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.
If a lunatic in a mental hospital tells us that a voice in his head, or from the ceiling fan, or from a pigeon at his window tells him to cut off the other patients’ heads, we place him under close surveillance and label him a menace to the rest of the hospital. We would do this long before he commits any act to prove his willingness to submit to the imaginary voice. If a man says God told him he would be Chief Justice, or that he thinks God approves of him taking that office, we consider it perfectly socially acceptable – because firstly, many other people labour under similar delusions and secondly because it doesn’t include any promise to do harm. Is there much difference though? Surely a delusion is still a delusion, even if many millions believe it? – Garreth Cliff, writing about Mogoeng Mogoeng’s claim that he received a sign from God to become Chief Justice over at the Daily MaverickBACK TO TOP