This is the document that goes with this week's European Voice column
(apologies for poor text quality). I am trying to post the original PDF as well
-- Mikhail Saakashvili: A Psychological
Study of the Character
[Abstract] The present study examines psychological characteristics of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, concludes from the analysis of available data that he has certain psychiatric disturbances and makes a diagnosis. The study offers also practical advice which should be followed while dealing with President Saakashvili. In view of its sensitivity the study is for limited distribution only. We wish to acknowledge the contribution to the study made by: Tonsberg Psychiatric Centre, Orsnessale, Norway; National Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway; Department of Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland; Centre for Nervous Deceases[SIC], Christian Albrecht University, Kiel, Germany; Department of Psychiatry, University of Geneva, Switzerland; Department of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, University of Vienna Medical School, Austria; Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. –
1. Anamnesis and family history Information about Saakashvili's childhood and adolescence is insufficient. Raised in a single-parent family environmenthe grew much attached to his mother. Early in his life due to a deep emotional trauma he became very negative and aggressive towards his biological father. His relationship with his stepfather later in his life was also tense and bitter. He also had difficultiesin undemanding and etablishingrelationswith other people of his age and was often treated as an outcast and a "loner". This situation was partially corrected and his social skills improved when in high school he joined a school theatre group and took part in some of its theatrical productions. At the same time, together with some other classmates, he became actively involved in an amateur film production, including pomo films. When this incident finally became public and a scandal broke at school he had to leave his homctown and went to Kiev. During the following period he immersedhimselfinto a lifestyle of destructive behaviour, parties and sex. His apartment at that time was often offered to his fellow students and friends as a place for intimate encounters and he used this as a way to gain popularity and establish his place in the "in crowd". By the end of his freshman year he got involved in yet another confrontation with the establishment and was expelled from Komsomol organization. In order to calm things down he volunteered in the Anny and spent two years in service. 2. Behavioural pattern
The overall pattem of SaakashvjJj's social behaviour is defined by persistent conflict existing.between this exteriorized behaviour a.ndhis internal emotional component. While demonstrating and often exaggerating his sincerity, expressiveness and communication skills on the outside,he presents all the signs of internal tension,nervousness,suspicion and emotional vulnerability.The nonverbal component of his behaviour is especially representative and informative in this respect. While his facial expression is usually lively and matches the behavioural context, his gesticulation (his hand movements tend to be uchopping-like" with palms being constantly spastic and this "closed-inUpattern doem!t change during the whole period of verbal communication,even when the communication environment is in its most positive and favourablephase),body postureand rigidbody languageare all out of context I~
On the scale of motivational factors his fOOitionon pride and self-esteem and his egocentrism prevail over altruistic tendencies and public interests that he pretends to demonstrate in public. This detemUnes his inability to adequately control his internal outbursts of resentment when he feels that he is not being appreciated enough. These outbursts may happen even when he consciously and sincereJy intends to express his loyalty and readiness to cooperate with the counterpart. Saakashvi1i has demonstrated th.8the finds it difficult to organize his thoughts and express himself when he is being coniTonted with unexpected, compHcated and personally unpleasant issues. Though in general be has a fairly good level of verbal skills, under the above circumstances he tends to get confused and resorts to obviously meaningless, lengthy and empty wording in order to avoid a clear-defined and down to business answer and thus intends to oVeIWhelmhis counterpart.
A situation when during one of his public appearances he was askedabout his income can be a good illustrationof such a pattern of behaviour. Extremeegocentricity of Saakashvili's personality often becomes an obstacle for himself when a situation is cal1ing for a fresh and original ideas and spontMieousreactions. He intuitively recognizesthis constraintand tries to mask his egocentrism by acting out in a verbose and extremely eloquent manner, expecting to produce a "spell- like", mesmerizing effect on his opponents. -- - - - Saakashvili's behaviour consistently demonstrates that his emotionaJ response and his abiJity to express signs of excitement and genuine interest primarily occur when his persona., his exceptionalityan-dsignificancebecome the centretopic of the discussion. He looked exited and radiant,if not happy. when he Wasonce posing in front of hjs car, showing bullet holes in the windshield.To him the fact that he was a "target"of an assassinationattempthad put him in line with other world leaders and dignitaries. His exaggerated, theatricaJ and openly deliberate personal style nevertheless lacks spontaneity, easiness and showmanship, so typica1for other hysteroid types.
3.1. Intellectual component IQ level is above average with active type of reasoning, good levelof abstractand analytical capabilitiesand ideation. Subject's ideation activity on one hand combines impulsiveness,tendencyto followemotional logic and initial internal impulse and on the other hand above average ideationrigiditywith tendency to constantly conceptualize, create static, emotionally saturated ideas and groups of ideas, capable of asserting the importanceand exclusivity of his own personality.Due to the extreme rigidity of these ideas Saakashviliisopen onJyto the informationthat agreeswith his conceptual structure and he totally excludesthe rest that exists outside this scope.Takento the extreme, this tendency may beCQme transformedinto megalomania, obsessive or maniacal syndrome characterized by a personal convictionof being destinedto be the "chosenone", Thoughhis general education level is above average and his ability to form channels of verbal communicationis sv.,ift,smooth and even with a hint of artistry, his reasoning Jacks depth, originalityand independence. Pretending to be special, creative and exclusive his reasoning nevertheless is rather ordinary, predictable and often based on common knowJedge and plagiarism.Finding himseJf in an unexpected situation or being confronted with unanticipated questionshe finds it difficu]t to come up with the right answer and in order to save his face he becomesverbose,sidetracksand eventuallyswitchesto othertopics.
3.2. Motivational component. Subject's general level of activity is noticeably elevated. Primary motivational factors include ambition, vanity, superiority, extreme competitiveness and dominance. We may assume that Saakashvi1i's low self-esteem and compJex of inferiority,both formGdearly in the childhoodbut suppressedat present, have determinedhis stTOngurge for power. These dominant internal factors have transformed through hyper compensatorymechanism of defence into partialand at times complete loss of sense of reality, adequatebehaviouralresponseand capacityto perceivecontextualreality. His overwhelming egocentric desire for se1f-affirmationand strong conviction in personal superiorityput him into a position when his politicalcareer becomes only an instrument in his questto gain socia1rccognition that he has been denied for so long. He is so overwhelmed with this interna]passion for proving himself at all times that he is not capable to accept the civic valuesof the society that once rejecte-dhim. We may only expect that this win lead him into moreconflictswithtilissocietyin the future.It is importantto recognizethat in his pursuitfor powerhe may easily loose the sense of danger and natural fear of consequences of his own decisionsand this makes him capable of provokingserious conflicts, including political and military.
3.3. Emotional component Emotionalexcitationlevelis above average.His personality tends to present stab1esigns of hyperactivity, elevated 1evelsof emotional status, excessive selfesteem and extremely high ex-pectations.He is very active, vigorous and resourceful in achievinghis persona}goals.At thesametime,beingextremelyself-centred,he can be easily heart, tends to hold a grudge and be very emotionalabout it, even to the point of seeking revenge. His exterior emotional manifestations are expressive, intense and at time theatrical. He easily develops internal tension and becomes defensive, negative and jealous towards people, who herecOgni7..easSsurt-'assinghim in something.
4. Diagnosis Expansive type of paranoid dysfunction (according to ICD-IO) combined with narcissist type of hysteroid personal1ty.
Paranoid aspect is translated into excessive intellectual and emotional rigidity, tendency to "getting stuck" and form fixations on certain ideas and concepts. In case of Saakashvili this may have been caused by extremely high emotional status of his past experiences carrying a specialsignificancefor him. Saakashvili's personality is characterized by typical for paranoid types excessive self-esteem, hypertrophied sense of pride combined with excessive sensitivity towards failure and negative social response. He attaches special importance to everything that is related to his own personalityand his personal interests.At the same time anything existing outside this "personal circle" becomes exc1uded fTom the domain of his active attention. Saakashvi1i presents persistent tendency to put himself in opposition with the rest of the society and perceive the worldaround him as a hostile environment.As an obvious responsehe expresses this perception in a form of extreme vigilance and distrust towards others. He is incapable to act based on idealistic motives and rejects this ability in others. He is prone to suspect others of being unfair, insolent:, and envious, with intentions to humiliate, insult, entrap and dishonour him. Above described personality disorders could be observed in Saakashvili since very early in rus adolescence and throughout his adult life. Saakashvili's tendency to create super ideas is especially typical for paranoid dysfunctions. Super ideas totally enslave the entire personality and completely determine its behavioural patterns. One of such super ideas thatkeep Saakashviliobsessedat the moment is his pursuit for powerand self-promotion-.,
A distinctive feature of Saakashvili as of an expansive paranoid type is his vigour, dynamism, at times even restlessness and disregard for rest andfatigue. Saakashvili'snarcissism combined with hysteroid traits determines his pathological ambition, aITogance,sense of superiority and exuberantly high opinion about himself. He is irrefutably convinced in his own righteousnessand personal importance,is intolerant towards any fonn of criticism and tends to exaggerate his personal accomplishments.His ability to work effectively goesalongsidewith desirefor public attentionand admiration. His decision to choose politics as a profession was a very natural choice for him, since he wouldn't have got himself involved in anyotherfieldthathadn'thadpromisedhima speedygratificationin a fonn affame andpublic recognition.As most of narcissists he lacks empathy, is indifferenttowards other people's needs and feelingsand "perceivesthe rest of humanityas facelessapplaudingcrowd".
5.Recommendations Taking into consideration the combination of paranoid dysfunction with hysteroid symptomsthat dd'im: Saakashviiias a person,we offer the following recommendations with the purpose of creating an atmosphereof personaltrust and opennesswhich may open a window of opportunityfor loweringhis self-controland predisposehim to act in an openand sinceremanner-
It is advisable that the counterpart (interlocutor) should demonstrate an obviously positive intention in a foml of expressing sincere interest in Saakashvili's personaJityand demonstratingappreciationand "proper"recognition. Contrast approach: initial phase should include a demonstration of interest in everything concerning Saakashvili's personality, his merits, praise his real and nonexistent accompJishments and then introduce a comment putting this statement under a shroud of doubt. We expect that under the circumstances Saakashvili may try to substantiate his "reputation" and talk more than it was initially intended. . Tt is possible to motivate Saakashvili t.o repeat his discourse about a situation of certain importance and demonstrate a degree of scepticism. Under this sort of pressure. hysteroid types terydto exaggeratethe fictionalcomponent and add new details in order to make it al1 look more credible. Often these additional details are contradictory and thus add new semantic shades to the whole narration about the same account.
This may open an additional ground to add questions, single out contradictions and request clarifications. It is very probable that Saakashvilihas low tolerance towards infonnation deprivation, anticipation, inactivity and loss of interest towards himself. Being forced to operate in such a context he may initiate a communicationprocess, may develop a desire to "speak himself out" and attract attention all for the singlepurpose of maintaining the status of the focal point of the public interest. Anyone potentially capable to offer him such an opportunitymay become awelcomepartnerfor SaakashviIi. Being the type of a personalitythat exists with the conviction that "he knows best" and is ready for competitionat any time, he tends to reject any action that he perceives as contradictory to his publicly expressed views about a particular situation. In order to motivatehim to act in 8 preferredway he should be convinced that in this particular situation he is in charge of setting goals and findingways to accomplishthem.
5.1. Be aware of: Under no circumstance use imperative tone or give him a reason to believe that he is being humiliated or disrespected and even more so if it is done in public. In case that he is stuck in controversies it is advisable to anow him to find his way out in order to save his face and even, if it is needed, offer him a suitable and honourable rout of escape. At the same tjrne~it is advisable not to give in all the time. His personality type respects power and any indisputable authority generates a sense of respect in him and desire to be part of this force and use it for his own benefit. 4 -- - - --
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
This is the document that goes with this week's European Voice column