Do Infantile Minds Rule the World?

Paranoid personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder are two of a range of personality disorders classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association.

Personality disorders are mental disorders that are characterized by long-lasting rigid patterns of thought and behaviour.

Paranoid personality disorder is characterised by pathological suspicion and an obsession with defending against enemies, both real and imaginary.

People with narcissistic personality disorder exhibit a grandiose sense of self-importance, an exhibitionistic need for constant admiration, and relationships marked by the exploitation of others.

These disorders often occur together in a single individual; a single person can exhibit both pathological paranoia and pathological narcissism.

Paranoid personality disorder has played a central role in the worst atrocities in human history. Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot all exhibited the characteristics of this disorder and used paranoia as a central organising theme in their respective political projects.

Many of the world’s most destructive tyrants also displayed the characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder. By pursuing their grandiose dreams, regardless of the consequences for others, narcissistic personalities have caused enormous damage to societies throughout history, and continue to do so.

Psychology has at last begun to alert us to the fact that such dangerous personality disorders exist. The major role that people with these disorders play in perpetuating violence and greed is also becoming clearer.

Armed with this new knowledge, we are beginning to realise the extent to which our world is shaped by infantile minds. Continue reading

Political Paranoia’s Fatal Attraction

‘Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.’    Eric Hoffer

Paranoid personality disorder is one of a range of personality disorders classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association. It is characterised by pathological suspicion and an obsessive need to eliminate enemies, both real and imaginary.

Pathological paranoia played a dominant role in the mindsets of those responsible for the worst atrocities of the twentieth century.

In our contemporary world, reeling from global financial crisis, turmoil in the Middle East, and Russian aggression in Ukraine, the world is reacquainting itself once again with this deadliest of mental disorders.     Continue reading

Eric Hoffer and the Dangers of Group Psychology

‘Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.’

For students of the human condition, Eric Hoffer is an indispensible guide. A self-educated dock labourer, Hoffer’s book ‘The True Believer’ is regarded as a classic of political psychology.

This blog post outlines Hoffer’s views on the power of mass movements, including his explanation as to why many ordinary people are willing to give up everything to sacrifice themselves to a ‘greater’ cause – even when that cause involves the slaughter of millions.

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How to Stop Religious Extremism

After watching the evening news, it’s hard to believe that religion makes us kinder to one another.

This month’s murder sprees by fundamentalists in Paris and Nigeria follow months of slaughter by ISIS and the Taliban in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

And adherents of Islam are not the only ones to engage in violence. Israel’s merciless bombardment of Gaza last summer resulted in the deaths of hundreds of women and children. In parts of Africa, evangelical Christians continue to campaign for the death penalty for gay men. And in Burma, Buddhist monks preach hate against that country’s persecuted Muslim minority.

So what is it about religion that so readily incites hatred?   Continue reading

It Isn’t Just Politics That’s Broken

Over the past three decades, as power was being sucked upwards, it wasn’t just politics that was being damaged. The foundations of our democracy were also being undermined. This guest post on ShiftingGrounds looks at how the pillars of liberal democracy have been subverted by the very politicians whose job it is to defend democracy. Continue reading here…

photo credit: Maia C via photopin cc

photo credit: Maia C via photopin cc

The Idea of Equality – The Greatest Change of the Last Millennium

Ian Mortimer’s magnificent new book ‘Centuries of Change’ describes the myriad ways in which European societies have been transformed over the past one thousand years. Modern cities, advanced technologies, democratic governments, scientific knowledge – all this would have been unthinkable to our ancestors ten centuries ago.

So can we possibly isolate one change as the single greatest change of the last millennium?’ Disordered World believes we can…  Continue reading