With Donald Trump and Brexit mounting their daily assault on our senses, we could be forgiven for thinking that the world is having a nervous breakdown. Many readers will turn, therefore, to Jared Diamond’s new book Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change in the hope that it might ease our anxieties by showing us how countries have successfully navigated major upheavals in the past. Read my review in the Irish Times to see how reading Upheaval might even make your anxieties worse. Read here…
Category Archives: Building a Better Future
Lessons from the Psychopaths of History
‘[O]ne might well describe the twentieth century as the bloodiest period of utopian political experimentation the world has ever witnessed.’ 
The regimes of Stalin, Mao, Hitler and Pol Pot support the thesis that people with dangerous personality disorders, when they act together, and when the circumstances are right, can pose an existential threat to society. Each of these leaders clearly displayed traits associated with psychopathy and narcissistic and paranoid personality disorders. Continue reading
Why We Need to Put Morality Back at the Heart of Politics
The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed at the U.N. in September 2015, together set out a vision of a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world.
The vision is of a world in which no one is poor or hungry, where a sustainable model of economic growth benefits everyone and combats climate change, where there is greater equality within and between nations, and where every individual is treated equally regardless of gender, race or religion. Achieving such a vision will, in turn, require national and global institutions that are capable of delivering greater equality and fairness for all.
Unfortunately, however, our major political and economic institutions have been moving in the opposite direction for decades. As a result, inequalities have increased and self-interest now dominates societies, to the neglect of the common good.
A central challenge posed by the SDGs is to shift the cultures of our political and financial systems from self-interest to concern for others, and demonstrate once again that morality is a viable option in the modern world. Continue reading
Psychology and the U.N. Development Goals
Before the end of 2015, the leaders of the world’s nations will attend two major summits. Their task is nothing less than to change the course of history.
This week in New York, the U.N. post-2015 Development Summit seeks to agree a set of goals that together aim to create a more peaceful and equal world by 2030. Then, in December, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference will aim to reach a legally binding agreement on climate, with the goal of keeping global warming below 2°C.
A discussion of human psychology, however, will be largely absent from both of these crucial meetings. Laudable as current international efforts are, they are unfortunately doomed to failure if they do not pay more attention to some unpalatable facts about the psychology of our species. Continue reading
Is Humanity Psychologically Capable of Building a Fairer World?
The United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda was held from 25 to 27 September 2015 in New York. The summit adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what these did not achieve.
The summit set out the following vision for a more peaceful, sustainable and equal world:
A Radical Difference Between Science and Religion
Heracles, son of Zeus, is one of the great heroes of ancient Greek mythology. His most famous feat was to slay the fearsome Hydra, a multi-headed creature whose breath could kill instantly. Even the Hydra’s smell was said to be so poisonous that anyone who approached it died in agony. 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