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August 14, 2013

Who's a Psychopath? Walt on Breaking Bad? Obama? Politicians? Corporate Execs?

By Rob Kall

Wired magazine has a new article: Test case: is Breaking Bad's Mr White a psycho? The story looks at Walter White's evolution over five seasons and finds that indeed, Mr. White does become a psychopath drug maker, dealer and killer, according to the criteria by Robert Hare, the man considered the world's expert on psychopaths. So I applied a similar approach to Obama, Politicians, and Corporate Execs.

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Wired magazine has a new article up on its website; Test case: is Breaking Bad's Mr White a psycho?  Walter White is the former chemistry teacher who turned Meth "cook" and dealer, and in the process, murderer. The Wired story looks at Walt's evolution over five seasons and finds that indeed, Mr. White does become a psychopath, according to the criteria from psychologist Robert Hare's Psychopathy Checklist. Dr. Hare is  considered the world's expert on Psychopaths. 


I thought I'd take the same approach and apply it to Barack Obama AND to politicians in general and corporate execs. Keep in mind that lower-functioning psychopaths get caught and go to jail. The highest-functioning ones often reach the highest places of power. Thom Hartmann first put the idea in my head that it takes a sociopath to run a fortune 1000 corporation. More recently, I interviewed a psychopath who wrote the book, Confessions of a Sociopath. I asked her about people she thought might be a sociopath and she mentioned Obama.  I had my doubts, but the Wired article gave a way to apply the question to Obama and the other groups. 

Wired used a checklist created by Dr. Robert Hare, author Snakes In Suits and Without Conscience. There are 20 items. If a person scores 18 or over, he or she fits the profile of a psychopath. Dr. Hare licenses the assessment tool for formal use to psychologists, prisons, parole boards. It is the curse of death, or extended time in jail if a person up for parole is assessed as a psychopath using the Hare assessment tool. The exercise I am engaging is not professional by any means. It's a rough attempt to think about leaders using Dr. Hare's model. 

Here's how the questions are scored. 

 0 = no; 1 = maybe; 2 = yes. The highest possible score on the screening version of the full Psychopathy Checklist is 24. The average non-criminal non-psychopath receives a score between 0 and 4. A criminal psychopath is defined as anyone with a score of 18 or more. 

To see the list, with descriptions of each of the items, click here.

I'm marking my score for  for each group displayed as follows:

Obama/Politicians/Corporate Execs

Hare's Checklist

1. GLIB and SUPERFICIAL CHARM --

2/2/2

2. GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH --

2/2/2

3. NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM -- 

1/1/2

4. PATHOLOGICAL LYING -- 

2/2/2

5. CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS --

2/2/2

6. LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT --

2/2/2

7. SHALLOW AFFECT --  

2/1/1

8. CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY -- not caring when passing legislation that hurts millions

1/1/2

9. PARASITIC LIFESTYLE -- politicians are often lifetime government workers, living  high on the hog off the public. Corporate execs, with their massive difference in income at the expense of workers, are total parasites.

0/1/2 

10. POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS -- includes expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience

1/1/1

11. PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOR -- no for Obama, as far as we know, but very often for other elected officials. Can you say Weiner, Gingrich, or Larry Craig?

0/1/0

12. EARLY BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS -- Obama smoked pot-- it's not my classification system, but it fits the profile

1/1/0

13. LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS -- 

0/0/0

14. IMPULSIVITY --

0/0/0

15. IRRESPONSIBILITY -- repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; 

2/2/1  failure to keep campaign promises, didn't care about his fellow Democrats in 2012 election

16. FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS --

2/1/2  denies spying, minimizes killing and torture/ respond with doublespeak instead of answering questions. CEOs hide behind the corporate veil.

17. MANY SHORT-TERM MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS --

0/0/0

18. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY --  

0/0/0

19. REVOCATION OF CONDITIONAL RELEASE -- 

0/0/0

20. CRIMINAL VERSATILITY -- not necessarily arrested for them. 

2/1/2 murder, spying, torture, conspiracy to allow criminals to stay on the loose, like Bankers

Here are the scores. 

Obama 22 / Politicians in General 21/Corporate Execs 23

After I wrote it, I did the numbers for George W. Bush in my head. I came up with a 30 score. Try it out on some others, like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, for example. 

Please add your own analysis and interpretation of the score for each of the items for Obama, Politicians, and Corporate execs. Do you agree or disagree either way?

update: I've been asked why I write about this, and have been told that this paints a pretty dismal prospect for the future. 

I write about this because we need to open our eyes and see who we are dealing with. I don't accept that it takes a psychopath to be a surgeon or entrepreneur. That's the kind of thing a sociopath would suggest. 

As far as the deep challenge we face, it is true that things look bleak. But I have hope. A friend asked how we pick presidents who are not psychopaths. I think the first thing to do is to look at the question. Modern democracies don't have presidents and houses of congress. They have a parliament and prime ministers who can be removed any time. 

Ideally, I'd like to see a world without executive branches with the power Obama wields. The horizontal/ bottom up ideas of occupy wall street were scoffed at by most. But they demonstrated new ways of thinking about decision making and leadership by large organizations. There ARE other ways and other possibilities. We must explore them. And it may very well be that the answer is to a question we haven't asked yet but will, soon.



Submitters Bio:

Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Rob Kall's Bottom Up Radio Show: Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes

Rob Kall/OpEdNews Bottom Up YouTube video channel

Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. 

For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. 

Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Talk Nation Radio interview by David Swanson:  Rob   Kall  on Bottom-Up Governance June, 2017

Here is a one hour radio interview where Rob was a guest- on Envision This, and here is the transcript. 

To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

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