Friday, July 10, 2015

Hubris Syndrome--Psychologists Discover New Personality Disorder Among Political Leaders--Parable of the Parrot by Marvin X

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Hubris Syndrome - Psychologists Discover New Personality Disorder Among Political Leaders

October 30, 2010, last updated April 29, 2012

By LOUISE CARR, Contributing Columnist

It’s commonly believed that politicians won’t get anywhere in today’s political climate without a strong dose of persuasiveness, charm, self-confidence, and the willingness to take risks and make difficult decisions. After all, who elects a leader who shies away from decision-making and doesn’t speak up for the country? You don’t even consider running for office unless you believe you are the best person for it.

But these qualities of successful leadership often walk hand-in-hand with less desirable traits – refusal to listen to advice, impetuous behavior, impulsiveness and recklessness.

According to a new study by David Owen and Jonathan Davidson at the House of Lords, London, UK and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, USA, published in 2009, when these negative traits take over, the leader’s capacity to make judgments and decisions is severely compromised, leading to political and societal disaster.

This behavior, the researchers claim, points to "hubris"--- an excessive pride and self-confidence along with overwhelming contempt for others. Is hubris an exaggerated form of normal leadership characteristics? Or is hubris in political leaders an alarming personality disorder that causes harm to everyday people?

What Is Hubris Syndrome?

The authors look at hubris in leaders as a personality disorder, a syndrome with defined symptoms and a cause. Power causes hubris syndrome – it’s a disorder of power and high office, particularly when power is associated with success and when minimal restraints are placed on the leader. Symptoms of hubris syndrome may be familiar to anyone who has observed the nastier side of politics over the years.

People with hubris syndrome often take action first and foremost to enhance their own image and place an exaggerated importance on how they look and come across to the public. That politician who turns up only to events that further their career and has a scripted response that always manages to be about themselves? Hubris syndrome.

Leaders with hubris syndrome tend to speak in a messianic tone, showing high levels of self confidence that border on the “god-like.” Hubris syndrome sufferers equate themselves with a higher power and believe they are accountable only to that higher power – not to the people. The leader who uses the royal “we” – “we have become a grandmother” – is exhibiting hubris syndrome.

Hubris syndrome is characterized by a loss of contact with reality, a reckless and restless impulse ultimately ending in incompetence.

Who Suffers From Hubris Syndrome?

Out of the 18 presidents in office from 1908 to 2009, seven displayed symptoms of hubris syndrome - Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. One was judged to have full-blown hubris syndrome – George W. Bush. Kennedy showed occasional signs of hubris syndrome, notably during the Bay of Pigs events in 1961. Richard Nixon displayed hubris syndrome including saying to Henry Kissinger in 1972, “Never forget, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy” (released by the Nixon Library, run by the National Archives, on 2 December 2008). 

Parable of the Parrot by Marvin X

The economic and political dependence of this African neo-colonial bourgeoisie is reflected in its culture of apenmanship and parrotry enforced on a restive population through police boots, barbed wire, a gowned clergy and judiciary; their ideas are spread by a corpus of state intellectuals, the academic and journalistic laureates of the neo-colonial establishment.
--Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Decolonizing the Mind

for Ngugi Wa Thiong'o and the Pan African Revolution

The king wanted parrots around him. He wants all his ministers to wear parrot masks. He said he had to do the same for the previous king. He only said what the king wanted to hear, nothing more, so he advised his ministers to do the same. In fact, they must encourage the people to become parrots.

Yes, he wanted a nation of parrots. Don't say anything the kings does not want to hear. Everything said should be music to his ears. And don't worry, he will tell you exactly what he wants to hear in his regular meetings and public addresses to the nation. Everyone will be kept informed what parrot song to sing. No one must be allowed to disagree with the king. This would be sacrilegious and punishable by death.

The king must be allowed to carry out the dreams that come to his head. No one else should dream, only the king. In this manner, according to the king, the people can make real progress. There shall always be ups and downs, but have faith in the king and everything will be all right. Now everyone sing the national anthem, the king told the people.

There must be a chorus of parrots, a choir, mass choir singing in perfect unity. Let there be parrots on every corner of the kingdom, in every branch and tree. Let all the boys sing like parrots in the beer halls. Let the preacher lead the congregation in parrot songs. Let the teachers train students to sound like parrots. Let the university professors give good grades to those who best imitate parrot sounds. Let the journalists allow no stories over the airwaves and in print if they do not have the parrot sound.

The king was happy when the entire nation put on their parrot masks. Those who refused suffered greatly until they agreed to join in. The state academics and intellectuals joined loudly in parroting the king's every wish. Thank God the masses do not hear them pontificate or read their books. After all, these intellectual and academic parrots are well paid, tenured and eat much parrot seed.

Their magic song impresses the bourgeoisie who have a vested interest in keeping the song of the parrot alive. Deep down in the hood, in the bush, the parrot song is seldom heard, only the sound of the hawk gliding through the air in stone silence looking for a parrot to eat.

--Marvin X 4/5/10 
from The Wisdom of Plato Negro, parables/fables, Black Bird Press, Oakland.

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