Yesterday those of us who were watching Prime Minister’s question time, were treated to an alarming display of bellowing, red-faced, incoherent, uncontrollable bad temper. No matter what any of us might have been thinking about him up to now, we can hardly go on considering him a nice, cuddly BoJo – the man is a thug. His outburst made it easy to understand why one of his neighbours called the police on that famous occasion when he heard him bellowing at his live in lover and as the neighbour said at the time feared for her safety.
Not that that tells us what can be done about having such an unedifying character as our Prime Minister. I’ve been saying for a long time that the man is seriously unbalanced and simply can’t tell the truth from a lie and that, I’m quite sure is because the lie is so necessary to maintain his image and his image is all important to him. And that’s something I can understand, I wish that I couldn’t, but the truth is that I grew up with another compulsive liar with an appalling temper and learnt some horrible lessons by the time I was seventeen.
My mother was an abuser, not to put too fine a point on it, and I was the child she abused, so I watched her closely and fearfully throughout my childhood. And years afterwards when I had written a small chunk of autobiography which she dominated, I wrote an epilogue about her, which I called ‘Anatomising Regan’. Parts of it are pertinent to Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, so with your permission I’m going to quote them here and see what you think.
“Two things were central to her personality. The first was the need to project an image. It was actually the exact reverse of the truth but was how she had to see herself if she was to be able to function at all. By the time I was in my teens, she believed it totally, which was how she was able to convince other people of the truth of it – she was a wonderful mother, adored by her children, a loving and dutiful daughter, adored by her mother, a marvellous wife who put up with her husband’s brutality and never left him, a woman who never did anything wrong, young, beautiful and perpetually attractive to every man who ever saw her. When the evidence of her laziness, vanity, greed, filth or cruelty was too plain to be avoided, she denied it violently and refused to understand why anyone should tell her about it. Her rages were so terrible and so destructive that for most of the time we connived in her fantasy and didn’t correct it. But, of course, there was a terrible price to pay for connivance, which was the other thing that was central to her personality.
In order to sustain her image she had to have a good child to pet and pamper, the way her father had petted and pampered her, and to prove what a wonderful mother she was, and a bad one to punish, the way her father had punished her brother. As the bad one I was trebly useful, being someone on whom she could vent her anger when she couldn’t contain it any longer, someone who could carry the blame for anything that went wrong and someone whose ‘bad behaviour’ would give her a reason to play the martyr. Playing the martyr was also part of her fantasy.
I hope this story will be helpful to those whose job it is to deal with dysfunctional personalities. And yes, I do know how difficult that is. Seriously dysfunctional people live in a fantasy world; they tell lies about themselves and their families and the lies are skilled and persuasive; they are greedy for all sorts of things, food, money, drink, drugs, sex (or as in Johnson’s case power); they require constant attention; they are totally self-centred and they will do and say anything to hide what they are actually like.“
And isn’t that our Prime Mendacitor? It sounds horribly familiar to me. And more to the point how the hell do we get rid of him, when the Speaker doesn’t have the power to call him out when he lies and the media support him in his fantasy and applaud it.
“Then let them anatomise Regan, see what breeds about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard hearts?” William Shakespeare. Oh there are causes, there are always causes.