• A narcissistic propensity to see one's world primarily as an arena in which to exercise power and seek glory
• A disproportionate concern with image and presentation
• A messianic manner
• Excessive confidence in own judgment and contempt for advice
• Exaggerated self-belief, bordering on omnipotence
• A belief that one is accountable solely to history or god
• Loss of contact with reality; often associated with progressive isolation
• Restlessness, recklessness and impulsiveness
The Guardian reports on the mental disorder:
To the Ancient Greeks, hubris was an act of arrogance and presumption that offended the gods. For Lord Owen, leader of the ill-fated SDP in the 1980s, and himself accused of overweening pride during those turbulent times, it is a medical disorder that can turn prime ministers and presidents into despots.
In a paper for the medical journal Brain, the former doctor, who trained in psychiatry, writes that what he terms hubris syndrome is an occupational hazard for those in power. David Lloyd George had it, he concludes reluctantly of a Welsh hero, and so did Neville Chamberlain. In recent times, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair had it, and so did Blair's joint perpetrator of the Iraq war, George Bush.
The syndrome is not limited to politicians: Owen sees hubris syndrome in the bankers whose pride has landed them in the hands of Nemesis, the Greek god of revenge, as the public bays for their bonuses.
Owen, who previously explored political hubris in a book, hopes with his scientific paper and a discussion at the conference of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in June to persuade doctors to take hubris syndrome seriously. Acceptance by doctors will lead to greater recognition among voters and, he hopes, greater checks on prime ministers.
"Because a political leader intoxicated by power can have devastating effects on many people, there is a particular need to create a climate of opinion that political leaders should be held more accountable for their actions," writes Owen in his joint paper with Jonathan Davidson, a psychiatrist at Duke University Medical Centre, North Carolina.