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Monday, 25 January 2021

Another Leak - from the Cabinet?


A Psychologist’s Report on the Prime Minister.

The PM is now in his late 50s, but it seems we are dealing with a psychological adolescent.  That is the period in life when people are establishing their identity - who are they?  It is an interesting challenge since it involves both the memory of one's own experiences up to that time and the department store of potential identities - what one can invent or adopt for oneself.  The mature person makes a happy conjunction of these two.  The more one invents a self that does not take into account what one has been and indeed what one is in temperament and mental ability will lead to trouble.  I think this is the PM’'s basic problem - he has not achieved this synthesis, too many skeletons in the cupboard, and unfortunately for him, too many people know the skeletons. 

He has been blessed with a good brain and with charm.  The latter, whilst this can be an advantage in life, can have the disadvantage that the person does not get accurate feedback on which to operate.  The self-image can therefore proceed unchecked by appropriate checks and balances.  Such people can believe their own propaganda.  They are usually equipped with defence mechanisms in the form of cognitive distortions to deal with and dismiss adverse criticism when it arises.  This becomes neutralised and reflection is therefore not in the repertoire.  However, he appears lazy intellectually and will give up when it requires effort.  The problem with journalism, Boris' profession, is that it rarely requires real depth.  In journalism you can be quite dilettante, picking up and putting down a subject without having to delve too deeply.  This would have suited the PM has but not been a good training for his political career. Whilst he was Foreign Secretary and at the United Nations he seemed to exasperate the civil servants by being rather superficial and it appeared he was simply going to wing it, whatever the issue was.

It is reported that he is lazy.  This suggests that he will not expend effort on strategic thinking, and is more likely to respond to the dictates of the present perhaps to the extent of being impulsive, operating on the hoof.  Whilst this can give an illusion of success in the short term, it is likely to store up a host of hostages to fortune for the future, and in time the incoherence will become apparent. 

The 'good brain' issue needs deconstructing.  People can easily be impressed by people who are articulate or who interlard their discourse with reference to obscure or specialist knowledge.  It makes them feel inadequate and therefore they dare not ask questions or be challenging.  The individual's image of themselves can be massaged.  However, it can mask the absence of original thought, the person's 'intelligence' being reliant of repeating other people's ideas.  The PM is not an original thinker and is wearing borrowed clothes, the ideas and thoughts of others.  This is fine until confronted with a novel situation for which there is no prior model.  This is his present predicament.  Modelling oneself on a war leader with a very tangible enemy is not appropriate against a pandemic.  His desire to be loved/liked means it is difficult for him to tell people what they do not want to hear, particular when there are people in denial about the severity of the situation.  

The PM always wants to be in the frame.  Ofen wearing a hi-viz jacket. I think this is significant and suggests a certain narcissism that he is the centre of attention.  Narcissism comes with a sense of entitlement, a mind set boosted by such places as Eton and Oxford. He does not appear, unless it suits him, a loyal person -his first duty is to himself. He will not engender loyalty, either.  The Tory party does not like losers and when he begins to be floundering, they will dump him unceremoniously.  He will then appear a sorry figure. 

The trouble is that we don't see the real Boris.  He has a well-cultivated act, that is effective in achieving certain outcomes and in avoiding others.  The trouble with this is that it all becomes a game, it's all a jolly romp rather than something to be taken seriously.  It is a fine defence when things go wrong, though it portrays little awareness of any negative impact upon others.

[The author’s name and credentials have been redacted.]

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