The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Barrett Brown: Madness Foreshadowed

Posted on | July 28, 2013 | 36 Comments

December, 2010: Barrett Brown explains his
‘informational schematic’ on YouTube.

“I wonder to myself: Where do these trolls come from? Where do they live and breed? . . .
“Many militants are devoid of an essential ingredient of being human: empathy. . . .
“They afford themselves free rein to act out their basest of impulses.”

“Robin of Berkeley,” Dec. 3, 2010

“You might get the idea that Barrett Brown is kind of a moody loner, isolated and alienated, attempting to invent a social context for himself where none exists. And if that’s your impression of Brown, you might find it highly significant that the primary subject of Barrett Brown’s online videos is . . . Barrett Brown.”
Robert Stacy McCain, “Narcissism, Isolation and Trolls,” Dec. 3, 2010

Barrett Brown is now in custody at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Worth, Texas, scheduled for trial in September on multiple felony counts that could send him to prison for more than 100 years. Why did no one else see this coming?

“So this reader widget, it works off a human filter of these very erudite people, all together, and provides what should be the best means of obtaining information in existence. “

That is a quote from Barrett Brown’s YouTube “Video153,” in which he rambled on rather incoherently about his plans to gather “very erudite people” to participate in what he called a “schematic.” On Dec. 3, 2010 — that is to say, nearly two years before his September 2012 arrest — I compared Barrett’s incipient madness to that of Patrick Bedell, the schizophrenic Pentagon gunman who got himself shot to death in an apparent “suicide by cop” in March 2010. (See, “Whatever Happened to Crazy?” at Hot Air.) And it is remarkable that now, when Barrett Brown is being celebrated by the Left as a martyr, nobody can be bothered to transcribe this 13-minute video:

Because no one has provided a full transcript — and I’m about to leave on a road trip, so I certainly don’t have time now — the best way I can describe Barrett’s discourse is this: Imagine Wile E. Coyote on Oxycontin, outlining his new super-genius plan to catch that elusive Roadrunner, using Acme rocket skates, 400 feet of rope, an elaborate series of pulleys, two cups of bird seed, and a 95-pound anvil.

We know how this cartoon ends, don’t we?

The word you’re looking for is “grandiose.”

Grandiosity is a term psychologists use to discuss the delusions of greatness that are symptomatic of schizophrenia or, to a lesser degree, the manic phase of bipolar disorder:

Bipolar patients experience delusion during the worse part of their illness. Typically, when experiencing or displaying a stage of heightened excitability, joy, rage, senselessness, and correlated phenomena they might convey thoughts or beliefs that are grandiose in nature. Some of these grandiose beliefs frequently involve thoughts that the patient is very rich or famous or has super human abilities, etc.

In less severe manifestations, grandiosity is associated with narcissism, which is in turn a function of feelings of shame and failure. The damaged ego of the narcissist is unable to cope with failure and overcompensates through a series of rationalizations, including exaggerated and unrealistic schemes to achieve the success (and receive the admiration) he craves. The impracticality of these plans, the yawning gap between (a) the grandiose goals of such schemes and (b) the ability of the person to do what he aspires to do, is significant of the psychological need this kind of fantastic plan serves: A desire for recognition as a superior person, thus to vanquish the feelings of shame associated with the sense of failure.

Barrett Brown is an intelligent person. As a child, he earned praise for his intelligence and was thought to have exceptional promise. But he became a college dropout and a heroin addict, scraping along with meager earnings. He co-authored a book in his mid-20s and discovered that being that grand thing, a “published author,” isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. Whoop-dee-doo, y’know? It ain’t like you’re a zillionaire rock star with limousines, champagne and showgirls.

This video in December 2010 where Barrett tried to describe his “informational schematic” wasn’t so much a career plan as the symptom of an unhealthy mind tending toward thought patterns that were disorganized and grandiose. Being something of an amateur student of abnormal psychology, I recognized it as such and described it accurately, and now fast-forward to September 2012:

Ask yourself, “Why have Barrett Brown’s admirers never fully transcribed that video rant?” Because it’s haphazard paranoid gibberish, and not the discourse of the hero they want him to be.

It does not matter, really, whether there was anything genuinely newsworthy about the subjects — HBGary and “Team Themis,” etc. — that became the focus of Barrett Brown’s obsessive interest. Other people have written about those subjects without going crazy. And anyone who hails this narcissistic wackjob as a heroic martyr is seriously misguided. Barrett Brown was mentally ill and, according to federal grand jury indictments, a criminal menace.

There is news today: Anthony Weiner’s campaign manager resigned, and people are beginning to ask questions about the thousands of dollars that Weiner’s campaign spent to “investigate” claims that his 2011 scandal was the result of hacking.

“Gosh, who do you think is filling Weiner in on this?” said . . . Neal Rauhauser?

A stalker is terrorizing CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and Bill Schmalfeldt is still crazy, but I’m about to hit the road to cover another story. Could be interesting. Your prayers are earnestly requested, and remember the Five Most Important Words in the English Language are still: Hit the freaking tip jar.




  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    How is prison treating Barrett Brown? Did they find out he is a government snitch yet?

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    You don’t think this has anything to do with red hair do you?

    I am more orange blond myself…just saying.

  • joethefatman

    I seem to recall that while no one else seemed to notice the crazy in him, you did. So maybe he should have listened to you instead of BK and Company. He might be a free man getting psych help instead of prisoner #xxxxxx getting forced help. As for Weiner, he’s eccentric since he’s a libtard. The very wealthy and the very liberal are only eccentric, until they become a liability like Brown.

  • joethefatman

    Hey now! I may be mostly bald, but there is still enough to be a redhead. And I ain’t crazy….just differently mentaled.

  • Dandapani

    The DONATE button is broken. Takes me to paypal home page to login and NOT to a donate page like it used to. Just an FYI in case you like to get tips. 🙂

  • Joe Dokes

    Someone should photoshop that chart with P.O.E. all over it.

  • DaveO

    Where do these crazies come from?

    1. Diet: junk food is still junk. And the healthy crap is too expensive for the trolletariat. This is not the Dan White Twinkie Defense, but is should be noted that junk in the guts poisons the mind.

    2, Always getting a trophy, even when achieving last place. Humility and reality are taught in youth contests. Without losing, no one learns either humility, or the effects of reality.

    3, “Don’t Judge Me” lack of accountability. Nothing is ever wrong unless it inconveniences the person committing the wrong. Society be damned, everyone who will be worshipped must stretch the boundaries – whether it’s nudity on TV or outrageous hyperbole in speech.

    4. They are recruited. Like a “cut-out” from a Robert Ludlum novel, Barrett Brown, BS and others are recruited to provide crucial misdirection and when the time comes, a cut-out – someone who can be removed without damaging the cell/organization. Barrett Brown may know some things, but those passwords were changed and those identities exchanged for others (see NR’s technique for an example).

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  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    RSM is of course a red head. Which if hair color is a sign of madness, says a lot.

    Or as Instapundit says: Never try to out crazy Stacy McCain.

  • Delaney Coffer

    He seems to be using some strange falsetto voice. Like a newscaster dealio.

  • bet0001970

    It’s not called “grandiose”. It called “cartoon physics”.

  • Bob Belvedere

    ‘Differently mentaled’ – I like that.

    Of course, redheaded women are just plain, bats–t crazy.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Godspeed on your trip, Breeze.

  • joethefatman

    My ex certainly was. That’s why I’m married to a blonde now.

  • rmnixondeceased

    Heh. Calling the Roadrunner …

  • rmnixondeceased

    It calms down when they turn gray …

  • robcrawford2

    “[it] should be noted that junk in the guts poisons the mind.”


    There is no evidence of this.


  • SillyWill

    Do a self test.. eat twinkies and drink coke day and night for a month and log your feelings and behavior.. If you need to check into a hospital before that, I’ll understand. If you don’t want to do that, drink Diet Coke exclusively for all your liquid intake, let me know how you are doing after a week.