OSAMA's NARCISSISM by Eric Rosen
"Muslims should kill Americans, civilians included, wherever they can
find them." This is a quote by Osama bin Laden in 1998 that expresses his
absolute hatred toward Americans. Bin Laden has come along way to achieve the
power that he has today. The amount of power he has attained is quite remarkable
considering he is not a royal ruler and he is not an official in any government.
Yet Osama bin Laden has control over thousands possibly millions of people all
around the world. How does he have control over so many people from some many
different parts of the world? In order for someone to accomplish this near impossible
feat one must have rare psychological characteristics. These characteristics
that bin Laden has, which enables him to have a remarkable amount of control
are as follows: he is narcissistic, grandiose, he contains a strong, manipulative
communication technique, and he has a different perception of the world than
that of the American society. In the following I claim that rulers of poor areas
need to contain these psychological characteristics to survive.
On September 11, 2001 terrorists of the world were finally able to celebrate a successful attack on Americans. For years terrorists have been plotting against America. This is due to their extreme hatred that terrorists have towards America and all Americans. Being an America, it is difficult to explain the motives of the terrorists. Prior to 911, the American government has kept a low profile on the terrorist situation. It is because of this that the attacks on the U.S. took every American citizen by surprise. This situation is still a complex ordeal and attempting to obtain insight on this situation may be easier said than done. In order to understand what is happening one would have to receive an abundance of information. Obtaining that information is impossible due to the fact that our government is obviously disclosing an enormous amount of information from the American public. One would probably have a better chance of getting information disclosed in Afghanistan than in the United States. I would like to take the time and examine the facts to which we do know. We know that on September 11th two planes were deliberately flown into the World Trade Center and another one into the Pentagon. It has also been confirmed that the people involved are from a terrorist organization that has been linked to Osama Bin Laden as one of the main leaders.
Bin Laden has arguably more power than any individual on the face of the Earth. If he were to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge it is safe to say that he would probably have close to a million followers plunging to their death right behind him. Many people have asked how does this mad man have so many followers. Bin Laden is more beloved by his people than President Bush is beloved by Americans. One reason for this is the psychological characteristics that bin Laden possesses.
Narcissism is defined as an inordinate fascination with oneself. Osama bin Laden became a narcissistic person after he lead the Afghan people to victory over the Soviet Union. He had to become narcissistic after the amazing feat he and his people accomplished.
In order to get a better psychological perspective on this well-known mad man one would have to get a detailed background on his past. Unfortunately since bin Laden keeps a low profile including evading several attempts to capture him it can be difficult to obtain information regarding the Al Qaeda leader.
(All background info was researched on www.cnn.com) Osama bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia in 1957. He is the 17th of 52 children of a construction worker Muhammad Awad bin Laden. Osama bin Laden comes from a high profile Saudi family. His father came to Saudi Arabia from Hadramout (South Yemen) as a poor manual worker, but later managed to start a successful construction business. Bin Laden's father ran a construction company, the Saudi bin Laden Group. His performance and loyalty helped him to establish a close relationship with the royal family. During a financial crisis he paid the wages of all civil servants in the kingdom for six months. King Faisal then issued a decree that all construction projects should go to bin Laden. For a brief period, he was also named the minister for public works. This is where the bin Laden fortune came from. His mother, one of four wives of Muhammad bin Laden, was Syrian by some accounts, Palestinian by others. Bin Laden's father died in a helicopter accident when he was at the young age of 10. Bin Laden would later inherit a share of the family fortune.
Osama bin Laden grew up and attended primary and secondary school in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Upon graduation in 1973 he left for Beirut for rest and recreation. At that time, the Lebanese capital was an exciting westernized city, and bin Laden fully enjoyed its pleasures. He drank in bars and was involved in at least three fights over a prostitute. In 1974 bin Laden married for the first time to a Syrian cousin. In 1975 he started studying civil engineering at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jiddah. The events that took place in Lebanon that year began a debate among Muslim scholars about the civil war being God's punishment for the corruption of Beirut. Through contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood at the University, bin Laden transformed into a hard line Islamist. It is likely that the self-imposed guilt of his Beirut life style contributed to the radicalization process. Most of his brothers were accomplishing many things; they were following in their father's footsteps. Osama, frustrated with his lack of status in the family and being overshadowed by his brothers especially elder half-brother Salim, Osama eagerly looked for a purpose.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 provided bin Laden with an opportunity. He went there for a month on an exploratory trip that apparently made quite an impression on him. Upon his return he set up recruiting offices around the world, financed the transportation of some 10,000 Muslim warriors from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen and Algeria to Afghanistan. He set up training facilities, brought in experts on guerilla warfare, sabotage and covert operations, paid for training of troops and provided them with modern equipment.
The war against the Soviet's in Afghanistan was the turning point in bin Laden's life. Coming from a family of high stature bin Laden wanted to live up to the bin Laden name. He wanted to achieve high status among the Middle Eastern society. Leading the people of Afghanistan against the Soviet superpower successfully was the accomplishment that put his name on the map. Not only did bin Laden lead the underdogs to victory against the Soviet's he succeeded in gaining the respect and dignity that he so wanted. The remarkable achievement that bin Laden accomplished led to a rapid increase in power. Many people now had something to believe in, people believed that bin Laden could finally lead the people of this poor area to a better lifestyle. Bin Laden had successfully gained the loyalty of these people. Because of what he did the people of this area loved him and would now follow him. Because of the feat he had accomplished and his narcissistic attitude he created a grandiose population in the Middle East. This grandiose population became "true believers," they believed anything bin Laden said. They believed that this man would do everything in his power to help them. Bin Laden became a Machiavellian ruler among his people claiming constantly that "the end justifies the mean."
Grandiosity is defined as having an exaggerated belief in one's importance sometimes reaching delusional proportions. Bin Laden has characteristics that are narcissistic and grandiose. His narcissism leads to grandiosity. He believes that he is the King and that everything he believes in is extremely consequential to life. All of his power is based on his wealth and his accomplishment during the Soviet invasion. It is because of these two things that he believes he is the best. Nobody is better than he is, Osama is king. In the Middle East this is true there are not too many people with his wealth or accomplishments. Because of this his followers have little choice but to believe in his concepts and everything he believes in. Bin Laden came in and helped the people of this area and now they believe they owe it to him to be faithful followers. These people have developed a grandiose attitude toward him and his beliefs.
An example of the grandiosity he and his people have could be expressed in the events that just took place recently in Afghanistan. The U.S. issued a warning that they would take military actions unless the people responsible for the attacks on the U.S. were handed over to them. The most wanted person was Osama bin Laden and they refused to hand him over. This expresses how much grandiosity that the people of Afghanistan have toward him and the amount of narcissism he possesses.
The U.S. began bombing Afghanistan. Everyday hundreds of lives were lost and all because they did not want to hand over one man. These people believe that bin Laden is more important than any of the thousands of lives that were lost. Their failure to cooperate with the U.S. government expressed their grandiosity toward him. Also bin Laden did not turn himself in. Instead he ran and hid like a coward in caves expressing his grandiosity and narcissistic attitude toward himself. The U.S. even issued a hefty reward for his capture, but nobody would because bin Laden was too important. There was enough money in the world for any of his grandiose subjects to turn in their beloved leader.
Bin Laden gained control over many people in the Middle East because of his psychological characteristics and brilliant communication techniques. Control is defined as the ability to be in charge of our own life and to influence people around us. Bin Laden influences the lives of millions of people. On September 11th he had influenced the lives of millions of people all over the world. In order for us to be in control of our own lives, we must be able to know when and how to play an equal, subordinate, or superior role through our communication. Bin Laden is a great communicator. His communication techniques are remarkable, so remarkable that he is able to justify all the violence he institutes to his people. The people that believe in him live by the Koran. The Koran is specifically for nonviolent practices, although through his communication techniques he is able to justify the carnage he perpetuates across the globe.
Bin Laden sees the world very differently than people of the western society. Perception is defined as an active process by which we use our sensory organs to sense the world. This process allows us to make sense of internal and external stimuli and interpret them into meaningful experiences. These stimuli can include everything that we see, hear, feel, smell, and taste, to our feelings, desires, interests, and motivations.
Bin Laden obviously believes that Americans do not live life the correct way. Based on his background it seems that his perceptions were distorted around his college years. Before this time he was living like a kid drinking in bars, interested in women, etc. Through his education and the events that occurred during that time the young bin Laden perceived the world as something different than most people. His perceptions are unknown because nobody can get into his head. He has nor will he ever allow someone to psychoanalyze him, this is why his perceptions are unknown. However based on his attitudes, beliefs, and actions it is safe to assume his perceptions are different than that of Americans.
Going farther back past his college years into his youth can be another reason that his perceptions are different than people of the western society. His father died at a young age. Growing up with out a father figure and some guidance most likely in a way shaped his perceptions. He had nobody to guide him and being one of many children in the family he was probably a victim of neglect. Then seeing the accomplishments of his brothers and seeing that he was becoming a drunken bum motivated him to become something great. He used his money to establish himself. After he was established he created the image of a narcissistic, grandiose, delusional man to the western society and a great, intelligent, holy leader to the Middle Eastern society.
Rulers of poor areas such as the Middle East need to contain narcissistic, grandiose, manipulative communication techniques to survive. People who reside in that part of the globe can become manipulated extremely easily. The people of that region believe that they need him to rule upon them in order to survive. His confident narcissistic, grandiose traits portray him as a good ruler even though he may not be so. If he did not possess his narcissistic, grandiose traits than bin Laden would have been dead years ago. Instead these traits that he possesses allows him to survive from the many dangers he faces everyday verifying the claim for this paper.
Osama Bin Laden's background information was obtained from