.
This explains why the electorate has been tolerating this type of behavior from their political leaders for so long and even when they have been disgraced in office in scandals they have often been able to repair their reputations after leaving office and serve as elder statesmen in the eyes of some people like Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon, who both repaired their reputations after leaving office among some people. This is also why many people are more susceptible to war propaganda, bigotry, deceptive advertising and many other things including the acceptance of the implied assumption that they should only chose between the candidates that the corporate media chooses to present to them for office.
Fortunately there are plenty of signs, including the massive amounts of protest from a large variety of groups, to indicate that this is beginning to change and that they may not be able to get away with this much longer. In fact I suspect there may even be a large number of independent that might have a good chance of winning this year and due to the fact that the presidential choices being presented by the corporate media are so bad and there are many more people relying on alternative media it may even include the presidency if enough people try to promote more rational and sincere candidates.
The lack of empathy that many people seem to have when it comes to the suffering of others is also much more extreme when there are complex institutions involved and the results of people’s activities aren’t clear to see in the immediate vicinity. This was even a problem during World War II when the atrocities weren’t that far away and many people right next to the concentration camps were in denial about what was going on their and they didn’t feel guilty about their complacency. Further indication is also provide in the following excerpt originally written by Lea Fleischmann.
With the modern economic system it is much easier to maintain this lack of empathy when participating in a process that might bring consequences to people around the world that are impacted by our economic and electoral decisions and the way our commerce relies on the labor of people with little protection from abusive labor practices or the way or foreign policy fights wars with little regard for the damage done to people referred to as “collateral damage;” the USA isn’t even willing to support the ban on landmines which mostly kill innocent children and aren’t necessary with our advanced military.
This is mild enough for most of us who only take a passive role in this by going along with the system and enabling it; however it is much worse for those with control of the system that often actively distort the information given to the majority of the public to ensure that it remains rigged to benefit the rich.
This is what Mitt Romney and many other businessmen and politicians do.
For them it has become standard procedure.
When most other people discuss the issues they might be much more inclined to prefer reforms that would provide equal protection for everyone and listen to many of the facts that many politicians and businessmen aren’t willing to listen to. By doing this they can do much more to develop policies that are much less likely to cause such disastrous results.
Unfortunately those in power have a vested interest in the status quo even if it is extremely inefficient and it doesn’t even serve their own best interest in the long run. One of the most blatant examples of this the enormous amount of destruction being done to the environment. It should be easy for any rational person to see that the economy can’t survive in the long run at all if the environment is destroyed; so the damage that they do for short term profits are guaranteed to come at a much higher cost, that could even mean the destruction of the entire economy permanently if it isn’t reversed soon enough. Furthermore there almost certainly isn’t a clear line to cross like in the movies to indicate when we might be passing the point of no return; it is far more likely that the environment will deteriorate at a pace that can be reversed with enough effort but that effort will expand at a much faster rate so the sooner we reverse this trend the better for everyone, including the elites who’re unwilling or able to act on it.
Another major problem that those in political power are unwilling to acknowledge is the fact that the enormous bureaucracy to maintain authority is doing it in an extre4mely inefficient manner. This means that if these inefficiencies were acknowledged and repaired they would benefit everyone and we could receive much more benefits for the work we do with less effort. One simple example of this would be the fly-by-night sweat shops that industry has been relying on increasingly over the last few decades. They have shut down quality manufacturing plants in the USA to replace them with overseas sweatshops that produce lower quality merchandise but the savings in cost have been eaten up by higher lobbying expenses, campaign contribution, shipping costs, more expenses for subcontractors and then when there are complaints about the human rights abuses in the sweat shops instead of addressing them they rely on more expensive public relations campaigns.
To put it bluntly the amount of work being done that doesn’t actually provide benefits for the majority of the public has gone through the roof while the expenses for productive work has been cut to the bone.
Mitt Romney and many other business men are totally unwilling to acknowledge the cost for all this activity and act on it in a reasonable manner.
Hence the inevitable speculation about whether or not they’re psychopaths.
At times others like Barack Obama do a much better job appearing to care about these things. However a closer look may raise some doubts about that. There are many things that indicate that when it comes to many of the most important issues he may not be much if any better than Mitt Romney, including the fact that he also seems to have the financial backing of the same people including those from Bain Capital. A recent article from the Boston Globe, Obama campaign got donations from Bain employees, indicates that Obama took “$92,270 in his last two campaigns from employees of Bain Capital;” and a close look at his policies may indicate that Bain and many other contributors are getting their money’s worth at the expense of the majority of us.
Barack Obama continues to make the globalization trend as easy as he can without doing much if anything to defend the workers or consumers; he continues to cater to the oil companies despite some rhetoric that is often promoted when campaign season is on or when there is a large objection from the public; he continues to cater to the military industrial complex, including a secret kill list; and there are many other things where he isn’t much better than Mitt Romney.
The assumption that we should choose between these two candidates is just another part of the propaganda that the corporate media has been attempting to spin for a long time; however there is no reason for us to believe it anymore!
As I indicated previously when I took a Closer Look at Jill Stein there are many more candidates that are running for president than the Mass Media is willing to report on and many of them are much more sincere than those that the mass Media present to us. Since then I have seen even more people that think the same way and there are clearly many more people that are abandoning the two corporate parties than the corporate media is willing to report on. I have seen many organization or individuals independent of each other indicate that they won’t be supporting the traditional candidates; these include organizations from different minorities including GLTB supporters, Hispanics, African Americans, as well as people concerned about the environment, the unnecessary wars and the unfairness in the economy; and of course some of this is reflected in the Occupy Wall street movement.
I suspect there may be a lot more people that are not dumb enough to fall for it anymore; and if this number continues to grow then someone like Jill Stein can win this year!
“The Roots of Violence are NOT Unknown” and accompanying articles by Alice Miller
free on-line copy of “For Your Own Good” by Alice Miller and additional information including at least one other free book on the subject.
Excerpts from “The Truth Will Set You Free” by Alice Miller
Home page for Barbara Coloroso, an internationally recognized speaker and author in the areas of parenting, teaching, school discipline, non-violent conflict resolution and reconciliatory justice.
Home page for Murray Straus, includes articles and several free on-line books on the subject.
Excerpts from “Spare the Child” by Philip Greven
(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)