As a psychiatrist it isn't difficult to categorise the personality types of King Gyanendra, GP Koirala, MK Nepal, Dr Tulsi Giri, or for that matter Comrades Prachanda and Baburam. Doing so may actually help us psychoanalyse this nation and its leadership which in turn could provide us with clues about what is wrong with the country.
Some general features of personality disorders afflicting 10-15 percent of the general population seems to be much more prevalent among the country's political leadership at present. Such people are inflexible, maladaptive and have only one way of responding to a given situation. It is reflected in all areas of life and is life-long, and the patients are born with the syndrome they don't acquire it.
There are more than a dozen types of personality disorders. Narcissists have grandiose sense of self-importance and demand constant attention and they meet criticism with indifference and rage. Those with paranoid personalities are preoccupied with issues of trust and are reluctant to confide in others. They tend to dwell into hidden meanings of comments and events and carry grudges throughout life. Unstable is the word to describe borderline personality type as their behaviour and self-image are all unstable. They use splitting as a defense mechanism in which everything is evaluated as two extremes there is no room for anything intermediate.
People with personality disorders are like a clocks that no longer work: it still gives you the right time at least twice a day.
Interpersonal relationships form an important issue in people with personality disorders because of what we in the trade call 'ego-syntonic' effects. They think nothing is wrong with them, it is the others with the problem and thus they seek to change the world, not themselves.
These personality types exist in the general population but if they are clustered in the arena of politics they tend to distort society's functioning. That is when the result is irrational, chaotic, undemocratic and indecisive as we see in
The interpretation by the king and his cohorts that the Maoists are terrorists, and the futile claims by the rebels that a majority of the country is under their control are examples of narcissistic behaviour.
This 'I am the best, only what I do is correct' are attempts to receive universal acceptance and approval and characterises the personalities of the king, G P Koirala and several other personalities.
Joining the royal government with a view that regression has been corrected only to wake up the next morning to realise the truth and regret earlier moves exemplify people with borderline personality disorders. How can your principles be so unstable, swinging like a pendulum between the extremes of constitutional monarchy and complete republican state within days?
Lack of trust, failing to respect each other's existence and looking for hidden motives and perspectives of every activity are ubiquitous features of a paranoid personality type and is probably the most prevalent disorder among Nepali political figures.
The royal regime dismissed the unilateral ceasefire called by the Maoists, saying it was a ploy to regroup. Then it attacked the rebel-party pact saying it was addressed at the parties and not themselves. Meanwhile, the parties are unwilling or are pretending to avoid reconciliation with the king suspecting he might use them to provide legitimacy to his rule. There is a lack of trust and extreme paranoia on the part of the regime which hides a deep-seated hunger for authoritarian rule.
To untangle ourselves from the political and social impasse the first step is to detect the above personality disorders prevalent in all political players to be followed by thorough psychiatric counselling.
Dr Shyam Chalise is pursuing further studies in psychiatry.