05/21/2019, 09:12, Vienna  DEUTSCH / ENGLISH

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What distinguishes political from economic conduct and is it possible to analyze public figures like Trump? We met the US-based professor and expert on personality disorders to discuss leadership and the fundamental difference between personality and behavior.

In your lecture, you discussed the characteristics of leadership and you also talked about foresight as a form of intelligence. What promotes this foresight and how can one obtain it? Is it formal education, or experience?

Otto Kernberg: Intelligence is a complex concept comprised of various abilities. When we refer to “intelligence”, we are talking about a sum of cognitive abilities, basically measured by the level of abstract thinking. Abstract thinking is the best indication of general intelligence, but one can obtain and integrates knowledge in multiple ways. There is an emotional intelligence, a social intelligence, a mathematical intelligence. These are different concepts. First, intelligence is genetically determinated and related to the structure of the central nervous system, particularly the cerebral cortex.

So intelligence is partly determinated…

Otto Kernberg: Partly yes, partly it depends on the cognitive experiences during the first years of life – especially on how a child develops an interest in his own thinking in an environment that strengthens it, so that the interest in emotional and mental inner life is displayed, and there is the possibility to discuss it with the parents. Thereby, intelligence is developed in multiple ways, and is essentially as important as innate abilities. It really is a combination of abilities that stem from genetics and constitution as well as from environmental influences and interpersonal relationships in the first years of life, which then further develop. The special ability to extrapolate from current behavior to future developments is a special function that can be developed and learned, and as I said yesterday, the longer the span of the influence of current developments on the future, the higher is the institutionally vital intelligence that allows for the development of leadership in organizations and politics....

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