In a New York Times story, writer Monica Davey describes the governor of Illinois this way:
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich is a polished speaker who can win over elderly women at luncheons in southern Illinois with his earnest attention and eloquently recite historical anecdotes from the lives of the leaders he says he most admires…
Then, a few paragraphes later, there’s this anecdote:
In 1996, John Fritchey, a Democrat who shared a campaign office with Mr. Blagojevich, was told that his stepfather had suffered a serious stroke. He walked over to Mr. Blagojevich, who was making fund-raising calls, and shared the news.
“He proceeded to tell me that he was sorry, and then, in the next breath, he asked me if I could talk to my family about contributing money to his campaign,” recalled Mr. Fritchey, now a state representative and a critic of the governor. “To do that, and in such a nonchalant manner, didn’t strike me as something a normal person would do.”
No, not a normal person. But maybe an abnormal one?
I’m no psychiatrist, and even a great psychiatrist can’t diagnose a mental illness in someone he’s never met, but these personality traits—charm and lack of empathy—suggest an interesting possibility. I think the governor of Illinois is a psychopath.
The movies are filled with psychopathic killers, but in reality psychopathy doesn’t necessarily result in violence. In fact, many people believe that some of the basic personality traits of the psychopath—lack of empathy, superficial charm, and inflated self appraisal—can lead to successful careers in business and politics.
(Hat tip: Rogier van Bakel)