Tag Archives: psychoanalytic

Why Are We Attracted to Leaders? – by Micha Popper

January 7, 2013


Photo: LuMaxArt (www.lumaxart.com), Creative Commons 2.0

One of the scenes in a Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa shows a troop of war-weary soldiers going towards the next battlefield. The camera lingers over the perspiring faces, tired eyes and dragging movements. They are totally exhausted. Suddenly, in the distance they notice their leader standing on a hilltop and waving his hand in greeting. The dramatic effect of the leader’s presence is amazing. The soldiers’ eyes sparkle, their backs straighten, the weariness disappears. With renewed energy they march into battle. Afterwards the camera turns away from the soldiers and slowly zooms in to a close-up of the leader. When the camera hovers over his face, the viewers discover that the leader is dead. Somebody is supporting him and waving his hand in the air.

Scenes of this kind which demonstrate so distinctly the leader’s central place in the followers’ perception often appear in various forms in the folklore of diverse cultures. Indeed, it is common knowledge that the very thought of the leader’s presence instills in the followers a sense of security, order or meaning.

But why do people follow leaders?  What makes them ready to envisage leaders and follow their invented image (as in the scene described above)? What are the sources of such yearning for a leader?


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