Sunday, August 11, 2013
I have argued elsewhere that many leading Leftists are psychopaths so I find the analysis below reasonable. The point that psychopaths have some advantages is made below and I also have an academic article to that effect
A GIANT ego. A narcissist. A micro-manager. An impulsive control freak. A haphazard and secretive decision maker. This is not what Kevin Rudd's political enemies think of him. It's what many of his colleagues do.
Whether openly or whispered in hushed tones to journalists, this is the picture once painted by his fellow ministers, MPs, public servants and diplomatic associates.
It's a decent rap sheet - one that easily tops the usual bile directed at colleagues or opponents in the den of iniquity that is politics. But nothing that borders outlandish.
Then, one day, the dam broke. The outspoken and literally outgoing member for Bendigo Steve Gibbons took to Twitter and publicly declared his former leader a "psychopath". Among other less than genteel terms.
Gibbons is a man who is routinely and rightly pilloried for making crude, stupid and nasty remarks in the name of cheap publicity. But this time the term took off, which perhaps says more about Rudd than it does about Gibbons.
So is it true? Is the man running this country really a psychopath, given the aforementioned ferocious descriptions appear to tick plenty of the boxes that define such a diagnosis?
Firstly, one has to demystify the term. Such a designate is no longer deemed by experts to be the exclusive domain of murderers, serial killers and rapists. No, you could indeed be sitting next to one. Your boss could be one, or, perhaps more likely, your high-flying CEO in his spacious corner office suite.
In fact prominent Australian psychotherapist John Clarke claims that between one and three per cent of the Australian population could be certifiably deemed psychopathic, and he warns not just police to keep a look out but companies and political powerbrokers.
Anthropologist Stephen Juan suggests that one in 10 companies are headed by a corporate psychopath.
It seems psychopaths are everywhere, and they are more likely to wear a suit and tie, than carry a bloodied weapon or be pointing a sawn-off shotgun.
"One of the misconceptions about psychopathy itself is that people think a psychopath goes out and kills people. By definition, they are somebody that is recklessly indifferent to any physical, emotional harm they may cause," criminal mind expert Steve van Aperen said. "There are certainly many undiagnosed psychopaths in business and politics."
Juan says often people get confused between the terms psychopath and psychotic, which makes people less inclined to label someone as the former and thus grouping them with such fiends as Ivan Milat, Charles Manson or Martin Bryant. The distinction is reality, he says. Those suffering from psychosis have lost grip on reality. Those deemed psychopathic are very much aware of it, and are attempting to control it.
They are often easy to spot, Juan says, and follow a defined set of traits that set them apart from normality. "The corporate psychopath is the type of psychopath that gets into politics because they are usually exceedingly ego-oriented - it is all about them. So even when they get criticism, it is still all about them," he says. "They love the centre of attention. Good or bad they see themselves being the centre of the universe.
"They are the great users, the great manipulators, they often have aides and underlings do work for them, and expect blind loyalty but they don't give loyalty in return. They use everyone for gain.
"Everything is about them. If you talk to them in a conversation about your issues, they will immediately turn it around to their issues. It's as if no one exists other than them."
They are always exploiting issues for their own gain, says Dr Juan.
They climb the corporate ladder very effectively, they are often very charming and articulate, often very good looking which they use to their advantage.
It is the only thing they exist for. Themselves. They can't be trusted, they will lie to your face and deny they have when they are caught. They never own up to their own actions, they are always blaming others. They are polar opposites in public and private, with the former a place for their charm offensive to be exercised, and the latter a dark place of indifference and loathing.
It's the psychopath's modus operandi; a persona that they can't escape from, a disguise that soon becomes arduous to hide.
In a bid to unmask those with psychopathic tendencies and prevent crime, Canadian criminal psychologist and FBI adviser Robert D Hare created the Psychopathy Checklist in the early 1990s that remains the gold standed for reference.
Its defined set of traits include impulsiveness, superficial charm, grandiosity, callousness, manipulative, lack of remorse or guilt, propensity to blame others, poor behavioural control, egocentric.
Whether unfairly or resoundingly just, Kevin Rudd's name has oft been etched beside those traits, by members of his own camp or from across enemy lines.
His impulsiveness is well documented, from rushed decision making done without proper consultation with colleagues or stakeholders, to his "policies on the run" such as the changes to the Fringe Benefit Tax system that crack down on salary-sacrificed cars, to the detriment of the struggling car industry.
On these rash methods, he is internationally renowned. "He makes snap announcements without consulting other countries or within the Australian government," said a US Embassy official of Kevin Rudd in a leaked memo to the Whitehouse.
Superficial charm? The opposition have climbed aboard this freight train, frequently referring to the PM as fake. Even Fairfax editors denounce the man who is smiling, caring Kevin the Queenslander, but is vastly different behind closed doors, where no cameras lurk.
"Much has been written and said about Kevin Rudd when the camera is rolling and Kevin Rudd in private," editor of the Launceston Examiner, Martin Gilmour said. "Based on my experience on Thursday morning when the doors closed, he was about as engaged and charismatic as a silt rake."
Grandiosity? Egocentric? Enter stage left, former opposition leader and intimidating hand-shaker Mark Latham. "I mean this guy is a once-in-a-century egomaniac," said Mr Latham in his jilted-lover tome.
Poor behavioural control? The RAAF air hostess who copped a Rudd spray because his special meal wasn't available; the foul-mouth tirade delivered while filming a video message in Chinese; the exodus of 16 staff from his office in his first year as PM due to his "short fuse and unreasonable demands" and the current rumours that 80 per cent of his staff hate his guts.
In a News Corp Australia survey of 30,000 voters last month voters were given a list of words to describe Rudd. The results were stark: smug, manipulative and egotistical.
Claude Minisini spent 15 years within the FBI's behavioural science division. In his opinion, Kevin Rudd is your classic organisational psychopath. Ticks every box, allegedly.
"One of the traits of a psychopath is a lack of remorse. Has Kevin Rudd shown that? In relation to the pink batts saga, has he ever come out and said sorry to individuals for him making that bad decision? The answer is no," Ms Minisini said.
"Is he indifferent, or does he rationalise having hurt or mistreated someone else? I suppose he ticks that box too. I would certainly say that he is impulsive. Has he failed to adequately plan ahead? I suppose he ticks that box too. Is he irritable and aggressive? Yes, he probably ticks that one.
Research conducted by Western Sydney University professor Peter Jonason claims that while Machiavellianism is apolitical in its nature, there is a "left-leaning bias for those individuals high on psychopathy".
"Psychopathy may thrive in more liberal areas because of the lessened focus on law and order. And thus, it is within liberal areas that psychopathy may have a freer reign, therefore, freeing up men to benefit from such an approach to life," he said.
But there are other known traits of the psychopath that Rudd bypasses. Psychopaths are usually submerged in sexual promiscuity (not sure a visit to Scores counts) and have poor marital relations.
Despite the obvious shortcomings, several clinical psychologists and researchers believe possessing the traits of a psychopath could be advantageous for someone seeking political power.
A research paper lead by Emory University's Scott Lilienfeld explored such issues, pinpointing which US presidents were more likely to exhibit psychopathic traits.
"Some psychopathic traits, such as interpersonal dominance, persuasiveness and venturesomeness, may be conducive to acquiring positions of political power and to successful leadership," the paper claimed. It cited Winston Churchill and Lyndon Johnson as perfect case studies, claiming both possessed very real characteristics of a psychopath, but who "managed to parlay these traits into political success".
Sunday, August 4, 2013
(Obit. of 29 Nov 2003)
Charles Chenevix Trench, who died on Wednesday aged 89, became the author of a wide variety of popular historical works after serving as an Indian Army officer in the 1930s, winning an MC during the Second World War and then becoming a district commissioner in Kenya.
Employing a crisp, anecdotal style, he wrote 19 books, including three classic accounts of British India: The Indian Army and the King's Enemies, 1900-1947; The Frontier Scouts; and The Viceroy's Agent.
His interest in the 18th century led to Portrait of a Patriot, a biography of the demagogue John Wilkes who nevertheless established important constitutional freedoms, and The Royal Malady, a witty study of George III's madness which drew on the unpublished papers of the King's physician, Sir George Baker, and the diary of Dr John Willis. He also produced The Western Risings, a judicious account of the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion, and Grace's Card, Irish Catholic Landlords 1690-1800.
Charley Gordon was a reassessment which revealed a humorous element in the Victorian general who had been attacked by Lytton Strachey; and The Great Dan showed the strong imperial streak in the Irish nationalist leader Daniel O'Connell. There was also The Poacher and the Squire, a survey in which Chenevix Trench drew on personal experience, since he admitted that he had done "a bit of big game poaching" in India, although he had also been concerned with game preservation in Kenya. Two other amusing potboilers were A History of Horsemanship and A History of Marksmanship, which reflected his love of the outdoors.
The Desert's Dusty Face, describing his career in Kenya, was a collection of true stories which abounded with Wodehousian wit and jibes at American hunters. It was written to make readers feel as though they, too, were making a safari around a remote district.
A descendant of an Archbishop of Dublin and the son Sir Richard Chenevix Trench, a member of the Indian Political Service, Charles Pocklington Chenevix Trench was born on June 29 1914 at Simla, India. He was educated at Winchester, concluding after a year that he must be rather "wet" because he had not been beaten; he proceeded to take steps to remedy this deficiency.
"With some difficulty, and after several warnings about untidiness and so forth, I succeeded," he recalled in a letter to The Telegraph. "It was, of course, disagreeable, but left no permanent scars on my personality or my person . . . For my last three years I spent most of my spare time fishing, and tying trout flies for sale at the local tackle-shop. Although these pursuits contributed nothing to the honour of the house, I was neither persecuted nor mocked for them."
After reading PPE at Magdalen College, Oxford, Chenevix Trench was commissioned into Hodson's Horse, the Indian cavalry regiment, which was serving in Persia, Iraq and Syria on the outbreak of war. He then attached himself to the 12th Lancers for the closing weeks of the British First Army's advance into Tunisia in 1943.
The following year he was sent on a course at Benevenuto in Italy, from which he took "French leave" to visit a brother Hodson's Horseman, who was GSO 1 of 8th Indian Division. This led to his attachment to 1st/12th (Northwest) Frontier Force Regiment with which, as a fluent Pushtu speaker, he was put into the Pathan company. When the company commander was killed, Chenevix Trench took over, and a few weeks later led a successful night attack on the German position on the last ridge overlooking Assisi.
By then, however, his regiment had tracked him down, and demanded his instant return to Syria. Here he learned that he had been awarded an immediate MC for his conduct during the attack near Assisi; the citation recorded that Major Chenevix Trench had "set a magnificent example of coolness and disregard for his personal safety", and that "the success achieved by C Company was largely due to his inspiration and leadership".
In 1946 Chenevix Trench retired from the Army to follow his father into the Indian Political for the 18 months until Partition; he then became district commissioner in the Kenyan colonial government. He served in the Northern Frontier district, before moving to Nanyuki. In addition to learning Swahili, he was the only officer in the district who spoke Somali, essential to understanding the problems posed by infiltrators from over the border.
When he made his two-week safaris, Chenevix Trench insisted on being accompanied by the troop of tribal police, which was mounted either on Abyssinian ponies, or on horses which they had been allowed to catch on European ranches for £5 each; this enabled him to get a far closer feel for the people and their way of life than if he had travelled by vehicle. The only interruption came during the Mau Mau emergency, when his combination of Kenyan and military experience led him to be brought back to Nairobi as GSO 2 (Civil) to the Director of Operations.
During the run-up to independence, the colonial administration decided to hold a census of the population for the benefit of the incoming native government. But one British officer of the King's African Rifles, who was responsible for the count, was unsure about how to record five soldiers who had registered as "Jesus Christ", and four who claimed to be "Agatha Christie". Chenevix Trench, the returning officer, was writing an article about Jacobean table manners when he was asked for advice. Without looking up, he replied "Doesn't matter a bugger provided you don't call any of them Son of God!"
After independence in 1963, Chenevix Trench retired once again to embark on a new career. His cousin, Anthony Chenevix-Trench, who had just been appointed Headmaster of Eton, invited him to join the staff. However, he decided instead to go to Millfield, in Somerset, where he taught English, Swahili, Urdu, history, symbolic logic and polo for six years. He now retired for the last time, to Nenagh, Co Tipperary, to concentrate on his books, and on hunting, fishing and farming; one year he named two turkeys Hitler and Goebbels, so that he would not mind killing them for Christmas.
For 20 years he composed a lucid monthly article on current affairs for that pillar of Empire, Blackwood's Magazine, under the pseudonym "The Looker On"; he also reviewed books regularly for the Irish Times and the Irish Independent.
Charles Chenevix Trench married, first, Jane Gretton, with whom he had a son, who predeceased him, and two daughters. After their divorce he married Mary Kirkbride, with whom he had two daughters.
Explanation of the name:
Melesina Chenevix was a society beauty of Huguenot extraction. In 1803 she married Richard Trench, who was also well-connected. She was so highly regarded by her two sons Francis and Richard that, after her death, they changed their surnames to Chenevix-Trench. Richard went on to become Archbishop of Dublin in the Church of Ireland (Anglican). He was also a well-regarded poet and an intellectual of his day. He had 14 children and Charles Pocklington Chenevix Trench (above) was one of his grandsons (via Richard Chenevix Trench).