Narcopath Leaders Took Over the World (4th International conference on Addiction Research & Therapy)
Chair, 4th International conference on Addiction Research and Therapy, October 2020
Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the "old ways": against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.
Minorities or "others" - often arbitrarily selected - constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is "wrong". They are accused of being old, of being eerily disembodied, cosmopolitan, a part of the establishment, of being "decadent". They are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, or origin. They are castigated as different, narcissistic (they feel and act as morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenceless, they are credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure, a foil. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy.
Narcissistic and Psychopathic leaders reify the pathologies of their culture and society.
They foster and propagate a personality cult and when things go sour, they turn on their followers and acolytes.
The narcissistic or psychopathic leader is the culmination and reification of his period, culture, and civilization. He is likely to rise to prominence in narcissistic societies. The leader’s mental health pathologies resonate with the anomies of his society and culture (“psychopathological resonance”.)
The leader and the led form a self-enhancing and self-reinforcing feedback loop, a dyad of mirrored adoration and reflected love. By elevating and idealizing their “Fuehrer”, the mob actually elevates and idealizes itself and the leader’s harnessed ochlocracy; in the “Duce’s” ascendance they find hope, in his manifest illness – curative solace and a legitimation of their own collective insanity. The dictator himself equates being elected – however patently unfairly – with being chosen by the transcendental forces of the gods and history. His is a manifest destiny, his exceptionalism - the nation’s own.
The leader’s personal-intimate life and persona may be utterly different to his political-public ones. It is an unsettling Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde effect. In private, the narcissistic-psychopathic leader may be avuncular, empathic, sentimental, helpful, dull, bourgeois, mediocre, middling, sickly, fussy, aloof, or friendly. But, he is at great pains to conceal these attributes from the public.
The narcissist's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference (the delusion that they are being mocked or discussed when they are not). Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as "victims of persecution".
The narcissistic leader fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, mythology. The leader is this religion's ascetic saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.
The narcissistic leader is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people - or humanity at large - should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, the narcissistic leader became a distorted version of Nietzsche's "superman".
Many narcissistic and psychopathic leaders are the hostages of self-imposed rigid ideologies. They fancy themselves Platonic "philosopher-kings". Lacking empathy, they regard their subjects as a manufacturer does his raw materials, or as the abstracted collateral damage in vast historical processes (to prepare an omelet, one must break eggs, as their favorite saying goes).
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