Hubris…pride that blind… syndrome acquired personality disorder?s…that pride that goes just before the fall…power impacts on character


Hubris...pride that blind... syndrome acquired personality disorder?s...that pride that goes just before the fall...power impacts on character

Power can significantly change a person’s personality. Maybe even transform it. To fight hubris syndrome, we must begin by fighting our tendency to admire power.Power has always inspired writers. Hubris syndrome "- when power drives an individual mad – would also have transfigured a large number of historical personalities.
Hubris (/ˈhjuːbrɪs/, also hybris, from ancient Greek ὕβρις) describes a personality quality of extreme or foolish pride or dangerous overconfidence.[1] In its ancient Greek context, it typically describes behavior that defies the norms of behavior or challenges the gods, and which in turn brings about the downfall, or nemesis, of the perpetrator of hubris.
The adjectival form of the noun hubris is "hubristic". Hubris is usually perceived as a characteristic of an individual rather than a group, although the group the offender belongs to may suffer collateral consequences from the wrongful act. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments or capabilities. Contrary to common expectations,[by whom?] hubris is not necessarily associated with high self-esteem but with highly fluctuating or variable self-esteem, and a gap between inflated self perception and a more modest reality. In ancient Greek, hubris referred to actions that shamed and humiliated the victim for the pleasure or gratification of the abuser. The term had a strong sexual connotation, and the shame reflected upon the perpetrator as well. Violations of the law against hubris included what might today be termed assault and battery; sexual crimes; or the theft of public or sacred property. Two well-known cases are found in the speeches of Demosthenes, a prominent statesman and orator in ancient Greece. These two examples occurred when first Midias punched Demosthenes in the face in the theatre (Against Midias), and second when (in Against Conon) a defendant allegedly assaulted a man and crowed over the victim. Yet another example of hubris appears in Aeschines’ Against Timarchus, where the defendant, Timarchus, is accused of breaking the law of hubris by submitting himself to prostitution and anal intercourse. Aeschines brought this suit against Timarchus to bar him from the rights of political office and his case succeeded. In ancient Athens, hubris was defined as the use of violence to shame the victim (this sense of hubris could also characterize rape. Aristotle defined hubris as shaming the victim, not because of anything that happened to the committer or might happen to the committer, but merely for that committer’s own gratification: to cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to you, nor because anything has happened to you, but merely for your own gratification. Hubris is not the requital of past injuries; this is revenge. As for the pleasure in hubris, its cause is this: naive men think that by ill-treating others they make their own superiority the greater. Crucial to this definition are the ancient Greek concepts of honour (τιμή, timē) and shame (αἰδώς, aidōs). The concept of honour included not only the exaltation of the one receiving honour, but also the shaming of the one overcome by the act of hubris. This concept of honour is akin to a zero-sum game. Rush Rehm simplifies this definition of hubris to the contemporary concept of "insolence, contempt, and excessive violence".In Greek mythology, when a figure’s hubris offends the pagan gods of ancient Greece, it is usually punished; examples of such hubristic, sinful humans include Icarus, Phaethon, Arachne, Salmoneus, Niobe, Cassiopeia, and Tereus. The concept of hubris is not only derived from Greek philosophy – as it is found in Plato and Aristotle – but also from the theatre, where it allows us to tell the story of great epics, where success goes up to the head of the hero, who claims to rise to the rank of gods; it is then ruthlessly put in its place by Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance. The Greek hybris refers to the excesses and their disastrous consequences.

In its modern usage, hubris denotes overconfident pride combined with arrogance.[10] Hubris is often associated with a lack of humility. Sometimes a person’s hubris is also associated with ignorance. The accusation of hubris often implies that suffering or punishment will follow, similar to the occasional pairing of hubris and nemesis in Greek mythology. The proverb "pride goeth (goes) before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (from the biblical Book of Proverbs, 16:18) is thought to sum up the modern use of hubris. Hubris is also referred to as "pride that blinds" because it often causes a committer of hubris to act in foolish ways that belie common sense.[11] In other words, the modern definition may be thought of as, "that pride that goes just before the fall."
Examples of hubris are often found in literature, most famously in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, in which Lucifer attempts to compel the other angels to worship him, is cast into hell by God and the innocent angels, and proclaims: "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven." Victor in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein manifests hubris in his attempt to become a great scientist by creating life through technological means, but comes to regret his project. Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus portrays the eponymous character as a scholar whose arrogance and pride compel him to sign a deal with the Devil, and retain his haughtiness until his death and damnation, despite the fact that he could easily have repented had he chosen to do so.

Charisma, charm, the ability to inspire, persuasiveness, breadth of vision, willingness to take risks, grandiose aspirations and bold self-confidence—these qualities are often associated with successful leadership. Yet there is another side to this profile, for these very same qualities can be marked by impetuosity, a refusal to listen to or take advice and a particular form of incompetence when impulsivity, recklessness and frequent inattention to detail predominate. This can result in disastrous leadership and cause damage on a large scale. The attendant loss of capacity to make rational decisions is perceived by the general public to be more than ‘just making a mistake’. While they may use discarded medical or colloquial terms, such as ‘madness’ or ‘he’s lost it’, to describe such behaviour, they instinctively sense a change of behaviour although their words do not adequately capture its essence. A common thread tying these elements together is hubris, or exaggerated pride, overwhelming self-confidence and contempt for others (Owen, 2006). How may we usefully think about a leader who hubristically abuses power, damaging the lives of others? Some see it as nothing more than the extreme manifestation of normal behaviour along a spectrum of narcissism. Others simply dismiss hubris as an occupational hazard of powerful leaders, politicians or leaders in business, the military and academia; an unattractive but understandable aspect of those who crave power. But the matter can be formulated differently so that it becomes appropriate to think of hubris in medical terms. It then becomes necessary first to rule out conditions such as bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, in which grandiosity may be a prominent feature. From the medical perspective, a number of questions other than the practicalities of treatment can be raised. For example can physicians and psychiatrists help in identifying features of hubris and contribute to designing legislation, codes of practice and democratic processes to constrain some of its features? Can neuroscientists go further and discover through brain imaging and other techniques more about the presentations of abnormal personality? (Goodman et al., 2007).

We see the relevance of hubris by virtue of it being a trait or a propensity towards certain attitudes and behaviours. A certain level of hubris can indicate a shift in the behavioural pattern of a leader who then becomes no longer fully functional in terms of the powerful office held. First, several characteristics of hubris are easily thought of as adaptive behaviours either in a modified context or when present with slightly less intensity. The most illustrative such example is impulsivity, which can be adaptive in certain contexts. More detailed study of powerful leaders is needed to see whether it is mere impulsivity that leads to haphazard decision making, or whether some become impulsive because they inhabit a more emotional grandiose and isolated culture of decision making.

We believe that extreme hubristic behaviour is a syndrome, constituting a cluster of features (‘symptoms’) evoked by a specific trigger (power), and usually remitting when power fades. ‘Hubris syndrome’ is seen as an acquired condition, and therefore different from most personality disorders which are traditionally seen as persistent throughout adulthood. The key concept is that hubris syndrome is a disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years and with minimal constraint on the leader.

The ability to make swift decisions, sometimes based on little evidence, is of particular importance—arguably necessary—in a leader. Similarly, a thin-skinned person will not be able to stand the process of public scrutiny, attacks by opponents and back-stabbings from within, without some form of self-exultation and grand belief about their own mission and importance. Powerful leaders are a highly selected sample and many criteria of any syndrome based on hubris are those behaviours by which they are probably selected—they make up the pores of the filter through which such individuals must pass to achieve high office.

Hubris is associated in Greek mythology with Nemesis. The syndrome, however, develops irrespective of whether the individual’s leadership is judged a success or failure; and it is not dependent on bad outcomes. For the purpose of clarity, given that these are retrospective judgements, we have determined that the syndrome is best confined to those who have no history of a major depressive illness that could conceivably be a manifestation of bipolar disorder.

Hubris is acquired, therefore, over a period. The full blown hubris, associated with holding considerable power in high office, may or may not be transient. There is a moving scale of hubris and no absolute cut-off in definition or the distinction from fully functional leadership. External events can influence the variation both in intensity and time of onset.

Dictators are particularly prone to hubris because there are few, if any, constraints on their behaviour. Here, this complex area is not covered but one of us has considered the matter elsewhere (Owen, 2008). Hitler’s biographer, Ian Kershaw (1998, 2000), entitled his first volume 1889–1936 Hubris and the second 1936–1945 Nemesis. Stalin’s hubris was not as marked or as progressive as Hitler’s. As for Mussolini and Mao both had hubris but probably each also had bipolar disorder. Khrushchev was diagnosed as having hypomania and there is some evidence that Saddam Hussein had bipolar disease (Owen, 2008).

Being elected to high office for a democratic leader is a significant event. Subsequent election victories appear to increase the likelihood of hubristic behaviour becoming hubris syndrome. Facing a crisis situation such as a looming or actual war or facing potential financial disaster may further increase hubris. But only the more developed cases of hubris deserve classification as a syndrome exposed as an occupational hazard in those made vulnerable by circumstance.

Hubris syndrome and its characteristics

Unlike most personality disorders, which appear by early adulthood, we view hubris syndrome as developing only after power has been held for a period of time, and therefore manifesting at any age. In this regard, it follows a tradition which acknowledges the existence of pathological personality change, such as the four types in ICD-10: enduring personality change after trauma, psychiatric illness, chronic pain or unspecified type (ICD-10, 1994)—although ICD-10 implies that these four diagnoses are unlikely to improve.

Initially 14 symptoms constituting the hubristic syndrome were proposed (Owen, 2006). Now, we have shortened and tabulated these descriptions and mapped their broad affinities with the DSM IV criteria for narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder. These three personality disorders also appear in ICD-10, although narcissistic personality disorder is presented in an appendix as a provisional condition, whose clinical or scientific status is regarded as uncertain. ICD-10 considers narcissistic personality disorder to be sufficiently important to warrant more study, but that it is not yet ready for international acceptance. In practice, the correlations are less precise than the table suggests and the syndrome better described by the broader patterns and descriptions that the individual criteria encapsulate.

Establishing the diagnostic features of hubris syndrome

The nosology of psychiatric illness depends on traditional criteria for placing diagnoses in a biomedical framework (Robins and Guze, 1970). There are, however, other underpinnings—psychological or sociological—that can be applied. Validity for a psychiatric illness involves assessing five phases: (i) clinical description; (ii) laboratory studies; (iii) defining boundaries vis-a-vis other disorders; (iv) follow-up study; and (v) family study. While these phases are worth analysing, it has to be recognized that there are severe limitations in rigidly applying such criteria to hubris syndrome given that so few people exercise real power in any society and the frequency amongst those ‘at-risk’ is low. The potential importance of the syndrome derives, however, from the extensive damage that can be done by the small number of people who are affected. As an investigative strategy, it may be that studies such as neuroimaging, family studies, or careful personality assessments in more accessible subjects with hubristic qualities or narcissistic personality disorder from other vulnerable groups might inform the validation process.

Proposed clinical features

Hubris syndrome was formulated as a pattern of behaviour in a person who: (i) sees the world as a place for self-glorification through the use of power; (ii) has a tendency to take action primarily to enhance personal image; (iii) shows disproportionate concern for image and presentation; (iv) exhibits messianic zeal and exaltation in speech; (v) conflates self with nation or organization; (vi) uses the royal ‘we’ in conversation; (vii) shows excessive self-confidence; (viii) manifestly has contempt for others; (ix) shows accountability only to a higher court (history or God); (x) displays unshakeable belief that they will be vindicated in that court; (xi) loses contact with reality; (xii) resorts to restlessness, recklessness and impulsive actions; (xiii) allows moral rectitude to obviate consideration of practicality, cost or outcome; and (xiv) displays incompetence with disregard for nuts and bolts of policy making.

In defining the clinical features of any disorder, more is required than simply listing the symptoms. In the case of hubris syndrome, a context of substantial power is necessary, as well as a certain period of time in power—although the length has not been specified, varying in the cases described from 1 to 9 years. The condition may have predisposing personality characteristics but it is acquired, that is its appearance post-dates the acquisition of power.

Establishment of the clinical features should include the demonstration of criterion reliability, exploration of a preferred threshold for the minimum number of features that must be present, and the measurement of symptoms (e.g. their presence or absence, and a severity scale). This endeavour may also include a decision as to whether the 14 criteria suggested might usefully be revised.

To determine whether hubris syndrome can be characterized biologically will be very difficult. It is the nature of leaders who have the syndrome that they are resistant to the very idea that they can be ill, for this is a sign of weakness. Rather, they tend to cover up illness and so would be most unlikely to submit voluntarily to any testing, e.g. the completion of scales measuring anxiety, neuroticism and impulsivity. Also the numbers of people with the syndrome is likely to be so small preventing the realistic application of statistical analyses. It also needs to be remembered that leaders are prone to using performance-enhancing drugs fashionable at the time. Two heads of government, Eden and Kennedy, were on amphetamines in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 21st century hubristic leaders are likely to be amongst the first to use the new category of so-called cognition enhancers. Many neuroscientists believe that such drugs properly used can be taken without harm. The problem is a leader who takes these without medical supervision and in combination with other substances or in dosages substantially above those that are recommended. In 2008, Nature carried out an informal survey of its mainly scientific readers and found that one in five of 1400 responders were taking stimulants and wake-promoting agents such as methylphenidate and modafinil, or β-blockers for non-medical reasons (Maher, 2008).

In defining the boundaries, one of the more important questions may be to understand whether hubris syndrome is essentially the same as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), a subtype of NPD or a separate entity. As shown in Table 1, 7 of the 14 possible defining symptoms are also among the criteria for NPD in DSM-IV, and two correspond to those for antisocial personality and histrionic personality disorders (APD and HPD, respectively) (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The five remaining symptoms are unique, in the sense they have not been classified elsewhere: (v) conflation of self with the nation or organization; (vi) use of the royal ‘we’; (x) an unshakable belief that a higher court (history or God) will provide vindication; (xii) restlessness, recklessness and impulsiveness; and (xiii) moral rectitude that overrides practicalities, cost and outcome.…

La Vie site cites the work of researcher Ian H. Robertson, who studied the effect of hubris on a fish species in Lake Tanganyka in Africa, on which the seizure of power triggers a hormonal reaction that changes their organism. The researcher explains that the situation is similar for humans, whose intelligence is multiplied tenfold by dopamine intake, but "too much dopamine will have harmful consequences. But absolute power floods the brain with dopamine. It also creates an addiction,"says the researcher. That is not all. Excessive self-confidence puts in place a mental mechanism that makes it impossible to assess oneself properly. The more you have a fair appreciation of your own qualities, the more modest you are. And you don’t normally feel fit to become head of state,"explains Sebastian Dieguez, a neuroscience researcher at the University of Freiburg.

Posted by bernawy hugues kossi huo on 2017-10-06 07:26:31


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Tagged: , ancient , Greek , ὕβρις , Hubris , pride , dangerous , overconfidence , self-esteem , hubristic , honour , τιμή , insolence , contempt , Icarus , Phaethon , Salmones , Niobe , Cassiopeia , Tereus , power , impact , character , personality

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