Tribalism pp 101-124 | Cite as

The Primal Emergence of the Authoritarian Father-Leader



With threat and loss, people become more tribal, and a profound and disturbing aspect of this is the emergence of the authoritarian father-leader. Under threat and loss, the tribe becomes more dogmatic and authoritarian, seeing the world in black versus white without shades of gray. When mixed with dogmatism and its own push toward rigid interpretation of events and solutions, a leader who speaks in clear, simple, and usually simplistic terms about solutions and about aggressively protecting the tribe gains affinity. The archetypal leaders of extremist movements must be harsh and a fighting force toward the threatening outsider, but are often loving and compassionate to their loyal followers. They must appear powerful and willing to act ruthlessly to protect the tribe.

The authoritarian father-leader amplifies the need for affinity and belongingness of members of the group, and asks for sacrifice to the higher calling of the dream they provide. That dream may range from political domination, to spiritual salvation, to psychotic meanderings, and they lay claim to the playbook of that ideal. They are often feared, but they are as often loved as well. Most dangerous, the archetypical father-leader is often characterized by what psychologists have called the dark triad, which is comprised of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Their message becomes the new truth however evil, perverted, or nonsensical their message. They are not all Hitlers, but they are all dangerous and are all threats to democracy and freedom.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behaviorial SciencesRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA

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