Is Mitt Romney a Psychopath?

This seems to be floating around the internet:

Does Mitt Romney Care About You?

It is funny, of course, but I think there may be a darker truth underlying it and all the jokes about Mitt “The Robot” Romney and Mitt the Clueless. Could Mitt Romney be a psychopath? It’s entirely possible. We know, for example, that while only 1% of the population are psychopaths, 4% of CEOs are.

When most people think of psychopaths, they think of movie villains: murderers like Hannibal Lecter. But most psychopaths are law abiding citizens. What distinguishes them is that they lack empathy. They have little or no ability to understand others. And what are we to make of statements from Romney like, “Everything that Ann and I have, we earned the old-fashioned way.”

Romney seems to approach life like I approached Dungeons & Dragons[1] when I was a kid. When I played it, I gamed the system, doing the minimum required to advance in the game. Romney does this in real life. Two examples are telling. First, there is his constant claim that he has done exactly what the law requires—no more and no less. He pays, “Only what the tax code requires.” And, “What is required by law—the financial disclosure—has already been made.”

Second, there is the fact that Romney, even though ridiculously wealthy, appears to only give the minimum 10% tithe to his church. This strikes me as particularly telling. If you are going to treat God the way I used to treat dungeon masters, then there is something wrong with you.

What’s important about this is that Romney seems truly confused that voters might expect him to do more than the legal minimum. It shows a lack of understanding of social interactions. Most people refrain from murder and rape because it is wrong—not because it is illegal. Psychopaths don’t do it because it is against the law. “Those are the rules, right? I’m following the rules. What’s the problem?!”

I can’t say with any degree of confidence whether Mitt Romney is a psychopath or not. There are certainly troubling signs based upon his public persona. Regardless, he is a man of limited empathy who really can’t run the country in the interests of the vast majority of its citizens.

Update (Right Away)

Others have thought this same thing. And still others have argued against it. The argument goes that most psychopaths have problems when they are in school. Well, it seems that Romney was at least a bully who enjoyed tormenting weaker children. Another argument is that most psychopaths are impulsive. In Romney’s business deals, there are some signs of impetuousness—or at least carelessness. Regardless, it isn’t right to base this call on what his business did, given there would be calmer people to modulate his impulses. And finally, most psychopaths don’t form strong family bonds. This is true, but a great many psychopaths create the illusion of family bonds.

I’m not saying that any of these attributes apply strongly to Mitt Romney. But he could still be a psychopath. Arguments like this all depend upon the ridiculous (but never stated) assumption that the rich are necessarily morally superior to the poor. No one is shocked when a poor man shoots his wife, but when a rich man does it: shock! Mitt Romney can’t be a psychopath, just look at all his money!


[1] Actually, I played RuneQuest.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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