Posts Tagged ‘Presidents’

Why do so many politicians seem crazy?

April 8, 2014

            “Narcissism is closely allied with demented self-confidence: hubris. In his book The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair, and the Intoxication of Power, the politician and medical doctor David Owen suggests that ‘there is a pattern of hubristic behavior manifest in the behavior of some leaders, particularly political leaders, which could legitimately be deemed to constitute a medically recognized syndrome,’ which he calls the hubristic syndrome. It afflicts some political leaders, but not all. Owen believes that it derives from some sort of narcissistic personality disorder, but goes beyond that. Its consequences throughout human history have been disastrous. Owen suggests that a sprinkling of behavioral symptoms from the following list characterizes this disorder:

George W. Bush

George W. Bush

—A narcissistic propensity to see the world primarily as an arena in which they can exercise power and seek glory rather than as a place with problems that need approaching in a pragmatic and non-self-referential manner;

            —a predisposition to take actions which seem likely to cast them in a good light—i.e., in order to enhance their image;

            —a disproportionate concern with image and presentation;

            —a messianic manner of talking about what they are doing and a tendency to exaltation;

            —an identification of themselves with the state to the extent that they regard the outlook and interests of the two as identical;

            —a tendency to talk of themselves in the third person or using the royal “we”;

            —excessive confidence in their own judgment and contempt for the advice or criticism of others;

            —exaggerated self-belief, bordering on a sense of omnipotence, in what they personally can achieve;

Tony Blair

Tony Blair

            —a belief that rather than being accountable to the mundane court of colleagues or public opinion, the real court to which they answer is much greater: History or God;

            —an unshakeable belief that in that court they will be vindicated;

            —recklessness, restlessness, and impulsiveness;

            —a tendency to allow their “broad vision,” especially their conviction of the moral rectitude of a proposed course of action, to obviate the need to consider other aspects of it, such as its practicality, cost, and the possibility of unwanted outcomes;

            —a consequent type of incompetence in carrying out a policy, which could be called hubristic incompetence. This is where things go wrong precisely because too much self-confidence has led the leader not to bother worrying about the nuts and bolts of a policy. It can be allied to an incurious nature.

Owen details the way in which George W. Bush., and more especially Tony Blair, eventually checked all these sinister boxes as their period in power unfolded. Margaret Thatcher had previously become another victim, and history shows many precursors.”

—SIMON BLACKBURN, Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love (Princeton 2014), pages 68-69.

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Long live the Queen!

April 10, 2010

The pictures below will either remind you how old you are or show you how young you are.

I thank my friend Bill Elwell for sharing them.

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