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Psychological portrait of Yanis Varoufakis

08 July 2015 / 16:07:31  GRReporter
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The portrait is by Christos Liapis, PhD in psychiatry at the University of Athens.

I intended to write about Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis anyway, even if the tragic consequences of capital controls on our society and economy had not occurred, as the case of pathological narcissism, which is my specialty, and generally, its presence and the political moves due to it are full of behavioural data that are typical of the Hubris Syndrome (extreme pride). This syndrome falls in the field of studies in terms of which I am cooperating with the Psychiatric Clinic at Tufts University and Professor Nassir Ghaemi.

The Professor is the author of the bestseller "A First-Rate Madness" that explores the relationship between the psychiatric pathology and the exercise of high-level power. Together with Lord Owen (former Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, a psychiatrist by training), who has also scored a considerable success with his books "The Hubris Syndrome" and "In Sickness and In Power", they are pioneers in the interdisciplinary area of ​​"political psychiatry" and "psychology of history".

Lord Owen was the first to introduce in the psychiatric classification of diseases, but also in social and political sciences, a new psychiatric phenomenon called the Hubris Syndrome, borrowing the term from the ancient Greek language in which going beyond limits as well as the arrogance and negligence towards the divine and human laws is called hubris. According to Lord Owen, many leaders, including Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and George Bush Jr., suffer from that syndrome and it is directly linked to the exercise of power.

Of course, the manifestations and consequences of the syndrome are not found only in the field of policy but occur in other areas of power exercising (e.g. administrative, military, economic and other types of power). Lord Owen presents the economic crisis that has hit Europe in recent years, and particularly Greece and the pictures of the past days that are characteristic of the third world countries, as consequences of the haughty and arrogant behaviour and of the weak connection with reality of a number of senior managers, executives and managers of international financial institutions. Such an approach would certainly be very interesting if we tried to see if the political leaders who had led our country to the chaos of international supervision, austerity, and suffocating capital controls in recent days were under the influence of Hubris Syndrome and to what extent.

Certainly, Yanis Varoufakis is a politician who fully corresponds to the diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder and the Hubris Syndrome, to the extent to which they overlap. In particular, he

• has too much confidence in his own judgment and ignores other people’s advice and criticism,

• has great self-confidence, to the extent of omnipotence, with regard to what he is able to achieve alone,

• has lost touch with reality, combined with his gradual isolation,

• has demonstrated (and continues to demonstrate) what Lord Owen calls "Hubristic incompetence", when things started to go wrong and Greece’s partners showed that they would not succumb and would be ready to bring the negotiations to the extreme grexit and graccident. This happened because of his excessive self-confidence, which drives him to mot pay attention to details in the practical application of his policy which is correct in some of its theoretical formulations,

• has demonstrated the typical triptych of the Hubris Syndrome, namely excessive activity (trips, conferences, statements, interviews, etc.), inattention and impulsivity, which have eventually led to the closure of banks,

• perceives the whole world from a narcissistic viewpoint, as a phantasmagorical arena where he can exercise power and pursue fame.

• is greatly interested in his outer appearance and presentation (reference: the raised collars of his jackets and his strange shirts).

• is often inclined to speak of himself in the third person or to use the royal "we".

• believes that he is not subject to criticism on the part of his trivial colleagues or the boring public opinion, and that history is his only competent judge.

• shows an inclination for ignoring the practical details, costs and results to support his original idea.

• is characterised by a diffuse pattern of greatness (in imagination and/or behaviour), with a strong need for admiration and lack of empathy (i.e. the ability to put himself in the place of the other, for example the unhappy pensioners at ATMs or his other 18 colleagues in the Eurogroup).

• considers himself too important (e.g. exaggerates his achievements and talents, expecting to be recognized as superior without relevant achievements).

• allows fantasies of unlimited success, power, glamour, beauty or ideal love to occupy his attention.

• believes he is "special" and unique and only other "special" or unique individuals or institutions can understand him or establish contact with him.

• has absurd requirements for especially favourable treatment or default compliance with his expectations (in terms of this criterion, they are identical with president of parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou).

• uses others to achieve his goals, which are nothing more than a lucrative career as an international lecturer and bestselling author of graccident. Therefore, he does not hesitate to turn Greece into Argentina.

Of course, data for theatrical personality disorder should be added to the criteria previously described, as the already former minister

• seemingly does not feel well in situations in which he is not in the limelight,

Tags: Yanis VaroufakisPsychological portraitHubris Syndrome
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