Authoritarianism as Madness

December 17,2021- Has such a notion ever occurred to those who long for the presence of an authoritarian leader-with their wish largely based in response to what they see as the madness of the world itself?

This question came to me, after watching an offbeat French science fiction program, “La Revolution”, dealing with a fictional prelude to the actual French Revolution, set in a restive provincial part of the country. In the short series, certain noblemen are afflicted with a murderous rage, which they take out on several peasants.

I have long regarded unbridled egoism as a form of mental illness. Indeed, in this week’s edition of Medscape, Ambardar, Bienenfeld, et al summarize the following about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NSP):

“In the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), [1NPD is defined as comprising a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by the presence of at least 5 of the following 9 criteria:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance
  • A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
  • A need for excessive admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonally exploitive behavior
  • A lack of empathy
  • Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
  • A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes

In a proposed alternative model cited in DSM-5, NPD is characterized by moderate or greater impairment in personality functioning, manifested by characteristic difficulties in 2 or more of the following 4 areas [2:

  • Identity
  • Self-direction
  • Empathy
  • Intimacy

In addition, NPD is characterized by the presence of both grandiosity and attention seeking.” *

We all get carried away, now and then. The difference is that most of us see fit to submit to the admonitions of family and friends, in relatively short order-and take our places in the order of society, while still remaining true to our own hopes and dreams.

Then, too, most people suffering from NSP, or related disorders, do NOT engage in murderous behaviour. The aforementioned program’s antagonists had a secondary affliction, loosely named “blue blood” (having no association with aristocracy in general, or with the popular television series of a similar name). The culprit is a virus.

Nonetheless, it is worth considering that people who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder are enduring an affliction. Is it in anyone’s best interests to place such people in positions of high leadership? This is not an invitation to dump on anyone who has shown signs of such a disease, but to bring this information to bear on any decisions one makes as a citizen, in elections going forward, at ANY level.

  1. Sheenie Ambardar, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD, “What are the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)?”, from DSM-V update of May 18, 2018, Medscape, December 18, 2021.

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