Alexander the Narcissist


Type B spectrum disorders comprise the anti social, narcissistic and borderline personalities. As I wrote elsewhere these are not diseases in the medical sense but maladaptive behaviors that derive from a mix of genetics and upbringing-nature and nurture if you will. These conditions are very tough to rectify in therapy partly due to lack of insight as well their tendency to cause suffering in others rather than the self. This does improve somewhat with age. Most contemporary politicians (Steven Harper,George Bush Jr) fall into this category.

The antisocial personality (psychopath) is mostly male and derives from failed socialization (civilization). So called drive theory is helpful to conceptualize this disorder. We are all born Vikings (men anyway) with in born drives to pillage, rape, fight, loot, and burn stuff to the ground. The anti-socials lack empathy, have no conscience (superego) and no frustration tolerance. The parental role is normally to turn these junior heathens into good citizens. However if the parents are emotionally or physically absent, or abusive alcoholic meth heads raising children in a deprived  chaotic environment, then there is fertile ground for sociopathic development (eg Jeff Dahmer).

The borderline-narcissitic  group are better understood with object relations theory. This looks at the mother child bond- the self and the object. The object (mom) must balance wants and needs of the self (child) with the demands of reality. If the mother fails to differentiate herself from the child and instead mirrors herself in him, then there is fertile ground for a narcissist (Alexander the Great). Underneath this armour one may find shaky self-esteem. If she alternates between being overly gratifying vs withdrawing-rejecting we can end up with a borderline (Adolf Hitler).

Alexander of Macedon was a classic narcissist. Imbued with grandiose fantasies of power and invulnerability he conquered most of the known world by 330BC.

Here is how it was done: his mom Olympias was a snake loving flake who doted on him and offered no restrictions to his future greatness. Indeed she claimed she was impregnated  by Zeus, a top of the line pagan God, via a lightening bolt to her belly leaving an imprint of a lion. Her marriage to Philip (dad) was un satisfying at best augmenting her bond to Alex. Now Philip was an accomplished drunk but otherwise a good father who as King of Macedon told his son he was capable of great things, “My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedon is too small for you”. Heady stuff for a ten-year old. He taught young Alex the lessons of Greek myths and bought him a powerful horse. This fostered something analysts call identification with the aggressor, which thus theoretically reduced any erotic bond with mom and which would lead to the assassination of dad, (the Oedipus complex). So Alexander with grandiose invulnerability on board, accompanied by a few wives and his male lover/childhood friend Hephastion and a large army, bested the entire Persian empire.

He would have been interesting to put on a couch and analyze but then we might never have be able to enjoy Tandoori chicken.

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