AUTHORITARIAN RESPONSE TO POPULAR REVOLUTIONS: AN ANALYSIS OF THE PARANOID PERSONALITY IN LEADERSHIP DECISION-MAKING
MetadataShow full item record
The unforeseen mass protests in Tunisia that overthrew Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and quickly spread to Egypt where Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak was forced from office highlight that a psychological aspect needs to be added to how revolutions are studied. Although the various countries directly affected by what is now known as the Arab Spring share similar sociopolitical, cultural, and economic backgrounds, the different fates of Ben Ali and Mubarak being forced from power while authoritarians such as Bashar Hafez al-Assad have remained show that these similarities do not necessarily dictate how an authoritarian will behave when facing similar popularly-backed threats. The literature on revolutionary social movements provides insight into what conditions such revolutionary movements need to succeed, in terms of organization and resources, as well on how international relations of closed political systems can aid or hinder the survival of such systems when faced with existential crisis. However, a psychological perspective on why an authoritarian may relinquish power when challenged has been largely missed in this literature. This dissertation then, seeks to address this gap of how a leader’s personality may affect decisions to flee, or fight on, when faced with tremendous pressure to step down. By analyzing the case study of Egypt’s Mubarak, this dissertation finds that a leader’s personality, as shaped by the environment, affects decision-making and may impede an authoritarian with a paranoid personality disorder from returning to a psychologically harmonious balance, once disrupted, that would allow him to regain control of his environment and thereby fight to keep his political power. In the case of Mubarak, such a paranoid mental state influenced his decision to ultimately step down after approximately 30 years in power.