Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics

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The Personality Profile of Iranís President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Aubrey Immelman

Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics

June 2009


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 DSMĖIV.

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. Ahmadinejadís 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 Ahmadinejadís profile suggests the presence of a syndrome that Theodore Millon has labeled the fanatical paranoid ó a personality composite that overlaps substantially with the construct of ďmalignant narcissismĒ 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

Technical References

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Unpublished manuscript, St. Johnís 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

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

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

Page maintained by Aubrey Immelman

Last updated June 11, 2009