Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan

Pathological ambition

Pathological ambition… Ambition is one of the important drives that direct our life. The mountaineer who wants to master nature, the politician who wants to master people, the sportsman who wants to break his own record…

What they have in common is ambition… But they are not the ones I want to talk about. My objection is to pathological (unhealthy) ambition. Doping, fighting dirty, exposing someone’s dirty laundry in public… how disgusting these acts are! This kind of person believes everyone to be like him. Pathological ambition produces fear in people… It is destructive. How well our ancestors explained it when they said: “Little greed brings great loss”! If I were to develop a new psychotherapy technique I would try and make people become aware of their pathological ambitions and their life stories which they structured in line with their ambitions… It is really true that there are lives that are wasted for the sake of an ambition. These persons do not only waste their own life, they also turn the lives of those who love them into hell. They don’t care, they set on fire… Particularly if this ambitious brain is in a position of authority. They do not forgive; they make life unbearable for humanity… Are there examples? Hitler for instance is a recent one… Humans are ambitious by birth… ok… but isn’t the biggest struggle the one against oneself? Then why sing praise to pathological ambition? Look at the advertisements which claim that the more ambitious you are the more successful you will be… It is hard to believe that a single word, a hint, a glance can ignite souls. Unhealthy ambition pours into every corner. The words “You’ll never succeed in this” spoken by a tutor, parent or friend has the effect of pressing down the accelerator pedal. There comes a moment when everything gets erased, like a motorbike driver driving at 300 km/ hour speed. You arrive at a point where even the target is erased, becomes invisible. Now the target is lost. You forget why you set off on this journey, and who, why and when pressed the accelerator pedal. You no longer know whom or what you are harming and to what extend, or who is gaining what from your actions. In fact, it is not important to you. Adrenalin, endorphin etc seem to have enslaved your whole being… But one day, when you hit against the wall, you come to your senses. You understand what has really been going on, that you have been enslaved by your ambition. Unfortunately this awareness will last less than a moment… And pathological ambition will take over the reins again and govern you soul. So what can be done to overcome this disease? We should search for superiority over nature, man or ourselves not through war but through peaceful cooperation. What the English call “willpower” should be used for this purpose… It should side with the happiness of others, with peace. The goal should not be destroying; playing dirty tricks and inflicting harm, but should instead be gaining pleasure from doing a kindness. To put it in the simplest possible way, we should not compete for station, money or power but for goodness and kindness…

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