Yes, Aaron Schock Is Untrustworthy. Why Wasn’t that Obvious From The Start?

SchlockRep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill) resigned from Congress this week, effective March 31, after it was revealed that he charged more driving miles of travel to taxpayers than he had mileage on his car. This was just the latest indication that Schock was infected with a fatal sense of entitlement, which you can read about here and  here. I’m not going to waste time declaring the Congressman unethical: obviously he is unethical. What concerns me is that he was elected to Congress three times despite being such a textbook example of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder victim that everyone should have been running away. This was a stunning instance of voters, journalists and pundits being naive, ignorant and incompetent.

Sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists are far more common in society than most people believe. In “The Sociopath Next Door,” clinical psychologist and former Harvard Medical School instructor Dr. Martha Stout persuasively argues that 1 in 25 Americans are sociopaths, writes about how laymen can and should recognize them before they cause havoc. Obviously, there is a danger of amateur diagnosis unfairly harming the reputations and careers of citizens as a kind of pre-crime vigilantism, but we are far, far from such excesses when we are talking about such a screaming example of narcissism as Schock, who apparently was addicted to calling attention to himself before he was out of puberty.

A person can be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) when they  meet five or more of the following symptoms. Schock appears to meet all of them:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

This guy decorated his office in Washington to emulate the mansion in “Downton Abbey,” at a cost of $40,000. This guy arranged for shirtless photos in magazines, and he wasn’t even trying to meet women (or men). This guy took incessant selfies and wore out Instagram, and all of this was after an early career marked by frantic achievement, a hunger for the spotlight, and limitless self-promotion. If the average American can’t observe this kind of conduct and realize that such an individual isn’t just special, but ill, then it is another example of how the education system as well as the information media is failing the culture.

It is failing the narcissists too. Schock is undeniably talented and intelligent, and might be a productive member of society—he already has been that, in fact— as well as one people could trust and who wasn’t bound for self-destruction, if someone, anyone—a parent, a teacher, an employer—had blown an early whistle, and got him help instead of mindless applause. Schock’s fall was as predictable in its way as some of the mass shootings we have witnessed in the past few years, performed by young men whose behavior was alarming, but somehow never alarming enough to make others act.

Narcissists in positions of power do serious harm. Surely the public can learn to spot the signs. (John Edwards seemed to me to be another self-evident narcissist, yet educated and perceptive friends of mine worshiped him, and couldn’t see it.) I have been reading quotes from Republicans to the effect that Schock’s fall is a tragedy. No, I think we were lucky. When someone like Schock knocks on the doors of power and celebrity, the sane and responsible reaction is to turn the locks and put up barricades.

We should know enough not to inflict the most obvious sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists on our lives.


Sources: Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Psychcentral

29 thoughts on “Yes, Aaron Schock Is Untrustworthy. Why Wasn’t that Obvious From The Start?

  1. What concerns me is that he was elected to Congress three times despite being such a textbook example of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder victim that everyone should have been running away.

    Sadly, it should not surprise you.

    To paraphrase a quote, “Our Nation can survive an Aaron Schlock.. what it cannot survive is a populace that would vote him in to office.”

    • I wonder who he was up against, and if perhaps instead of revealing an ignorant voter base, this highlights the failings of a two party system.

  2. Please pardon an off topic post (please relocate to a related post if you do address the topic), but there are several political trains about to collide:

    President Obama suggested on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, that the US consider mandatory voting.(

    First observation; The suggestion itself: There are only two ways to interpret this suggestion: optimistically, he simply does not understand the constitution; pessimistically, he does not care because it is politically expedient.

    The constitution protects freedom of expression. To compel expression through requiring the submission of a ballot is unconstitutional. There is simply no room for debate on this point. The suggestion is legally dead in the water.

    President Obama is a former college professor who lectured in law. I give him the benefit of the doubt that he understands this is unconstitutional; I can only conclude he does not care. [Edit: this version of the article states that he proposes this a future constitutional amendment; a previous version omitted this].

    Why might be he suggest this? He specifically cites marginalized groups:
    >>Disproportionately, Americans who skip the polls on Election Day are younger, lower-income and more likely to be immigrants or minorities, Obama said. “There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls,” he said in a veiled reference to efforts in a number of Republican-led states to make it harder for people to vote.

    These are all groups that would reflexively vote Democrat! Now, this is their ABSOLUTE RIGHT AND PEROGATIVE, should they CHOOSE to vote this way. However, NOT VOTING is significant. They are implicitly choosing neither party. This may be laziness, “busi-ness”, or conscientiousness; it does not matter, however, because American democracy is voluntary.

    Voting may indeed be the foundation of democracy, and failure to vote a deflection of civic duty. But compulsion to vote is an intrusion into the very rights that voting is meant to protect!

    Second Observation; The demonization of the opposition:

    Because voting is always portrayed as “essential” to democracy, from the earliest middle school civics class onwards, supporters of this proposition can make conscientious opposition look anti-democratic.

    Here we have some site called “PoliticusUS – Real Liberal Politics” driving its locomotive straight at the train stalled at the Democratic Platform with its piece “Obama Strikes Terror Into The Hearts Of Republicans By Supporting Mandatory Voting”:

    >>The entire Republican model for political success is based on conservative millionaire and billionaire donors, and keeping the electorate as small as possible.

    >>When Americans show up to vote, the Republican Party doesn’t win. President Obama’s mandatory voting idea would be the most direct way to return America’s representative democracy back to the people.


    The twisted, cynical logic is staggering! Democratic policies have been such an abysmal failure that they cannot even motivate their “base” to show up to the polls. Now they want to drag nominal democrats kicking and screaming, under the penalty of law (and the unsavory prospect of voting Republican), to push through more poor policy. Republicans certainly haven’t improved the political climate, as the lunatics who open their mouths in that party make voting for them unviable for this group that chooses not to participate. However disgust or indifference is constitutionally protected, and rightly so.

    If nominal Democrats cannot be bothered to support their party in the polls, then that is practically a vote in and of itself. It would be BETTER if this group participated, even if to cast a throw away vote to a third party. This would show they are actively paying attention, and make explicit their dissatisfaction. Such voting might even influence policy. However, it is perhaps a uniquely American privilege to voluntarily throw away the vote so many fought for on the on the battlefield, in the chambers of Independence Hall, out on the streets. To MANDATE people show up to the polls, would violates so many other rights fought equally hard for.

    President Obama thinks it would be “fun” to think about making voting mandatory; I think it would be “fun” if he upheld and defended the constitution.


      Obama’s getting cocky, and can be expected to do and say more things like this, as in “irresponsible, silly and un-American.” Oh, they require voting in Australia, do they? Well that settles it, then—it must be a great idea. (This is the nation version of rationalization #32. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing”—one of the dumber rationalizations, and “They do it in Australia!” is one of the dumber versions of it.

      • The analysis of the Marcus column is great, but Jesus H. Christ, President Obama is the President of the United God Damned States, not just a columnist at the Washington Post. Un Freaking Believable. The guy is a menace. The “bear is loose” stuff and how he’s really doing great things now that he doesn’t have to win another election is absolutely terrifying. The lunatics are literally running the asylum.

  3. Mr. Marshall,

    I’m new to your trenchant, bitingly accurate, and highly moral blog. It’s now one of the very few I subscribe to. Thank you.

    One comment that I believe sadly is an overarching example of the extant discussion: I believe George W. Bush is as glaring an example of what you posit as can exist ( within certain bounds; there are obviously blatant criminals whose pathology is greater, but few have had more power ).

    His reign (deliberate usage… in his own words: If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier… [Bush laughs out loud, audience laughs out loud] …just so long as I’m the dictator [more laughter]) brought us unimaginable horrors that our culture, I believe, is still in denial about. He is the only president, to my awareness, that had an esteemed psychiatrist actually diagnose ( with acknowledged limitations ) in a book, specifically, Bush on the Couch Rev Ed: Inside the Mind of the President Paperback – October 23, 2007 by Justin A., Frank M.D. He details, using the practice known as applied psychology, which is a science and an art, how GWB was/is mentally disturbed, at best. Megalomania, Narcissism, and Sadism are his most pronounced traits ( with the accompaniment of never ending mendacity ), and manifold evidence is presented to support Dr. Frank’s theses.

    I am stunned that some large portion of our populace actually believe he considered himself a Christian ( I’m not an adherent of any fundamentalist religion, which is not to say that there can’t be exquisite human beings who come from that position ), when so many of his actions were about as far from love, compassion, wisdom, justice, etc. as I believe is possible.

    I believe that facing this truth is simply too searing for our population ( it was/is a tragedy that Obama elected to not pursue he and his cronies legally under the rubric of “looking forward”– I guess Santayana is forgotton too ) to absorb. We are a young nation in so many ways, with all the virtues and blindnesses of an adolescent society.

    Truly, the skulduggery you mention both directly and indirectly in our politicians ( Edwards, Rangel, …. I could fill a hard disk with them all ) in toto, pale in comparison to the results of GWB’s experiment in tragedy.

    If we are ever to heal and truly grow, we must, as you rightly aver, be able to actually see, preferably before the fact, these damaged individuals that we “elect” and learn to choose wiser paths. And apparantly, starting at the “top” is something we are yet to be able to commence.

    Thank you for all your good work.


        • Ah, no. I could focus on the excesses of the comment, or the kindness of the compliment. I couldn’t wee how to do both..

          Allow me to focus on one thing that is blatant: “He is the only president, to my awareness, that had an esteemed psychiatrist actually diagnose ( with acknowledged limitations ) in a book, specifically, Bush on the Couch Rev Ed: Inside the Mind of the President Paperback – October 23, 2007 by Justin A., Frank M.D”.

          The reason this hasn’t happened before is that such unethical MDs are fortunately rare. It is absolutely unethical for any psychiatrist to presume a diagnosis of anyone he or she hasn’t examined, and to make such a diagnosis a book is pure quackery. The exercise was pure political, ideological and partisan bias, and he should have been disciplined. It’s not applied anything—it;s using a degree to make a political attack.

  4. Mr. Marshall,

    Regardless of the slight ( I hope? ) denigration of my usage of Applied Psychoanalysis, I offer a bit of feedback, hoping the court will allow reargument, and perhaps revise its judgment.

    I’d argue that a well founded, peer reviewed practice, with its own scholarly mazazine, and whose adherents are some of our country’s most esteemed Psychiatrists. Here, :

    is but one example of a congregation of some persons producing peer-reviewed work ( or perhaps, quackery in group form? ) in a literary journal format, that invites comment.

    Perhaps I should have should be stated from the outset that the practice of AP is thought to be less precise that its more intimate brethren ( in person ), and its limitations are brought forth clearly, and with honesty ( sort of like discovery, adhered to in the best sense ). The chosen analysand has all his published writings, speeches, and appearances in public scrutinized carefully. That is combined with information in the public body from persons that are thoroughly if not intimately involved with the subject. Conclusions drawn can be petit, or gross. When performed well, it is not for shock or prurient value; it can have its own compelling tapestry hewn together by a brilliant observer of men ( meant universally ), who source strong, emotional segments of the subject’s life, and compares and contrasts them with many other data. One tiny example: When questioned at a news conference about 2 men about to be executed, he smirked and laughed. This is sadism, undiluted. More on this:

    Please note Mr. Marshall that Psychiatrists ( at least, credible ones ) are the first to limn the limitations of the practice, and do not seek to stretch the bounds. But even within that strict yet wide net, there is just so much evidence ( and you know, as so many of the Cosby apologists seem not to, that testimony is evidence– and must be carefully vetted) that Dr. Frank evinces, and then makes clear. I would urge you to read perhaps a couple of chapters, or perhaps consult with a friend or two you might have in the field, that could possibly give you a more nuanced view of the practice.
    But even failing that, and excluding the concept entirely from the discussion, to me, Bush’s endless lies, machination, misdirections, and outright illegal practices ( does anyone with the slightest scholarly bent yet believe that the Iraq war was anything but a personal, family induced, blood-soaked vendetta?

    I appreciate your feedback, warts and all.


    • You’re mixing politics with medicine, which is a nauseating recipe. A doctor’s oath includes the requirement of not causing the patient harm. It also included confidentiality, as well as autonomy. So a doctor forces aan individual into the status of a patient (violation of autonomy) for the explicit purpose of doing him harm (embarrassment) while performing an unethical and incompetent diagnosis (no competent diagnosis cane be made without consent or the patient’s participation) which is communicated to others (a violation of confidentiality.)

      It’s a slam dunk: I can’t imagine a more obviously and indefensibly unethical act that wasn’t illegal.

    • 1. “does anyone with the slightest scholarly bent yet believe that the Iraq war was anything but a personal, family induced, blood-soaked vendetta?”

      Well, yes, I do, especially since John Kerry and Hillary Clinton voted to allow it to go forward based on the same data the Bush administration was going on, and based on the undeniable fact that Iraq had broken the terms of a cease fire (the previous war was not settled) and in a rational world, the UN should have attacked it too.

      Frankly, I don’t think there’s a rational and fair non-partisan who does believe this. I don’t know why you do. Stay away from the Daily Kos.

      2. “One tiny example: When questioned at a news conference about 2 men about to be executed, he smirked and laughed. This is sadism, undiluted.”

      not tiny. Those who feel that there should be crocodile tears at the deaths of cold-blooded killers have their own biases to deal with. Was I glad Ted Bundy was executed? Damn right. Would I smirk about it? Probably not, but someone who laughs in the face of someone telling them that executing a serial killer is “inhuman” will have my sympathy. It’s a facile position, worthy of mockery.

      I’m sorry, but so is that article. How can you take that seriously? It’s not good scholarship, it is soaked with bias, it relies on hearsay, it has no balance, it’s absurd. (The invasion of Iraq was not in any way, shape or form “criminal.”) But I will keep it handy for the next time I hear an African American celebrity say that Obama has faced vicious and unfair criticism unlike any other POTUS because he’s black.

      • I wonder if it would be worthwhile to mention to db that there is at least one retired psychologist (making a living practicing psychology is all that Applied Psychology is about, other than being an undergraduate level course) commenting on this blog? Probably not. If he knew anything about the field, he would at least know the ethics of it, which forbid long-distance diagnosis…especially in defense of a factually inaccurate, politically-based publication with only one goal…smear a President who is on the opposite side of the political spectrum than yourself. This guy apparently graduated from the same school as Art Hawley. I can see why he is on so few blogs. As gullible and biased as he is, nobody but the fringies will have him.

        • How in the hell do certain people put off the Art Hawley vibe? Cuz I had the same feeling regarding his style. But like the previous Art Hawley near-miss, this guy seems ok so far. So if he were an Art Hawley re-do I don’t care until he goes full auto….

            • It’s a stylistic thing…

              Read Art Hawley’s posts and re-read this one.

              Formatting is different, but order, tone, subject matter, technique and other minor clues are similar.

        • Mr. Marshall,

          Responding first to the persons who commented on my posts; 1- I have no idea who Mr. Hawley is, and from the tenor of the comments, have no desire to look him up and find out; 2- my posts are indeed rare, as, it’s unusual for me to post on any blog, I was taken by ( and still am ) Mr. Marshall’s passionate search for ethical truths, regardless of his disagreeing with me, his erudition stands; 3- This will be my last post, as I abjure fighting, and, some of the commenters took what I interpret as a nasty and condescending tone, and I’m no match for that means of discussion, so, whomever did that, you win.

          And, Mr. Marshall, I’ll submit to you my opinion without expectation of any particular shift in your perspective, which I respect, and disagree with.

          I believe the evidence ( and here are a few links that I believe are helpful and on point):

          I consider Anthony Bugliosi and Bill Moyers to be persons of wisdom and objectivity, unlikely that many agree with me, or their theses; but, I’m compelled to put them here. Your argument about Dr. Frank is a noble one, and I wish everyone acted in accordance with the principle you espouse. I’m not sure if it’s you that posit the argument that if one could go back in time and kill hitler, that it would still be an unethical act. That is a rich vein I’ll not mine here, but if my perspective is correct, I believe that weighing the two scenarios ( the potential embarassment of a politician versus the possibility it would alert enough persons to what — of course I believe, it doesn’t get much more subjective than that — would end up being an illegal war, with almost immeasurable tragedy ensuing ), it would be unethical for the Dr. to NOT opine as he did, and in what I consider to be a refined, and carefully crafted fashion ( Dr. Frank himself noted the limitation of applied psychology, which is educed from the subjects own words ).

          We have had a string of presidents who have ignored the law, none of whom who have been held accountable ( From Reagan and the contras, to Clinton and his sexual harassment and likely battery pre-office taking, to GWB).

          I’m presuming I’ll be excoriated for these views, and I believe that as we have found out decades later that the Gulf of Tonkin charade was just that, there will be much more evidence ( though there is already quite a pile from the downing street memo, to his own secretary of the treasury saying that on day one GWB spoke about invading Iraq, etc) that supports the thesis that GWB was amoral, unethical, mendacious, and tragically megalomaniacal. It’s ineffably painful to contemplate that the family that our nation is, could have been rent asunder by the semi-consciousness of a president ( and, of course, a cowardly and colluding congress; but the buck does stop at the president’s desk, which is not absolution for Hillary, and all the others that blindly rubberstamped the war). It’s also untrue that any politician had the intelligence ( ironic word here, to me ) that the president was made privy to.

          Anyway, not a word of what I’ve written is intended as disrespect to anyone holding opposing views, and as I said, I’m not a fan of vituperation or any of its relatives.

          So, Mr. Marshall, thank you for creating the forum in which I’ve been given permission to write, I’ll keep reading, but will no longer argue, to any and all who wish the “last word”, fair enough.



          • You consider BILL MOYERS to be “objective”? Who considers Bill Moyers to be objective?

            Bill Moyers doesn’t consider Bill Moyers to be objective.He’s an unapologetic advocate for the Great Society and progressive political policies. How can you say that with a straight face?

  5. It is profoundly depressing to me that this post has been up for a couple days and I am only now realizing that I called the guy “Schlock” rather than “Schock” the whole post and in the title and tags, and not onlt did I not notice, but nobody sent me a much-needed “It’s SCHOCK you idiot!” note. Finally figured it out in horror just know. Christ.

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