Gaddafi's 'narcissism' hurting civilians

2011-03-15 21:07

Johannesburg - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has a narcissistic personality disorder which makes him feel all-powerful and rebel against those who criticise him, a Libyan exile said on Tuesday.

"He feels grandiose and omnipotent... he thinks only of his own interests," David Gerbi said at a presentation at the University of the Witwatersrand.

"He's killing people in pursuit of power," he said.

Gerbi is a Libyan Jew who was expelled from his country in 1967 and gained citizenship in Italy.

At first, he spent many of the following years trying to reconcile Gaddafi and the local Jewish community.

He also helped Gaddafi reconnect communication between Libya and the United States.

"I know I was wrong [in helping Gaddafi out]... at that time I had hope... I saw Gaddafi as a human. Now I could say clearly he needs to go out."

Gerbi, who studied to be a Jungian psychoanalyst, had time to analyse Gaddafi's dictatorship and the psychological motivation behind it.

He concluded that Gaddafi was a "sick" man, with psychological problems, who needed to be placed in a hospital before killing himself and others.

"His archetype, a pattern of behaviour, is that of victim, protector, perpetrator and rescuer," Gerbi said.

"He will first act like a victim, then he will promise to protect and take care of others... if you criticise him, he will take action against you and if you praise him, he will rescue you," he said.

Gerbi said the Libyan leader typically displayed narcissistic tendencies.

Strength from propaganda

A narcissistic personality disorder was in the same class as antisocial, borderline or histrionic personality disorders, in a cluster commonly referred to as emotional, dramatic or erratic.

Someone suffering with narcissism would constantly seek recognition.

In its most severe form, a person would believe they were fundamentally flawed and do everything they could to control how they were perceived by others and how people acted towards them in order to hide their "flaw".

Gerbi said Gaddafi used his control, where he could, to stay in power.

"Gaddafi's strength comes from propaganda... he buys out people so that they say what he wants and that's how he can keep his control," he said.

"On the other hand, for 42 years, all the Libyans have seen is this guy's face. He is like the milk that they have been given since they were babies."

Gerbi said many Libyans didn't know there were other possibilities besides a Gaddafi regime.

"Another way he has become powerful is through gratitude dependency... he gave so many favours to African countries that they feel like they owe him something," Gerbi said.

"The AU [African Union] doesn't want to offend Gaddafi now because of the past work he has done."

Gerbi said that Gaddafi had always tried to create a "United States of Africa", and that African countries should not fall for his tricks, but take a stand against injustice.

"I hope that Libya can have hope, unity and the end of racism like in South Africa," he said.

"Just like with apartheid, we can be the victim of our wounds or use it as an opportunity to grow."

Protests against the 68-year-old Gaddafi began February 15, following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, as anti-government demonstrators sought to end his nearly 42 years of rule.

Both Britain and France appealed to global powers to impose a no-fly zone over Libya following severe violence and attacks by the army, but failed to win over major powers like the United States and many parts of Europe.

  • Rob - 2011-03-15 21:45

    "I hope that Libya can have hope, unity and the end of racism like in South Africa," he said. Is this a sick joke or what? If Gerbi realy believes there is no racism in South Aftrca then WTF is he doing lecturing at a university? Who the f..k is he trying to impress?

      slg - 2011-03-16 07:13

      I think he's referring more to an ideal than the true reality in South Africa. And South Africa did avert a civil war, even though the transition from Apartheid to democracy was not without violence. The use of a transitional authority to draft a new constitution and the freeing of political prisoners before this set international precedences for internal social and political transformation.

  • tommy 2 - 2011-03-15 22:45

    So we are going to listen to a Libyan Exile.\

      slg - 2011-03-16 07:10

      Yes we are, those of us who have any sense, that is.

  • Felix - 2011-03-16 08:12

    I thought it was tanks and fighter planes that were hurting civilians?

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