A few months ago, author William Gumede described Zuma as someone with a narcissistic personality disorder — a set of traits defined by Austrian psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut as “including an exaggerated sense of superiority, a lack of self-awareness about the impact of their behaviour and having a disdain for others, who they devalue to validate their own grandiosity”. These people lack empathy, have a distorted sense of reality and are incapable of seeing anything from anyone else’s perspective. Narcissists like Zuma, Gumede argues, can’t accept responsibility and don’t care if they take down entire countries with them. The events at Nkandla, sadly for Zuma, only reinforced that perspective.
ut elites find it hard to believe the worst of our own – just as families do members of their kin. Some of this is due to the nature of sociopaths – they con even the most skeptical (I always think of the hard-nosed skeptic, Hanna Rosin, who defended the fabulist, Stephen Glass, out of loyalty and friendship and disbelief at the extent of his ethical vandalism). But some is due surely to our refusal to believe we can have long associated with people capable of such acts. Rather than question our own judgment, we rush to defend or ignore the indefensible. – Andrew Sullivan on why friends are defending IMF chief Strauss-Kahn (casting new light on why so many people kept on supporting Jacob Zuma during his corruption case)BACK TO TOP