Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Something you may not have known about Sarah Palin

(Warning: bad words ahead!)

I tend to say "Sarah Palin is a narcissistic bitch." (Actually, "bitch" is not the noun first to my lips, but it'll do.) I'm not damning her in any wise because she's a woman; hell, I'll call her a narcissistic sonofabitch, a narcissistic idiot, or even a narcissistic prick, if you like. The noun isn't really the hot issue; it's the narcissism and the complete failure of her "human" test that's the key point here. But in fact, this is all shorthand that sounds like casual name calling for something that is actually much more serious. Yeah, she truly is a narcissistic [use the imprecatory noun of your choice], but there's more to it than that.

Sarah Palin has a borderline personality disorder. I've seen it before in maybe half a dozen people. Statistics say that this is predominantly in women, though about a quarter of all cases are in men. In her case (and in the others I've personally encountered), it's related to money. It frequently comes from some combination of growing up in grinding poverty, with daddy issues, substantial emotional and/or physical abuse, incredibly low self-esteem, and lots of ridicule in and out of the family.

The manifestation is most visible as being "poor" rather than "broke." What do I mean here? "Broke" means having no money. "Poor" means believing you'll never have money. We've all been broke at one time or another in our lives. Being broke is, generally, transitory, but there's frequently light at the end of the tunnel. We may be waiting out a crappy economy, having to wait until we complete a degree, or even finishing an existing job, but there's hope. We know that the money tree may be poorly leaved, even bare right now, but there's the possibility of it blooming again.

Being "poor," on the other hand, is an eternal condition. People who are poor are poor right to the bone. They believe they'll always be poor. There's nothing for it. No matter how much money they get in, they won't be able to do anything long-term to better themselves or their living situation because they don't feel they're in control of their money or their personal fortune.

Some of this is a learned response to growing up in grinding poverty, but it's a self-destructive pattern that doesn't fit well. I've known several people who are worth millions, making more interest on safe investments than they could ever need, enough to retire on happily and clip coupons and be a benefactor to personal causes... and they're still worried that this could all vanish in a moment and nevermore be seen. Well, sure, things can happen as we've seen thanks to the clowns on Wall Street, but the kind of money we're talking about is enough to buy gold, real estate, Swiss bank accounts, and Picassos, and these folks still feel like it's all at risk. This isn't healthy.

Okay, but how does being poor rather than broke work out in the symptoms for this type of borderline personality disorder? If you're poor, you believe that everything could be taken away from you in an instant, trickle through your fingers, and you've got no real control. This seems to go more to the idea of unspent money in investments or savings, because it's just "numbers." So one of the things you see with this disorder is compulsive spending. "I may lose my money tomorrow, but at least I'll have these clothes, this car, this flat-screen TV." There's little point in longterm investments if you can't depend on there being a long term. This "gimme, gimme, gimme!" mentality translates to other things as well. It's a very childish and self-centered response. (Also part of the pathology.)

This disorder has a number of common contributing factors: dominating but emotionally distant fathers and an attempt to gain their approval, likely sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse, and growing up incredibly poor and being teased about it. It's a fairly common mental disease, unfortunately. From what I've read, it's not very treatable and the people who suffer from this are particularly resistant to treatment. Start thinking about behaviors you associate with "trailer trash." You'll recognize a lot of these as "thinking poor."

How this translates is that if you're in a position where everything you have could be taken away from you, then you're always in danger of losing it. As a result, you can't entertain doubts. Being wrong could mean that One Fatal Misstep that costs you everything. It's all black and white thinking: "if you're not for me, you're against me." It leads towards religious fundamentalism and other weird, rules-based pathologies. (Drinking alcoholics and white-knuckle drunks have this problem, too, which is why our former president was such damaged goods.)

But because there's no room for doubt, nobody around you can entertain doubts in you, either, because they're then not to be trusted. As soon as someone shows the slightest uncertainty, it's as if they were completely disloyal: it's a betrayal and they are now an enemy. There is no forgiveness for this kind of thing, either: if they doubted you once, everything about them from now on is suspect. And remember: if someone's doubting you, it means that they're threatening your income stream and your very existence... which in turn means that they're threatening your life. It becomes a survival issue... and there are no rules in a survival fight. That's why SP sounds so shrill when she's responding to critics and that's why anyone who doubts will be cast out.

And that's why there are only true believers around SP, little slavish idiots with their forebrains on "simmer" who have no critical thinking and are taken in by the glamour she's casting. Fuck 'em all for being stupid and failing their "human" test. Many of them suffer from the same mental disorder, but not all of them, certainly: I've seen lots of people who think she's great who are unthinkingly Republican because they're not very bright to begin with, but who aren't actually mentally diseased: just ignorant peasants.

Hand-in-glove with this pathology is that SP has been attending a Dominionist church. It's all rules-based stuff with this pathology, and the harder and clearer the rules, the better for people like this. You remember how Faux News made a big fuss about Obama's church and the Rev. Wright? It seemed like a tempest in a teapot. I never quite got the nature of the complaints people were making: he thought that black people (well, anyone who was non-white, really) were still being oppressed by an essentially racist society and that everyone needed to band together and address this, something like that? Well, I think there's a strong case to be made for that: this is still an essentially racist society, though not nearly as bad as it used to be 50 years ago, thank goodness, and we could all do a helluva lot better. As far as I could tell, that was most of the complaint.

I didn't see a real issue with the Rev. Wright at the time, particularly not when you're looking at a candidate for Vice President whose church has the tenet of believing in Christian theocracy. Dominionism is part of Christian Reconstructionism, a movement founded in the 70s by R. J. Rushdoony. He felt that we need a government based on the laws of God, which would require all citizens to observe the strict Reconstructionist form of Christianity, and which would punish moral sins ranging from blasphemy to homosexuality with death.

I know people who don't think this connection is anything significant. My feeling is they're not paying attention, they're ill-informed, or they may just be in denial: some people don't like to think that folks can be that malign and toxic. (We call them "the slow gazelles in the herd.") Evangelical Christians who think that they need to be running the country as an evangelically-conservative Christian country make me want to reach for my wallet and my weapons, and not necessarily in that order. They've got the look of Jesus in their eyes and they will kill you in order to save you and/or to stop your sins from corrupting the rest of Amurr'ka. We've already seen what they think of witches. (For those interested in more about the dangers of this set of beliefs or who just doesn't believe that Sarah Palin could be that fucked up, you can read this, too.)

There's a difference between knowing you can slide down the ladder and not wanting to be broke, versus being poor. It's a bit subtle, but there's a clawing, low-class greed to the latter. I believe that there will be more money and that the money tree is never completely bare, though it may take some real doing to harvest something. I believe this. Chances are that you have a similar belief, too. SP does not. Any money that comes in might truly be the very last that she sees.

SP is not a Horatio Alger story. According to a Faux News producer I know, she's loathed by all the old GOP hands up in AK who say that she's never once failed to bite a hand that fed her. From just what we can see publicly, her narcissism knows no bounds. From what we can also infer--like when she brokered a deal to keep her daughter out of jail a couple Xmases ago--that's only the tip of the iceberg. She's a ghastly excuse for a human being and you'd never want to be associated with her.

I am completely mystified why anyone would admire this bitch. Her character flaws are visible from blocks away. Anyone who is capable of admiring intelligence, articulateness, and political acumen should run screaming, as these are all qualities that SP lacks in abundance by any possible measurement. I can't see admiring someone who I don't care for morals or values of.

For example, I am really impressed by effective public speakers. Well, Hitler was an amazing public speaker. Really. He used to practice speeches continually and had dozens that he could just whip out at the drop of a hat. He had exceptional timing and a good voice. Even if you don't speak German, you can watch footage of him and see how his pacing is flawless. And if you do speak German--and I do, some--you can hear the rhythm of his language, too. Hitler practiced EVERY day in stray moments. You can appreciate this quality in him, but ignoring the rest of his, uh, personal shortcomings is asking an awful lot of anyone but Pat Buchanan--who has expressed a great admiration for Hitler on many public occasions. So looking at someone who might have risen from trailer trash beginnings to a brief elected office that she quit, but is herself a complete moral, social, and intellectual vacuum is, similarly, asking way too much of anyone paying attention. There are people who've accomplished an awful lot by being honest and grateful and not by being greedy, narcissistic pigs that I can list who are far more worthy of admiration.

SP is poor to the bone. I mean, she really thinks of herself as "poor" and she doesn't believe that she's going to ever be able to hang on to money. The pathology fits perfectly. With this kind of borderline personality disorder, she could have millions--hell, she does have millions!--but there's a belief that she can't hang on to this. There's a clawing need to her that can't ever be stopped. She's clawed her way to where she is now, and I suppose that that does count for something, after all: becoming Governor is no mean feat for anybody, let alone an ignorant, fairly stupid woman who came from nothing and went to four colleges. But that's her one major accomplishment against a backdrop of being completely awful.

You can describe Sarah Palin as a woman who is suffering from a rather specific and largely untreatable borderline personality disorder that leads her to public displays of ignorance and narcissistic desperation. Or you can just cut to the chase and call her a stupid cunt who's a boil on the backside of American politics. Either works.


Delta said...

I've seen the hallmarks of BPD in Mrs. Palin since the early campaign. Comments from people who lived in Alaska coupled with her willingness to throw her pregnant daughter under the bus to preserve her own good name rang loud and familiar and the woman's given me the creeps ever since.

If she ever did land the Oval Office this country would be on the fast track for Crazy Town, slowed only by the deliberate structuring of the Executive branch to be the least powerful.

Anonymous said...

Sir: While I am not a huge fan of Sarah Palin, I have worked for many years with people who have borderline personality disorder and have served on the boards of organizations that treat the disorder. Your characterization of the disorder, Sonny, is laughably off the mark--to the point of bloggeristic incompetence, malpractice and malfeasance. There's something called DSM-IV, Junior. I would suggest, Blowhard, that you read it, but the literary incompetence of your writing suggests to me that it is far beyond your meager birdbrain. (Apologies to our avian friends everywhere...) So in defense of Ms. Palin, and in solidarity with people who suffer from BPD--and humanity in general--go fuck yourself, you old, stupid creep.

John Hedtke said...

I just so admire the people who have the confidence of their convictions and post screeds anonymously. I think you're proving my point. If you've got the balls, stand up and be counted.

John Hedtke said...

FWIW, Anonymous, our resident therapeutic psych major disagrees with my diagnosis; she thinks that SP suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder and not a borderline personality disorder as I've posited. I could possibly agree, although I think there's too many other things going on, but WTF? SP's a sick, selfish bitch no matter how you slice it.

If you seriously are disagreeing about the nature of the disorder, I'm glad to have you tell me where I'm wrong--we can pull out the DSM-IV here (yeah, we've got two DSMs here, actually) and you can pull out yours and we can discuss this--but if you're just pissed off because I've gored your favorite ox, then I guess life sucks.

Anonymous said...

Ah, my dear, dear boy! So typical of the intellectually vacant! You are arguing that the validity of the argument is based on the source, in this case an anonymous one. (Had you attended a decent college--if you attended one at all--you would have learned in Philosophy 101 that such logic is, to quote, oh, I don't know, Artistotle I think [you should be taking notes on this now so you can learn something], way beyond wrong, but outright assheaded.) But, Bozo, I do know where you're coming from: since I choose to remain anonymous I'm not giving you the opportunity to engage in an ad hominem attack on me. You don't like anonymous responses? Fine, then turn the option off. Then, yeah, I'll post under my real name. Absolutely! (By the way, Buddy, I will admit that you do have balls: you post lunatic, inaccurate ramblings insulting people with a tragic disability for all the world to see and you don't seem to mind at all that you're simply proving yourself to have a lower intelligence than a retarded geranium. Now THAT takes balls!) One suggestion to improve your blog: Delete the part about how you're going to publish your 8 millionth word this year. That's pretty lame for a self-proclaimed author. The publishers of the phonebook do the same every year--and the phonebook is far more accurate and interesting read than anything you've produced.

John Hedtke said...

All you've done so far is to try to insult me and tried to condescend rather ineffectually, and then you're saying that you don't care to reveal your identity to me because I'll engage in an ad hominem attack on you. Ooooo-kaaaaaaaay. All right, I'll bite: the anonymous posting option is off. The only person who's actually sounding angry is you; I'm rather amused by all of this. (I'm sorry, but "Dear boy?" "Bozo?" "Retarded geranium?" I'd expect better from a college graduate.)

If you want to climb off that high horse and explain what your problem is, please do. It sounds like you're complaining about a characterization I've made about BPD, but please clarify that it's not because I'm saying nasty things about Sarah Palin.

Do I think that Sarah Palin is tragic? Yup, in fact, I do. Do I have sympathy for people who suffer from mental disorders? Generally, yes, except when they're busy hosing up American politics by appealing specifically to the ignorant and the fundamentalists, which I find reprehensible in any politician.

Karen Mulholland said...

Dear Anonymous,

Why are you afraid to use your name? If you've no identity, you have no credibility either. Haven't you got the courage of your convictions?

For pity's sake, grow some balls.

Delta said...

This person is kind of hilarious. The venom and pretense at formality with "Sir" and high-handed grammar coupled with hyperbolic attacks and capitalized but patronizing names makes me wonder what it is they really mind.
They don't seem overly concerned with your commentary on Mrs. Palin, but the "misrepresentation" of BPD. If this person has worked with people who have borderline, one would imagine they would be more familiar with boundaries, rational conversations and a dignified manner in which to conduct crucial conversations. The fact that you've never claimed to be a medical expert, the unlikelihood that your blog post is going to cause irreparable damage to a sufferer of Borderline Personality Disorder who is seeking help (HA!) and the vehemence with which they continue to come back, unable to simply dismiss and drop the idea like an adult would lend an observer to notice they almost protest too much.

Why is it this post caused such an emotional response?
Why is it the anonymous author feels the need to comment in such a hilariously infantile fashion?
Why hide behind the mask of stylistic etiquette when missing the central core of good manners?

Half of me wants to follow the "don't feed the trolls" rule, and the other half wants to poke it with a stick and see what happens.

John Hedtke said...

Delta: they sure don't know jack shit about how to insult people online. These fuckin' amateurs just give the Internet a bad name, you know.... ~sigh~

Delta said...

I also wonder if this person's solidarity extends to the people whose lives have been terrorized by someone with BPD. I realize it's a disorder and all people deserve respect and love blah blah blah.

However, as the child of someone with the disorder, I feel no guilt whatsoever with leaving that population to someone else. When someone I meet starts to show hallmark signs that set off alarms of familiarity, I'm not thinking compassion, I'm thinking "shut it down." My relationship with them, of course, they're welcome to exist somewhere else. My reasonable, rational grown-up brain and spirit can leave them to people who want to help, but the part of me who has worked for over a *decade* on undoing the damag....rather, realigning my mindset and psychological systems to what I want them to be and finds layer after layer just how fundamentally this crazy person shaped my life wants to tell this person to *fuck* their solidarity with abusive, histrionic, inconsistent, sociopathic-acting crazy buckets and get off my goddamn lawn.

Honestly, if I had to hazard a guess I'd say the nerve you touched wasn't one of solidarity but of familiarity, like one is familiar with their reflection in a bathroom mirror. You may have used different language to describe BPD but the spirit is sound.

John Hedtke said...

Delta, I do believe you may be right. I certainly agree with you about the emotional damage caused by someone with BPD on the unsuspecting and undeserving. Just because someone may suffer from BPD and is to be pitied for it, it sure doesn't mean that they're not dangerous to the people around them, particularly if they're undiagnosed and untreated. Similarly, I've known people who were schizophrenics. Most were okay and semifunctional even when not treated, but a few were not and cost me seriously in time & money before I figured out that they weren't to be trusted or depended on for anything. The BPD sufferers I knew tended to lay waste to the business community I knew them in.

There's nobody I currently know, work, associate, chat, or email with who suffers from BPD, so whoever Anonymous is, unless they identify themselves, it's going to be a mystery. Me, I figure it was someone from FB who's a friend of a friend and saw this. Them's the breaks, but they have been amusing.

John Hedtke said...

I've just had someone suggest that, based on their reading of the symptoms of the DSM-IV, that SP suffers from Histrionic Personality Disorder. Now, this I could believe, but the "poor rather than broke" bit doesn't seem to fit in that, and it's a key component of both SP's behavior as well as several other people I've known with very similar personalities.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been diagnosed with BPD and has gone through the Dialectal Behavioral Treatment program, I do understand what you are saying in regards to Sarah Palin, but I must respectfully disagree with her being a full on BPD'er. Narcissist Personality, HELL yeah. SOME signs of BPD, as MANY without the disorder may show.

Yes, she does show some signs, but I've seen many of those signs or others of people who don't have actual BPD. Just as many of us have seen people with some signs of this or that disorder, but they don't' actually have it.

What Anon had to say, well. Just laugh him off. He's not worth it.

I did learn some things I was unaware of though by reading your blog, so thank you. I know I'll be back to read more.

Romantic Heretic said...

Very good post, John.

Myself, I don't sweat about the diagnosis. I simply settle for evil.

In some ways I'm glad her damaged ego led her on the path she's taken. Sarah, one heartbeat away from the Oval Office, was a frightening thought.

As far as Anonymous goes, for someone who is not a fan of Ms. Palin, he defends her with a surprising amount of venom, wouldn't you say?