Friday, December 22, 2006

Diagnosing your enemy

One of the recommended diaries today at the Daily Kos is from a psychiatrist who claims that George Bush has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is not a new tactic. I very quickly found google able to confirm my memory that this same charge was directed at Al Gore and Bill Clinton. It’s even been directed at liberalism itself. It probably could be directed at most Presidents. It’s not the first time it’s been leveled at George Bush, not even the first time in the last four years.

The thing is that no psychiatrist would use “fantasy” and “lack of empathy” as loosely with a client as it takes to give any leader a diagnosis of a personality disorder. The President of the United States isn’t engaged in fantasy if he sees himself as President. I don’t know any of the above men personally, but I suspect they all have empathy well within the limits of normal among their own family and friends. To say someone doesn’t have empathy because he’s doing things you don’t think are caring enough is loaded with bias. The kind of people who are solidly within the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder do not win political campaigns.

There are two ways to diagnose one’s enemy. One is to think of arguments that “prove” your enemy is evil, insane, and dangerous, the worse the better. Of course your enemy is doing that about you, too, unless he can just ignore you, so I’m not sure what that accomplishes. It’s not like the public is going to decide anything on the basis of your argument. They know you’re as wacko as anyone else.

The other way is to realize that your greatest enemy is in the mirror and go from there. I haven’t found many people willing to acknowledge that. People feel in less danger from themselves than from those terrible people they can’t help but attack. That may be a miscalculation. You have to consider the distance involved. Other people have to cover that distance to get to you. You have to be someone they would target. I’m sure there are a number of steps.

I don’t have to go through any steps at all to hurt my life. I’m right here in me, ready to throw myself under the bus. So what if I waste my time fantasizing about the evils of other people? What do I care about them? They hurt people. They deserve to be hurt, too.

Wait a minute, fantasy, lack of empathy, something here seems familiar. Fortunately once you realize your greatest enemy is in the mirror, you can do something about what you see.

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