Advertisement

Frontotemporal Dementia: A Clue to the Biological Basis of Hubris Syndrome?

  • Peter GarrardEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

A range of theories have been put forward to account for the distinctive personality change that is sometimes observed after individuals in positions of power have enjoyed an extended period of successful and/or unchallenged authority. In this chapter, Peter Garrard explores the similarities between this phenomenon (which has come to be known as the Hubris Syndrome) and the development of grotesquely exaggerated, often self-destructive personality traits in response to damage in frontal brain regions. The idea that personality can be altered by focal physical changes to the brain has its roots in early clinical descriptions beginning with the celebrated case of Phineas Gage. In modern medical practice, however, the most dramatic cases emerge not following traumatic brain injury but in response to a slowly progressive degenerative process that, over years to decades, erodes the neuronal circuits of the brain’s frontal lobes, on which judgement, socialisation, moral reasoning, theory of mind, and other manifestations of high-level abstract cognitive processes, are dependent. Unravelling the complex combination of personality changes that are seen in the context of frontotemporal dementia is difficult, but description has been facilitated by the use of structured and systematic symptom questionnaires such as the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI). The symptoms elicited by the NPI overlap with some of the changes of HS.

References

  1. Allport, G. W. (1937). Personality: A psychological interpretation. New York: H. Holt and Company.Google Scholar
  2. Berke, J., & Hyman, S. E. (2000). Addiction, dopamine and the molecular mechanisms of memory. Neuron, 25, 515–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bishop, C. M. (2006). Pattern recognition and machine learning. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  4. Bozeat, S., Gregory, C. A., Lambon Ralph, M. A., & Hodges, J. R. (2000). Which neuropsychiatric features distinguish frontal and temporal variants of frontotemporal dementia from Alzheimer’s disease? Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 69, 178–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burgess, P., & Shallice, T. (1997). The Hayling and Brixton tests. Thurston, Suffolk: Pearson.Google Scholar
  6. Cattell, R. B. (1965). The scientific analysis of personality. Baltimore: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  7. Cummings, J. L. (1997). The Neuropsychiatric Inventory: Assessing psychopathology in dementia patients. Neurology, 48, S10–S16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Damasio, A. (2008). Decartes’ error: Emotion, reason and the human brain. London: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  9. Eysenck, H. J. (1953). The scientific study of personality. British Journal of Statistical Psychology, 6, 1–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Garrard, P. (2014a). On the linguistics of power (and the power of linguistics). In P. Garrard & G. Robinson (Eds.), The intoxication of power. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Garrard, P., Rentoumi, V., Lambert, C., & Owen, D. (2014b). Linguistic biomarkers of Hubris Syndrome. Cortex, 55, 167–181.Google Scholar
  12. Harlow, J. M. (1868). Recovery from the passage of an iron bar through the head. Publications of the Massachussetts Medical Society, 2, 327–347.Google Scholar
  13. Hornberger, M., Geng, J., & Hodges, J. R. (2011). Convergent grey and white matter evidence of orbitofrontal cortex changes related to disinhibition in behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. Brain, 134, 2502–2512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Miller, B. I., Seeley, W. W., Mychack, P., Rosen, H. J., Mena, I., & Boone, K. (2001). Neuroanatomy of the self: Evidence from patients with frontotemporal dementia. Neurology, 57, 817–821.Google Scholar
  15. Owen, D. (2012). Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair and the intoxication of power. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  16. Owen, D., & Davidson, J. (2009). Hubris Syndrome: An acquired personality disorder? A study of US presidents and UK prime ministers over the last 100 years. Brain, 132, 1396–1406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ratnavalli, E., Brayne, C., Dawson, K., & Hodges, J. R. (2002). The prevalence of frontotemporal dementia. Neurology, 58, 1615–1621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Weintraub, D., Koester, J., & Potenza, M. N. (2010). Impulse control disorders in Parkinson disease: A cross-sectional study of 3090 patients. Archives of Neurology, 67, 585–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Young, H. (1998). The blessed plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair. Oxford: Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St George’s, University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations