Thomas Paine's Corner
Cluster B Personality Disorders
1776.0 Americanistic Personality Disorder
The essential features of Americanistic Personality Disorder include pervasive patterns of extreme self-absorption, profound and long-term lapses in empathy, a deep disregard for the well-being of others, a powerful aversion to intellectual honesty and reality, and a grossly exaggerated sense of the importance of one’s self and one’s nation. These patterns emerge in infancy, manifest themselves in nearly all contexts, and often become pathological.
These patterns have also been characterized as sociopathic, or colloquially as the “Ugly American Syndrome.” Note that the latter terminology carries too benign a connotation to accurately describe an individual afflicted with such a dangerous perversion of character.
For this diagnosis to be given, the individual must be deeply immersed in the flag-waving, nationalistic, and militaristic fervor derived primarily from the nearly perpetual barrage of reality warping emanations of the “mainstream media,” most commonly through the medium of television. Typically indoctrinated from birth to believe that they are morally superior, exceptional human beings, these individuals suffer from severe egocentrism, a condition further engendered by the prevalence of the acutely toxic dominant paradigm known as capitalism.
Individuals with Americanistic Personality Disorder are generally covertly racist, xenophobic, and openly speciesistic. They readily participate in the execution of heinous crimes against human and non-human animals, even if their complicity is banal and limited. As long as they are comfortable, safe, and enjoying the relative affluence and convenience afforded by their nation’s economic extortion, cultural genocide, rape of other species and the environment, and imperial conquests, such individuals display an apathetic disregard for the well-being of other human beings, sentient creatures, and the environment.
Individuals with Americanistic Personality Disorder tend to exhibit unabated greed and an insatiable desire for material goods. Fueled by a compulsion to shop and acquire excessive amounts of material goods, a condition sometimes referred to as consumerism, they have no regard for the misery and destruction caused by their pathological need for “more stuff”. When confronted with the finitude and fragility of the Earth, they frequently react with level one ego defenses by denying that their behavior is a part of the problem or by distorting reality by asserting that concerns about Climate Change, resource depletion, and irreversible damage to the environment are over-blown. Their deeply entrenched sense of entitlement renders excessive consumption a nearly immutable aspect of their behavior.
Individuals with Americanistic Personality Disorder are virtually devoid of empathy or compassion. They view life as a game played by “law of the jungle” rules and co-exist with others in a chronic state of hyper-competitiveness, seeking only to advance their careers and “keep up with the Joneses.” Their desire to win, get ahead and “protect what is theirs” has been so deeply etched into their psyches that their capacity to empathize and experience true concern for the well-being of others is severely stunted or extinguished. The pursuit of property, profit, and power rules their malformed psyches, nearly eliminating their capacity for humane behavior.
Individuals with Americanistic Personality Disorder almost always rely on extortion or violence to get their needs met and to resolve conflict. Believing in their inherent superiority, they eschew laws or rules except when they can utilize them for personal gain or when they fear punishment. Given a choice between a just resolution to a situation and the opportunity to humiliate, subdue, or subjugate the other party, they will choose the latter with a high degree of frequency. They have an amazing capacity to justify their unethical or criminal behavior using false pretexts such as self defense, good intentions, ignorance of the consequences of their actions, or asserting that they were merely carrying out orders.
Individuals with Americanistic Personality Disorder tend to manifest traits indicative of two of Erich Fromm’s personality orientations. They thrive on adding to their possessions, and appreciate their acquisitions more when they attain them through coercion, theft, or manipulation, thus showing strains of Fromm’s exploitative type. They also exist at a very superficial level, offering the world the “friendly face” of the marketing personality that Bernays and Madison Avenue have taught them is the most effective way of advancing their selfish agenda. Opportunism, careerism, and narcissism poison nearly all of their interactions and relationships.
Specific Culture Features
Americanistic Personality Disorder appears to prevail in a very high percentage of those in the upper strata of the socioeconomic order in the United States (and to persist tenaciously because these individuals have little motivation to alter their pathological behavior as they are largely immune from the consequences of their actions). While it is epidemic amongst the opulent, this characterological deficiency does not recognize socioeconomic boundaries. Various segments of the middle, working and impoverished classes comprise a notable percentage of those exhibiting this condition, including those practicing deeply conservative Christianity, many residents of reactionary states such as those in the south, Kansas, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, and many members of the Republican Party.