Is Gaddafi Mentally Ill?

Posted on March 3, 2011


When leaders suffer from serious mental illnesses, it can make life extremely difficult for people in a country, a company, a school or a family. Unfortunately people who crave control and power can pay supporters to surround them. We see it in dictatorships throughout the world, now and in the past.

I googled #Gaddafi #Libya & #DSMIV to find diagnoses from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV

Of course it would be irresponsible to think of diagnosing someone over the internet. Mental health professionals are trained to make diagnoses. To do that they have to assess the patients in the context of their circumstances including their backgrounds. You’ve got to put people in a room and put the pieces together and see whether they add up to something significant.

What sort of family did he come from? What happened to him around 3 years of age? If you’re excessively gratified or frustrated, you become fixated there, that’s classic analytic theory, so at stressful times in your life you become oppositional. You haven’t reached mature adult development, you’ve become stuck in oppositional behaviour. You chuck tantrums.

There’s no mechanism in place in the world to stop leaders playing out their pathology on people, except in democracies where people vote in political parties and elections. Countries such as the US have urged Gaddafi to stop fighting, but he is oppositional. It seems that the more they tell him, the more he is determined to fight. He will do it his way. Initially it took one short phone call from the President of the United States Barack Obama to stop the fighting in Bahrain.

Where you have a leader who is immature, he behaves in this way. Teenagers who rebel probably have been dominated and traumatised around the oppositional stage, that’s how they’ve learned to assert and empower themselves. When early development is traumatic, you’ll see the consequences play out in adulthood.

The general population of the world could be helped to understand what’s going on in Libya if Gaddafi is suffering a mental illness and if experts clearly explained the symptoms. Gaddafi strongly denied his regime was falling, saying: “No demonstrations at all in the streets. No one is against us. Against me for what? Because I am not president. They love me, all my people with me. They love me all. They will die to protect me, my people.”

Is Gaddafi delusional? Does he hold fixed false beliefs? Is there a constellation of symptoms? Delusion is very different from denial. Delusional means perceiving the world in an abnormal way, having a perceptual disturbance. In layman’s terms, “He’s crazy.”

Gaddafi described his fellow Libyans as rats and cockroaches.

“The people should not let their young get drunk and be misled,” he said in his speech. “The gangs, like cockroaches, did not represent anyone, they are nothing, just a handful trying to imitate what had happened in Egypt and Tunisia after being drugged.”

One reporter wrote:

“That was exactly the term used by the Hutu tribe’s radio station in Rwanda just before the genocide there in 1994.

In a broadcast of hate that sparked the killing, it said: “We must kill the Tutsi ­cockroaches.”

By the time I had arrived in Rwanda, tens of thousands of Tutsis had been massacred by machete-wielding Hutus rampaging through village after village.

Within a few weeks, half a ­million people had been killed in what has become known as the Rwandan genocide.”

I am concerned for the people of Libya, who cannot protect themselves. I think it is the duty of others who live in democracies throughout the world, to take action and to express their views when they see injustice in the world.

Photo: 911 Libya

We need an international mechanism to stop leaders playing out their pathology on innocent people. The UN and the EU are busy discussing a no-fly zone, while people are being killed. They are too slow. This is not acceptable. There should be zero tolerance for anyone who kills. If someone kills, they should be locked up in gaol. Why can’t Libya just have an election to decide who’s in control, rather than a civil war killing and destroying everything in sight? There needs to be international laws in place which would have stopped Gaddafi immediately.

Madeleine Albright, Ambassador and Permanent U.S Representative to the United Nations, said in a speech in 1996, “the UN bureaucracy has grown to elephantine proportions. Now, that the Cold War is over, we are asking that elephant to do gymnastics.”(page 5)

When I catalogued Foreign Correspondent stories at ABC TV Archives in 1995-6, I had to describe each piece of footage. I came to know about Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

I described in detail Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karatzic, responsible for the killing, murder, rape and “ethnic cleansing” that left tens of thousands of Muslims and Croats dead or dying in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Serbia and the slaughter of up to 8,000 Srebrenica Muslims. The Hague War Crimes Tribunal described Karatzic’s actions as “the most horrendous, unimaginable war crimes committed in Europe since the end of World War II.”

Of course there are many dictators in history, the most infamous being Hitler. video of Gaddafi’s speech

Gaddafi’s speech transcribed:

“Fighting Gaddafi” a BBC Panorama special on Libya, in 2 parts:

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