The end of the Cold War brought with it many protracted internal conflicts and wars that have lasted for decades and whose persistent instability lies at the heart of both chronic nation-state and regional instability. Responsibility for these chronically failed states has been attributed to multiple unresolved root causes. With previous governance and parties to power no longer trusted or acceptable, the vacuum of leadership in many cases has been filled with bad leadership. This Concept piece argues that in a number of cases opportunistic leaders, suffering from severe antisocial character disorders, have emerged first as saviors and then as despots, or as common criminals claiming to be patriots, sharing a psychological framework that differs little from those responsible for World War II and the Cold War that followed. I describe the identifying characteristics of this unique and poorly understood subset of the population who are driven to seek the ultimate opportunity to control, dictate, and live out their fantasies of power on the world scene and discuss why their destructive actions remain unabated in the 21st century. Their continued antisocial presence, influence, and levels of violence must be seen as a global security and strategic issue that is not amenable to conventional diplomatic interventions, negotiations, mediations, or international sanctions.
- antisocial personality disorder
- humanitarian crises and aid
- internal wars
- narcissistic personality disorder
- war and conflict
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health