About 10 percent of the population loves public speaking. That group experiences no fear and get a huge buzz being in front of a large crowd.
Another 10 percent are genuinely terrified. Those are the people who are physically debilitated by even the thought of public speaking. True glossophobics will go to great lengths to avoid speaking in a group situation, and will experience nausea, panic attacks and extreme anxiety.
The rest of us – roughly the 80 percent in the middle – get butterflies, get anxious, don’t sleep much the night before – but we know that we’re going to live through it. It’s just not much fun.
Oakes found that charismatic persons follow a fairly typical life course.
They often become gurus and religious leaders. They may teach quite useful skills, including meditation, but there is a problem, in that these people do not teach
from selflessness, no matter how much they claim to be selfless, no matter how
serenely they present themselves.
They teach because they need validation and because they need approval and trust
from an audience, and they teach because they need to acquire --and keep--
There's the rub. They have needs, and are unconscious about these needs.
Get, and read Prophetic Charisma 1997 Syracuse University Press by Len Oakes. Oakes is a research psychologist/clinician and after being in a commune led by a charismatic leader, he left, and decided to research how people become charismatic leaders.
Oakes was able to interview 20 charismatic leaders* and found amazing similarities in their life trajectories. Early in life, all these persons had difficulty with ordinary intimacy with peers, and compensated by becoming avid students of social manipulation/communication. Quite a few were in previous careers as entertainers, musicians, teachers, and in some cases, business.
If they later became gurus, they continued to use these social manipulation skills but claimed this was given to them when, out of the blue they became enlightened.
They do not tell disciples they have spent hours practicing verbal judo behind closed doors.
(Several other leaders refused to expose themselves to scrutiny and declined to participate in Oakes study. One, who never met Oakes in person, presumed to tell LO that his life was meaningless)
All were risk takers, and learned how to stay on top of all that went on in their groups. They could talk their way out of awkward situations and learned how to identify even the slightest bit of hesitation in an adversary or potential recruit and adroitly throw that person off balance.
'A common manipulative strategy used by leaders in this study was an argumentative style that was calculated to subtly shift the ground of any discussion from whatever matter was being talked about toward some area of an opponents personal insecurity. In this technique, the leader observed the process of an opponent's conversation and identified some point of hesitency and uncertainy. This was not always a flaw of logic or error of fact; the conversation may have been on some topic about which the leader would have known little and been unable to detect such a mistake. Rather, it was more likely to be some personal unsureness on the part of the opponent, that the leader's exquisite social perception targeted.
'...Typically what was said (by the leader) was an observation that the opponent seemed to be "a bit steamed up about this" or was "finding it hard to say what this is all about." In this was, the opponent was invited, sympathetically and seductively, to expand upon the very point of weakness.
'Or the leader claimed not to understand what was meant at a particular point, perhaps even saying that the opponent was not making sense.
'This usually lead to a further exposure, and then another, until the opponent stumbled over his words and began to look uncomfortable. At thsi point a well time dismissive glance from the leader was all that was needed to intimidate, the other person being glad to have the subject changed to how he might redeem his soul or however...'
(Oakes, pp 89-90)
If a charismatic leader becomes successful, aquires disciples and assembles an entourage, trouble is likely. The leader may feel pressured by the many
disciples and then begin to hide. Gone are the early days when disciples
were on a first name basis with the teacher, ate together, shared meals
and jokes, gone the free and easy mood. Instead, the leader becomes less
Rumors take the place of direct contact.
Favoritism rears its ugly
Those with access to the guru become an elite. Those who fall from favor
Tension sets in.
Loyal older members who donated hours even years of time are shoved aside in favor of new recruits with glamour and money. Or, new recruits who are cute, beautiful and more entertaining than old timers who know the leader's human quirks and flaws.
If the leader spends years insulating him or herself with the the help of a selected entourage and large bank account, he or she will probably lose quite a few ordinary social skills (eg patience, the ability to accept differences of opinion, the ability to feel frustrated without exploding and dumping on an underling).
By this time, the leader will have little incentive to function any other way than as this kind of leader---someone who functions in a drastically unequal power imbalance and who hides the real self behind a public persona and whose emotional needs and flare ups are modulated and managed by an entourage who parent and nurture the guru and cover up for him or her.
A leader may teach a useful skill such as meditation. But the problem arises when
the teaching situation claims to be for the benefit of students but on the unspoken level, operates for the benefit of the teacher - to reassure the teacher that he or she is desirable and prop up the teacher's fragile self.