Insane Leaders

Are there any major political figures around the globe (and by major I mean major in their own national political sphere or internationally) who are certifiably insane?

Not just evil/stupid or incompetent, but actually have profound psychological dysfinction? I’d also consider senile.

I’m putting it here, because answers are likely to be conjecture. And funny.


Of course, Kim Jon Il comes to mind. I think that there’s a certain amount of mania involved to seek public office in the first place. I also think that the whole Type A/CEO/management ubermensch thing is a mental illness as well.

Do we have to limit this to current leaders? It’s a pity if so. There are some serious fruitcakes in history. The 18th and 19th Century Burmese kings take some beating.

Try it the other way:

Can you think of any sane leaders ?

There have certainly been rulers accused of being insane. Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria springs to mind. Caligula has been said to have gone insane after an illness. Claudius was supposed to be feebleminded (I know what Graves wrote, but that was consciously fiction, and anyone who’s read Graves knows to be wary even when he’s supposed to be writing fact). One source i read claimed Ivan the Terrible was insane, too.

I haven’t looked into these cases myself, and some of it could be politically-motivated calumny, or misinterpretation.

I’m a little uclear on the definition (couldn’t find one with a brief google), but to be certifiable wouldn’t one have to have been certified? I can’t imagine a world leader consenting to such an examination.

Is Kim Jong-Il really “insane” (which is a legal, not medical, term) or is it all an act to make the world think he’s mentally unstable?

Could be. But if Kim Jong Il is just acting, he sure is chewing up the scenery!

How about Jean-Bédel Bokassa of the short lived Central African Empire?

I’ve also heard Idi Amin was insane, perhaps because of syphillis.

I don’t think Kim Jong Il is insane. Wildly eccentric, fairly unpredictable, yes, but not insane. Comparisons to Paris Hilton’s mental state come to mind.

I nominate Saparmurat Niyazov, leader of Turkmenistan:

Check out the sections* Personality Cult, Presidential Decrees * and Monuments.

He is a crackpot for sure!

Now that’s just insulting. What did Kim do to deserve being put in the same category as Paris Hilton?

The Roman emperors Commodus and Heliogabalus might have qualified, depending on how much of their reported eccentric behavior one chooses to accept as fact.

Not only was Ludwig insane but his successor and younger brother, Otto, was even more severely impaired than Ludwig. His entire reign was ruled by regents.

Other infamously insane monarchs include Juana the Mad of Spain, George III of Great Britain, Frederick William IV of Prussia, Empress Charlotte of Mexico, Ivan V of Russia (although poor Ivan most likely suffered from Downs Syndrome, so I don’t know if he counts), Vlad the Impaler, Erzabet Bathory, and possibly both Peter III of Russia and his son, Paul.
Joan’s Mad Monarchs Series

There are some that claim that His Imperial Majesty Norton I, emperor of America and Protector of Mexico, was insane, but I won’t hear of it.

Nor should you. According to the Wikipedia article on His Imperial Highness, Norton I urged the founding of a League of Nations, detested religious persecuation, and placed himself directly in harm’s way between a group of Chinese immigrants and an angry mob. We could not ask for a finer Emperor.

What about the current Iranian president, Ahmadinejad?

There have been rumors that Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe may be clinically insane as a result of STDs he has supposedly contracted. Of course, that might just be lies spread by the opposition.

Well good 'ol Adolf wasn’t a full shilling was he

Personally, when I posted the OP I was thinking of Mugabe. He’s just all kinds o’crazy.

Didn’t Portugal have a Dictator who slipped into a kind of blissful, doddering senility , so they just moved him to a villa by the sea and let him get on with running his imaginary country.