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 you look at the monsters of #MeToo, it is easy to think that power, in some dark fairytale, requires the sexual sacrifice of women, and that these sacrifices should be not exactly public, but known. It’s possible that the people around these men were in thrall to their monstrosity, that it trapped them in some paralysing or exciting posture with regard to their authority. We don’t speak of men’s attraction to power as being problematic – they want to compete! – but when women are attracted to power they are styled as being complicit in their own exploitation.BACK TO TOP