From Antiquity to the New Common Era
New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Chapter 8: Psychotic disorders and paranoia
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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