Pakistan Politics & PORTRAIT OF A NARCISSSIST
Following is a miscellany of concepts and episodes that might appear unrelated at first sight but in fact all these have a common thread running through them. Blinkered and captive followers of a narcissistic leader however might not be able to see the common theme. All the excerpts have been culled from authentic sources except for the last one at number 7 which is an incident that actually happened with me. – Sardar Zaidi
(1) NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER
In the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5),  NPD is defined as comprising a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by the presence of at least 5 of the following 9 criteria:
• A grandiose sense of self-importance
• A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
• A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
• A need for excessive admiration
• A sense of entitlement
• Interpersonally exploitive behavior
• A lack of empathy
• Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
Note: Just imagine how aggravated would be the disorder if all the above traits are found in the same person
(2) Cult of Personality
A cult of personality, sometimes referred to as a personality cult, is defined as “exaggerated devotion to a charismatic political, religious, or other leader.”1
Authoritarian figures, such as Benito Mussolini of Italy and Vladimir Putin of Russia, are often associated with cults of personality, as are totalitarian regimes such as the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, Germany under Adolf Hitler, and North Korea under Kim Jong-Un.
Leaders of cults of personality often use imagery and the manipulation of mass media to form an exalted, even superhuman, version of their persona in the minds of their followers.2 Their followers accept the leader’s persona and authority, which leads to their devotion to the leader and their mission to bring about an imagined future.
Cults of personality have become easier to create and sustain in modern times as mass media has become increasingly sophisticated and accessible, enabling the leaders of cults of personality to more easily spread and control their messages.
(3) CHARISMATIC AUTHORITY
Closely allied with the cult of personality is the concept of charismatic authority, which most personality cult researchers agree is essential to understanding this kind of leadership. According to the sociologist Max Weber, charisma is a “certain quality of an individual personality [under] which he is considered extraordinary and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman or at least especially exceptional powers or qualities.”6
Charismatic authority depends on individual followers’ devotion to and trust in an individual leader. In this context, followers’ perception of the leader is crucial to maintaining their legitimacy, so the media is used to create and promote a larger-than-life image of the leader.3
Another feature of charismatic authority is that it’s frequently critical of existing institutions and seeks to bring about some form of change, which could constitute anything from a previous idealized time to revolutionary reform.
This mission to disrupt the established order is key to the success of a charismatic leader as the more followers buy into the belief that there’s a crisis in society that current institutions can’t fix, the more likely they are to place their hopes in a charismatic leader. The same basic principles apply to the figure around which a cult of personality forms.3
An individual’s dedication to the other members of a personality cult can be key to both their continuing membership and the group-specific beliefs they buy into and actions they’re willing to perform.
While the overarching mission led by a charismatic leader—such as bringing about a new utopia—is often so lofty that it’s unrealistic, follower support is typically built on the inclusion of more realistic, practical goals—such as better wages or less competition for jobs—that will help followers imagine an improved future.
In a cult of personality, the leader solidifies and legitimizes his authority through media manipulation and propaganda that causes followers to believe the leader is the only one who can achieve the stated mission. However, followers’ ongoing belief and devotion to a personality cult isn’t sustained by its leader and mission alone. It’s also membership in the group and loyalty to the other group members that maintain their loyalty.
Ultimately, when devotion to the leader and their mission evolves into devotion to the personality cult as a whole, followers may experience identity fusion, in which one’s social identity and individual self-concept are fused. This can lead followers to feel a family-like bond with other group members, encouraging them to engage in extreme behavior even fighting and dying, on behalf of the group.
According to the theoretical framework of the “devoted actor,” these actions have nothing to do with anticipated risks or rewards but are the result of followers’ unconditional commitment to the group’s morals, values, and ideology.
In cults of personality, this can mean loyalty to the group, and obedience to the leader becomes more important than more established values. As a result, identity fusion with a personality cult can result in ties to the group that are even stronger than those to their own family.
So while those on the outside may see how the leader is manipulating and exploiting their followers and question why group members continue to fall prey to this, their followers will become increasingly dedicated to the cult of personality.
Because cults of personality are so successful at fulfilling social needs, it can be challenging to break free on one’s own. Moreover, if one lives in a country where a personality cult was created to strengthen the political hold of an authoritarian leader, they may have no ability to do so.
For people who have fallen prey to cults of personality operating in democracies, it will likely take concerned friends and family to start the process of opening a loved one’s eyes to their participation.
(4) POPILIST LEADER
“I am the people’
In his book The Global Rise of Populism, Dr Moffitt argues that there are other traits associated with the typical populist leader.
One is “bad manners”, or behaving in a way that’s not typical of politicians – a tactic employed by President Trump and the Philippines’ President Duterte.
Trump v Duterte – who said what?
The other, he says, is “perpetuating a state of crisis” – and always seeming to be on the offensive.
“A populist leader who gets into power is ‘forced’ to be in a permanent campaign to convince his people that he is not establishment – and never will be,” according to Prof Nadia Urbinati from Columbia University.
She argues that populist content is “made of negatives” – whether it is anti-politics, anti-intellectualism, or anti-elite. Here lies one of the populism’s strengths – it is versatile.
It is “extraordinarily powerful because it can adapt to all situations,” she said. Another common thread among populist leaders is they tend to dislike the “complicated democratic systems” of modern government – preferring direct democracy like referendums instead, according to Prof Bull.
That also ties in to its links to authoritarianism, he argues – a lack of trust in the established system gives rise to “strongman” leaders.
“Ultimately, the leader makes the decision in a way that just isn’t possible in traditional democracies,” he says.
That sentiment is perhaps best embodied by the late left-wing Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who once said: “I am not an individual – I am the people”.
(5) PATHOLOGICAL LIAR
It is observed that people who have antisocial personality disorder (APD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) indulge in lying.
A pathological liar is often goal-oriented (i.e., focused, one tells lies to get their way).
They have very little regard or respect for the rights and feelings of others.
They are often considered manipulative and cunning.
They create extravagant stories that may be maintained or tweaked over time, and they often believe their lies or have a weak grip on reality.
Unlike the compulsive liar, pathological liars are near impossible to catch in the act. These people are excellent liars because they lie constantly and make stories up unnecessarily, and often, it becomes extremely difficult to distinguish the truth from false statements.
Pathological liars know how to be confident while lying and use their pathological lying trait as a defense mechanism (e.g. they fix their gaze upon you rather than looking away).
Some of the symptoms of a pathological liar are: they lie to gain something, they exaggerate things, they keep on changing their stories, and they live in a false sense of ‘reality.’ If confronted, they act defensive and never admit that they are liars. Lastly, they hold no value for truth
A pathological liar is distinctively different from a compulsive liar. A pathological liar lies incessantly to get their way and does so with little awareness whereas a compulsive liar lies out of habit.
(6) THE PIED PIPER
The Pied Piper is someone who other people follow or support but who may harm them or leave them disappointed
The Pied Piper is the main character in a German tale about a man hired by the citizens of a town to get rid of rats. The man dressed in multicoloured – or ‘pied’ – clothing and played a magic pipe to lure the rats to a river outside the town where they were drowned. According to the story, the people of the town refused to pay him and so he used his magical flute to lure their children away from home.
In the end a quotation from Robert Browning:
“And I chiefly use my charm
On creatures that do people harm,
The mole and toad and newt and viper;
And people call me the Pied Piper.”
(7) TRESPASSING FILTHY DOG
It all happened a long time back. One evening I went to my clinic as usual, but as I entered, a dog sneaked right behind me and lodged himself into a small urinal located in a corner of my consultation chamber. I had hardly settled down into my chair when I suddenly noticed a big, burly dog lying curled up in the narrow space of the urinal. The dog was all mired in muck. I felt nauseated at the sight of him and tried with the broom handle to chase him out. But however hard I tried the dog did not budge with my goading.
Seeing me struggling with the dog my neighbors who were watching through the glass door came in to help me. After long effort we finally succeeded in moving the slimy dog out of the urinal.
But lo and behold! As soon as the dog came out of the narrow urinal, he stretched his body and with a mighty shudder mired the whole room and all of us with his stinking slime