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The Personality Profile of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

Aubrey Immelman and Adam Beatty

October 2002


This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, from the conceptual perspective of Theodore Millon. Information concerning President Mugabe 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. Mr. Mugabe’s primary personality patterns were found to be Conscientious/compulsive and Ambitious/self-serving, with secondary Dominant/controlling, Retiring/aloof, and Distrusting/suspicious patterns. In addition, his profile revealed the presence of subsidiary Contentious/resolute and Reticent/circumspect features.

Mugabe’s profile suggests the presence of Millon’s bureaucratic compulsive syndrome a conscientious personality orientation infused with narcissistic features. Leaders with this composite character complex are noted for their officious, high-handed bearing, intrusive, meddlesome interpersonal conduct, unimaginative, meticulous, closed-minded cognitive style, grim, imperturbable mood, and scrupulous if grandiose sense of self.

The major leadership and policy implications of the study are that President Mugabe will continue clinging to power and seeking to reshape Zimbabwe according to his personal ideological vision; that his policies will be noted for the tenacity with which he advances a central idea (e.g., land reform); that he will increasingly exhibit an “us versus them” view of the world, with a corresponding willingness to use perceived enemies as scapegoats; that he will be inflexible and highly task-oriented, overlooking the human dimension in his response to political problems and invoking moralistic principles and impersonal mechanisms (e.g., decrees, proclamations, and state-sanctioned use of force) to impose solutions potentially with destructive or self-defeating consequences.

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Last updated February 11, 2008