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Ian Hughes – Disordered Minds: Politics and Psychopaths

Ian Hughes discusses his book Disordered Minds: How Dangerous Personalities Are Destroying Democracy.

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Of all the personality disorders recognised by psychiatrists, only three pose a very real danger to society. The influence of psychopaths and those with narcissistic and paranoid personality disorders is seen every day: in bullying in schools and workplaces, in violence against women and children in their homes, in random assault and murder, in international criminal networks, in corporate fraud and corruption, and in decisions made every day by leaders around the world who put their own power ahead of the common good. Their malign influence is also evident in times of war, revolution, and societal breakdown when they are given free reign to express their destructive natures.

How has this disturbing fact remained hidden for so long? The answer is that many factors combine to provide camouflage – a mask of sanity – for pathological individuals. Science has only recently begun to properly characterise and diagnose these disorders, and it is also deeply ingrained within us to assume that everyone around us who seems normal is just like us, cognitively, emotionally, and otherwise. Few in the media or general public are willing or able to ask whether some of those wielding enormous power are dangerously psychologically unstable. But the mental health of those in control is a vital issue – an elephant in the room – that we must face sooner rather than later. Cascading political, economic, and environmental crises are currently converging to create a perfect storm in which individual mental disorders can become mass psychosis, with catastrophic consequences for us all.

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