Kim Jong-il was all sorts of crazy. Aside from starving his brainwashed people – and then forcing some of them into either labor or prison camps – and committing untold other atrocities within the Hermit Kingdom, dude was top-shelf secretive, a remarkably talented golfer and lover of Daffy Duck; he fancied himself an Internet expert and reportedly had 17 palaces and residences scattered across all of North Korea. Oh yeah, he also claimed to have invented the hamburger.
What could explain this level of insanity? Just how crazy was Kim Jong-Il, anyway? And why was he even so crazy? How will history judge his batshit zaniness when stacked up against other delusional dictators, namely Adolf Hitler and Sadaam Hussein?
Back in 2009 a team of psychologists at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, together with a South Korean academic psychiatrist (who’s also a noted expert on the political psychology of the Koreas and both Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-sung) developed a psychological profile of the Dear Leader II based off the psychiatrist’s (the “informant’s”) evaluation of 14 personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV in addition to schizophrenic and psychotic symptoms. The researchers’ profile of Kim Jong-Il was then set against five consensus profiles of Hitler, and 11 of Hussein.
Here’s what they found, in brief:
The ‘big six’ group of personality disorders of Hitler and Hussein (sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid and schizotypal) was again confirmed in Kim Jong-il. The sadistic, paranoid and narcissistic personality disorder features were rated as the top three by Kim Jong-il’s informant. Interestingly, although the top six ranked personality disorder scales were the same for all three dictators, Kim Jong-il’s top six was more similar to Hussein’s profile than Hitler’s. In that regard, Kim Jong-il and Hussein both had sadistic personality disorder as their highest rated feature and had nearly identical sadistic t scores (slightly over three standard deviations above the normative mean). Also, whereas Hitler’s schizoid traits were only seventh highest of 14 personality disorders, Hussein’s schizoid traits were rated fifth and Kim Jong-il’s were rated fourth highest.
The study does note that all three dictators exhibited traits of psychotic thought processes. And yet it’s pretty apparent that among a smallish cast of ruthless tyrants, Kim Jong-il was far and away the most impishly maniacal. Read the full report, which originally appeared in Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, here.
- The VICE Guide to North Korea
- North Korea’s Largest Military Parade, in Slow Motion
- Pictures of Kim Jong-il Looking at Things
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