It’s time for us to direct some compassionate attention to those afflicted by Authoritarian Personality Disorder. There are plenty of opposite disorders of the disobedient kind for which there are over-prescribed drugs to sedate people into submission, but for the authoritarians, much less practical attention is paid and we all suffer as a result.
Authoritarian Personality Disorder is described in several texts with varying definitions, but here I’ll use this working definition: A personality disorder characterized by an unhealthy desire to control others manifest in destructive ways such as seeking political power or other positions which hold arbitrary power over others. While it is tempting to think of politicians, we must also be wary of their sponsors in the banking class, as well as their enforcers in the police and military. However, thanks to the broader authoritarian culture, many authoritarian types are able to seek positions of control in the private sector and in their personal lives.
A human being raised in a healthy, loving environment will seek healthy and loving relationships. Even someone raised in an authoritarian environment will be capable of developing healthy relationship skills unless otherwise affected. The truly disordered cases are motivated by deeper seated insecurity caused by childhood trauma or abuse. When those experiences are properly processed, they do not manifest as controlling behaviors. When one is provided with the authoritarian environment and the adverse childhood experiences, the victim is only able to manifest their insecurities with learned behaviors of control.
The first step is admitting that we have a problem, both as the power-hungry individuals and the rest of us who enable them. This will allow us to isolate the problems and separate them from their most obedient enablers. Once we “throw the bums out,” we must remember not to replace them, which sounds easier than it is. As for the Authoritarians who are serious about seeking treatment, I would guess that some form of immersive psychedelic therapy in the jungle far removed from society would be something I could get behind.
While it’s tempting to write off these people as simply “assholes,” understanding what makes them assholes makes it much easier to do something about it. These are not people who need scorn or derision, and certainly not government office, but rather people who need empathy and treatment.
One theory about Authoritarian Personality Disorder holds that one of its causes and/or stimulants is submissiveness or gullibility in others. While some experts believe that the disorder can manifest without victim stimuli, some say that victim stimuli brings it out, while others suggest that it is the root cause. Regardless, the best way to prevent Authoritarian Personality Disorder from affecting you and your loved ones is to remain assertive and skeptical of all who would try to subvert your will to their own.
(Since I was in Iraq, I realized that my background in psychology gave me a unique way of understanding human behavior in the political context. If you enjoyed this post, please let me know and if there are any other topics you’d like me to address this way in the comments. Are there any individuals that this post brings to mind? What do you think made them the way they are?)