Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



African History | African Studies | International Relations | Leadership Studies | Other Political Science | Other Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, from the conceptual perspective of Theodore Millon.

Psychodiagnostically relevant information regarding President Mugabe was extracted from biographical sources and media reports and synthesized into a personality profile using the second edition of 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.

Mugabe’s primary personality patterns were found to be Conscientious/compulsive and Ambitious/self-serving (narcissistic), with secondary Dominant/controlling (aggressive), Retiring/aloof (introverted), and Distrusting/suspicious (paranoid) patterns. In addition, his profile revealed the presence of subsidiary Contentious/resolute (negativistic) and Reticent/circumspect (avoidant) features.

Mugabe’s profile suggests the presence of Millon’s bureaucratic compulsive syndrome — an obsessive-compulsive personality orientation infused with narcissistic features.

Leaders with this composite character complex are noted for their officious, high-handed bearing, intrusive, meddlesome interpersonal conduct, unimaginative, meticulous, closed-minded cognitive style, grim, imperturbable mood, and scrupulous if grandiose sense of self.


The research was conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics (USPP), a collaborative faculty–student research program in the psychology of politics at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict in Collegeville and St. Joseph, Minnesota, directed by Aubrey Immelman, PhD, associate professor of psychology, who specializes in the psychological assessment of presidential candidates and world leaders.

More information: