Megalomania: A Vitiating Virus In Leadership

(By Obi Ebuka Onochie)

However, megalomania in itself is not entirely bad as it is inherent in every leadership making it a state or idea with two discrepant sides. It is the desire to do more and drive to excel no matter the opposing circumstance but it can also birth maladministration, dictatorship and monster of a leader if it is driven by irrational crave for power, fame, wealth and omnipotent authority over others.

LEADERSHIP is a concept of organisation, direction and development which humans have been battling for centuries and millennia, looking for the central point and perfect directorship in human affairs. The struggle to produce a quality human leadership has yielded results and is still yielding with different kinds of leadership and leaders emerging as gifts and curses to human family. In history, the world has witnessed different political epochs, climes and eras where megalomaniac leaders held the world to ransom and in the nick of decisive events, the world managed to recover.

   They have existed and still exist  in all the continents of the world and in all walks of life as war generals, politicians, religious leaders, money bags, scientists, sports men and women, etc. Megalomania, according to Wikipedia, “is a psychopathological disorder characterised by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence of oneself”. This is a mental illness characterised by delusion of grandeur, power, wealth, etc. Political megalomania becomes a state where an individual with megalomaniac disorder seizes or is elected to power.   However, megalomania in itself is not entirely bad as it is inherent in every leadership making it a state or idea with two discrepant sides. It is the desire to do more and drive to excel no matter the opposing circumstance but it can also birth maladministration, dictatorship and monster of a leader if it is driven by irrational crave for power, fame, wealth and omnipotent authority over others.

   Megalomania is the impelling cause of all the unmerciful and extremist political ideologies that have ever existed in the world. They all derive their propelling power from megalomaniac tendencies in leadership, be it fascism, totalitarianism, Nazism, monarchy, kleptocracy, Stalinism and what have you. The likes of Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Benito Mussolini, Mobutu Sese Seko, Saddam Hussein, Saladin, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharos,  Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol pot, Tamerlane, Francois Duvalier, Alexander the Great, etc, were all products of uncontrolled megalomaniac tendency inherent in the seat of leadership they found themselves. Some political scientists have come up with the notion that a megalomaniac leader is not created in power but rather by determinism .

  In as much as this may not be entirely true in every case, the truthful part of it can be explored from the life and times of Idi Amin of Uganda, the most notorious and callous African leader that ever lived. He was born Idi Amin Dada in 1925 near Koboko, in the west Nile province of what in now the Republic of Uganda. At a tender age his father deserted him and his herbalist diviner mother—which ensured that he grew up without father’s authority or influence. He became a hawkish soldier and executed the most bizarre military orders and was notorious for his brutality during interrogations. Holding Uganda’s light heavyweight boxing championship, he was said to entertain British officers with his boxing style and imposing animalistic appetite to overpower and consume. He continued this life of brute and intemperance to conquer others until he came face to face with unrestrained power of state.

  The height of his megalomania could be seen on his self-evaluation and self picture which in itself embodies narcissism. Idi Amin actually reached apotheosis in his own estimation and bloated self-delusional image. His self-chosen title clearly reflected the level of his megalomania and false self-worth. He declared himself to be:  “His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.”

  The characterisation of Idi Amin as we know is embedded in the determinism surrounding his birth, maturation and profession just like other despotic leaders. The causes and manifestation of megalomaniac leadership stems from the failure of family unit of the society which bears the brunt of its viperous bite in the later years. Many of them have come and gone with many here with us and many are yet to come. Sometimes one can’t but imagine why and how these psychopathic “leaders” keep finding their way to power and the likely answer to that lies in the drive to excel which is contained excessively in megalomania.

By Obi Ebuka Onochie.

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