Reportaje: Políticos psicópatas

Sitio del Dr. Hugo Marietan


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Report: Hugo Marietan

Politicians tend to remain holding on to power as psychopaths

Laura Di Marco

For LA NACION newspaper, January 14, 2009


Shaft politicians are usually psychopaths, for one simple reason: the psychopath loves the power. He uses people to gain more and more power, and modifies them for their own benefit. This does not mean, of course, that all politicians or all leaders are indeed psychopaths, but that the power is a circumstance where they move as fish moves in water.


This is assured by the psychiatrist doctor Hugo Marietán, one of the main Argentinean specialists in psychopath and an obliged referent for those who are interested in these atypical personalities, which are nor necessarily the leading roles of high impact police reports.


Because, precisely, the allusion does not refer to serial killers such as Hannibal Lecter, the disturbed psychiatrist from “The Silence of the Lambs”, but to those personalities that Marietán defines as “daily psychopaths”. Rare personalities that do not only adapt themselves perfectly into the environment, but also surround us without further notice. Furthermore, most of them usually reach the highest economic politic and social standards.


The new about Marietan’s definition, member of the Argentinean Association of Psychiatry, and considered an authority in his field, is that the psychopath is not a mentally ill person, but a way to being in the world. That is to say:  an unusual variation of the human being that is characterized by having special needs. The unmeasured seek of power, of protagonism or killing may be some of them. They work with their own codes, different from the society ones, and they are usually qualified to be storm captains because of their high level of insensitivity and tolerance in extreme situations.


In psychopath, points this expert, there are no “kinds”, but degrees or intensities. As for that, the serial raper would be a more intense or extreme psychopaths, than a daily one, but both of them have the same personality.


At his 57 years-old, he is a professor of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), co director of the Almeon neuropsychiatry magazine ( and coordinator of the Spanish BlogSpot From the 80’s, he worked in the Moyano, Esteves and Borda hospitals, where he directed psychiatric semiology courses. His page on the Internet ( is a constant referent in studies about psychopathy.



As he explains in the interview with LA NACION, there’s a three percent of the population with psychopaths characteristics. That is to say, 1.200.000 people in Argentina. “The relation is: one woman out of three men. 300.000 ladies and 900.000 gentlemen. Why more men? I suspect because the woman uses her power in her house environment”, he claims.


-          How to distinguish a psychopath politician from the one who is not?


-     A basic characteristic of the psychopath is that he is a liar, but not any liar. He is an artist. Lies with the words, but also with his body. He acts. He may, even, pretend sensitivity. You believe him over and over because he is very convincing. An usual leader knows that he has to accomplish his function during an estimated time. Once the task is accomplished, he leaves. The psychopath, however, once he is at the top, no one can get him out: he wants to be once, twice three times. He can’t release the power, and least of all rely it on someone else. Perhaps, you remember someone like that? Another distinguishing feature is his ability of manipulate people. Arround the psychopath leader, we can find submissive people, who under his persuasive effect are able to do things that otherwise he wouldn’t.


-          Like under a spell, you mean?


-          It’s subdued people, yes, and they can even have high intellectual level. These kinds of leaders don’t take the citizens as people with rights: They take them as things. Because the psychopath always works for himself, although his speech would claim the contrary. People are no more than an instrument. He lacks the emotional ability of empathy, that is, the act of putting yourself in someone else shoes. Everything for such a political leader has to be at his service: people, money, famous box to buy wills. They use money to put people under pressure, since they use restriction. The question of the typical psychopathic doing is: how do I break others wills? With a charge, with a subsidy? How do I split?


-          So the political clientele, according to you, is a way to consider a person like a “thing”…


-          Yes. Because it goes like this: “I give you, but you give me something back, you attend to a meeting, you do what I ask”. It is not an unmotivated giving moved by sensitivity of wanting to help those in need. It is about using people to build his own power.


-          That is clear, but, what would define it as a psychopathic act?


-          The fact is that he is taking away the possibility of choosing. The psychopath always leaves us without options: manipulated people have an economic disadvantage that leaves them without a way out: either I eat and follow him, or I don’t follow him, therefore I don’t eat. People’s freedom is the ability to choose.


-          Does the psychopath leader know that he works for himself or does he actually believe that he is fighting for a higher cause?


-          It is very difficult to get into his mind. They have a very different logic. However, either he believes it or not, the flag he carries is always above himself, beyond even this moment. This is usually seen, also, in psychopath religious leaders, who refer to after dead salvation. Other flags may be the reference to the new man, the national project, the higher race, the nation, the homeland. The psychopath always needs to find an enemy to gather people. And, of course, he would never say: “Let’s work for me”.


-          What happens with these kind of politicians during normal periods without deep crisis?


-          Well, here comes the problem, because, the psychopath doesn’t adapt to quietness. He needs the crisis. He needs to be recognized as a savior. He plays no part during peace. He can’t stand it. That is why, societies ruled by this kind of politicians live in constant crisis.


-          And can’t this leader change? Can he learn from his mistakes?


-          No. He is always exactly as himself: psychopathy is a non changing structure.


-          So far, you are describing them as indestructible beings, but the must have a weak point. Which may that be?


-          The frustration of their plans. When they go for a project, they put everything on it, but it doesn’t work. Then, the psychopath gets disorganized and starts doing nonsense. It is a controlling personality. That is why he can have absolutely clumsy attitudes in time of frustration. And, at this point, people notice his non stopping mistakes, and that unit he built with his persuasion starts to break down.


-          You claim they hold on to power and it’s difficult to remove them. Any suggestions?


-          Well, it would take a lot of common normal leaders or another strong psychopath that overcomes him. Among many the psychopath leader could be removed, or at least his power could be reduced. A different thing is learning not to choose them. The psychopath needs to break the stability here and there. That is why he needs to create crisis. If you understand the way he works, you can distinguish them and vote for different leaders, also very charismatic but not psychopathic.


-          If a psychopathic politician read this interview, would he recognize himself as such?


-          Of course not. He would finish reading and tell his audience: “How outrageous, how many psychopaths there are walking around the world!”




Psychiatric Doctor

University of Buenos Aires graduated.


Doctor and professor: he worked from 1982 in the Moyano and Borda hospitals. He teaches at graduated and postgraduate courses.

Writer: he wrote academic pieces (“Psychiatric Semiology” (1996), “Psychopathy course” (2009), “The complementary and his psychopath” (2008), and also theater plays and novels.



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