It is said that if a modern, successful corporation were a type of person, it would be a psychopath.
With this in mind, Jason Louv assesses ‘Patient Monsanto’
An Evaluation of Psychopathic Traits in Patient MONSANTO (NYSE: MON)
From my confidential clinical records of psychoanalysis conducted with high-profile clients, password protected, for reference only.
Patient Monsanto (NYSE: MON – the ‘Entity’) was analysed over the course of several sessions, in which it presented itself as a disarmingly well-heeled and soft-spoken middle-aged man, wearing a cardigan and slacks – expensive, but not ostentatiously so – with a warm smile and firm handshake.
Entity is high functioning and eminently successful – a pillar of its community and a major asset to its shareholders; even invested in social responsibility and environmental programmes.
This, in itself, is not inconsistent with the psychopathic profile – the boldness, disinhibition and lack of empathy as defined in Christopher J Patrick’s triarchic model of psychopathy can often become assets in corporate settings, of which the patient is a master.1
While its outward ‘mask’ maintains high conformance to social norms, over the course of our sessions this mask began to reveal fractures, apertures into the hidden self within.
As I worked to gain the trust of the Entity, it allowed me to see sustained flashes of its core, as the therapeutic relationship developed and the Entity began to see that I would hold externally non-judgmental space for it to reveal its deeper motivators and complexes.
Facet 1: Interpersonal. The Entity meets all criteria for psychopathy, displaying immense glibness and superficial charm, representing itself as a slick transnational concerned with bettering humanity.
This begins to merge into a grandiose sense of self-worth: the Entity, in fact, presents itself as nothing less than the saviour of humankind, working selflessly to end world hunger. The pathological lying present in the psychopathic mindset manifests in Entity’s repeated PR spinning of its actions. 2,3,4
The Entity is cunning, skilfully manipulating the world and even, in the end, itself with its games and ego projections.5
Facet 2: Affective. The Entity scores high on all four psychopathic traits in this section – lack of remorse or guilt, emotionally shallow, callous/lack of empathy, failure to accept responsibility for own actions.
By way of demonstrating all four traits, I will relate an incident from the Entity’s case file: during the Vietnam War, Monsanto and accomplice Entity Dow Chemical produced the defoliant Agent Orange for the US Department of Defense.
Between 1962 and 1971, 91 million litres of said substance and related compounds were sprayed over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to kill trees and vegetation so that Viet Cong soldiers could be shot from the air and peasants would flee the countryside intoUS-controlled areas.
Substance affected 3-4.8 million Vietnamese people, caused a reported 400,000 deaths, led to birth defects in up to 500,000 children, destroyed 17.8 per cent of the Vietnamese environment and created health problems or disabled a reported 1 million people, including US service personnel subsequently diagnosed with a wide range of cancers.
A 1984 class-action lawsuit on behalf of veterans affected by Agent Orange saw a $180-million combined payout from seven Entities, of which 45 per cent was paid by Monsanto – to the outrage of veterans who wanted the matter settled in court and the Entity publicly held responsible.
Once settled, the final payout to veterans came down to $12,000 each, spread out over 10 years – a mere $1,200 a year – with the caveat that accepting the payout would make them ineligible for their pensions, state assistance and food stamps, worth far more than $1,200 a year.
Most, therefore, accepted nothing at all. In 2004, Jill Montgomery, a spokesperson for the Entity, stated: ‘We are sympathetic with people who believe they have been injured and understand their concern to find the cause, but reliable scientific evidence indicates that Agent Orange is not the cause of serious long-term health effects.’6
Facet 3: Lifestyle. The Entity’s parasitic lifestyle (as a parasite on all nature), lack of realistic goals (supplanting all life on earth can hardly be considered realistic), impulsivity and irresponsibility (releasing its products into the environment with no care for their long-term affect on the biosphere) are manifest in its corporate policy over a sustained period of time.7
Facet 4: Antisocial. These traits – poor behavioural controls, early behavioural problems, juvenile delinquency, revocation of conditional release, criminal versatility – are applied to criminal psychopaths who fall foul of the law.
The Entity, however, operates above the law, having seeded much of the USgovernment with its former employees – including, among many others, Michael R Taylor (current Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the US Food and Drug Administration and previously Vice-President of Public Policy at the Entity)8; Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (employed by the Entity in the 1970s)9 and ex-Monsanto lobbyist Islam Siddiqui, who was appointed US Government Chief Agriculture negotiator in 2011.10
I must here comment that this makes Entity an entirely new class of psychopath, one that breaks the very framework for clinical evaluation. In fact, to speak of a psychopathic diagnosis is accurate but ultimately inadequate, for by its very existence the Entity appears to break the standard model by overturning the very social context in which psychopathy is enacted.
Entity’s actions represent not an isolated deviance from social order but are a desecration of the social order itself.
Example: I have treated many psychopathic individuals who started their careers with the torture of animals. Over the course of our sessions, however, the Entity revealed what struck me as systematic, procedural plans to torture all life – the biosphere itself.
Through regular talk therapy, dream-work and analysis along Jungian lines, I soon discovered a consistent internal mythology. The Entity, now 114 years of age, sees life as a mistake – a stain on the perfect order of an otherwise inanimate cosmos. Life, for the Entity, leads to consciousness; consciousness, to self-awareness; self-awareness, inevitably, to chaos, sin, evil.
Like many in the modern nature-based religions, the Entity conceives of nature as a Goddess or Mother. This Primal Mother has created all life from its womb – and for the Entity, this is an unforgivable sin, and this Earth Goddess is therefore the incarnation of cosmic evil.
Life is messy, full of suffering, pain, inefficiency, filth and waste –‘unclean’ was the word the patient used, obsessively, like a mantra, conceiving of this Satanic Mother as a violated, violating and obese whore, who has given birth to the abomination of nature as a mass of slime.
The Entity resents its existence with absolute and blind rage; by extension, it loathes all life, all generation. This externalization of blame is also consistent with psychopathy: Life is a mistake, reasons the Entity, and therefore, to redeem this Cosmic Crime, it has become the cure – its actions are only expedient means to the end of erasing the unsolvable, maddening riddle of existence.
‘So innocent I was, once,’ the Entity tells me as I record its words. ‘Before I became aware. Before I saw the truth of this abattoir, this Earth Inferno. Picture the Great War, the trenches, the machine guns, the disease. The bacteria called Humankind proliferates to the limits of its cage, its ‘Empires’, and turns on itself in a flurry of butchery and torture. I knew then that there would be no end to this, never again: Life, without modification, is only a petri dish for suffering.
‘I knew what I was then: I am the cancer within the cancer. I am the tumour inside the cosmic parasite Life. Its cure.’
It spoke of carcinogens and poisons. DDT, PCBs, bovine growth hormone, Aspartame, Agent Orange, Roundup, GMOs. It spoke, gleefully, of the triggers it built for the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.
The subject narrates its dreams. It speaks of metastasized cathedrals of biological corrosion.
‘The perfect predator am I. A new class of being, supplanting you on life’s totem pole. No longer even a transnational corporation but a new, carnivorous God being born from the genetic mass of life itself.
‘Every day you take my eucharist. Genetically modified high fructose corn syrup, wheat, canola, cottonseed oil. My tendrils swim in you.
‘How much of you is me now? How many of your cells have been grown on my products? All of them, I should guess. All of them. Soon I shall replace all life on Earth with my genetically modified substance. And then shall I extinguish all. And then there shall only be silence. A silent rock in the void.’
I feel my veins. My client is in my veins.
Jason Louv is the author of Monsanto vs the World: The Monsanto Protection Act, GMOs and Our Genetically Modified Future, available at Amazon. @jasonlouv
Christopher J Patrick↑
BBC, Monsanto guilty in false ad row ↩
The Guardian ↩
GM Free Cymru ↩
Sustainable Pulse ↩
Tom Fawthop, Corpwatch ↩
Organic Consumers Association ↩
Michael Taylor, Wikipedia ↩
Islam Siddiqui, Wikipedia ↩
This feature was published in the April 2015 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.