Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Ethics of Outing Secrets Within the Dysfunctional Family

At Palingates, a commenter posted this response to the photo comparison of Track Palin:

"I'm not a troll, I've speculated along with the best of 'em here. But Vera City, if you want to build readership for your blog, is this really the way you want to do it? These photos have been posted before, the point has been made. In our wildest fantasies, if presented with irrefutable evidence, what would $ ever say? "I was young, I made bad choices, I married the man I thought was the father." Yeah, even that would be a lie, one more in a continuing series. But think about it, people: there is really only one person who stands to ever be hurt by this."

This is an appropriate question to ask about what is happening here and one that I have thought about. First off, to answer him/her, I do not think that they are a troll. I think that they are speaking from a place of concern and decency. To discuss the various aspects of Sarah Palin's lies, hypocrisy, and indiscretions will make people feel uncomfortable. It seems unseemly and almost indecent. This is the feeling that Palin and those similar to her count on to keep people from asking questions.

However, when we don't ask questions and point out the lies, but instead stay quiet to not rock the boat, we are adding to the hell that those children are living in.

Many people who feel strongly about Sarah Palin, or want to know more about personality disorders, have personal experience growing up with at least one family member who has a personality disorder. It is not a good experience and it is a long and difficult journey to recover from, if the person is ever able to do it. The effects of such a childhood have devastating consequences for the individual not just emotionally, but also inducing lasting health issues, which in extreme cases can severely shorten life expectancy.

Outside of the family situation itself, I believe that one of the more damaging aspects is having the child's reality denied because they are told that, "people aren't like that." How many of these children, when they have tried to describe what went on in their household have, rather then being believed, been told that they must be getting it wrong and that the perpetrator really loves them. This is especially damaging because it reinforces what the perpetrator is telling, often demanding, the child to believe. These children are punished within their family for telling the truth and, sadly, mostly disbelieved or dismissed when they tell someone outside.

The closest equivalent to understand the horrible harm done to these children and their resulting difficulties with integration into normal society, is the work done with children who grew up in abusive cults.

Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, Trig, and Tripp are growing up in an abusive environment where, because of their mother's power, they are forced to obey, lie, coverup and live under their mother's control. Their view of the world has been distorted. In the Vanity Fair article, Levi spoke of being stunned when Sarah referred to Trig as the retarded baby and that no one in the family reacted to it, because they were used to it. In this incident, what I noticed is that he was so offended, having come from a loving family, that he did what I described just now: he could only make sense of it by thinking that Sarah had a weird sense of humour. He downplayed and made an excuse for Sarah's cavalier, callous, abusive behaviour to her children. He could not acknowledge the reality of what he had witnessed because it was outside his experience of human behaviour. Sadly for the Palin children, and now his own child, it is their experience and they are trapped there.

These children are troubled. Their mother will never act in their best interests (or in their interest at all) instead she will demand that they lie to maintain the illusion that they are a happy family. Because that is what is good for Sarah - for now. And when they outlive their usefulness, she will discard them. They haven't just been thrown under the bus; they were born there.

Right now Bristol is coming under a lot of criticism because of the custody case with Levi. I think that Levi appraisal of the matter is correct. He knows that Sarah is the one making Bristol do this. Bristol has very little choice. To expect her to stand up to her mother is to blame the victim. To judge Bristol on the same standards as we would expect someone with a normal upbringing is cruel. However, the environment that she is rising Tripp in is one of abuse, even though I am sure she is not knowingly abusing him herself. It is not in Tripp's best interest to be there.

Here is where the blogs come in. Palin's lawyer argues that it would harm Tripp to read about the custody case when he is older. Why is that? Why will it harm Tripp to know that his father and paternal family wanted desperately to be part of his life. That they gave up opportunities and suffered to fight for him. The only people it will hurt is the Palins, who will be trying to turn Tripp against his father. If the Palins have their way, they will cut the Johnstons out of Tripp's life completely and convince him that they don't care for him. (That lie is unfolding throughout the court documents and the In Touch article.) If they succeed, they will estrange Tripp from the family that loves him. But when he is older and starts to question what is going on, the blogs can help lead him back to that family again. Think of the blogs as the white pebbles that Hansel drops as he and his sister are lead into the forest. It is a way for him to find his way home to his father.

I believe, however, that the commenter above is referring to Track as the one person that stands to get hurt by finding out who his biological father is. If the photo comparisons, which seem to make a strong case that he is biologically related to the Menards, turns out to be true, what are the detrimental effects? Finding out that the well regarded family who came to your hockey games, took an active role as your godfather, intwined themselves into your life growing up did it because they considered you to be one of them. That Todd Palin, even though he probably knew, still brought you up as his son while allowing the other family to be part of your life. That you have four half siblings who can now be part of your life. That everyone no longer has to live a lie, but can acknowledge their relationship to you.

There may be some anger and hurt at first, but in the long run I think Track comes out ahead. Secrets do horrible things to people.

The person who I thought could be hurt by this is Carole Menard, Curtis Jr.'s wife. Because of the way she spoke to the author of Trailblazer, I am not sure that she knew the possible relationship between her husband and his godson. There could be a few painful memories and realizations that could surface. Although I would fully support her decision if she decided to not have Sarah Palin in her life, I think that she would accept Track and have a better understanding of her husband. After all, it seems that he had a strong sense of responsibility and cared for the welfare of children. He seemed to be a decent human being who very briefly was caught up with a manipulative person, but didn't back away from the consequences. I think she will be able to forgive.

If eventually Tripp or any of the Palin children read this, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are many people who understand what you are going through and feel for you.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Word Salad - Earlier Comments on Sarah Palin's Peculiar Way of Speaking

Yesterday on 60 Minutes, Steve Schmidt said that, during the preparation for the vice-president debate, Palin had a speech tic where she put together Joe Biden's name along with Barack Obama's and kept referring to him as O'Biden. NJfan asked me what I thought about this quirk of speech.

For now I am going to repost a few comments that I made at Palin's Deceptions after Palin announced that she was quitting as governor.

For those of you who do not know, Audrey wrote the excellent blog about the problems with the alleged birth of Palin's fifth child Trig. Audrey, a Republican when she started the blog, originally wanted to correct the media because she felt they had incorrectly reported the circumstances around the birth, but discovered they had the story straight from Palin herself. For those who like detective stories, the blog shows the detailed unravelling of the lies that Sarah Palin maintained around the birth. As you read through the comments, you can see people coming together to figure out what is going on. You can also see the evolution in people's thought regarding Palin.

Audrey's last post was on August 19, 2009. She stopped posting after that because she had received serious, detailed threats to her and her family by Palin supporters. This was not the first blog shut down by personal threats. Earlier in the summer, a woman named Morgan (not the moderator for Audrey's site), who was skilled in doing photo detective work, pulled her blog down after receiving similar threats. The work she did was excellent and provided the photographic proof that Palin, barring a miraculous 'virgin' birth, could not have physically been pregnant.

Audrey had certain rules about what could be discussed on her blog and the comments were moderated. Theories about incest were not allowed, as well as putting forward any psychological explanation for why Palin was doing what she did. I found her blog soon after she started it and followed the story without commenting because my area of expertise fell outside of her guidelines. In July 2009, less then a month before she was shut down, I noticed that people were beginning to question Palin's mental state - opening the way for me to start posting. Here are four of my first comments which covers Sarah being on the psychopathy checklist, the difference between psychopaths and sociopaths, and how psychopaths communicate.

[I am including the date and time I posted the comments so you can go back and see the context of the discussion if you like.]

- Further, it keeps us from inflammatory rhetoric, e.g. KaJo calling her a psychopath -- which she is not. -

Joe Christmas - July 19 - 8:21 PM

Joe, I am going to have to take issue with your statement above, because you say it with such authority. I believe that you said you were a doctor and your mother is a narcissist, which could give you some information on personality disorders but doesn't mean that you are up to date with the research that has emerged over the last ten to twenty years in the field studying psychopathy. Referring to it as "inflammatory rhetoric" tells me that this is not an area of expertise for you.

I have spent a large part of the last ten years reading, learning and observing personality disorders, particularly psychopathy with a special interest in how it manifests in women. On a part-time basis, I work with people who have been impacted by psychopaths. As part of that service, I explain to them how psychopaths operate and how to tell them apart from narcissists and people with environmentally caused anti social disorder. Within that context, I use Sarah Palin as an example of a woman scoring high on the psychopathic checklist.

The Psychopathic Checklist is the gold standard used by serious researchers in the field to determine who in fact is a psychopath. It was developed by the Canadian professor Robert Hare, who also advises and trains the FBI. There are twenty items on the checklist - half are intrinsic characteristics to who the person is while the other half are how these characteristics play out in lifestyle choices. These items include;

being glib and superficial

egocentric and grandiose

lack of remorse or guilt

lack of empathy

deceitful and manipulative

having shallow emotions

being impulsive

poor behaviour controls

having a need for excitement

lack of responsibility

early behaviour problems

and displaying anti-social behaviour

How does the above list not describe SP's behaviour? When you look more closely at how the traits are commonly displayed by people on the checklist, the match up with what we know about SP is even more striking. Many people who score high on the checklist are thought to be narcissists because narcissistic traits are part of being a psychopath. If, however, we look at occurrences levels in the population we find that only .67 of one percent of the population are narcissists while the rate of people who cross the threshold of the checklist to be full fledge psychopaths are one to three percent of the population. More importantly, another ten percent of the population fall just below the threshold but have enough of the traits to do serious harm to others.

To answer the other commenter's question - research has disclosed that the critical traits, such as lack of empathy, needed to be diagnosed as a psychopath are due to faulty wiring in the brain. Some of it is heritable, although it can occur spontaneously. Certain head injuries can also create the damage to the brain with the same effect. Environment does play a huge role on how these tendencies caused by miss-wiring in the brain manifest themselves over a person's life span.

If you are interested, I will tell you about the research that shows that SP's word salads are typical for a psychopath.

Wayofpeace and Ivyfree, before I talk about the word salad I want to address some other points that came up. KaJo, I understand your desire to be quoted correctly. In this case, it highlights the confusion between the two words psychopath and sociopath. It is one of the most frequent questions I am asked. The two words are interchangeable and mean the same thing - almost. The difference, in current use, is the belief of the person using each term on what causes the disorder. Dr. Hare explains:

"In many cases the choice of term reflects the user's views on the origins and determinants of the clinical syndrome or disorder described in this book [Without Conscience]. Thus, some clinicians and researchers - as well as most sociologists and criminologists - who believe that the syndrome is forged entirely by social forces and early experiences prefer the term sociopath, whereas those - including this writer - who feel that psychological, biological, and genetic factors also contribute to the development of the syndrome generally use the term psychopath. The same individual therefore could be diagnosed as a sociopath by one expert and as a psychopath by another."

That was written in 1993: the body of solid research showing significant genetic and biological differences between people on the psychopathic spectrum and the general population has grown substantially since then. When KaJo wrote sociopath, I also switched it to the term I use which is psychopath.

Joe Christmas, if you read what I wrote carefully, you will notice that I did not call SP a psychopath. I stated that she is high on the Psychopathic Checklist. I tend to err on the cautious side when I am looking at an individual. The checklist is a spectrum with a threshold that can be crossed at any period in the person's life to get the diagnosis of psychopath. It was developed by studying male convicts so the diagnosis is weighted to their behaviour. Researchers, however, found that there are important gender differences on how the traits manifest in women. For example: women will display more aggressive, controlling and abusive behaviour towards family members, partners and people close to them, such as ex in-laws, while males will strike out towards strangers as well. Men are also more likely to use physical aggression while the women tend to use psychological manipulation. Because the women's behaviour is more often directed towards people they know, it is less reported and less noticed by others. (After all, it was only SP's ambition to play on the big stage that brought her and her behaviour to our attention.) Because of these and other factors, the threshold for a woman to cross to be a psychopath is actually lower than it is for men.

Where people can quibble if SP passes the threshold or not, it is a strong position to argue that she scores high on the checklist. It is not a binary diagnosis that a person is either a psychopath or not a psychopath. It is a scale where those who fall just below the threshold can do incredible damage and their suitability to hold public office or parent should be seriously questioned.

Joe, you made a good call when you pointed out SP's obliviousness to Trig's tears. It is the complete lack of empathy and concern for the feelings of others that defines the faulty wiring of this disorder.

A few starting points on SP's word salads. Keep her in mind as you read these passages from Hare:

"...pathological lying and manipulation are not restricted to psychopaths. What makes psychopaths different from all others is the remarkable ease with which they lie, the pervasiveness of their deception, and the callousness with which they carry it out. But there is something else about the speech patterns of psychopaths that is equally puzzling: their frequent use of contradictory and logically inconsistent statements that usually escape detection. Recent research on the language of psychopaths provides us with some important clues to this puzzle, as well as to the uncanny ability psychopaths have to move words - and people - around so easily."

"Think about this for a moment - not only lies but several contradictory statements in the same breath. Very perplexing. It is as if psychopaths sometimes have difficulty in monitoring their own speech, and they let loose with a convoluted barrage of poorly connected words and thoughts. Psychopaths also sometimes put words together in strange ways."

More soon.

July 27 3:20 - Exit Stage Right also posted July 26 8:00 pm A tale of two birth certificates

I have just finished watching Palin's good-bye salad from the position of governor. Over at Mudflats, many of the commentators mentioned how much she was using her hands. Since most of you have also watched it and it is still fresh in your minds, I will turn to Robert Hare who advises us, when we think that we are dealing with someone high on the Psychopathy Checklist, to "watch their hands." Hare tells us:

"Most language-related hand gestures convey no information or meaning to the listener. 'Empty' hand gestures called beats are small, rapid movements that occur only during speech or pauses in speech but are not part of the 'story line.' Like other gestures and body movements, they are often part of the 'show' the speaker puts on .... But beats occur for other reasons as well. For example, many people make these hand gestures while talking on the telephone. The listener can't see these gestures, so why does the speaker make them?

"The answer may be related to evidence that the brain centres that control speech also control the hand gestures made during speech. In some unknown way - perhaps by increasing overall activity in these centres - beats seem to facilitate speech: they help us put our thoughts and feelings into words.......In some cases, a high rate of beat gestures appear to reflect difficulty in converting thoughts and feelings into speech.

"Beats may also tell us something about the size of the 'thought units,' or mental packages, that underlie speech. A thought unit can vary from from something small, simple, and isolated - a single idea or word, a phrase, a sentence - to something larger and more complex - groups of ideas, sentences, or complete story lines. The ideas, words, phrases, and sentences that comprise large thought units are likely to be well integrated, tied together in some meaningful, consistent, or logical fashion to form a script. Beats appear to 'mark off' these thought units: The greater the number of beats, the smaller the units.

"Recent evidence suggests that psychopaths use more beats than do normal people, particularly when they talk about things generally considered emotional - for example, describing the way they feel about family members or other 'loved ones.' We might infer two things from this evidence:

" - Like a tourist using high-school French to ask directions in Paris, psychopaths have trouble putting into words emotional ideas because they are vague and poorly understood. In this sense, emotion is like a second language to the psychopath.

" - Psychopaths' thoughts and ideas are organized into rather small mental packages and readily moved around. This can be a distinct advantage when it comes to lying. As psychologist Paul Ekman pointed out, skilled liars are able to break down ideas, concepts, and language into basic components and then recombine them in a variety of ways, almost as if they were playing Scrabble. But in doing so, the psychopath endangers his overall script; it may lose its unifying structure or become less coherent and integrated than if he was dealing in large thought units."

Hmmm...seems to describe the video I just watched with the frequent rapid hand movements made by Sarah Palin.

Joe Christmas, you asked me several good questions in the last post and I will try to get to them. I have a deadline for the end of the month, so I will pick up where I can.

July 27 3:20 pm - Exit Stage Right also posted July 27 8:03 am A tale of two birth certificates

Mudflats has just put out a transcript of Sarah Palin's farewell address. The reading is a pretty tough slog, according to the comments, because of the loose grammar, tangential connections, and lack of logic. Perhaps it would be enlightening to do a comparison. Once again we turn to Dr. Hare:

"It now appears that the communications of psychopaths sometimes are subtly odd and part of a general tendency to 'go off track.' That is, they frequently change topics, go off on irrelevant tangents, and fail to connect phrases and sentences in a straightforward manner. The story line, though somewhat disjointed, may seem acceptable to the casual listener. For example, one of our male psychopaths, asked by a female interviewer to describe an intense emotional event, responded as follows:

"'Well, that's a tough one. So many to think about. I remember once - uh - I went through this red light and there was no traffic, right? So what's the big deal? This cop started to hassle me for no reason, and he really pissed me off. I didn't really go through the red light. It was probably only yellow ... so what was his - uh - point? The trouble with cops is they are - most are on a power trip. They act macho, right? I'm not really into macho. I'm more of a lover. What do you think? I mean, if I wasn't in prison ... say we meet at a party - uh - and I asked you out, and, I'll bet you'd say yes, right?'

"This narrative was accompanied by expansive hand movements and exaggerated facial expressions - a dramatic display that blinded the interviewer to what was happening. However,the videotape of the interview clearly revealed to everyone - including our embarrassed interviewer - that the man not only had gone off track but had trapped her in a flirtatious exchange.

"Psychopaths are notorious for not answering the question posed to them or for answering in a way that seems unresponsive to the question. For example, one psychopath in our research, asked if his moods went up and down, replied, 'Uh - up and down? - well, you know - some people say they are always nervous but sometimes they seem pretty calm. I guess their moods go up and down. I remember once - uh - I was feeling low and - my buddy came over and we watched the game on TV and - uh - we had a bet on and he won - and I felt pretty shitty.'

"Psychopaths also sometimes make it difficult for their listeners to understand parts of their narrative. 'I met these guys in a bar. One guy was a dealer and the other was a pimp. They started to hassle me and I punched him out,' said one of our psychopaths. But was it the dealer or the pimp who was 'punched out'?

"Of course, minor breakdowns in communications are not uncommon in normal people; in many cases they represent little more then carelessness or a momentary lapse in concentration. But in psychopaths the breakdowns are more frequent, more serious, and possibly indicative of an underlying condition in which the organization of mental activity - but not its content - is defective. It is how they string together words and sentences together, not what they actually say, that suggests abnormality."

This shows up not just yesterday and in the quitter stream of consciousness she spewed out on July 3, but also in the interviews she did while running as VP. "In what way, Charlie?" was her response to straight forward questions. It has also been the way she has talked about Trig's birth and failed to respond to enquiries about it.

Yet more on language to come.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Palin Propensity for Padding

This is the third in my unintended series on Sarah Palin's clumsy attempts to pad bodies and the truth. (The first two on the 'pregnant' Sarah and the over endowed Bristol are here.) Although this is a small insignificant point in the overall scheme of Palin's arrogance and deceit, it is the small points that can sometimes tell us so much about the character of who we are dealing with. I felt, when I looked at the picture of Sarah Palin 'running' in Hawaii, that there was a whiff of "I dare you" directed towards anyone who would mention that the empress is wearing no clothes or, in this case, padding her rather non existing assets.

There are many things that Sarah Palin pads (her hair, achievements, and book, as examples) but this is perhaps the most taboo subject to bring up.

On the beach, with a curve no where in sight. Notice that the word ARMY printed across her chest is easy to read and not distorted by her breasts. Here she looks as endowed as Todd.
Standing up with a body that almost mirrors Piper's, including the swell of belly over the shorts. The abs of steel are a thing of the past here.
One or two days later, still in Hawaii and in response to Gryphen's post about her not having runner's legs, Sarah appears on the track. Failed liposuction notwithstanding, notice the sudden fullness of her "breasts." Within a day Sarah Palin has gone from an A cup to a C through the help of a rather good and, I believe, quite expensive bra.

As enjoyable as it is to get a few comments in on Sarah Palin's looks, that is not what struck me about the events surrounding these pictures. On all three days that Palin was in Hawaii last month, she knew she was being photographed and was responding to the press and bloggers commentary as it was happening. By the time that she donned her running shoes and a bra so padded that it could probably stop bullets, appearing for an obviously staged photo opportunity, she knew that there were comparison pictures from the day before.

So why would she risk drawing attention to the fact that she regularly pads her body to have people believe that it is something that it is not? My first question is why are her breasts so obviously different from one moment to the next. After doing a review of pictures of Palin, it became apparent that her breast size shifts depending on what she is wearing, but not when your expecting it to. The period when she was supposedly pregnant with Trig, when most women breasts noticeable swell one or two cup sizes, her breasts did not register as being any larger then before or afterwards. (Actually they are smaller, it must be her amazingly tight pec muscles.) Perhaps she felt she could only pad one part of her body at a time. By going back further to pictures of the younger, heavier Sarah, before she started excessive dieting, she did tip the scale into a B cup. (We should assume that any photos where her breasts appear any larger are because of padding.) It appears that Palin is seesawing between two body ideals - neither of which are her natural body type.

Here Palin has achieved the model svelte look, only after years of struggle, plastic surgery, and a restricted intake of diet Dr. Pepper, Red Bulls and lattes to get there. Although you can see that her face is fighting cheek and jowl (and double chin) to revert to it's natural shape. This is the tiny starlet body that she went on about when she attacked Ashley Judd and the anti wolf hunting ad, but obviously the body she wanted for herself. This is a body that looks good in clothes, if you knew how to dress yourself. (And, now that we have seen the Hawaii pictures, keeping her body covered is a necessity to maintain any illusion of attractiveness.) Since we know the real answer to Katie Couric's question of what does Sarah Palin read is fashion and gossip magazines, this is the body that is the media conscious woman's ideal. What it took to get Palin's naturally heavy legs this thin makes me shudder.

Nevertheless, we should give credit where it is due: this is the only incident that I can see that Palin has shown discipline to achieve a goal. If Going Rogue was a more truthful book, the thinning of Sarah would have been given an entire chapter or two. This physical transformation (or, more accurate, eating disorder) should not be underestimated as a significant reason why the women in her base admire her.

A flat chested Sarah, however, doesn't cut it with the people behind her real raise to power : conservative men who want starbursts. So the same folks that think that Ann Coulter is sexy, have elevated Palin into a fantasy figure. This works because Palin herself is so deep into fantasy that she won't correct them as long as she deems it to be flattering to her ego. Thus when she was being punked by the Canadian comics, pretending to be Nicolas Sarkozy the President of France, who were telling her they liked her in the Hustler produced porn movie Nailin Paylin all she did was giggle and, I believe, accept the compliment. (Interestingly, the movie includes a segment with "a younger Palin getting seduced by her college creationist professor who 'will explain a "big bang" theory even she can’t deny!' " Having not seen the movie, I wonder if that 'younger Palin' is a daughter or Sarah trying to make a grade during one of her many attempts of going through college. Either way, unlike Palin creating media attention with her accusations that people wanted to rape her daughters, she was hypercritically silent about this film and other porn references to herself.)

When I googled a search for images of Sarah Palin, it suggested, without prompting, 'Sarah Palin breasts.' Almost all these images were photoshopped with her head on a much more buxom body - like the one shown above, with the pink top and the ruler naughtly held in her hands. The other example, directly above, was screen captured by Bree Palin from Sarah Palin's facebook account, posted by a smitten fan for their Christmas eve enjoyment.

This is part of the stunning delusion that Sarah Palin is exceptionally attractive and sexy beyond belief. Another google suggested search was 'Sarah Palin breast size.' Here various sites speculate, or put forth as fact, that she at least a 34C cup ranging up to a 34DD while pregnant (really show me the pictures) and even a non-pregnant 32 DDD. Look again at the first, second, and fourth pictures in this post and see if you can reconcile what you see with what these people believe. Delusional thinking about charismatic cult leaders is a fascinating topic which we can pursue later, but, for now, I will leave you with the observation that during the Third Reich, people thought that Hitler was one of the sexiest men alive.

We come back to my original question about the jogging picture above - how did Palin think that she could get away with such an obvious change in her cup size from one day to another while being under scrutiny by the media and bloggers? Why would she do this when there were so many questions already being asked about her padding other parts of her and her daughter's bodies? Frankly, I don't think that she gave it a moment's thought. By this point, Palin has got away with so much lying and distorting of the truth that she doesn't even think about it any more. She tells people what her unfiltered reality is and expects to be followed and not questioned. On the days that she increases her bra size by several cups, she expects us to overlook the inconsistency and accept that that is her body and she is one sexy MILF.

The defiance, confidence, and outright arrogance she shows here comes from a lack of social emotions to moderate her behaviour, which has been linked to the amygadala damage in people on the psychopath checklist. Glibness is one of the defining traits on the checklist. If they are caught in a lie, instead of feeling shame, guilt or remorse, they will almost effortlessly slide into another lie to explain it away or they feign victimhood, while at the same time attacking the person who pointed it out. Palin is confident that no one will mention her once-again shifting body, and, if any one tries, she and her followers' pattern has been to deflect it in two ways. The first is to call the person(mostly men) sexist for saying it. The second (usually directed towards women) is to say that the person is jealous of Palin. This is usually combined with personal attacks on the person's weight, looks, sexual attractiveness, social status, inclination to wear pyjamas, etc. This is a sleight of hand technique which never truly answers the issues that are raised, but instead deflects into a diversion or an attack. You will notice that when Sarah Palin does this there is no hint of embarrassment, another social emotion.

She also displays no shame when accusing people of doing the very things that she does herself. This is a common feature of people on the checklist. By projecting their behaviour onto others, they manage to stop the discussion of what they are in fact doing themselves. For example, when a less busty Palin posed for Runner's World she was obviously pandering to her male fantasy followers. (What else does this pose suggest?) However, when Newsweek sourced the same photo for its cover, which subtly drew attention to what Palin was doing, they were called sexist by Palin and her followers. I am not sure if they changed the charge to sexual jealousy when it was revealed that the photo was chosen by two women. (By the way, Sarah, isn't it sexist to suggest that women who question you are jealous, sexual or otherwise? And are you not showing jealous behaviour, quite sexual in fact, when your reaction to a man, who is not enthralled to your winking, flirtatious behaviour, is to berate him?)

Manipulatively using sex or the allure of sex to get what they want is another trait of women on the psychopathy checklist. As is glibly claiming innocence when they are called on doing it.

So, Sarah, am I sexist or sexually jealous of you? I am waiting for your response.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Environment vs. Wiring - a Response

Environment does play an important part in dysfunctional families. It also can be pivitol whether someone on the psychopathy checklist progresses across the threshold to being a full blown psychopath. However, with the research that is currently being done, it appears that a precondition of being on the list is a miswiring of the brain and its ability to have empathy. There are people who are destructive individuals through environment alone, but they are not on the checklist (they fall in the broader catagory of anti-social personality disorder).

Checklist behaviour can also result from brain injury or tumours. The first important observation of of this was the case of a railroad dynamite tamper named Gage who had an iron rod blown through his head, but managed to pick himself up and appeared, miraculously, to escape serious injury. What was noted is that his behaviour completely changed from being a careful, conscientious family man and reliable employee to a shiftless, violent individual who left his family and became penniless. A more recent case may be the man who abducted the young girl and kept her in his backyard while he fathered two children with her. As reprehensible as his behaviour is, reports from family and people who knew him growing up indicated that his behaviour changed radically after he had a motorcycle accident. Although both men, after their accidents, would score high on the checklist, they are recognized as being something other then psychopaths. I believe that researchers have referred to it as injury induced psychopathy. (It is interesting to note that a high percentage of homeless men have been found to have suffered, at one point or another, from head injuries. Although different injuries will affect different parts of the brain and produce variable disfunction. Many others are the victims of extreme abuse including sexual.)

An over reliance on environmental causes for mental illness has double victimized families that are already under incredible strain. It wasn't until the nineties that North America began to stop claiming that autism was caused exclusively by frigid mothering and began acknowledging that their were organic causes to the disorder. Think about that for a minute: mothers who had special needs children were told that their child's problems were caused solely by their own inadequate mothering. That fits into my definition of cruelty and influences my criticism of psychology when it is reluctant to give up cherished theories and apply more up to date information on how the mind works.

The term sociopath, which is essentially the same as psychopath, is usually used by people who believe that the behaviour is more narrowly caused by environmental factors. This was my criticism of Martha Stout's book. And yes, the home life of a psychopath has a higher than average chance of being dysfunctional. One reason for this is that the miswiring is a heritable condition making it likely that at least one of the parents could be on the checklist and, as we see with the example of Sarah Palin, they make appalling parents. It is also quite likely that other siblings and relatives would have the miswiring as well - making the entire family toxic. But, even in cases where the rest of the family members are unaffected by the wiring glitch, we can not discount the effect that a budding psychopathic child will have on his home life. There are many people who read this blog who can testify to this from their own personal experience.

lilylake, the reason the checklist was developed in the first place was because of the utter lack of consistency in the research being done on psychopathy up to that point. Everyone was defining psychopaths differently, based on their personal beliefs, which made the results inconsistent and unusable. The checklist has been in place now for over two and a half decades and has lead to a greater understanding of what the problems and causes are for this condition as well as a better understanding of how to best treat them. That is one of the reasons that people with known injury induced psychopathic behaviour or environmentally caused anti-social behaviour are not included in the classification to keep the research as clear as possible.

I would suggest you may want to read Steven Pinker's excellent book The Blank Slate to have a better understanding on the origins of the nature vs. nurture debate. Like all of Pinker's books,it is fascinating on a number of levels.

The Mysterious Case of The Bolster Bosom

I wrote this, but never posted it, on August 18, 2009 while considering the significance of Bristol being stuffed at the RNC:

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. - Sherlock Holmes


I have had some experience figuring out the scams of people high on the psychopathy checklist, a task requiring working out their logic and thought processes which are different from what normal people do. Once you get the hang of it, psychopaths are highly predictable. Sarah Palin has yet to surprise me. (My hunch is we should soon be prepared for the unveiling of a cosmetically enhanced Sarah Palin, paid for by PAC money and/or her book advance - money that she couldn't use until she resigned as governor and quickly dropped from sight. Why have policy positions when you can run on facelifts, body sculpting of her rather stocky legs, and breast enhancements?)

But it is different breast enhancement that we are looking at right now: the desperate, incompetent padding of Bristol at the RNC. What was Sarah trying to hide and who was she trying to convince at that moment?

What has been established is that Bristol was padded excessively and that, other then earlier that day while meeting McCain on the tarmac, this is the only time her breast size was enhanced. (Earlier her breasts looked odd, as if they had been stuffed in a Lana Turner cone shaped push up bra, the blouse fabric stretched between two protruding points, but were still significantly smaller - without the pillowing - of the rounded bolster that went public that night.)

The argument that the excess padding was to prevent possible leakage is a red herring. At no other time, except possibly the the one noted above, was excess padding in place. If heavy leakage was a concern, Bristol would not have been seen wearing the unpadded black dress or the light grey sweatshirt within days of the RNC. Audrey makes convincing arguments that Bristol was probably not breast feeding at this time at all, but for our purposes here it doesn't matter whether she was breast feeding or not because that is not what they were hiding.

So what could be the possible story line?

Bristol, suddenly, in full bloom.

Just before Bristol's appearance at the RNC, her pregnancy was announced and, at the time, Levi, the hidden boyfriend, was not identified by name as the father. The situation, like a dead fish forced to go with the flow, suddenly changed when he was quickly flown in to be the fiancé - legitimizing the pregnancy as much as possible. This was a narrative, similar to the wild ride story, that was being ad-libbed on the spot rather than being thought out.

All of this seems to be a reaction to the immediate explosion of stories on the internet and the press about the Trig birth rumours after the announcement of Palin as McCain's running mate. As part of the containment, the internet was quickly and blatently scrubbed of photos and written material for the period in question according to accounts and dead links report by many different, unrelated people. Based on the variety and the extent of the sites scrubbed, this feat could only be accomplished with Sarah Palin's explicit involvement to direct, call in favours, etc. from individuals to remove the material. Her newly appointed press point person, Bill McAllister, would be a great help here. He was who Sarah confided to about the Bristol pregnancy rumours when he was still working at the local television station, a station that never covered the story. Bill, soon after, got a new job with the government, that I assume was more lucrative, working directly for Sarah. Apparently he passed the test of who Sarah felt she could work with. This new crisis would give him a chance to show his loyality once again to Sarah. When the Gusty photos, where Sarah is finally padded enough to actually look pregnant, were quietly released that week, the people involved were his former co-workers and he appeared in one of the pictures. It seems that a lot of favours were called in that week.

There were two problem photos that made it through the scrubbing process. The family group picture in Juneau and the Christmas photo on the stairs, taken the same day, which slipped through to the Alaska Business Journal, Audrey discusses these in an excellent May 9th posting titled Ho! Ho! Ho! The photo shot took place on September 13 or 14, 2007. In these pictures, Bristol's body has taken on an remarkable fullness compared to a picture taken three months earlier in June. A fullness that is extremely similar to how Bristol looks in the black dress in the photo shot with the McCains - less then two weeks shy of a year later. If anything, the breasts in 2007 appear fuller, which would be consistent with a first pregnancy when the breast tissue and skin are taunter than subsequent pregnancies. A situation that many woman reading this forum could verify.

It appears that after scrubbing all the pictures of Bristol from public viewing in the couple of days leading up to the RNC, and thus seeing many pictures that we never did, Sarah and her accomplices would have been painfully aware that Bristol had the same body in 2008, when they were trying to show she was pregnant, to the body a year earlier, which, in a stretch with nothing to compare it to,could be passed off as a normal teenage growth spurt. Thus the desperate need to pad, especially Bristol's chest, to make her look different and more pregnant. We can assume from the RNC pictures that Bristol did not inherit her 44 year old mother's tight abs and at the young age of seventeen she had already "let herself go." Perhaps this is why she was hiding her changing body under a draped blanket during the VP announcement a few days earlier, before her pregnancy was made public. Or maybe this dead fish was being carried away through rapids.

So who could possibly have done the padding and who was Sarah trying to fool?

Check the facts, ma'am.

What do we know and/or can safely assume about the events leading up to Palin being picked as VP:

* We know that John McCain had spent most of his life positioning himself to run for president and wanted that office with a fierce intensity.

* Having won the process to be the Republican candidate, the most skilled and professional people within the party were helping him achieve this.

* That Obama was, no pun intended, the dark horse candidate for the Democrats in, what became over time, a tight race with Hillary Clinton.

* Obama winning the nomination suddenly changed the game plan for everyone and made it desirable for the Republicans to have a woman VP candidate and that they had to make a decision quickly.

* That, to Lily B and Andrew Sullivan's dismay; the Republican party's detriment; and the country's disservice, there is a dirth of qualified candidates that can get past the extreme right wing base of the party.

* It was a perfect storm for Sarah Palin.

In answer to the question, "What do we know about Sarah Palin?" We can now say:

* That ever since her first public appearance she wanted to stop being a fishwife and hobnob with the likes of Ivana Trump.

* That she has thrown so many people under the bus that it gives a whole new meaning to Bette Davis' warning in all About Eve that people should "strap yourselves in: it is going to be a bumpy night."

* There is scant evidence that she has shown loyalty or reciprocity to anyone. Todd, until the revelations in the last couple of weeks, appeared to be the only possible exception. Frequently she has turned on people immediately after getting what she wants. Her motto appears to be: leave no bridge unburned. She is not a team player and goes rogue.

* Although she has furiously attacked people in the name of others, ex-brother-in law - separated husband of a friend, we can not assume that it is done out of loyalty as opposed to, for instance, sadistic enjoyment.

* She is petty, vindictive, impulsive, and unethical.

* She lies so freely, frequently, and flamboyantly that we can confidently refer to her as a pathological liar. Early in the campaign the McCain team had learned to double check anything that Sarah told them. I am referring here to team checking with Todd when she told them that they didn't have health insurance at the beginning of their marriage. Todd told them they always had coverage. The point is that within a week of the campaign the McCain team knew she wasn't trustworthy. What made them feel this way so quickly?

* She is secretive and doesn't trust anyone - even her own family.

* She is post-logical and beyond reason. While there is no denying that she is cunning, she is not intelligent - a dangerous combination that causes people to underestimate the damage psychopaths are capable of until it is too late. A strong argument can be made that she is also delusional.

* In her mind, nothing is her fault and she is the victim. Except, of course, when she is an unmitigated success - "the world's greatest." The swings between the two extremes are rapid and almost instantaneous. To try to follow it will give you vertigo.

* She does not understand the concept of merit and she can't see it from her house.

* One of her few notable skills is to opportunistically turn situations to her advantage even if it harms others and it usually seems to do that. Political mentors destroyed; an inability for her to hold down a cushy job turned into a witch hunt against members of her own political party; a troubled son shipped to Iraq providing political capital; Trig's Downs Syndrome turned to political advantage while,it appears, that his developmental needs to reach his potential are being ignored; her children regularly pulled from school so they can act as props and human shields; humiliating her minor daughter in front of the entire world because, assuming that she is not lying, she is too much of a prima donna to produce a birth certificate - fake or real. I could go on with this list, but in the interest of your stomach I will stop for now.

* The two most frequently used manipulative techniques we see Sarah do in public are using sexual flirtation and affinity cons. An affinity con is when you make a connection with people because you pretend to be just like them, sharing the same values, beliefs, and experiences. "I'm a hockey mom just like you!" "Someone called me a red neck and I said thank you!" Although we can guarantee that sexual flirtation was part of her interaction with McCain, in his defence when explaining his choice, he said that Sarah reminded him of his younger self.

* She believes that, by being brazen, she can manoeuvre and lie her way out of any difficult situation.

How does this all tie into the bolster bosom?

Let's now look at what lead up to the RNC. Some of this is conjecture but it is based on how the individuals would act if we take previous behaviour into account.

* Having to make a quick choice for VP and tactically wanting a woman on the ticket, Sarah Palin was called down to meet with McCain. There was no time to do a independent vetting of her.

* McCain's team, however, would have sat down with Sarah and asked her detailed questions including if there were any skeletons in her closet which they would have to manage.

* Without stopping to blink, Sarah, with amazing consistency of character, would do the only thing she knows how to do: she would lie through her teeth. She would not tell them she had a pregnant daughter; she would have dismissed out of hand the Trig rumours; she would have laughed off the ethical complaints. She wanted the nomination and she would, as she always had, lie and betray her way to it. If she had to fudge a few things and cover some things up, she felt confident that she could get away with it. After all, she had got away with it before. She smiled and winked and came across as charming.

* She got the nomination. The family flew down and it was publicly announced.

* Immediately the skeletons started to surface. The team tried to talk to her about the various issues, but she stonewalled them.

* Meanwhile, she went into personal damage control without McCain's team: having the state site, along with others, scrubbed of photos. Getting the Gusty photos posted. The scrubbing was noticed and someone on the McCain team, perhaps the stylist, noticed Bristol's body.

* Being caught on Bristol's pregnancy and still avoiding the McCain's team request for Trig's birth certificate to squash the rumours, Sarah decided to kill two birds with one stone and Bristol's pregnancy was announced. She was good at improvising - no need for a birth certificate now. Bristol's body now needed to be as pregnant as possible, hopefully people won't notice that she looked the same way the year before. When the McCain aid told the press that Bristol was around five months along, they were only repeating what Sarah had told them.

* Levi was called to come down, probably at the team's insistence, to be Bristol's fiancé.

* Sarah had a problem. She did not want to or couldn't produce Trig's birth certificate and the McCain team kept asking her for it. They were beginning to hint to her that she could gracefully step down citing family responsibilities. There was no way she was going to miss this opportunity. She loved the attention and she loved all the new clothes. There was people to do her hair and make up and an entire trailer dedicated to the wardrobe for the McCain and Palin families. She had spent time there looking at all the great clothes - she would get more of course. How could she get the McCain team off her back about the birth certificate. They didn't need it since Bristol was pregnant - did they? So why were they bothering her about it? Maybe Bristol should look more pregnant so no one would ask any more silly questions. Suddenly Sarah had an idea and she strolled over to the wardrobe trailer to help herself to one of Megan McCain's dresses.

* Megan McCain, as anyone with eyes can see, is a well endowed woman. She also has an interest in fashion design. Her tailored dresses look custom made for her body and one of her styles, which shows up repeatedly on the campaign, is the dresses that have the same fabric and cut of the grey dress Bristol is stuffed into at the RNC. That dress is not one that can be bought off the rack or is it a maternity dress (It is too structured and would only work for a week or two at the most during a normal pregnancy, if it would fit at all.)

* That evening, after Bristol had her hair and makeup done, Sarah got everyone out of trailer except the two of them. Bristol removed the dress the stylist choose and put on Megan's, then Sarah stuffed it to fill out the bosom. It took a lot of towels and perhaps the empathy belly as a foundation. Bristol carried Trig, well she always carried Trig, to hide the over stuffed bosom until she was at the RNC when it was too late for the McCain team to do anything about it.

* Sarah had pulled it off and she felt on top of her game as she mounted the podium to speak. She was exuding confidence and smugness and the crowd loved her. When they came to her afterwards about the dress, she threw the success of that speech into their faces. They were committed to her now and couldn't back out. Sarah had won.

* Now committed to a course of action that they didn't feel that they could retreat from without fatally wounding the campaign, as good political operatives, the McCain team would fall on their swords as Sarah threw them under the bus. They went into damage control - helping to cover up for Sarah.

* Within the campaign Sarah circled her few wagons against the McCain team and the team had no choice but to circle theirs around hers to protect her from the public and to try to contain the damage she was inflicting. Bristol was stuck in the very middle, pulled from sight once again - on the bus looking after her "baby brother."

The smoking gun: out of the holster and into the bolster

Why is the bolster bosom a smoking gun? If Sarah had given birth to Trig there was no need to do it. In the rational world that is obvious to see. In the distorted logic of Personality Disorders there was no gain in doing it and a lot of risk if she wasn't able to pull it off. PDs are never that concerned about risk, but they are very aware of gain. And Sarah gained a lot by stuffing Bristol and going rogue on the McCain team. She hijacked the crazy republican base and is now in control of them; she is reportedly getting 11 million dollars [now reduced to seven] for her book - when she isn't capable of writing a sentence; she is getting her followers to send her money to spend as she pleases; she has fame; and she no longer has to be a fishwife. And, if McCain had won despite the impact she was having on the campaign, he would have been stuck with her as his VP.

She gained because she managed to pull it off, but the problem she was facing at that moment was trying to avoid giving Trig's birth certificate to the McCain team and then the rest of the world, which means that she didn't give birth to Trig. We knew that already, but the effort she took to pad Bristol's bosom confirms it. Why would she casually pad Bristol for no reason when she couldn't be bother to consistently wear belly pads for a month? With all the other important events happening to Sarah in that week - why did this become her pressing priority? The Trig rumours were not even on the radar for Sarah the week before and after the first week of the campaign she went back to her stance that we should just believe anything that she says regardless what reality looks like. In that one week, Sarah was under pressure to prove the Trig rumours untrue and she couldn't. By the end of the week, the McCain team would have realized that there was no birth certificate coming forward because Sarah had lied to them and they probably stopped asking for it. By the time they sent a couple of operatives, posing as secret service men, to Sherry Johnson's house to scrub their computers they knew what they were looking for and why they were deleting it. (Although my guess is that they kept copies of what they found.)

Why do I think that she was conning the McCain team? It is very hard committing a con on a large group of people. Sarah has trouble focusing and does not plan ahead. She only reacts to what is happening to her in the immediate present, as her sudden resignation showed us. Conning McCain and his team was her immediate priority. The public appearances of Bristol were just part of her clout with them to show them they were stuck with her. Before the election was over, she felt that she didn't need the team anymore, she had established herself with the extreme right on her own terms.

There is no way that McCain and company would have worked with Sarah, if they had any inkling of who she was. It was all risk, very little gain, and enormous loses, which we saw as the campaign continued. It took less then a week for her to turn on them and I think that they were stunned by what happened. They became accomplices in her actions against their will. They were tricked.

By the way, it may be worthwhile, before it is scrubbed, to look for pictures of Megan McCain in that dress or ones that are similar. She would never wear that dress after that night but she may have worn it before then.

Why did the MSM not follow up on this? Three reasons: the first is the success of her speech at the RNC overshadowed the story. The boost she provided to the campaign was only two weeks long before she became a liability that the public was reacting to. In the news cycle that made the Trig rumours old news. Second when the media asked Obama about Bristol's pregnancy he stopped them cold by taking a principled stand to leave families alone. This was so breathtakingly civilized that the progressive media backed off the story (this was before more revelations surfaced). The right wing media is in no mood to be civil and Sarah is their pitbull - so they won't cover it.