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.
How sweet it would be to live among us, if the exterior appearance was always an image of the heart’s tendencies; if decency was a virtue; if our maxims served us as rules; if true philosophy was inseparable from the title of philosopher! But so many qualities too rarely go together, and virtue hardly ever walks in so much pomp. Richness in dress can announce a man with money and elegance a man with taste. The healthy, robust man is recognized by other signs. It is under the rustic clothing of a labourer and not under the gilded frame of a courtesan that one will find physical strength and energy. Finery is no less a stranger to virtue, which is the power and vigour of the soul. The good man is an athlete who delights in fighting naked. He despises all those vile ornaments which hamper the use of his strength, the majority of which were invented only to conceal some deformity. Before art fashioned our manners and taught our passions to speak an affected language, our habits were rustic but natural, and differences in behaviour announced at first glance differences in character. Human nature was not fundamentally better, but men found their security in the ease with which they could see through each other, and this advantage, whose value we no longer feel, spared them many vices. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Discourse on the Sciences and the ArtsBACK TO TOP