Power -The Ultimate Intoxicant

Being out of touch with reality, marked intolerance to dissenting views, excessive obsession with positive public– and self- image are all symptoms of a ‘mental illness’ that could develop in men with power.. the Hubris Syndrome.

Perhaps this is the source of the saying that Power Corrupts And Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely?

Unfortunately, most people afflicted with this “disease” would never acknowledge it. This weakness is often apparent to all – except the principal concerned and his band of praise-singers.

Present (and future!) leaders and powerful men and women need to constantly remind themselves that the capture of power is primarily a matter of chance: They should not get carried away, thinking that their leadership position confers a status higher than that of others – they should keep reminding themselves that they are mere mortals.

To err is human.

Perhaps there is the need for the establishment of a new medical entity that would be concerned primarily with dealing with leaders who fall for the potent intoxication of power.. leading to Pathological Narcissism or the Hubris Syndrome.?

Often, those so afflicted cannot really help themselves!

History, and studies have demonstrated clearly that this mental illness is quite common among many Heads of State and heavily influences their decision-making. “Larger than life” ego rather than true altruism to take the best decisions in the interest of the fatherland lead to faulty decisions..

Since these Heads Of State literally hold the destiny of the people in their hands, their decisions should be predicated on a rational and realistic sense of judgment. Unfortunately, this is often not the case!

Even Aristotle and Plato, for all their vaunted wisdom were afflicted with the Hubris Syndrome.

Hubris encompasses narcissism, arrogance, disproportionate pride, sense if infallibility, pretentiousness, egotism, manipulation and contempt for others . This also refers to a feeling of invulnerability, invincibility, omniscience and omnipotence. A god_like feeling.

Similar to narcissism, people with a hubristic infestation demonstrate a total lack of interest in everything that does not personally concern them.

To qualify as a candidate of this syndrome, you must exhibit at least three of the following symptoms:


– The tendency to give importance to only their “vision”, only their choice, which leads them to omit considering practical aspects or to properly evaluate the costs / consequences.

-Identification with the country, to the extent that the hubristic individual thinks that his / her point of view and interests are identical to those of the nation or organization.

-The tendency to talk about oneself in the third person or to use “we” referring to oneself.

– Excessive confidence and exaggerated estimation in one’s own judgment coupled with contempt for the criticism, views and advice of others.

– Temdency to engage in actions likely to present the individual in a favorable public light and embellish his image.. i.e,. extreme concern about image and public perception.

-Belief that instead of being accountable to one’s colleagues / public opinion, the only court to answer to will be history, together with the firm belief that the judgment of this court will be favorable to him.

-Loss of contact with reality, often coupled with progressive isolation.

– Messianic outlook in proffering solutions to current national problems.

-Narcissistic tendency to see the world as a. playground to exercise power and seek glory. Every other thing is secondary.

-A feeling of omnipotence regarding what this individual believes he can personally accomplish.


While some of the traits and weaknesses are exactly what makes a leader great and makes them attain leadership position to start with, they are also attributes that would be the downfall of any leader if not carefully watched and curtailed.

Often, we complain that our leaders lack empathy and are apparently oblivious of our suffering.

Perhaps power by its very nature makes it impossible to really operate at the level of the masses? He who wears it knows where it pinches. How would you know of it pinches, or where it pinches, if you don’t wear it?

If someone who is privileged from birth (silver spoon stuff,), or for a very long time gets to be the Leader, how really can that person identify with the downtrodden? How do you explain to a marine animal what it is like to live on land? Can you feel the birth pangs of childbirth as a man, rather than just imagine it. ?

Perhaps, just like The Rich Being Unable To Live Among Humans, the Leaders are also unwilling captives of their station in life – leadership role?

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