Was genghis khan a sociopath?

Wondering what your opinion on this is.

Impossible to say, but probably not. His seemingly endless series of massacres and sacks on close investigation mostly come off as highly disciplined and directed. They spread terror and thereby promoted reflexive surrenders by folks eager to escape the slaughter he inflicted on their unfortunate neighbors. Heaven help the officer that defied orders and committed an unsanctioned act ( like general Toquchar, demoted to a common trooper for just such a breach ). He seems to have put a great deal of thought into the re-ordering of society ( including creating a legal code), his succession and the perpetuation of empire, his posterity and his family. None of which proves he couldn’t have still been a sociopath, but it seems less likely.

The truly horrific damage he caused were likely more symptoms of his culture( hard ), his upbringing( harder ) and the staggering collateral damage resulting from being a brilliant, empire-building warlord who was nonetheless limited by his narrow intellectual horizons. A native genius he surely was, but you can’t really take the nomad out of the flock as it were.

To late to edit: Really my namesake would be a better candidate for that diagnosis, though he could just as easily have just been an ordinary vicious, sadistic bastard :).

Well, the DSM IV-TR defines antisocial personality disorder with a criteria of:

A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:
[ol]
[li]failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;[/li][li]deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;[/li][li]impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;[/li][li]irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;[/li][li]reckless disregard for safety of self or others;[/li][li]consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;[/li][li]lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.[/li][/ol]

So let’s go through it.

  1. For a leader of men of the time, conquering, raping, and pillaging was actually well within the social norm.
  2. Deception is an important element of any military strategy. I’m not familiar enough with the history to know if deception factored into his personal life.
  3. By all accounts he was a meticulously calculating tactician and strategist.
  4. The Golden Horde was extremely aggressive, but again, this was a basic tenet of his military strategy.
  5. A military leader cannot be effective if he is unwilling to disregard the safety of others, however, an effective military leader cannot be reckless with life, at least as far as his own troops goes.
  6. Genghis Khan was a prudent and relatively benevolent leader, to his own people at least.
  7. As a conqueror, he was no more or less cruel to the conquered than anyone who had come before or after him.

Going by that, I’d have to say “No.”

Psychohistory is in many ways bunk. Cultural comparisons across time and space is also a slippery slope.

That said, the cultural norm at the time and place WAS to kill or be killed. Khan was the best at that.

He was also a misogynist

But was he unusually so for his culture & era? That’s a serious question I don’t know the answer to.

Substantially 100% of us are terminally, lock-him/her-up level, weird & dysfunctional by 30th Century cultural standards.

And didn’t wash too often.

But I mean really, that’s a Highly Effective Leader we’re talking about, or else Temüjin would have been eliminated long before having any chance of becoming Ghengis Khan.

And yes, the values of the time and place were that you should destroy those who oppose you, drive them before you and hear thecries of the women. Be glad you were not born in 1200’s Khowarazim.