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Dictatorship not a mere love of power but a serious personality disorder

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As I was watching a live broadcast of various world leaders delivering their speeches at the United Nations General Assembly, I could not help being amazed at just how different their personalities were.

By Tendai Ruben Mbofana

It was so easy to tell who was a genuine democrat, and who was a vicious dictator – even if he or she was the leader of a democratic country.

Then a question came into my mind: were these dictators merely lovers of power, or was there something more?

I realized that, although the love of power was definitely part of the equation, there was something seriously wrong in these people’s minds.

This had to be a psychological/mental problem.

Why else would anyone do everything to stay in power forever?

Why would they even resort to killing, maiming torturing, abducting, and jailing their opponents – as well as burning down their homes?

Why would they stifle any form of dissent – no matter how peaceful it is?

Why would these dictators love surrounding themselves with bootlickers and yesmen/women?

A common trait of any dictator is that he or she believes they know better than anyone else, and they want everyone to do what they say.

All these questions reminded me of a psychological/mental problem called ‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder’ (NPD), formerly known as megalomania.

The name is from the Greek mythological figure, Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection.
NPD is a personality disorder that involves an excessive preoccupation with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige, and vanity.

People with NPD tend to spend a lot of time thinking about themselves – believing that they are better and more important than anyone else, and want only to be around other high-status people and institutions.

As such, they are very aloof, and demand allegiance from everyone, or else the consequencies would be catastrophic.

Does this remind us of one dictator who spent most of his time in prison – after being arrested for his liberation struggle activities – studying just as to avoid mixing with his struggle mates?

The same dictator who does not have any real friends, and thinks he knows more than anyone else, as well as loves so-called prestigous sports and music.

Another trait of someone with NPD is their lack of empathy – that is why a dictator would not lose any sleep if he lives in a mention, gets medical treatment overseas, and shops at the world’s leading brands – whilst, citizens in his country wallow in poverty.

Someone with NPD needs to be admired often.

That is why a dictator would appoint to high positions people who always sings his or her praises – even blasphemously being referred to as Jesus.

Such people a very good at exploiting others, and get away with anything – even when they are brought before other leaders to be chastised, nothing happens.

NPD sufferers are grossly envious/jealous of other people.

That is why a dictator would be so critical of a leader he or she knows was – or still is – more admired by the world.

To cap it all, NPD people are arrogant, and as dictators, would desparage their critics with vitriol – never heeding advice.

Therefore, dictators are more than lovers of power, but people with serious personality disorders – who should be lying on a psychologist’s couch, than sitting in the presidential seat.

* Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a Zimbabwe-based social justice activist, writer, and author. He is available should any organisation or individual invite him to participate and speak at any gathering. Please call: +263782283975, or email: