If the di­ag­no­sis fits ...

Walker County Messenger - - Front Page - Gene Lyons Arkansas Times

So­ciopaths live as per­ma­nent im­posters. They func­tion largely by im­i­tat­ing the be­hav­ior of oth­ers. Amoral and ut­terly lack­ing in nor­mal emotional bonds, such in­di­vid­u­als know right from wrong; they just don’t give a damn. Their world di­vides into user and used; moral­ity con­sists of fear of get­ting caught. And what­ever hap­pens, some­body else is al­ways to blame.

The for­mal term is “nar­cis­sis­tic per­son­al­ity dis­or­der,” de­fined by the Mayo Clinic as “a men­tal con­di­tion in which peo­ple have an in­flated sense of their own im­por­tance, a deep need for ex­ces­sive at­ten­tion and ad­mi­ra­tion, trou­bled re­la­tion­ships, and a lack of em­pa­thy for oth­ers. But be­hind this mask of ex­treme con­fi­dence lies a frag­ile self-es­teem that’s vul­ner­a­ble to the slight­est crit­i­cism.”

Sound like any­body in the news?

How such in­di­vid­u­als of­ten self-de­struct is by ven­tur­ing out past the bound­aries of im­itable be­hav­ior. My book “Widow’s Web” de­scribes the bizarre an­tics of an Arkansas woman who mur­dered her hus­band in his bed, con­coct­ing a se­ries of wild al­i­bis in­volv­ing hit men out of Chicago that de­tec­tives never cred­ited for a minute. But they also never found a mur­der weapon. Friends and fam­ily didn’t know what to think.

That is, un­til four months after her hus­band’s death, when the widow threw a cham­pagne party cel­e­brat­ing her non­in­dict­ment and called in the press. See, just as the re­lent­less skep­ti­cism of homi­cide cops was new to her, she’d no idea how to play the chal­leng­ing role of vic­tim’s wife. Pho­tos of her glee­fully pop­ping cham­pagne with her new boyfriend on the front page of the statewide news­pa­per stunned rel­a­tives and friends who’d been pre­vi­ously un­able to imag­ine her guilt.

Then they got scared, fear­ing they could be next. In­deed, Mary Lee Orsini was only get­ting started.

More from the Mayo Clinic: So­ciopaths typ­i­cally “have a sense of en­ti­tle­ment and re­quire con­stant, ex­ces­sive ad­mi­ra­tion.” They “be­lieve they are su­pe­rior” and “be­lit­tle or look down on peo­ple they per­ceive as in­fe­rior.” They char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally “be­have in an ar­ro­gant or haughty man­ner, com­ing across as con­ceited, boast­ful and pre­ten­tious,” and “re­act with rage or con­tempt and try to be­lit­tle (crit­ics) to make them­selves ap­pear su­pe­rior.”

Mostly that’s be­cause such in­di­vid­u­als har­bor “se­cret feel­ings of in­se­cu­rity, shame,

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