The Personality Profile of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Defense and Security Studies | International Relations | Leadership Studies | Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Other Political Science | Other Psychology | Peace and Conflict Studies | Personality and Social Contexts
This report presents the results of a remote psychological assessment, conducted 2005–2009, of the personality of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president at the time of the study, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon. Psychodiagnostically relevant data regarding Ahmadinejad was extracted from open-source intelligence and synthesized into a personality profile using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM–IV.
The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Ahmadinejad’s primary personality patterns were found to be Distrusting/suspicious (paranoid) and Ambitious/exploitative (narcissistic), with secondary Dominant/controlling (sadistic) and Dauntless/dissenting (antisocial) patterns. In addition, the personality profile contained subsidiary Aggrieved/unpresuming and Contentious/resolute features.
The amalgam of Distrusting (paranoid) and Ambitious (narcissistic) patterns in Ahmadinejad’s profile suggests the presence of a syndrome that Theodore Millon has labeled the fanatical paranoid — a personality composite that overlaps substantially with the construct of “malignant narcissism” described in modern reformulations of psychoanalytic theory.
As described by Millon, these personalities characteristically harbor intricate fantasies, make extravagant claims, fabricate stories to enhance their self-worth, and endow themselves with illusory powers; in their own minds they are inspired leaders, talented geniuses, holy saints, or demigods, perceiving themselves as righteous saviors standing up to the evils of the universe. Behaviorally, these personalities present as smug, arrogant and expansive, with an air of contempt toward others. In the face of adversity, delusions of grandeur constitute their chief coping mechanism.
The major political implication of the study is the inference that Ahmadinejad is relatively impervious to influence by diplomatic or economic means and not conflict averse, which heightens the risk that he would be psychologically inclined to use military force with minimal provocation to counter perceived threats to regime survival.
Copyright © 2009 by Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics / Aubrey Immelman
Immelman, A. (2009, June). The personality profile of Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Unpublished research report). Collegeville and St. Joseph, MN: St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics. Retrieved from Digital Commons website: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/106/