Madmen at the Helm: Pathology and Politics in the Arab Spring

“No, no one against us. Against me, for what? … They love me, all my people with me, they love me all. They will die to protect me, my people.” Qaddafi, 27 February 2011. Are dictators mad, or are they intelligent people who don t know when to quit? Are they aware that their people hate them, or do they have a mixture of narcissistic, paranoid, delusional, hysterical and sociopathic personality disorders that shield them from the truth? In this unique book, Mirak-Weissbach tries to answer these questions, reviewing specialist literature and providing a profile of a number of personality disorders displayed by five Middle Eastern leaders (Mubarak, Qaddafi, Ben Ali, Saleh and Assad) during the upheaval in the Arab world from late 2010 onwards. A watershed in Arab history, the Arab Spring gave young protesters the impetus to challenge established and entrenched dictatorial regimes for the first time, and to demand democracy. Considering each of the five leaders in turn, Mirak-Weissbach examines their public statements, speeches, interviews and courses of action during this period, and thus identifies patterns and similarities of behaviour. She then argues that the five authoritarian figures displayed specific personality disorders in their responses to the political and cultural circumstances in which they were operating. These responses indicate that they were psychologically incapable of facing reality, clinging fanatically to power in the face of revolt. A postscript to the book widens this context by identifying two cases of narcissism in contemporary American politics: George W. Bush and Sarah Palin.

Muriel Mirak-Weissbach is an Armenian-American who grew up in New England. She has been a political journalist specialising in economic, political and cultural development in the Arab and Islamic world for thirty years. She worked with an international press agency for many years and published hundreds of articles in various political and cultural journals. In late 2009 she published Through the Wall of Fire, Armenia-Iraq-Palestine: From Wrath to Reconciliation, (English edition to be published by Ithaca Press in 2012), a reflection on her family history and how that shaped her humanitarian and political wok in Iraq and Palestine.

Hardback • 235 mm x 159 mm • ISBN 9780863724541 •  256 pages • £25.00