Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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May 13th, 2011

Summary: The discovery of pornography in Osama bin Laden’s possession is consistent with his psychological profile, which I developed at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics in the months following the attacks of 9/11 and presented in June 2002 at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology in Berlin. According to the profile, Bin Laden, whom I classified as a “unprincipled narcissist,” did not fit the profile of the highly conscientious, closed-minded religious fundamentalist, nor that of the religious martyr who combines those qualities with devout, self-sacrificing features. Far from being a religious zealot, the profile suggests that Bin Laden — in Machiavellian fashion — was adept at exploiting Islamic fundamentalism in the service of his own burning ambition and personal dreams of glory.