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These days, San Diego politicos have a new epithet of choice when describing their least favorite local politician: He’s a sociopath.

Local GOP Chairman Tony Krvaric was the latest to toss the word around Sunday on Twitter in reference to Democratic mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher.

@mapintar @katealyon @ScottPetersSD @10News Same one that shows sociopath @nathanfletcher in the lead? You have an issue with those #’s too?

— Tony Krvaric (@TonyKrvaric) September 29, 2013

Krvaric has consistently bashed Fletcher since he left the Republican Party 18 months ago. But he didn’t invent the sociopath insult. City Councilwoman Donna Frye and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith have both used “sociopath” in some form against their political enemies. Frye used it during the 2012 mayoral campaign, calling candidate Carl DeMaio a “political sociopath.” Goldsmith said that ex-Mayor Bob Filner had “sociopathic characteristics” during the height of the Filner sexual harassment scandal.

That’s no small charge.

Sociopathy, also known as antisocial personality disorder, is a serious mental health issue that often plays out in criminal behavior. Here are some traits that define sociopathy, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

• Be able to act witty and charming

• Be good at flattery and manipulating other people’s emotions

• Break the law repeatedly

• Disregard the safety of self and others

• Have problems with substance abuse

• Lie, steal and fight often

• Not show guilt or remorse

• Often be angry or arrogant

People hear sociopath and think of a ruthless killer, like a character out of “Breaking Bad” – even though many sociopaths aren’t. No matter what you think of DeMaio or Fletcher, they’re not very likely to start meth labs, murder lots of folks and show no remorse.

After Krvaric’s tweet this morning, I pointed out Frye and Goldsmith’s use of sociopath. Goldsmith emailed me to clarify that he didn’t call Filner a “sociopath” per se – he said he had “sociopathic characteristics.” He said he based his opinion after receiving perspective from a psychologist (he declined to say who).

“Donna and Tony’s comments were nonsense and they both should be called on those comments,” Goldsmith wrote in the email. “They were political and juvenile. My comments were made concerning the risk of further conduct and liability to the city and the need for our office to take legal action.”

Here’s the full text of Goldsmith’s email:

Please fact check your tweet that I called Filner a sociopath. In fact, I stated he has sociopathic characteristics. I recall on KUSI attributing that to a psychologist. The difference is between a diagnosis and characteristics. I don’t call people names. Nor, do I throw terms around without verification from a qualified source.

If you Google Filner and sociopathic characteristics you would even get some public info from an expert. I have not shared publicly the info I have, but the public info has been publicized by local media.

Your statement was curious since you never asked me a question about my comment. But, placing my comment in the same category as the others is offensive. For one thing, mine was backed by some expert opinion.

Donna and Tony’s comments were nonsense and they both should be called on those comments. They were political and juvenile. My comments were made concerning the risk of further conduct and liability to the city and the need for our office to take legal action.

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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