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26 January 2015


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Medicine Man

This was my gut feeling too, that Kyle is a convenient figure to lionize while moving away from any broader reflection on the war he fought in. The fact that the real life basis for the protagonist is deceased also makes him an ideal vessel into which the biases of the viewers can be poured.

Ishmael Zechariah

JM Gavin
Unfortunately neocon-conceived and directed games in the ME are very personal for me and mine. I am not absolving anyone, including myself, of the blame. We should have stopped these bastards.
Ishmael Zechariah



Please refresh my memory and tell me which politicians were voted out of office for voting for the Iraq war? Who is leading the polls for 2016?


Well, you got me. I have to admit, that I like Taibbi, the writer and observer. But obviously he has his own limits. I have mine too.

I leave out Samantha Power, if you don't mind. I have no opinion about her, and the little I know about her, I forget by now. But yes, the post 911 world forced me to revisit many things I had taken for granted. Although not necessarily the threatening genocide in Kosova, I seem to remember this would be the better way to spell it. ...

"A "sociopath" simply lacks "natural empathy" for other humans who are suffering. "

natural? natural empathy?

Who of us could truly claim that he always feels empathy when he sees someone suffer? How much empathy do we feel when watching the news?

Why can you make people laugh with e.g. having someone slip on a banana peel? ... Or lets choose a fictive story. You have a real villain. Maybe even one only slightly developed as such in the course of a film or novel. Now this character then ends really badly. Do you think there will be anyone in the audience or any reader that will not enjoy this character's fate? How do you explain the rather common feature if something bad happens to someone, a rather high degree of responses you will see is, that s/he somehow had it coming?

I could tell you a lot of experiences where I learned the hard way that you better don't expect empathy from the "normal empath". If there is such a thing at all. ...


ex-PFC Chuck,

I haven't read Martha Stout, maybe I should, but I read several books on the topic. After that I was bored, or reconsidered the limits of my time.

Numbers are always interesting. Incidentally the 4% are repeated all over the place. But it is often not used for criminals only, but for only 4% sociopath in society altogether.

random use of Google on a site:

The lady's book didn't quite convince me. But there sure is a market for books offering help in how to discover the sociopath next door.

I would very, very much like to take such a test. I saw some of the photos used in books I read. Apparently I am not only bad at registering my own emotions, except for maybe anger. I may also be very, very bad in reading tiny traces of emotions, except maybe insecurity, or other striking matters like sudden eye movements when someone speaks, among other things I forget now.

But all these images are stills, and in some one can hardly guess what one is supposed to immediately see. How then can a scan show real responses? Or will my whole/subconscious self see better then my aware/awake self? Maybe? Occasionally it far away from any linear thoughts, like a voice out of nowhere, warns me.


fabs, the brain and tests. Mirroring and imitation no doubt are very essential matters. The brain drew a lot of interest recently. Including deep disagreements between its top scholars.

I once read a lot in psychology, because I was fascinated under what hard conditions a friend prepared for her mid exam tests and somewhat wanted to help her.

One of the things we joked a lot about were test designs. Some seemed so obviously heading towards certain results. I cannot say if the standard tests in this context are badly done. They were revised at least one time, if I recall correctly. I doubt I would get high degrees of psychopathy/sociopathy, but I am sure I would have troubles with a lot of answers. I always have it in these type of tests. I usually cannot honestly answer without context.

Now concerning being born with certain brain defects. There is no way to go back in time on any specific individual whose brain shows this feature. Thus there cannot be a definitive answer if the respective person was born with this defect or if certain events in her/his life and the resulting behavior modified the brain in turn.

In other words we are back to the discussion about nature versus nurture.

Or is there research in this context?

There no doubt are problematic school kids who are treated early, if they act aggressively in school. By now the psychological wisdom has resulted in really early medical treatment. Huge amounts of drugs every single day. Which looks peculiar to me. There is a documentary on the issue. Apparently, whoever made that, I forget, was a bit startled too.

Now there is a good group for such a longterm brain research.



I think the boundary between a "sociopath" and a "normal" person is much thinner and blurry, for exactly the reasons you mention (and that's one reason I keep putting quotations marks around "natural empathy.") We often encounter situations where people are behaving unexpectedly callously and are shocked...except when we find ourselves thinking exactly the same in different situations. For this reason, "sociopathy" should not be a term of epithet the way it is commonly thrown about--we all get to be somewhat sociopathic at least some of the time. Those who have more difficult tasks under enormous pressure, more so than the rest of us. This is something that we don't want to understand, all too often.


" (Okay, the tiny brain was a bit of a bash.)"

Ill choice, since it is a cheap stereotype. I agree. I thought that too while reading it.

But if I am not completely misguided someone/he realized by now. Or am I mistaken?


I remember it as a simple sentence paragraph. It seems it has gone.

Medicine Man

Only a small consolation but it is quite possible that Hillary's position on the Iraq war cost her the Dem Primary in 2008. For all of his flaws, that is one bandwagon Obama didn't climb aboard.


Great comment, origin.

Nancy K

The Republicans lost in 2008, remember President Obama won and the both houses of Congress were Democratic. Granted in 2014 Republicans won but there is still a Democratic president and there is still 2016 coming up and do you really think the majority of Americans are going to vote for a Cruz, Carson, Santorum and such.

FB Ali

What I was saying in my initial comment was that the American public by and large becomes complicit in these wars conducted by the US, not by actively supporting them, but by generally ignoring them, especially the killings and destruction they inflict on other peoples.

The reaction to this movie provides one instance of how the real issue is ignored or pushed aside. There are many other ways by which this is achieved, as mentioned in some of the other comments.

The complicity is moral, not legal. Nevertheless, it has important practical consequences. One of them is that it justifies, in their minds, the actions of those who deliberately target American civilians as a method of payback. Another is the huge amount of antipathy built up in much of the rest of the world against the USA.

This situation makes even more laudable the actions of those Americans who openly question and challenge these military ventures, and the whole premise of the US having the inherent right to use military force wherever it chooses.


"The 'sociopaths' here are all deeply grateful for your kind words..."

Few people put their feet on their mouth as constantly and as graciously as LeaNder does. She seems to operate under the most venerable murphian laws of bad timing and sensibility, unexpectedly producing absurd declarations, like those about the mental ineptitude of low ranking soldiers, in the worst possible moments.

Ultrageously brilliant, though she can become mad whe she sniffs the "mythical realm of Aryan rebirth" around her, whatever that means.

At the time of the Quantum Computing thread I wrote (but not posted, as I often do) that:

"QC is like a long travel through Hilbert spaces inside a tight group-theoretic Gemini spacecraft having LeaNder speaking in german on her most logorrheic unitary transformation self as command pilot."

The lady is unique. I lost the counting on how many times she was dragged screaming and kicking away to the dungeons of Utumno by Col. Lang. But then most of the times I was a dungeons resident myself.

PS: I will not see the movie, but I expect Kao Hsien Chih's take to be nearer the mark. Besides, for what I can perceive, people are becoming more and more focused on the individual, personal experience being described in the movies rather than in the context it provides. Maybe even a film about a torturer's tortuos path could be made that people would watch with interest and nods of approval.

Maybe even a film about LeaNder...


you got it. That's exactly my point.

I responded pretty similar when narcissism was the absolute fashion. It was even present in my field, suddenly all the hobby psychologist among my co-students wanted to find narcissists everywhere in literature.

Borderline would be less easy to grasp. That's why it has never had much attention.

JM Gavin

I have not seen the movie. My current geographic location precludes going to theaters, and my presence here is a result of BHO's continuation of GWB's military adventures. I doubt I will ever see it. I read Chris Kyle's book upon which the movie is based. I did not draw any deep conclusions from the book.

It's a movie. Entertainment. Why does everyone feel the need to draw such deep conclusions from it? There is no deep meaning to draw here. To summarize: Bush dumb and evil, American people monolithic mass of easily manipulated morons. "People who get a kick out of that movie beneath contempt?" Seriously? "The post 9-11 generation simply has no moral understanding of the impact the U.S. is having on the world?"

I will write it again, more clearly this time. Who is to blame for military misadventures? LOOK IN THE MIRROR.


For anyone wanting an beginning understanding of sociopathy, here is a link, to get started.
Empathy is the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
Which sounds nice, but if you have ever worked with these types of people it is almost meaningless. Unless of course you are a psychic or some kind of mind reader. Then it still doesn't matter, because your dealing with their behaviors not their aberrant feelings and thoughts.
Has anyone posting actually talked to an individual that enjoyed the movie. If the answer is no,then a lot of the writing here is puerile trash served up to an ignorant and narcissistic audience who lap it up. The fact that the real life basis for the protagonist is deceased seems to make him the the ideal vessel for these writers to project their biases and flights of fancy.
Seems Clint has made a movie everyone can hang something on.

Patrick Bahzad

Agree with you on principle: let's not blame the guy who was at the top during 9/11.
he certainly didn't know any better as he had limited capacities to comprehend what was at stake, and he let people with a very different outlook and agenda take things into their own hands.
The list of what went wrong ever since 9/11 is long, but when you're at the top you got the take the blame for it too. That's what it means to be a leader. GWB wasn't a good leader, he wasn't a bad leader either ... he just wasn't a leader, period.
Different equation for his successor.

Patrick Bahzad

not getting your point regarding the last sentence in particular ... I occasionally have a look in the mirror and I can live with every foreign military intervention I've been part of (invasion of Iraq wasn't one of them though)



Thanks for the superb observation. The lack of historical memory - especially among our rising leaders - is truly terrifying.



Seems Clint has made a movie everyone can hang something on.

you haven't noticed that most books and movies are like that?

"Has anyone posting actually talked to an individual that enjoyed the movie. If the answer is no,then a lot of the writing here is puerile trash served up to an ignorant and narcissistic audience who lap it up."

good invective should be concise -- and CLEAR!



A couple of minor points on sociopaths, and it would be good if an expert who knows more than me would weigh in. I'm not a psychologist, but I have personal experience with this kind of disorder.

A lack of empathy is present in many kinds of personality disorders, not merely antisocial personality disorder (usually the US clinical definition of what we mean by a sociopath). By itself, lack of empathy does not make you a sociopath. What more, to qualify for a personality disorder, the lack has to be a permanent, universal feature of the person. It must directed towards any and all people, not merely enemies.

We all lack empathy in certain situations. A doctor who discusses basketball scores while doing surgery on an accident victim is not a sociopath. A journalist who calmly takes notes on the shirt color of a murder victim is not a sociopath.

I have a relative who has a personality disorder that includes a lack of empathy. It's hard to describe how difficult it is to deal with someone who really has that problem. In my opinion, no one on SST remotely qualifies as a sociopath. You wouldn't care about these things if you were.


with respect...

The mirror tells me The Pyrates have command of the ship of state; it is silent on the subject of AT THIS POINT WHAT THE FUCK CAN WE DO?


Gavin's MIRROR statement referred to blame, not action. Apologies.


A very small segment of the US population fights in wars and that leaves the rest susceptible to myths about wars and Hollywood thrives on creating myths.

I think we should bring back the draft and then, if there is to be a war, most of the nation will become a stakeholder. I suspect that would change the politics of going to war. It certainly did during the Viet Nam era.

Snipers have been engaged in warfare for a very long time and I am not qualified to assess their mental conditions. I am reasonably sure that any military sniper would not last long as a free lancer.


Funny thing about sociopathy vs. psychopathy.

Earlier, I was repeating what I learned from my own UG days (now close to two decades ago) from a prof who was quite adamant about misuse of the term "sociopath" in common usage. I was not sure if I was remembering things correctly (or if the nuances between various terms became more clearly defined since) so I started looking up the clinical definitions of the terms...and lo and behold, it seems that "sociopath" is no longer a clinically-accepted term, presumably due to lack of a clear, well-defined definition. Seems to be information worth sharing.

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