The following four testable hypotheses form the basis of a coherent and comprehensive narrative to explain how psychopaths and people with narcissistic and paranoid personality disorders have an enormously detrimental impact on societies all around the world.
Please let me know your thoughts, and feel free to suggest further readings on any of the hypotheses below.
1. A minority of people with dangerous personality disorders, when the circumstances are right, and when they act together, pose an existential threat to society. These dangerous personality disorders are psychopathy, narcissistic personality and paranoid personality disorder.
2. Democracy can be seen as a series of defences built up over time to protect societies against this dangerous minority – and from the worst aspects of our own natures. These defences are the rule of law, electoral democracy, the separation of church and state, social democracy, shared sovereignty among nations, human rights law, and cultures which acknowledge the dignity of all.
3. Democracy is fragile because the conditions which empower this dangerous minority are deeply embedded in economic, religious and cultural institutions, and in our individual and group psychology. These conditions include vast inequalities in wealth across the world, and the culture of greed which neo-liberalism seeks to justify. The fragility of democracy is also evident in the ease with which populist leaders can stir widespread nationalist or xenophobic passions, and in the lure of fundamentalist religions.
4. Despite the violence and greed that scars the world today, there are grounds for hope. Reasons for hope can be found in history and in human psychology. History clearly shows a development in the institutions of democracy over time which has resulted in a greater level of protection against psychopathic, narcissistic and paranoid leaders today than at any time in history. (More, of course remains to be done.) Hope can also be found in the psychology of human development. These disorders, which cause so much suffering, are a result of failures in love and care in early childhood. Their prevention would result in a more just and peaceful world.
The path to a better world is through the spread of democracy and better care for every child born on our fragile earth.