The Making of Destructive Leaders – A developmental perspective on pathological narcissism and power
With Professor James Gilligan, Professor Joy Schaverien and Dr Felicity de Zulueta
Recorded Friday 31 July 2020
In a year of multiple crises in many Western democracies, from the Covid-19 pandemic to the uprisings against racism, to the unfolding economic disaster that is a product of austerity, many will be asking the question: what type of person is governing us? This question relates not simply to specific individuals, their political parties and ideologies but to the mental states of those who are supposed to be offering benign leadership.READ MORE...
To suggest that our leaders are flawed from the get-go by their desire for power is too simple. There is surely a form of benign politician who is dedicated to equal citizenship for all, who can combine strength with care – who is an adult. Perhaps a better question is to explore the developmental maturity of certain leaders. Disturbing, yet obvious, as this idea may be, we need to ask whether huge economies are being controlled by people who have never been able to grow up, and who lack an internal representation of care on which they can model their political decisions.
As the history of populism repeats itself, we will consider the trajectory between unformed minds and uncompassionate politics. Our panel of speakers will look at the childhoods of certain leaders, tracing deficits in their early care to the kind of psychopathologies apparent in the neglect, abandonment and trauma inflicted or allowed in the countries they are elected to govern. With backgrounds in which a toxic mix of privilege, neglect and sadism may have formed their models of the parent-child, do we see this acted out in government with dire consequences?