Are all world leaders psychopathic?

In brief: this article argues the case that all world leaders are unfit to rule us due to being highly psychopathic – whether this is natural or learned – focusing in particular on one who most people would never consider: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Is Putin really worse than the others?

I recently wrote a post about Vladimir Putin, critiquing his psychopathy and the implications for that in the Ukraine conflict. Some fair and helpful critique came up, which is: why am I choosing one leader to focus on when nearly every leader involved in this conflict is suspicious?

Ukraine is currently ranked only slightly higher than Russia in terms of its level of corruption[1], so it’s still a very corrupt country itself. Which means, of course, that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is quite dubious[2]. There’s reports of him shutting down opposing journalists and political opposition in the past[3], in a manner no different to what Putin himself has done. Zelenskyy is continuing to fight Russia when actually surrendering might be the safest move for his people; and he refused an offer to have his family flown to safety – pointlessly endangering his family. People love the quirk about him previously being a stand-up comedian, but all I can think is, “This guy is obsessed with approval and being in the spotlight”, which – if I’m right – is a very dangerous position for a leader in a war.

So I take the critique, and it’s led me to point out something else that I think’s rather obvious. By my assessment, again using the training and experience I have and working with psychopathic personalities, I believe that almost any world leader would score very highly in psychopathic traits simply because of the nature of political competition, especially in democratic countries.

What does it take to get to the top?

Just take a moment to think through what it takes to get to the top of the political pyramid, in any supposedly democratic country like the United States, Australia, the UK, Canada, the Ukraine, Russia etc.

Think through who that kind of person needs to be; what kind of personality profile they need in order to succeed; what kind of barriers they have to overcome; who their competition is; and what kind of actions they’d need to take to overcome those barriers.

Because I promise you this: nowhere in the world does an honest and compassionate person of integrity make it to the top of a structure like that. Impossible. The system is wired against such a thing occuring.

The reason politics is such a cutthroat business is because everybody is hyper-manipulative – it comes down to who’s better at it, and who’s better at hiding their secrets.

The reason I wrote this article is that while I might have focused on Putin previously, I believe that all world leaders are psychopaths: that’s the most simple way I can put it.

Jacinda Ardern a psychopath? Surely not!

The one I’m going to speak about today, to emphasize what high-functioning “learned” psychopathy looks like, is New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (although I could do this with any of them).

I chose Ardern because if I can demonstrate that she shows psychopathic traits, then it will be easier for you to believe that other world leaders do too, as she’s probably the least likely candidate. There are very few people on the planet who would look at Ardern and think, “She’s a psychopath”, for good reasons, but hear me out…

By “psychopath”, I don’t just mean somebody who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder[4], or is very high in the “dark triad” traits[5] and so on. I’m not so much talking about people have Personality Disorders, because disorder obviously implies that they do not function particularly well. They tend to get into trouble and they tend to be quite chaotic, and it all falls apart eventually (e.g. Trump, who is a classic example of a disorganised and vulnerable narcissistic personality who’s reign fell to pieces over time, by his own hand).

But some psychopathic people are highly intelligent and functional – many of the world’s top bankers and lawyers and CEOs are almost certainly high in psychopathy (e.g. Steve Jobs). Many of the top military leaders and police officers are psychopaths (e.g. General MacArthur).

Even if people aren’t naturally what you might call “born psychopaths”, many have been forced to learn psychopathy in order to deal with the pressures of their job. Which is how Ardern comes into this.

Learned psychopathy

There are a few things you can’t possibly do if you are high in traits like compassion, empathy, conscientiousness, humility, anxiety and agreeableness (in order words, the opposite of psychopathic). You can’t callously hurt a minority to protect the majority. You can’t make quick, ruthless decisions. You can’t prioritise your career success over your family. You can’t ignore people in distress. You can’t deceive people without being wracked by guilt. And so on.

But with practice, you can diminish these traits and, over time, learn to replace them with the more psychopathic traits of ruthlessness, dishonesty, hyper-ambition, callousness, low affect (suppressed emotion) and manipulation. This process is what I call “learned psychopathy”.

And I am very certain that learned psychopathy, is a prerequisite for political success (if you’re not already a natural psychopath).

I have learned psychopathy myself from working with criminal offenders in Corrections. I score highly in the traits of ruthlessness and Machiavellianism. So this article comes from a “takes one to know one” perspective. I simply see Ardern and other world leaders from a different and I think more accurate perspective than regular loving and compassionate people normally do.

And I’d suggest that from what I’ve seen from Ardern – and I’ve looked at her public profile, political policies (and implementation), videos, content and so on quite a lot – I’d have to say she is at the very least highly learned in psychopathy. She almost certainly didn’t start out that way, I’ll give her that, but she’s there now.

Ardern might still be capable of genuine empathy, love, conscientiousness, and so on, but she has learned to be ruthless, manipulative and callous. She has learned to prioritise her own career interests over the needs of the people she serves and the attachment needs of her newborn child. She can hopefully turn that off when needed, perhaps when she goes home to her family, but she has certainly decided to turn it on when she goes to work.

Anyone who loves Ardern will feel repulsed by the accusation that she’s a psychopath, but you’ve got to understand that a really high-functioning, intelligent, learned psychopath will make you love them. It’s not like in the movies where they’re clearly the bad guy. In real life, they look like the good guy (e.g. Barack Obama, a prolific war-mongerer responsible for the oversight of many thousands of deliberate civilian casualties[6]). And it’s not until the very last minute, and sometimes never, that they’re revealed as being the bad guy.

You’ve got to understand that when somebody is learned-psychopathic, they’ll give the absolute appearance of being anything but. They are truly convincing. Ardern is a great example of this. One of the ways to look for it is to measure her subtle manipulation against her contradictory and superficial acts of so-called “kindness”.

The case against Ardern

#1 The hijab

When the terrorist attack happened in Christchurch, where a white supremacist killed 50 or more Muslims and wounded many others[7], the first thing you saw was Ardern wearing a hijab (a traditional Islamic headscarf) and hugging the victims’ family members, with a pained look of compassion on her face.

The photograph was almost too good to be true. The angle was perfect – you saw none of the victim; you only saw “loving Jacinda”. You only saw the fact that she’s clearly wearing the hijab in sympathy for the victims – a symbolic show of inclusiveness and support. (Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau likes using this tactic too, i.e. wearing culturally symbolic clothing to show solidarity[8] – it’s an easy virtue-signal that takes no real effort or sacrifice.) You mostly saw how quickly she responded; she put everything aside to go hug these victims. It all looks very commendable, and she certainly received many global accolades for it.

But while everyone else was singing her praises, all I could think of was: “Well played Cindy, well played”.

Really, she came out looking very good from that. So good, in fact, that she stole the limelight. The terrorism itself was overshadowed by the amazing compassion and the response of the Prime Minister. I couldn’t help but notice that the end result was exactly the outcome a psychopathic person would have tried to create from such an event. The terrorism benefitted Ardern personally, whether she intended it or not. It wasn’t even New Zealanders that got the props for kindness, despite the outpouring of community emotional and financial support for the victims; it was just Jacinda on her own, reaping.

Now, here’s a quick question: What do the BEST leaders do?

Are they at the front taking all the glory, or do they make sure that others get all the glory? Now compare your answer with what Ardern did in that terrorist situation.

Now, it could easily be explained that she was just doing something genuinely compassionate and it’s just kind of good luck that she also did something very politically savvy at the same time. But there are a couple of cracks in that narrative:

Firstly, she wore the hijab. I asked myself: would a genuinely shocked and compassionate person rushing to give love to the people she felt empathy for have the presence of mind to do something that clever? When Keanu Reeves gives, he does so anonymously and avoids the limelight (a good example of a genuinely kind person). When Richard Branson’s team succeeds, he commends them over himself.

Secondly, Ardern was already prime minister. Anybody at the top of any political system is very politically savvy, that is a given, surely, which means they’re very conscious about the effect of everything they do publicly, on their approval ratings, their ability to be elected, and their position in the power structure. There is no way at all that Ardern flew down to Christchurch to wear a headscarf and hug a victim in front of a camera thoughtlessly. There was consideration of political outcomes. Other world leaders probably watched and thought, “Fuck, I should’ve thought of that during our last tragedy”.

And thirdly, I didn’t see Ardern put much effort into promoting on the world stage the good deeds done by the rest of New Zealand in support of this tragedy, who combined did more for the victims than the government did, but she certainly didn’t push back on compliments to her own self. In psychopathy terms, this is called “grandiosity”.

#2 MIQ

Ardern has a card that she keeps playing, which is the “I’m your favourite aunty and I care about you so much!” card. She actually mentioned in a speech to the UN that “caring” was her policy[9]. New Zealanders love her for it. Well, not all us do actually…

As somebody has been through the MIQ system, I would argue against that. I had to compete with fellow New Zealanders in a lottery to enter my own country, which I was legally entitled to do anyway, just so that the people already there wouldn’t get a virus they were bound to get eventually anyway.

See, there’s an interesting way to look at the whole borders-closed thing. One way to look at it is: “Wow, she protected New Zealand from COVID, go #teamof5million!” Another way to look at it, however, is she kept the other 770,000+ New Zealanders from being able to return home during a crisis, breaching the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990[10] to do so. This included many hundreds of New Zealanders with heartbreaking stories of being separated from their young children, having businesses collapse, being trapped in hostile countries with an expired visa and no money, and being unable to comfort dying relatives in their final moments.

Now why would she do something that brutal and ruthless, politically speaking?

Well, there’s actually a really good reason. It’s because of those almost one million New Zealanders offshore, less than 10% of them vote. It’s a simple fact that when people leave New Zealand for an extended period of time, they tend not to vote in New Zealand politics compared to the people staying on shore[11]. There is no way in hell that Jacinda does not know this. And just in case any of them decided to, Ardern made sure that they couldn’t by stripping their rights to vote[12].

That’s the cold-hearted truth about Labour’s border policy, because it does not in any way line up with “caring” even if you’re trying to keep the virus out of New Zealand. They could have simply done a better job with MIQ. What you saw was a de-prioritization of certain New Zealanders simply because they were not vote-worthy.

And if you look carefully over Jacinda’s entire approach to her political career, especially since she became prime minister, every decision makes a lot of sense if you think of what will guarantee that she’ll poll well, including her recent complete turnaround on the MIQ system, where she only upheld it strictly until it started to look like it would hurt her in the votes, and then she dropped it suddenly and without clear reasoning… also somehow coinciding with the relevant High Court case against the government.

#3 The dismissals

Ardern has callously dismissed requests to do more about New Zealand’s embarrassingly severe mental health issues, and seems to care little about reducing our horrific suicide rates (Google her response to Mike King’s “Gumboot Friday” offer that she ignored repeatedly).

Ardern has stayed surprisingly quiet on dealing with the historic and current violent and sexual abuse of children in state care[13], despite once being quoted as saying: “If you ask me why I’m in politics, my answer will be simple: children.”[14]. Not to mention the immeasureable yet undeniable divide growing between New Zealanders, cultural tensions that Ardern seems to think aren’t happening.

And isn’t Ardern just a tad too chummy with the People’s Slavery Republic of China[15]? She condemns Russia (weakly) for war crimes but doesn’t mind shaking hands with one of the scariest dictators we’ve seen since Hitler? Apparently, our trade relations make it tricky to have integrity.

These are big moral issues and yet she avoids them like the plague (pun intended). Why? Because they’re not vote-worthy topics, and too risky to get involved with.

Choosing which topics to make a big deal about and which to ignore with such clever political precision demonstrates a psychopathic level of cunning.

Notice that she really never does anything that’s going to risk her winning the next election. There are times when doing the truly right thing would have been the unsafe or unfavorable move with the voters (e.g. meeting with the Wellington protestors to negotiate a peace in order to reduce the risk they posed to the public). Ardern only moves in her own favour.

Jacinda Ardern’s words say “caring and kindess” but her actions say “keep me in power”. And that, my friends, is what a political career that requires learned psychopathy can do to an otherwise genuinely nice person.

They’re all psychos

At no point during my assessment of Putin did I ever believe that the other world leaders are the good guys. Basically, I think the the biggest problem we face as a global community of proletariat is that we’re yet to recognize that everyone at the top sucks, even Aunty Cinda’.

People get upset with me when I tell them that I don’t vote. They don’t understand that I’m genuinely baffled as to who they’d expect me to vote for. A vote is a mark of respect and support – it says “I want this person to lead my country” – and I’ve simply never felt that way about a single New Zealand politician in my entire life. Buck Shelford’s got my vote if he ever cares to give it a crack – I’m open to a good leader once one actually comes through. As a half-psychopath myself, all I see are snakes and rats, need and greed, incompetence and arrogance. Why would I condone a system that breeds more of them? My non-vote is a vote against this warped and ineffective system.

We’re so used to them being terrible that we only compare them to each other, without comparing them to decent human beings. We say that Zelenskyy’s the good guy and Putin’s the bad guy. We don’t think about how compared to a decent human being they’re both terrible as leaders. As are Ardern, Biden, Johnson and Trudeau.

None of them hold a candle up to real leaders like Mandela, Churchill and Washington, people who despite their flaws showed the ability to do what was best for the people instead of only what was best for themselves. And even they were simply the best of the modern bunch – I’d argue we haven’t seen a truly great leader since Emperor Marcus Aurelius of Rome.

But they’re not going to change. The most ruthless make it to the top of the system because it is wired to support those who are psychopathic, learned or otherwise. The whole system would need to be uprooted in such a way that it supports honest, transparent people to get to the top, and resists manipulation from predators, bullies, and incompetent wannabes.

A system, for example, that had no campaigning and no marketing. Where people were voted for based on merit rather than desire to rule. Candidates would have to be nominated by other bodies, and they couldn’t market themselves. They’d be anonymously voted for based on their qualifications and their experience for the particular role that they’re going for. And there’d be no parties: just individuals, all of them making votes of conscience on every matter based on what’s best for the country. It’d be fixed terms; there’d be no career politicians. Members would serve their five years, and then they can never serve again, and so on (these ideas are all based on advice I’ve seen from Thomas Sowell, Jordan Peterson, Yuval Harari etc.)

What I’m really pointing out here is that they’re all bad guys. Putin’s just one that will actually push the button and that’s why I wrote a whole article about him. He’s a born psychopath – his career demonstrates that beyond doubt. Ardern would never push the button.

Hope that clears things up. Feel free to vent your outrage toward me in the comments section, but beware Hitchen’s Razor: That which is claimed without evidence can (and will) be dismissed without evidence.

9 Responses

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with most of your post (I wouldn’t say Churchill can be compared to Mandela….)
    As I come from the country which was “released” from USSR influence; I want to show a different tangent. Poland went from good democratic reforms in the 90’s, straight into the corpo-grab, as politicians were fighting over who was the confidant or in the commie party. Both sides, when at the helm, privatized major companies for peanuts (with some peanuts for them of course). Then populist parties grew bigger and bigger, opposing the status quo.
    Now, from 2015, PIS (Law and order) party is making sweeping changes – undermining constitution, separation of powers and growing national debt, while offering candies for their target group (old people, villagers and small town people – which were forgotten by the rich and powerful). It’s good, that social benefits were risen, but now PIS party (nice joke there right 😉 is using parliament majority to create autocratic country 25 YEARS after Poland became republic democracy. Short is the memory of the crowds. And therein lies the problem. Once I thought that direct democracy – more referendums etc. would be a good solution. But for that you need knowledgeable citizens, which believe in voting and the process. You don’t. I was in the same space for a long time. But in the end I think swift evolution is usually better than revolution.

    The system you describe, sounds awesome, how exactly would we do it? If someone has a great program and then don’t deliver? How to sustain cohesion of this system? And most importantly how would you keep people from running like the sheep, while trying to become a big (bad) wolf if given a chance. Many tried to create a perfect system, but does it even exist? Few good ideas exist in anarchism, but are people ready?

    1. Yeah I think the problem has always been that the people who are in power are the ones who want to be in power. This is the main thing that needs to be addressed. I’m not sure how to achieve that other than a nomination/voting system where you must be some sort of credited expert in your field combined with term limits for life so no one can become a career politician. There will never be a perfect system, but there can maybe at least be a system that nullifies ambition – replacing people who want to be leaders with people who don’t want the job but will do it well

      1. I think that is why Ardern has caught us off guard as she seemed to be reluctant leader when Andrew Little resigned a few weeks before the first Labour victory. She seemed to accept that mantle reluctantly and with Grace. I’m also curious to hear any views u have on Nice Girl syndrome / seems Ardern has flipped to nasty girl when talking about Protestors, Anti Mandate people

        1. Yes, like someone with Nice Guy Syndrome turning nasty after getting rejected, she turns on people that don’t dance to her tune. Her team of 5 million are limited to those that absolutely agree with and support her – everyone is the enemy. Her unwillingness to meet with the protestors is pretty contrasted with her hastiness to meet with the victims of the terrorism attack (or her enthusiasm in meeting with China’s leader). She also has a habit of picking her favourite journalists to speak with at press conferences and shuns the others who have asked her challenging questions in the past. It’s the classic Nice Guy covert contract: punish those who break the rules but never be honest about the rules.

  2. Yes, all of them are psychopaths. The evidence is overwhelming and “right in front of our apathetic noses” — study the treatise “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” by Rolf Hefti at

    The article also explains why this knowledge has been culturally impermissible.

    ““We’re all in this together” is a tribal maxim. Even there, it’s a con, because the tribal leaders use it to enforce loyalty and submission. … The unity of compliance.” — Jon Rappoport, Investigative Journalist

  3. I’m surprised more people don’t see this. It’s not just that democracy is the least worst system, it’s our implementation of it that makes it far worse than it even needs to be.

    Couple that with social media algorithms and a misinformed/uneducated public, and it’s a complete disaster.

  4. I can agree with some takes on Jacinda, for valueing being perceived as empathic over being actually empathetic to people who disagree with her mandates.. need consistency and thorough integrity from our Leaders.

    Someone who actually does have that is Zelensky, whom you have unfortunately misrepresented here, by tying him to the corruption of Ukraine (& making assumptions of his character due to his former career choice of Comedian).

    He actually was elected & loved by his people, because of his ability & courage to stand up to the corruption in Ukraine. That was the central part of his platform, as he has been exposing the corruption & behind the scenes activities in the countries affair.

    He has risked his own life standing up to Oligarchs, as well as the Pyschopathic Russian Puțin regime.

    Putin/Russia are actively invading and murdering innocent people. To compare other leaders to this, even Jacinda is wrong here. They don’t compare on the same scale.

    And to try to say that Zelensky is on the same level, is such a disappointing false take that shows you are being overly quick to make assumptions, and not look into (& empathize with) the people of Ukraine who overwhelmingly support him as they try to move into transparency and Integrity against all odds..

    The only media Zelensky has ever stopped, is Russian state backed media, which spreads malicious lies, and needs to have its own frowny government there to continue taking advantage of the people.

    The choice is yours Dan. And I know you believe in honesty and courage , because you have inspired many of us to believe in that. Please look deeper into what the actual people of Ukraine are going through, and how they see their hero on office.

    Thank you

    1. Hey mate, if you’re able to provide sources/evidence for your claims I’m more than happy to look into it. From the evidence I have seen I’m inclined to conclude that Zelenskyy is more than a little dirty, and that his heroism is more about his reputational gains than protecting his people. I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I’ll need to see some counterevidence

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