Sunday, September 23, 2007


Witzelsücht, from the German witzel(ei) meaning pun or joke, and sucht meaning addiction or yearning, is a set of rare neurological symptoms characterized by the patient's uncontrollable tendency to pun, tell inappropriate jokes and pointless or irrelevant stories at inconvenient moments. The patient nevertheless finds these utterances intensely amusing. It is associated with small lesions of the orbitofrontal cortex.

“Q: Mr. President, back to your grade point average on holding the line on taxes –

BUSH: Whew, I thought you were going to talk about the actual grade point average. (Laughter.) I remind people that, like when I’m with Condi I say, she’s the Ph.D. and I’m the C-minus student, and just look at who’s the President and who’s the advisor. (Laughter.)”

As Steve Benen points out, this joke is actually one of Bush’s go-to lines, and he’s used it over and over and over again.

Some observers of this Bush behavioral tic see it as a sign of insecurity. Others, like Benen, see something else.
Well, for one thing it tells us that the president isn’t terribly impressed with the rigors of academia. It also suggests Bush believes the smart and educated are worth having around, but the real power belongs with people like him. And if he can poke fun at the nerd in front of thousands of people, making himself appear bigger in the process, all the better.
I like my explanations neat and simple, and so I’ll go back to something Kurt Vonnegut said. He called Bush “the syphilis president.” Clearly, some spirochetes are munching away at W.’s right anterior temporal orbitofrontal region. Here’s my evidence.
Frontal temporal dementia is a variable and often asymmetric disorder with a range of neuropsychiatric symptoms. Previously described from vascular lesions and tumors involving the orbitofrontal region and from neurosyphilis, moria and Witzelsücht can also be the most prominent symptoms of FTD. Moria includes childish euphoria and cheerful excitement, and Witzelsücht includes excessive and inappropriate facetiousness, jokes, and pranks. [emph added]
Doesn’t it all make sense now? The Iraq War is just a neurosyphilitic prank gone terribly wrong.

No comments: