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Sunday, December 1, 2013

55 wives

I recently looked up Gary Gilmore, the first man executed by the US in 10 years (back in 1977), on Wikipedia. The most interesting part of most sociopaths' biographies is the "Early Life" section, where you can often find clues as to why the sociopath turned out the way he did.

Sure enough, Gilmore's father Frank was an alcoholic con man -- also a sociopath -- who "would often whip his sons Frank, Jr., Gary and Gaylen with a razor strap, whip or a belt for little or no reason. Less often, he would beat his wife."

Gary, despite an IQ tested at 133, dropped out of school in ninth grade and turned to a life of petty crime, which eventually led to armed robbery and then murder.

The Wiki account also said that Frank Gilmore would often anger his wife, a Mormon, by referring to church luminary Brigham Young as "Bring 'em Young."

I actually thought that a clever formulation -- despite the fact that it was probably not original with Frank -- given the Mormons' penchant for polygamy.

I then looked up Brigham Young, curious as to how many wives he'd actually had and what their ages were. Turns out he had a total of 55 wives. Nine of the brides he took while in his 40's were still teenagers.

Either Young was a strong personality, or he was the definition of henpecked. It seems likely that the man who led the Mormons to Deseret, the first Governor of Utah Territory, and the founder of the predecessors to both the University of Utah and Brigham Young University was the former. He undoubtedly earned the title his followers bestowed upon him, "The Lion of the Lord."

But he also deserved the nickname that Frank Gilmore used.


Anonymous said...

Hi John,

That many wives is pretty high. I would think 10 or 15 would be sufficient to keep a man happy. What do you think? One, certainly, is not enough-for most people, anyway. B

John Craig said...

Brian --
Boy, there're all sorts of ways to answer that question. It's really two separate questions: how many wives are enough, and how many women are enough. I suppose the most honest answer is, 1 is more than enough of the former, but you can never get enough of the latter.

Anonymous said...

Great answer!

bluffcreek1967 said...

John: Talking about Mormons, I've done a lot of research over the years about its founder, Joseph Smith. I'm not a Mormon, but I happen to have an interest in their theology as I do with other religious groups.

Regardless, I think you'll find some interesting details in his life indicative of a sociopath. He was a big time adulterer and he publicly boasted of some of the most ridiculous things. He's one of the biggest religious frauds in American history, but many people are not all that aware of the LDS founder.

Other people you might find as interesting case studies would include Charles Taze Russell (Jehovah's Witnesses), Ellen G. White (Seventh Day Adventists), Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science), and Aimee Simple McPherson (Foursquare Pentecostal denomination). I've studied each of them throughout the years (especially during the 1980s when I worked with counter-cultist groups) and I can definitely see some sociopath hints in each of their lives.

John Craig said...

Ambrose --
Thank you for that. I agree, founders of religions are often nothing more than glorified cult leaders (think L. Ron Hubbard) and while their followers are nothing more than gullible sheep, they themselves are charlatans who take advantage.

I'm not that familiar with most of the people you've named, but I am with Aimee Semple McPherson, and she was unquestionably a sociopath. I'll take a look at the others at some point.

Working with anti-cult groups must have given you some good insight into (and exposure to) sociopaths. From what I've seen (form a distance), a high percentage of cult leaders seem to be sociopaths.

John Craig said...

PS -- I'd put a lot of televangelists in that category as well.

bluffcreek1967 said...

John, I agree, I'd put a lot of televangelists in the sociopath category too. They're a weird bunch.

Funny though, while I witnessed some real characters and obvious deceivers when I was involved in teaching about cults and aberrational religious groups, I don't think I ever saw them as sociopaths per se. I just didn't know much about the nature of sociopaths (and I'm still learning about it too) and what characteristics they exhibit. I usually just placed them in the category of deceiver, arrogant, prideful or just crazy.

Although I would still probably view them along these lines, I think my perception and understanding of these folks has broadened somewhat - in part, because of your insightful articles.

This is why myself and others have encouraged you to keep writing on sociopaths and pointing them out in ways most of us are not aware of. As of yet, I'm don't know of any other blog that's doing this sort of thing.

One last thing. During the mid 1980's, I knew a young lady who used to travel the world with L. Ron Hubbard on his ship. She had less than kind things to say about him and, thinking about it now, he would definitely fit the sociopath bill.

John Craig said...

Ambrose --
Thank you, I'm actually going to put up another sociopath alert today, this one about someone in law enforcement. I've also ben debating whether to put one up about Hubbard, and how he was one, but I'm a little reluctant to tangle with the lawsuit-happy Scientologists. The interesting ting about Hubbard is how Scientology itself reflects the thinking of a sociopath (you can be anything you want to be, psychology is all b.s., homosexuality can be cured, etc.).

I took a quick look at Tazewell, Eddy, and Smith, by the way, and was left unsure whether they were crazy or sociopathic. Eddy struck me as the most likely sociopath, with her plagiarism, etc, but all the "visions" all three got could be interpreted as an elaborate con or actual craziness. I'm not sure which.