Once a month. 1st, 2nd, or 4th Friday of the month, depending upon preferences of group members, from 2:15-3:45 pm.
Ellicott City, MD

The group will start with reading the book Tyrannical Minds: Psychological Profiling, Narcissism, and Dictatorship by Dean A. Haycock, Ph.D. Goals will include analyzing the personality traits of persons who have become dictatorial leaders, assessing the potential impact of that leadership style on the mental health of members of a society, and discussing the theorized personality traits of persons who choose to follow such leaders.

Members who attend this study group will be able to:

Fall Semester:

  1. Describe the “Big Five” personality traits and discuss how these theorized traits intersect with theory in self psychology.
  2. Analyze the combinations of personality traits that are theorized as necessary for the development of a malevolent dictator.
  3. Discuss the common core of “dark traits” that make up the “D-factor.”
  4. Describe how the personality characteristic of narcissism has historically been embodied by malevolent dictators.
  5. Discuss how the personality characteristic of paranoia in a dictator may affect the levels and experiences of fear, racism, and aggression within various members of society.

Spring Semester:

  1. Discuss how historical and cultural contexts influence vulnerability to control by a malevolent dictator.
  2. Analyze potential impacts of ideological polarization on therapy processes (for example, potential countertransference complications and potential therapist disclosure (explicit or not) of personal values).
  3. Compare the differences and similarities between authoritarian leaders of countries, cults, and extremist sects isolated from broader society.
  4. Discuss personality characteristics of individuals who are willing to sacrifice their lives in the service of a dictator or cult leader.
  5. Explain how defenses of projection and projective identification operate in the ability of a dictator to gain power (e.g., tapping into various kinds of fear and racism).