May 15, 2004

Raising Little Saddam

Tot therapy, where were you when we needed you? If you thought the worst you could do to your new kid was give him TV-induced ADD, read on.

White House inside reporter for the Times Elizabeth Bumiller explores the work of Dr Jerrold Post, who's spent decades constructing psychological profiles of troublesome world leaders for the CIA.

In his new book, Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World, Post singles out Saddam Hussein as having "assuredly the most traumatic" background of any evildoer out there. Some traumatic bullet points: His father died before he was born, followed by his brother. His distraught mother tried to abort him, then dumped baby Saddam off on an uncle. Mom remarried and took him back 3 years later, but his stepfather abused him. The result is a condition called "malignant narcissism," which coincidentally also plagues, among others, Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, and Kim Jong Il. Nice grouping.

Post goes on to point out other symptoms: Bin Laden's consumed with his supposedly divine mission. Kim's obsessed with overcoming a life lived in his father's shadow. Others use extreme means to accomplish their goals.

The moral: don't turn your kids into malignant narcissists, unless you want them to grow up to be president. Of some other country, of course.

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