The Arab Spring was a watershed in Arab history, which gave young protesters the impetus to challenge established and entrenched dictatorial regimes for the first time and to demand democracy. This unique book reviews specialist literature and provides a profile of the personality disorder of narcissism displayed by five leaders - Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Qaddafi, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Bashar al-Assad - together with the related syndromes of paranoia, hysteria, and sociopathy. The book argues that the responses of these leaders to the challenges they faced indicate that they were psychologically incapable of facing reality, and indeed displayed pathological symptoms in clinging fanatically to power in the face of revolt. Madmen at the Helm considers each of the five leaders in turn, examining their behavior during the upheavals as expressed in their public statements, speeches, interviews, and courses of action. Thus, the book identifies patterns and similarities of behavior that serve to prove that the five 'stony-faced old men in power' displayed specific pathological personality types in their responses to the political and cultural circumstances in which they were operating. A postscript to the book widens this context by identifying two cases of narcissism in contemporary American politics: George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. This highly topical, accessible, and relevant book provides a psycho-historical insight into the actions and responses of the deposed dictators, viewed from a unique clinical psychological perspective.
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About the Author
Muriel Mirak-Weissbach is an Armenian-American who grew up in New England. She has been a political journalist specialising in economic, political and cultural development in the Arab and Islamic world for thirty years. She worked with an international press agency for many years and published hundreds of articles in various political and cultural journals. In late 2009 she published Through the Wall of Fire, Armenia-Iraq-Palestine: From Wrath to Reconciliation, (English edition to be published by Ithaca Press in 2012), a reflection on her family history and how that shaped her humanitarian and political wok in Iraq and Palestine.
Table of Contents
1 Narcissus on the throne 1
2 Muammar Qaddafi: king of kings 13
3 Hosni Mubarak: a modern Ramses 45
4 Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali: all in the family 65
5 Ali Abdullah Saleh: a Shakespearian tragic figure 85
6 Basilar al-Assad: the great pretender 99
7 Postscript: the American Narcissus 133
8 The good ruler 143