Symptoms of hubris

This is a full version of the symptoms originally put forward by Owen and Davidson*. Some symptoms could be associated with other conditions such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

So the stipulation is that “in making the diagnosis of Hubris Syndrome, three or more of the defining symptoms should be present, at least one of which should be among the five components identified as unique.”

  • A propensity to see the world primarily as an arena in which to exercise power and seek glory
  • A predisposition to take actions which seem likely to cast the individual in a good light – taken in part in order to enhance their image
  • A disproportionate concern with image and presentation
  • A messianic way of talking and a tendency to exaltation in speech and manner
  • An identification with the nation or organization – to the extent that they regard the outlook and interests of the two as identical (unique factor)
  • A tendency to speak of themselves in the third person or use the royal ‘we’ (unique)Excessive confidence in the individual’s own judgement and contempt for the advice or criticism of others
  • Exaggerated selfbelief, bordering on a sense of omnipotence, in what they personally can achieve
  • A belief that rather than being accountable to the mundane court of colleagues or public opinion, the real court to which they answer is much greater: history or god
  • An unshakable belief that in that court they will be vindicated (unique)
  • Loss of contact with reality; often associated with progressive isolation
  • Restlessness, recklessness and impulsiveness (unique)
  • A tendency to allow their ‘broad vision’, especially their conviction about the moral rectitude of a proposed course of action, to obviate the need to consider other aspects of it, such as its practicality, cost and the possibility of unwanted outcomes (unique)
  • Incompetence in carrying out a policy, where things go wrong precisely because too much self-confidence has led the leader not to worry about the nuts and bolts of a policy. [Link]

* ‘Hubris Syndrome: An acquired personality disorder? A study of US Presidents and UK Prime Ministers over the last 100 years’, David Owen and Jonathan Davidson, Brain 2009: 132; 13961406 (article available on this website)

A lesson from Nana Nani

I had to travel on March 7 night to Coimbatore. My mother decided to settle down in a community of retirees in Coimbatore, not wanting the responsibility of maintaining a house in Madurai, all by herself. Fair enough. It is a good place. I spent two days there.

I can see why it is completely peaceful. One does not have to worry about things and if your children take care of themselves and you are well provided for, this can be a world in itself. You can be connected to the world whenever you wish to – there is internet.

Temple, chanting, similar concerns, priorities, good walks, television, magazine, etc. Life can be uncomplicated. It is tempting for all of us too because modern lives have become overwhelming.

There is gym, library, clubhouse, squash court, pool, even a beauty parlour inside. The place is well lit in the night.

Actually, for some of us, it is also a place for humility because no matter how young and fit, active and good looking you are, this place reminds you as to where and how you will eventually become. A great way to be reminded of one’s mortality and hence, humility.