26 Feb 2011

Gaddafi, Berlusconi and the psychology of a psychopath

For some reason I've never sought to understand, I'm kind of obsessed with dictatorships: most of my short stories are set in an ambience where dictatorship is the underlying cause of what actually happens in the tale.
I'm furiously enraged with any dictator (doesn't matter if he's already dead). I should tell this to some psychologist...

Anyway, I didn't want to speak about me, but just to suggest an article published yesterday by The Economist.

Here just an excerpt::

[...] Nor, as has now become abundantly clear, had Mr Qaddafi really changed his stripes. As far back as 1975 he told an audience of students that he rose to power by force as the leader of a revolution and could only be removed by force. In one of the concluding passages of his Green Book, a stream-of-consciousness promoted as a blueprint for his leadership, Mr Qaddafi, with a characteristic mix of bluntness and illogic, declared that his ideology was “theoretically” a genuine democracy, but in reality, “the strong always rule.” “I was the one who created Libya,” he is said to have declared recently, “and I will be the one to destroy it.” In the typical fashion of dictators, Libya’s leader appears to be confusing his own person with the nation as a whole. [...]
I'm quite interested in Psychology and Anthropology. And tonight, reading the Economist's article about Lybia & this psychopath, it came to my mind an article I read some months ago which was a good & simple resume of other readings I had about Dictators' psychology. Here an excerpt:
The psychopathic Signs 
According to psychologists, dictators are the individuals whose narcissism is so extreme and grandiose that they exist in a kind of splendid isolation in which the creation of the grandiose self takes precedence over legal, moral or interpersonal commitments. While the psychopath gives no real affection, he is quite capable of inspiring affection of sometimes fanatical degree in others. Indeed, he has no genuine human qualities, but opportunistically adapts himself to any situation. This is not a normal type of behavior we need to adjust ourselves to a necessary situation, but purely an opportunistic trick.
Psychopaths have no human feelings
Psychopaths have no feeling of guilt or remorse no matter what happens. A good example is the famous Khomeini’s response when he was asked about his feeling in his flight to Iran after 15 years in exile, when he surprised a whole nation by saying: "I have no feeling on my return to Iran!“ His spontaneous, unscripted and unadvised reaction to a simple obvious question that would require him to express either empathy or caring and compassion for others, including the millions of his followers waiting enthusiastically for his arrival, shows his real side and his lack of human feelings. Although this little statement in itself was very revealing, it was not seriously taken in consideration at the time. Khomeini’s fumbling with statements and phraseology was not a proof that he was merely unintelligent in the conventional sense, but also showed a typical apathy, no sense of concern for his people. [...]

It -obviously- made me think again in our own little Italian dictator Mr. Berlusconi (how can that dwarf be called "Mr."?). And thinking of him had two very different effects on me: first it made me retch, and, second, it brought to my mind another article (this time a bit funny) about what dictators collect (apart from power and money). They actually seem to collect -compulsively- the most different things... Read it here.

The funny thing is what Stephen Anderson, professor of neurology at the University of Iowa, says:

Stephen Anderson [...] has come closest to finding a biological basis for the yen to collect. In 2004 he showed that damage to an area of the prefrontal cortex can lead to hoarding—the pathological cousin of collecting. Anderson doubts that's the case with the dictators. "Most people who have injuries to this part of the brain are not going to be successful," he says, "even in a bad-guy way." Still, he wouldn't be surprised if the bad guys' neural wiring were somehow amiss.
York has one more theory to add: the need for compensation. "Some of these people," he says, "were really very short."

Now, I'm going to ask you a question: do you know how tall is "Mr." Berlusconi?

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