Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

Featured Posts        





Pope Receives Letter from Mohmoud Ahmadinejad

October 9, 2010

VATICAN CITY — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sent a letter to the pope thanking him for opposing a Florida pastor’s threat to burn the Quran and calling for cooperation against secularism, the Vatican and the Iranian presidency said Saturday.

The Vatican said Pope Benedict XVI had received the letter during a brief meeting with one of Iran’s vice presidents at the end of his weekly general audience Wednesday.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi did not release the contents of the message.

But the website of the Iranian presidency quoted Ahmadinejad as thanking the pope “for your condemnation of an unwise move by a Florida church.” The pope and several other Christian leaders were among those urging the pastor to reconsider his plan to burn the Quran on the 9/11 anniversary. The plan was eventually called off.

The website also quoted the letter as denouncing “secularism, Western extremist humanism and the man’s growing tendency toward material life” and blaming them for the “decline of human society.”

“Close cooperation and interaction among divine religions to halt such destructive moves is an absolute necessity,” the letter said, according to the website.

The Vatican did not say whether the pope planned to reply to the letter.

It is not the first missive between Iran’s hardline president and the pontiff.

In 2006, Benedict received a letter from Ahmadinejad that focused on a round of sanctions that had at that point just been imposed by the U.N. Security Council for Iran’s refusal to compromise on its nuclear program.



Give Peace a Chance!

A dove is attacked by a seagull in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican on Jan. 26, 2014. (Photo credit: Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters)

As tens of thousands of people watched in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, a seagull and a crow swept down and attacked two white doves released from an open window by children standing alongside Pope Francis. … Full story


Related reports on this site

Image: Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his 2008 Christmas Day blessing from St. Peter’s Basilica. (Photo credit: Franco Origlia / Getty Images)

Koran Burned, Many Dead (April 3, 2011)

Anti-American Protests in Afghanistan After Pastor Threatens to Burn Koran (Sept. 13, 2010)

‘Ground zero’ mosque, Quran-burning controversies overshadow 9/11 memorials (Sept. 11, 2010)

Bloody Easter in Baghdad (April 4, 2010)

Pope Benedict on Chile Quake (Feb. 28, 2010)

The Pope’s Christmas Message 2009 (Dec. 25, 2009)

Christian Cleansing in Iraq (July 12, 2009)

Americans ‘Pro-Life’ on Abortion (May 16, 2009)

The Pope’s Christmas Message 2008 (Dec. 25, 2008)


The Personality Profile of Iran’s President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D.
Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
June 2009

Video profile

Mystical populist (NBC News Web Extra) — Watch an in-depth profile of the Iranian president: firebrand, soccer fan, and true believer in Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution. Produced by Baruch Ben-Chorin. (11:01)


A remote psychological assessment of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was conducted from 2005 to 2009, mining open-source data in the public domain. Information concerning Ahmadinejad was collected from 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. 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.

Characteristically, these personalities 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 if 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.

Appendix: Paranoid Personality Subtypes

Paranoid Personality Subtypes - Theodore Millon

Technical References

Immelman, A. (1999). Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria manual (2nd ed.). Unpublished manuscript, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minn.

Immelman, A. (2003). Personality in political psychology. In I. B. Weiner (Series Ed.), T. Millon & M. J. Lerner (Vol. Eds.), Handbook of Psychology: Vol. 5. Personality and Social Psychology (pp. 599-625). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Immelman, A. (2005). Political psychology and personality. In S. Strack (Ed.), Handbook of Personology and Psychopathology (pp. 198-225). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Immelman, A., & Steinberg, B. S. (Compilers) (1999). Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (2nd ed.). Unpublished research scale, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minn.

Millon, T. (with Davis, R. D.). (1996). Disorders of Personality: DSM-IV and Beyond (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.

Millon, T., & Davis, R. D. (2000). Personality Disorders in Modern Life. New York: Wiley.

(Note: Originally published on this site June 11, 2009)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — October 9, 2009

Obama Wins ‘Violence Prize’

Terror group mocks peace award, citing troop surge in Afghanistan (NBC Nightly News, Oct. 9, 2009) — The decision to award President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize stunned many around the country and the world, including those at the award ceremony who gasped when his name was announced. NBC Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell reports. (03:52)

One year ago today, I reported that the Afghan Taliban mocked the award of a Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama, saying he should get a Nobel Prize for violence instead.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — October 9, 2008

After the Primary Election: Day 30

Two years ago today, on the 30th day after losing my 2008 primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, in line with my focus on national security, I reported on efforts by the U.S. and Iraq to hammer out a status-of-forces agreement amid meddling by Iran and rifts among Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish factions in the Iraqi government.

Iraqis carry the coffin of Iraqi parliament member Salen al-Ugaili during his funeral on Oct. 9, 2008 in the Sadr city district in Baghdad, Iraq. Al-Ugaili, who was a moderate member of parliament from the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s block, was killed on Oct. 9, 2008 when a bomb exploded near his car in the Sadr city district east of Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo credit: Wathiq Khuzaie / Getty Images)

3 Responses to “Ahmadinejad’s Letter to the Pope”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Ahmadinejad Show of Strength Says:

    […] Ahmadinejad’s Letter to the Pope (Oct. 9, 2010) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Iran Preps to Fire Up Nuke Plant Says:

    […] Ahmadinejad’s Letter to the Pope (Oct. 9, 2010) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Iraq, Predictably, Drifts into Iran’s Orbit of Influence Says:

    […] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Letter to Pope Benedict XVI […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.