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.
The humiliations of a wife who “stands by” her husband are well known to Americans, but the momentum of #MeToo has made the role particularly vexed. A wife whose husband has behaved badly is presumed to be a conscious or unconscious accomplice, a delusional victim, or, most injuriously, a fool. How did she not know? The sexism of our culture still makes it beyond comprehension that we could hold a man accountable for his misdeeds without also doling out some blame to the caretakers around him, who we believe should be responsible for his moral maintenance.BACK TO TOP