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Zoran Janković, Borut Pahor, Danilo Türk, Gregor Golobič, Branimir Štrukelj, Dušan Semolič, Katarina Kresal, ....
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no.commentSo are leaders losing touch with reality when they act in a power-hungry way? According to psychologist Guy Claxton, professor of learning sciences at the University of Winchester, their actions could be to do with "a disorder of intelligence".
/.../ 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).
Seven of the researchers’ 14 defining symptoms of hubris syndrome are among the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder according to the American Psychiatric Association, but five symptoms are unique to hubris syndrome – “conflation of self with the nation or organization; use of the royal ‘we’; an unshakable belief that a higher court (history or God) will provide vindication; restlessness, recklessness and impulsiveness; and moral rectitude that overrides practicalities, cost and outcome.”
Researchers maintain that a leader suffering from hubris syndrome should display at least one unique symptom and three of the others. But whether or not hubris syndrome is different from narcissistic personality disorder, should it be taken seriously?
Is Hubris Syndrome Dangerous?
The study authors claim “hubris syndrome in politicians is a greater threat than conventional illness to the quality of their leadership and the proper government of our world.” Hubris syndrome in our leaders potentially affects us all – decisions made under the influence of hubris syndrome may be reckless and based on an accountability to a higher power and not to the people themselves, leading to lapses in judgment that could have catastrophic consequences. Leaders with hubris syndrome, it is argued, act to win glory and in doing so lose touch with reality.