MAYO CLINIC'S DEFINITION OF “SOCIOPATH”
WHY TEA PARTY FOLKS ACT THE WAY THEY DO
Perhaps I’m beating a dead horse here, but even though it seems as if we are beginning to slow the tide of conservatism here in America (e.g. same sex marriage, Hillary leaning left, Bernie Sanders stoking the fires of Socialism, Republican RINO’s taking back control of the party, etc.) I’m not ready to back off. After all, we’ve had thirty years of this crap and a few cracks in the conservative glacial hold on us don’t indicate a wholesale meltdown just yet. So in the same vein as “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance” I offer you another Tea Party musing.
Since the Tea Party burst onto the public stage after the election of Obama, I’ve had trouble in my attempts to understand the genesis of what I consider their outrageous behavior and backward looking, antiquated 19th Century views of the world. The dangerous nature of the Tea Party was clear to me during the summer of 2009 when the country was debating the then-pending ACA. Most of us were debating but the Tea Party folks were actively shutting down debate in community meeting after community meeting all across the country. Their televised actions – shouting down people attempting to speak, threatening physical harm to those who disagreed with them, causing so much chaos that even Congress men and woman had to leave the stage and end the meetings they had called as a result – was chillingly revealing.
At the time it occurred to me that these tactics were similar (the same?) as those of Hitler’s Brown Shirts back in the years before the outbreak of World War II. I was astonished that the Tea Party thugs – all allegedly patriotic, free speech and freedom loving, Americans – would engage in such fascist behavior. I couldn’t believe it. But over the years, as the Tea Party and their minions continued to demonstrate their hatred for Obama and their twisted view of what it means to be an American (Hey, Tea Party, it’s not only White Conservatives who are covered by the Constitution) their “Our Way Or The Highway” dictatorial proclamations, my surprise evolved into a realization that these folks were, indeed, the latest manifestations of uber-authoritarianism, that is, precisely the same philosophy of early 20th Century Fascism in Germany and Italy that emerged in the 1930’s.
I still find it hard to explain this movement’s Fascist tactics and leanings except for the fact the we did elect a Black man as President. Of course, why this should cause such an explosion of ignorance, bigotry and hatred is not clear to me even today. But, serendipitously, while researching something else, I happened across a Mayo Clinic discussion of “Sociopath” that I thought shed some light on the Tea Party’s behaviors.
Antisocial personality disorder (sociopathic behavior) is a type of chronic mental condition in which a person's ways of thinking, perceiving situations and relating to others are dysfunctional — and destructive. People with antisocial personality disorder typically have no regard for right and wrong and often disregard the rights, wishes and feelings of others.
Those with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others either harshly or with callous indifference. They may often violate the law, landing in frequent trouble, yet they show no guilt or remorse. They may lie, behave violently or impulsively, and have problems with drug and alcohol use. These characteristics typically make people with antisocial personality disorder unable to fulfill responsibilities related to family, work or school.
Disregard for right and wrong
Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or for sheer personal pleasure
Intense egocentrism, sense of superiority and exhibitionism
Recurring difficulties with the law
Repeatedly violating the rights of others by the use of intimidation, dishonesty and misrepresentation
Child abuse or neglect
Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, impulsiveness, aggression or violence
Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behaviors
Poor or abusive relationships
Irresponsible work behavior
Failure to learn from the negative consequences of behavior
Personality is the combination of thoughts, emotions and behaviors that makes everyone unique. It's the way people view, understand and relate to the outside world, as well as how they see themselves. Personality forms during childhood, shaped through an interaction of these factors:
• Genetics. These inherited tendencies are aspects of a person's personality passed on by parents, such as shyness or having a positive outlook. This is sometimes called temperament
• Environment. This means the surroundings a person grows up in, events that occurred, and relationships with family members and others. It includes such life situations as the type of parenting a person experienced, whether loving or abusive
Personality disorders are thought to be caused by a combination of these genetic and environmental influences. Some people may have genes that make them vulnerable to developing antisocial personality disorder — and life situations may trigger its development.
There may be a link between an early lack of empathy — understanding the perspectives and problems of others, including other children — and later onset of antisocial personality disorder. Identifying these personality problems early may help improve long-term outcomes.
Now I’m aware of my biases against the Tea Party and their minions (including members of Congress) but as I read down the list of Symptoms noted above, I can’t help but think how they so closely describe the Tea Party’s actions and beliefs.
For me, the last paragraph is key because the Tea Party has demonstrated from the very beginning of the movement that they simply cannot understand that their white, prosperous, entitled world, is not the world that so many others live in. It is, I believe, this lack of empathy that goes a long way towards explaining why Tea Partiers act the way the do. Then, too, there is the overwhelmingly Fascist belief in the indisputable rightness of their way of thinking.
Sociopaths? Maybe not. But then, if the definition fits, sounds like a winner to me. And do not forget that like the annual flu season, the Tea Party might only be dormant for a time and will re-emerge as the Fall election season approaches.
Be always vigilant.