Saturday, October 16, 2010

Concerning Harper's Mental Illness. . . .

I don't think one needs to be very sharp to understand that Stephen Harper is pathologically narcissistic. Of course there are various forms of narcissistic personality disorders. I am obviously not a psychiatrist but I would say that Harper is a high-functioning, egomaniacal narcissist who has begun to suffer from Acquired Situational narcissism. That is to say, he started out pretty sick and lacking almost any degree of human empathy but his power has significantly exacerbated the situation. Like Stalin, Harper began as a obsessive-compulsive egoist, but power has significantly increased his symptoms and rendered his pathology dangerous.

One can determine that Harper's mental illness has reached the level of a psychosis simply by the manner in which he reacts to his surroundings. Most sane and rational individuals understand, for example, that people hold various opinions concerning the world and themselves, and that these competing opinions are discursively redeemable. That is to say, if called upon to defend our opinions we could, to varying degrees, redeem these positions through discourse. We can recognize a pathological narcissists by the fact that when questioned or challenged, this person reacts not as though someone is simply putting forward a different, and competing opinion or possible course of action, but as though the very act of intellectual challenge has its source in some personal insult and evil intention. This is because the pathological narcissist doesn't actually believe that there are competing opinions that can be redeemed through discourse. Rather, they imagine that their worldview derives from some external and absolute, unchallengeable truth. In other words, they are essentially incapable of imagining that they are wrong about anything, so all challenges begin to appear to them as motivated by some underlying evil plan. Such a narcissist gradually becomes mired in paranoia and what began as a strength (ie., confidence and commitment) becomes a weakness as their opinions become less informed by facts about the world and more motivated by a personal agenda, the sources and goals of which even they have lost sight of. In other words, the facts no longer matter and their paranoia drives them to actions that don't relate to the external world but only to their internal monologue which they usually imagine derives from some higher power. As their paranoia increases they are even less driven to actually pursue any agenda other then the destruction of those that they perceive might oppose them. Thus Stalin lost sight entirely of the original motivations for communism which inspired the overthrow of the Czarist regime and his entire political life gradually became exclusively about rooting out and destroying the forces that he imagined where arrayed against him. And like Stalin, Harper has not only begun to enter this stage of pathological narcissism but he has surrounded himself with a cadre of yes-men who are driven by their own feelings of inadequacy to follow a leader who seems driven by a higher cause.

Of course, no such scenario ends happily. Rather, the pathology, by its very nature, must continue to increase as the illness drives the victim to ever more ridiculous actions which will necessarily be opposed by a larger number of people, which only further feeds the person's paranoia as they become convinced that the opposition is a conspiracy to destroy them. We see small examples of this everyday in people who imagine that the CBC, for example, is some kind of communist conspiracy to undermine the any right-wing values. But on a larger scale the implications are grander and more dangerous as the narcissistic leader attempts ever greater escapes to cling to power.

Only time will tell where Harper's mental illness will take us next.

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