Getting in Touch With the Inner Dictator

By Pravit Rojanaphruk
Senior Staff Writer



Editor’s note: Instead of filing his regular column, Khun Pravit left the following document in an unmarked manila envelope.





FILE NO. 220514

Subject: Full-time military dictator since late May 2014. At present, subject has held absolute power without the consent of the people for nearly two years.

Subject Title: The General, Dear Junta Leader, Mr. Prime Minister, The Dictator, Uncle.

Age: 60-something.

Future Occupation: Very uncertain.



Mood Lability: Subject suffers from severe mood lability (mood swings) characterized by recurring outbursts of anger. The behavior manifests when subject feels unappreciated and resentful toward people who do not appreciate or praise him.

Behavioral Observation: “I am worthless,” subject declared Feb. 3 during his latest fit of mood lability.

At times the subject resorts to shouting in public, using language unfit even for an unelected prime minister, and since usurping power, has developed a compulsive addiction to throwing objects at reporters such as partially eaten fruit. In one of his latest mood swings, the subject expressed self-destructive impulses by angrily pounding his fist onto his own podium – an object he once desired enough to stage a coup d’etat for – until his reading glasses were knocked to the floor.

Insomnia: The subject publicly admitted last week he struggles to sleep.

Behavioral Observation: “These days I can’t sleep. Last night I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking until 3am. I think a lot, think every day, think about everything. … I didn’t realize there would be so much problems” subject was overheard saying by the Daily News newspaper.

It was unclear whether the subject referred to problems facing Thailand or himself, or whether he can differentiate between the two.

State of Denial: Despite the subject’s welldocumented mood lability, the subject appeared to be in a state of denial about his own condition.

Behavioral Observation: On Feb. 4, a television station broadcast a clip of subject on camera telling others: “You people should not look at me as being moody.”

This was preceded by the subject’s admission on camera that he doesn’t know quite how to behave any longer.

“I don’t know what to do. When I speak at length [on compulsory-broadcast TV monologues every Friday evening] people don’t listen and want to watch soaps. If I speak too briefly, they won’t understand. Should the leader just dance in a stage drama then?” subject commented, nothing he never felt “this tired” when he previously led an army with “200,000 to 300,000 officers” under his command.



The subject appears to suffer from an overdose of power and overconcentration of responsibility in his hands. It’s unlikely he will delegate these to subordinates, as by nature, a dictator is compelled to dictate.

Subject is driven by a deep need for acceptance and legitimacy. Countless case studies of dictators who came to power by taking it struggle to be loved by those who would have preferred to choose who led them.

Given his own statements, subject exhibits self-awareness of the conditions he suffers from but unequipped for alleviating those conditions. He appears to suffer stress, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and more. Despite the absolute power he has accrued and uses to suppress others, subject appears unable to suppress his own emotions.



Being a military dictator in a despotism-nurturing society, where many dictators have enjoyed healthy and productive reigns, does not come with a capacity for listening. It’s unlikely the subject would take any therapeutic suggestions kindly.

While taking ownership of his personal-cum-national baggage by admitting guilt, expressing remorse and asking for forgiveness would likely see marked improvement in the subject’s own sense of self-worth and desire to be loved, such is not naturally expressed behavior by those who cling to autocratic tendencies.

Any psychiatric course of mood-stabilizing or -elevating drugs may prove ineffective and is contraindicated due to subject’s pre-existing intoxication with own absolute power.

Subject’s absolute power under Article 44 of the military provisional constitution is also useless. Although the subject exhibits a full-blown dictatorial tendency, he has clearly proved over the last year and a half that he is unable to use his absolute power to control his own mood.



Any public prescription or recommendation must be done at prescriber’s own risk. Such attempts may exacerbate symptoms and provoke further bouts of mood lability.


Pravit Rojanaphruk can be reached at [email protected] and @PravitR.

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