January 6th, 2014

The sociopathic wolf of Wall Street

[NOTE: Last night when I took a few notes for this post, I was able to read the WSJ article on which it was based. Now, when I'm wanting to take another look in order to actually write my post, the article seems to have dived behind a firewall. So some of this is written from my memory of the article.]

I am not planning to watch the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

It’s not exactly—how shall I say it?—my cup of tea. But if you’re interested, here’s a short version of the real story on which it’s based.

The movie is about sex, drugs, rock and roll—and greed—on Wall Street. Except that it’s not. As article author Ronald L. Rubin points out, the offenders were not even on Wall Street and what they were doing was not Wall Street business as usual, it was a criminal enterprise.

Perpetrators Belfort and Porush weren’t just the greedy Wall Street 1% whom Obama likes to excoriate and link with the right (while the Democrats quietly cozy up to them). They were crooks and sociopaths. Is “sociopath” too strong a word for Belfort, the Wolf himself? I think it’s just right, as illustrated at the end of the piece when Rubin repeats a joke Belfort cracked when Rubin asked him whether his conscience didn’t bother him, bilking old ladies out of their life savings. Belfort laughed and said “Yeah, that’s why we did so many drugs.”

Belfort’s a good-looking man, and a successful one, too, even now that he’s out of prison and has to pay back some of the money he scammmed. He’s a “motivational speaker” in his most recent incarnation; a great profession for a con man, don’t you think? And it’s fitting that there’s now a movie about him, because his inspiration was a movie:

Belfort’s background in finance was limited. After dropping out of dental school, he sold frozen lobsters and steaks door-to-door; one of his first experiences in sales came from hawking ices as a kid. He proved to be a great talker and fearless mimic, modeling himself after his hero, Gordon Gekko, the ruthless corporate raider in Wall Street, a favorite film, and assumed what he called “a devilish alter ego.”

The New York Magazine article details even more of Belfort’s sociopathy, although it never uses the word. A hero for our times.

11 Responses to “The sociopathic wolf of Wall Street”

  1. artfldgr Says:

    Is “sociopath” too strong a word for Belfort, the Wolf himself? I think it’s just right, as illustrated at the end of the piece when Rubin repeats a joke Belfort cracked when Rubin asked him whether his conscience didn’t bother him, bilking old ladies out of their life savings. Belfort laughed and said “Yeah, that’s why we did so many drugs.”

    whats the difference between a pile of bowling balls and a pile of dead babies?

    you cant load bowling balls with a pitchfork…

    you CANT use humor to plumb the depths of someones feelings of guilt, the humor may have nothing to do with their real feelings..

    humor is way too complex as a divination method
    same with art… i had so many arguments with art psych people… ie. why not ask first, if the persons art is an expression of whats inside them, or an idea in which they try to elucidate behavior and thoughts in others… those are two serious categories… not including those who wish to be commercial or make a mark and so alight on something that they can cash in on. like piss christ and the national endowmnets of the arts.

    anyway

    Sociopath IS too strong… its more a case of robin hood syndrome….

    you can divide sets up in various ways and one way to divide criminality is whether its personal and up close, or detached.

    an identity theif is detatched, they can easily make up whatever to asuage any feelings…

    Sociopaths want to personally experience the rewards of their pain!!!!!

    even stalin relished sending people to the camps AND took time to read the letters of those he affected…

    if one wants to really study humor, read “a stranger in a strange land” by heinlein… particularly the chapters on the zoo and the monkey…

    I had thought — I had been told — that a ‘funny’ thing is a thing of a goodness. It isn’t. Not ever is it funny to the person it happens to. Like that sheriff without his pants. The goodness is in the laughing itself. I grok it is a bravery . . . and a sharing… against pain and sorrow and defeat.

    Why Man Laughs.
    excerpt from “Stranger in a Strange Land”
    http://revolutionmagik.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/why-man-laughs/

    What is man?
    man is the animal that laughs…
    ——————- (hundreds of pages later)——————-

    They stood for quite a while in front of a cage containing a large family of capuchins, watching them eat, sleep, court, nurse, groom and swarm aimlessly around the cage, while Jill surreptitiously tossed them peanuts despite “No Feeding” signs.

    She tossed one to a medium sized monkey; before he could eat it a much larger male was on him and not only stole his peanut but gave him a beating, then left. The little fellow made no attempt to pursue his tormentor; be squatted at the scene of the crime, pounded his knuckles against the concrete floor, and chattered his helpless rage. Mike watched it solemnly. Suddenly the mistreated monkey rushed to the side of the cage, picked a monkey still smaller, bowled it over and gave it a drubbing worse than the one he had suffered – after which he seemed quite relaxed. The third monk crawled away, still whimpering, and found shelter in the arm of a female who had a still smaller one, a baby, on her back. The other monkeys paid no attention to any of it.

    Mike threw back his head and laughed – went on laughing, loudly and uncontrollably. He gasped for breath, tears came from his eyes; he started to tremble and sink to the floor, still laughing.

    I’ve found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts so much … because it’s the only thing that’ll make it stop hurting.”

    Mike never said what to do when you have no more laughter… (like now for me)

    a sociopath usually cant make jokes well. they laugh late, htey miss the humor. they are puppets of their own minds… ie. their bodies are used by thier minds to orchestrate, while most people live in their bodies and experience the now. the delay in thinking this is a good way to spot them… (kept them away from me now trhat i can see them coming EVENWHEN THEY DONT KNOW THEY ARE THEMSELVES)

    find me something that really makes you laugh, sweetheart … a joke, or anything else – but something that gave you a real belly laugh, not a smile. Then we’ll see if there isn’t a wrongness in it somewhere and whether you would laugh if the wrongness wasn’t there.” He thought. “I grok when apes learn to laugh, they’ll be people.”

    almost all humor is this way…

    from dead babies jokes to despersonalizing victims so that you dont feel bad about it…

    sociopaths need no such crutch.
    any more than you need help eating your favorite foods…

    no.. i more often find that such things are things that get away from someone… ie. it started one way, but there was no way to stop it without coming clean nd being punished… so they keep going…

    no different than a man with a speeding ticket running from police and gettign a 4 year sentence for nothing… all they could see was the long shot light at the end of the tunnel.

    ie. a form of tunnel vision

    in which the point your at, has you ignore all the other outcomes and run blindly towards the one outcome that might wor5k out, devil take the rest…

    then there is the point where two people feed off of each opther. neither are bad in and of themselves, but the mixture of the two brings out and reinforces behavior and sublimates other feelings…

    i would say that these crimes are very hard to understand as the results of them are SOOOOOO Rewarding to our bodies natural ideas of goodness… (of which it ignores method)

    its hard to fess up and stop when you have a billion dollars and lots of women, and all the power and no one seems to touche you… everything that we woudl use to normally say this is good, is being pumped here, and method is the only thing that is bad…

    making a billion inventing a product or investing is good… it ges the same rewards…
    making a billion inventing a scheme that works for as long as anything works… gets the same rewards.

    we like to win, we are geared to win, and once soeone tasts wining so well by such means, its very hard for them to walk away…

    remember the woman you marry is not the woman you divorce.

    the men who start this (or women) often become something else before its over…

  2. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    I’m not sure whether this is cheating, but I’ve noticed that it’s sometimes possible to read articles behind WSJ’s paywall by googling the text of the headline that’s visible above the paywall notification, and then clicking on the WSJ link that Google supplies. I don’t know much about how paywalls work, but presumably WSJ could disable this function if it didn’t want to allow searches from Google to find its articles.

  3. Cornhead Says:

    Mrs. Clinton is now on the speaker circuit. Quarter million earned recently. Buyers were Wall Street firms.

    Coincidence? I think not.

  4. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “The movie is about sex, drugs, rock and roll—and greed—on Wall Street.”

    That may be what the movie is about but that is a vehicle in service of the movie’s message, which is to use ‘two hours of preaching to their fellow man in the dark’ (Frank Capra) to inculcate the message that Wall Street is mainly composed of sociopaths and greedy, utterly unethical people because capitalism itself inherently facilitates and nurtures these types.

    Hollywood always has ‘a message’, it takes its obligation to produce leftist propaganda very seriously. This was just Scorsese’s turn at the plate. Oprah just had her’s with “The Butler”.

    Set aside the movie’s made strictly for money (sequels, ‘series thrillers’ such as the Iron Man movies) and the very occasional non-political high-brow movie like “The King’s Speech” and the other 95% of movie fare is leftist propaganda of one stripe or another.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    Wasn’t there a story article about one of the female actors being in the group orgy scenes and her accounts of how things went on there behind the camera?

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    That’s what I was trying to indicate, that this is the more subtle message of the movie—that it is meaning to indict capitalism and Wall St. as a whole.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Arfldgr:

    I was not basing my “sociopath” accusation merely on the joke Belfort made. I was basing it on the whole picture, and the joke was emblematic of the whole picture. That’s why I used the word “illustrated.”

  8. SaysMeow Says:

    The WSJ article is currently visible at:

    WSJ Link

  9. SaysMeow Says:

    Belay that link! My apologies. But if you search for the title in Google News you can still read the full article.

  10. parker Says:

    Sociopaths on Wall Street are at least 6 powers of 10 less harmful to my grandchildren than sociopaths in DC. Priorities people, priorities.

  11. notherbob2 Says:

    Parker’s comment brought to mind the answer to the question “Who is more responsible for the barely-averted total economic collapse caused by the housing bubble?”

    1. The Barney Frank liberals who desired to redistribute wealth to the poor by ordering banks to make housing loans that were all but guaranteed to fail or;

    2. the Wall Street manipulators who (legally and with the compliance of the Barney Frank liberals who saw that it was the only way to keep the loans flowing) packaged these demonstrably worthless loans into AAA-rated bonds?

    In my opinion, it is the same folks who have been ignorantly careless with our health care system in their clueless quest to provide quality health care to the same poor who were intended to enjoy the housing.

    Note: Who has gone to jail from either group for their acts?

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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