The World’s Largest Democracy is Under Threat

Corruption will go when the large number of persons given unworthily to it realise that the nation does not exist for them to exploit but that they exist to serve the nation.

                                                            Mahatma Gandhi

The heritage of India’s freedom movement and its leaders, particularly Mahatma Gandhi, provide ideals that are still capable of inspiring India and the world. Gandhi’s uncompromising moral strength and his tactics of non-violence have guided Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi and many others.

But endemic corruption in the police and the judiciary, along with the capture of India’s democracy by elected officials facing serious criminal charges, is undermining the world’s largest democracy.     Continue reading

Pol Pot and Hitler – The Fools Who Shape History

Three decades and five thousand miles separate two photographs.

The first shows a city in ruins. In the foreground, amidst the rubble, the outlines of what once were buildings are clearly discernible. In the distance lies a vast area of complete desolation, an ominous wasteland devoid even of rubble. Amidst this desolation, nothing remains of the unprepossessing plaza which once served as a gateway to hell. A huge oval, it had been partly surrounded by buildings with roads running into it like streams into a pond. With its perimeter fenced off, there was space enough within for up to eight thousand victims at a time.    Continue reading

How NeuroScience is Proving that Freud was Right

Three core ideas lie at the centre of psychoanalytic thought.

The first is that, as infants, we develop best in an environment of love and fun. Second that our internal worlds are formed in early childhood and have an enduring influence on our relationships throughout our lives. And third, that much of the suffering in this world can be traced to neglect and abuse in childhood.

Psychoanalysts since Freud have passionately believed that these ideas have the power to change our lives and reshape our world.

Now neuroscience and biochemistry are showing that, on these key ideas at least, Freud was right.    Continue reading

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.    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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