While the Internet is having a field day comparing American President Donald Trump and newly-elected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, some of us cannot help but grudgingly accept the inevitable — the man-child-in-power is a very real phenomenon.
With the leaders of both the colonial superpower and the modern superpower being accused of being toddlers in the garb of adult Caucasian men, things can get grim.
“We should be very scared of the man-child-in-power trend. It’s like you let a toddler make decisions for the entire family and we all know how that would be a recipe for disaster,” says noted clinical psychologist and writer Pulkit Sharma.
So, what exactly is this syndrome?
Well, it is not officially diagnosed yet, but man-children are a growing breed. Sharma says, “Man-children usually come from families where the parents pamper the child or give them excessive freedom at an age where he/she is not worldly-wise while being emotionally unavailable themselves. So, the child gets stuck in an age of emotional immaturity throughout his life. This translates in adult life making the person very self-focused, having a lack of empathy.”
The similarities just don't seem to end! (Photo: IANS and Facebook/Boris Johnson)
True to form, both Trump and Johnson come from privileged backgrounds. Sharma also adds that people afflicted with this Peter Pan-esque syndrome find it hard to understand the plight of others — and respond to criticism with childish aggression. And this is precisely why both BoJo and POTUS make excellent Internet content.
From ‘nasty women and bad hombres’ to burkha-clad women looking like ‘letterboxes’ and ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’ — understandable boos to such remarks are often met with playground moves like threatening to throw stones (nukes) or just blocking their critics on social media.
Is it just the sheer entertainment they provide — or something more that makes them enjoy a scale of unpopularity that outnumbers the adulation of many other politicians?
Well, the answer manifests itself in this undiagnosed disorder itself.
“People are attracted to narcissistic leaders. Man-children suffer from headline intelligence. They will sell you a beautiful idea and make people chase them — but eventually, you will find out that they don’t have much to offer. Whether it is racist or communal, these leaders come with a unique narrative that excites people,” says Dr Sharma.
Narcissism is our new reality because as a tribe, we are growing exceedingly self-absorbed, building an image on social media, hankering for likes, etc., so it is no wonder that many would identify with a man-child world leader.
As Sharma says, “Over the last 4-5 years, many of my younger patients have started exhibiting similar traits to these two gentlemen — in fact, at present, one in three young adults who comes to me can be diagnosed with this syndrome.”
Boris Johnson called commonwealth citizens piccaninnies, described women in burqas as bank robbers, called gay men tank-topped bumboys, and said that the problem with Africa is that Britain isn’t in charge anymore. He is a British Trump. #NotMyPM— Miriam Brett (@MiriamBrett) July 23, 2019
So, despite the intense attraction that some of us might be feeling, hold back from buying into an empty dream.
“I don’t think they would make good leaders because their grand declarations and plans are the same as a six-year-old confidently believing that he can become an astronaut and fly to the moon. Frankly, if anything, it could be even an Adolf Hitler 2.0 — so many people blindly followed his grand plans — that ultimately led to their ruin,” says Sharma.
Ominous, for sure.