Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sociopath or scoundrel?

Elie Wiesel, the nobel peace prize laureate and holocaust survivor, lost $15.2 million of his charity's money and lost his own personal life savings to Bernie Madoff. What did he have to say about him?
"Psychopath’ — it’s too nice a word for him,” Mr. Wiesel said in his first public comments on Mr. Madoff and the Ponzi scheme he is accused of perpetrating on thousands of individuals and charities, including the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.

"Sociopath,’ ‘psychopath,’ it means there is a sickness, a pathology. This man knew what he was doing. I would simply call him thief, scoundrel, criminal.”
Sociopath is too nice of a word for him?! I thought this day would never come! But NPR criticizes Wiesel's choice of words. In a 5+ minute commentary, their resident linguist says the following (paraphrased):
Sociopath is not a term we use affectionately, we reserve it for unsympathetic malefactors. . . Certain clinical language exonerates badness by reframing it as illness. Sociologists describe this phenomenon as the medicalization of deviance. . . Sociopath is a loose term now used to describe anyone unfettered by the pangs of conscience. . . "Sociopath" doesn't add anything to what Victorians would describe as "heartless wretch," but now it comes draped in a whitecoat.
Thank you for your unsolicited opinion, NPR. Wiesel, on the other hand, is clearly a true visionary and humanitarian.


  1. Well. I don't like the "normalization of this particular sociopath", but it's your blog. I remember watching the latest batman movie. The joker was always trying to put Batman in a moral dillemia. Trying normalize Batman on the same level as the Joker. Joker had some what of point I think, or I think he had one point that we all have darkness with in our souls. Most people have the ability put in in check.

    Sociopaths are always intellectualy aware of what they are doing is wrong(attention grabber), the higher functioning ones know when and where to press pedal to the metal. They just don't have the ability to brake. They can never stop and must keep going just because...

    If you check his brain from abnormalities and find that he is an outlier--sociopath. I guess we have a theiving sociopath, but if we have someone that has a normal brain, then we can find a more meaningful why(motive). This scanning of the brain would make a big difference in his parole hearing.

    Psychopaths and sociopaths know what they are doing is intellectualy wrong,that's why they hide from the authorities.
    They just can't or don't want to stop. Just cause...(exciting, addicting)

  2. So he got skimped? So someone stole from a charity?

    It's a Ponzi scheme, if you have $15.3 to throw around, you should be smart enough to know how to invest it wisely.

    That's not being a sociopath, a psychopath, an ASPD. That's just being a thief.

    That said, holocaust survivors should just get over it. It's been sixty years, they can stop beating the pity drum about now.

  3. they can stop beating the pity drum about now." I tend to agree. Every group of any substance -- political, religious, etc. -- has suffered horrible persecutions and has perpetrated horrible persecutions. My ancestors were Jewish. In the old Testament (to whatever extent it describes actual historical events) Moses and his fellows fleeing from Egypt engaged in mass murder, genocide, and "ethnic cleansing." Current day Israel is looking more and more nasty by the day. That does not let the Arabs, Palestinians and Iranians off the hook. The Turks did a number on the Armenians and the Rwandans did a number on each other. The Constitution of the United States was built on slavery and genocide against the aboriginal peoples. Tom Jefferson wrote the noble Declaration of Independence while keeping slaves and diddling one of them. Most human beings are not sociopaths (I am kind of borderline myself), but we are kind of scum as a species. We make rats, slugs, and cockroaches look kinf of endearing.

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