Madness and Leadership

Madness and Leadership

From Antiquity to the New Common Era

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Savvas Papacostas

Madness and Leadership studies leaders and followers from social, cultural, and biologic perspectives and explores aspects of their personalities that induce them to assume their respective roles. It proposes that leadership and followership are evolutionary adaptations, developed to enhance survival and group cohesion; that leaders possess certain biologically-derived personality traits which set them apart and alert followers, consciously or unconsciously, of their status. Important factors that enhance leader emergence have been linked through evolution and are constituents of all societies past and present. Within political theories and historical examples, this book carries the discussion on leadership into a new direction by suggesting that mild psychopathology is one of its central components.

Chapter 8: Psychotic disorders and paranoia

Savvas Papacostas

Subjects: business and management, business leadership

Extract

I remember those psychologists who said psychopaths made the world go around. They meant it: society was, they claimed, an expression of that particular sort of madness. Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test In previous chapters we reviewed evidence about the common biological origins of psychosis and language, and how these characteristics may have determined our human nature. Moreover, since only the human species possesses these attributes, they may be related to other activities such as creativity, religion, high achievement, and leadership, all of which constitute unique human characteristics. In this chapter we will describe the psychotic and paranoid disorders in some detail in order to gain a better understanding of them, as well as their putative relationship to leadership. The psychologically accomplished readers may skip over this section even though there are useful references to, and examples of ‘mad leaders’ that are useful in illustrating the book’s theses. I recommend at least that it be skimmed over. Psychosis is defined as that state in which there is loss of touch with reality. The prototypical affectation of psychosis is schizophrenia a psychiatric condition that is characterized by the following: 1. Delusions, which are simply defined as fixed false beliefs. We all have, on one occasion or another, a belief that does not correspond to reality; for example most kids accept the idea that Santa Claus exists and visits their homes on Christmas Eve, bearing gifts and descending through chimneys.

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