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Is Rod Blagojevich A Psychopath? Not Quite!

Psychopaths have been in the news a lot lately - namely the prevalence of them on Wall Street and in the corridors of power.

Our favorite (suspected) psychopath is Rod Blagojevich, and with him off to prison this morning we are announcing the results of testing done by Beachwood Labs using the Psychopath Checklist developed by Dr. Robert Hare of the University of British Columbia, one of the world's most foremost experts on psychopaths. Let's take a look.

For each characteristic that is listed, the subject is given a score: 0 for "no," 1 for "somewhat," and 2 for "definitely does apply."

1. GLIB and SUPERFICIAL CHARM: The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.

"Rod Blagojevich's long-winded testimony in his corruption retrial drew harsh criticism from a federal judge Wednesday, who took the unusual step of ordering the defense to end their examination of the former Illinois governor without delay," Reuters reported.

"'I think it would be better for the administration of justice if you got your client to stick to the point of the question,' U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel told Blagojevich's lawyer, Aaron Goldstein, outside the presence of the jury. 'There are some things now that have been repeated for the 15th and 16th time. If the jury doesn't get what his position is by now, we may as well give up all hope.'"

Points: 2

2. GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH: A grossly inflated view of one's abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.

"He has compared himself to Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr," the Sun-Times reported. "He has drawn parallels between himself and Winston Churchill as well as Abraham Lincoln.

"But during his fifth day on the witness stand, even Rod Blagojevich managed to startle observers with a new one:

"If he had appointed himself to the U.S. Senate seat in 2008, he would have traveled to Afghanistan to try to hunt down one Osama bin Laden."

Points: 2

3. NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM: An excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Psychopaths often have a low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.

"One former colleague in the Illinois House called him shortly before he left [for Yugoslavia with the Rev. Jesse Jackson] to wish him good luck. He told her he was 'really happy. It was getting boring here in Washington, just like Springfield,'" Chicago magazine reported.

Points: 2

4. PATHOLOGICAL LYING: Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.

"By 2004, his second year in office, Blagojevich had inadvertently introduced yet another new phrase into the lexicon of Illinois politics: 'Memoranda of Understanding,' or 'MOA,'" Illinois Issues reported.

"These were documents that the legislature forced Blagojevich to sign in exchange for ending the budget stalemate that year - essentially written promises to carry out what he'd agreed to do during the budget negotiations. They were the kinds of agreements that used to happen with a handshake, but lawmakers in both parties had concluded by that point that Blagojevich had systematically lied to them during the previous years' negotiations. He had to sign 54 MOAs that year."

Points: 2

5. CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS: The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one's victims.

"Former Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich was sentenced today to 14 years in federal prison following his conviction at trials in 2010 and 2011 on 18 felony counts of corruption during his tenure as governor, including his effort in 2008 to illegally trade the appointment of a U.S. senator in exchange for $1.5 million in campaign contributions or other personal benefits," the Sun-Times reported.

"Blagojevich was also sentenced for shaking down the chief executive of a children's hospital for $25,000 in campaign contributions in exchange for implementing an increase to pediatric reimbursement rates; holding up the signing of a bill to benefit the Illinois horse racing industry in an attempt to illegally obtain $100,000 in campaign contributions; and lying to the FBI in 2005."

Points: 2

6. LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT: A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one's victims.

"In the end, Rod Blagojevich's final public statement as a free man wasn't about his self-proclaimed compassion for the citizenry, or his pride in his six years as governor, or even his continuing claim that he never broke the law. It was about his resilience," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

"'This is not over,' Blagojevich told hundreds of supporters outside his Chicago home early Wednesday evening as he prepared to travel to Colorado to begin a 14-year federal prison sentence today. 'The truth will ultimately prevail.'"

Points: 2

7. SHALLOW AFFECT: Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.

"Rod Blagojevich hid in the bathroom, ducked into a back room and left the office early to avoid discussing complex issues with his budget director, his former deputy said Thursday at the ousted governor's corruption trial," AP reported.

Points: 2

8. CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY: A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.

"If they don't perform, fuck 'em."

Points: 2

9. PARASITIC LIFESTYLE: An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.

"Blagojevich wanted Rahm Emanuel to understand 'right away' that Blagojevich is interested in having $15 to $20 million dollars raised to set up a non-profit," Fox Chicago News reported.

"The prosecution played another recorded phone call between Blagojevich and Scofield from 12:35 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2008. In the call, Blagojevich asks Scofield to call John Wyma to tell him that Blagojevich wants to set up a 501 (c)(4) issue advocacy organization, and ask if the Obama administration can talk to George Soros and Warren Buffett about how they can help fund it."

Points: 2

10. POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS: Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.

"But when he heard the Obama team offered only 'appreciation,' Blagojevich went into a rage using a string of expletives," ABC News reported.

"'Give this motherfucker his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.'

"On Obama, he veers from rage to jealousy.

"'I mean, you got this historic, fucking demigod. He's a demigod. At least for now. You follow me?' Blagojevich said during one phone call."

Points: 2

11. PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOR: A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests.

"I don't plan to get into any criticism of Blagojevich," Michael Madigan said in 2002. "I could do that. I could talk about his indiscretions. But I'm not going to do that because I believe in solidarity within the political party."

We never did hear what those indiscretions were, though, and Blago has never been linked to sexual misbehavior.

Points: 0

12. EARLY BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS: A variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.

Rod was a vain, mediocre student whose athletic skills paled in comparison to his brother's, but there is no evidence of early behavior problems.

Points: 0

13. LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS: An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.

"A son of the Northwest Side with an unimpressive academic record and an undistinguished career as a small-time lawyer, Blagojevich has modest credentials, and his talents as a leader are unclear," Chicago magazine reported. "The idea that Rod Blagojevich could seriously imagine himself running for President makes plenty of people in Illinois roll their eyes."

He did, however, marry the daughter of a powerful alderman who made him a state legislator, U.S. congressman and governor.

Points: 1

14. IMPULSIVITY: The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.

"One of the goofiest episodes of the Rod Blagojevich era was the one where a $1 million state grant meant for a fire-damaged church ended up in the hands of a private school - sort of a two-fer that sent public money to a private school by mistake after first trying to send state money to a church, violating that silly church-and-state separation principle," I wrote for NBC Chicago.

"It was also classic Blagojevich, who apparently made the financial pledge without forethought while giving a speech."

Blagojevich was famous for governing via press release, but that was at least usually planned PR.

Points: 1

15. IRRESPONSIBILITY: Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.

Besides the MOAs and rarely going into the office, we learned during Blago's trial that he and Patti had accumulated $90,000 in credit card debt and owed $220,000 on a home-equity loan.

Points: 2

16. FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS: A failure to accept responsibility for one's actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.

"Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich embraced the public spotlight one last time Wednesday, claiming on the day before he reports to prison that he always believed what he did was legal and expressing faith that an appeal of his corruption convictions will succeed," AP reported.

Points: 2

17. MANY SHORT-TERM MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS: A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.

Patti is his first and only wife.

Points: 0

18. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: Behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.

Rumors always abounded that Blago ran numbers as a kid, but nothing definitive has ever been reported.

Points: 0

19. REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE: A revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.

"Federal prosecutors have asked that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, convicted last month of public corruption, appear before a judge this week about his lawyers' failure to provide paperwork to secure his bond, according to court documents," the Tribune reported.

But nothing came of it.

Points: 0

20. CRIMINAL VERSATILITY: A diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes.

Truthfully, Blago's crimes were all pretty much the same.

Points: 0


KEY: 30 or more points indicates psychopathy.


CONCLUSION: Not quite! But further testing is recommended.


Comments welcome.


Posted on March 15, 2012

MUSIC - Pandemophenia.
TV - NBC's Bicentennial Special.
POLITICS - We Tortured Some Folks.
SPORTS - Gold Stars For The Red Stars.

BOOKS - The Slave Who Escaped George And Martha Washington.


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