Curing Australia’s dependent personality disorder

Feb 27, 2024
Hands holding sad face hiding behind happy face, bipolar and depression, mental health, split personality, mood change,

I arrived in Australia with my family at the time when Malcolm Fraser was the Prime Minister of Australia. He was preceded by Gough Whitlam and succeeded by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. They were all intellectual, individualistic and humane leaders. I had never felt more secure and proud to be Australian.

However, the subsequent governments saw an erosion of independent thinking among our political leaders to the point of surrendering our national security and sovereignty to the United States.

As for the European leadership, I had an observer’s reason to admire Francois Mitterrand and Angela Merkel. Between them, they made Europe politically and economically strong and credible. Yet after these leaders, Europe too seems to be sliding towards an inexplicable dependence on the US for their foreign policies.

There is nothing unusual about nations with similar political ideologies forming alliances against antagonists. Common grievances against a common enemy, often identical because of cultural similarities, can still be explained by common geopolitical strategies and Chomsky’s description of the manufacture of consent. However, what remains bewildering is the extent to which recent European and Australian leaders are willing to sacrifice their own countries’ well-being to satisfy American wishes.

For instance, the European countries, especially Germany, are willing to give up affordable gas from Russia in order to support the American-contrived proxy war in Ukraine against Russia. In its place, they were willing to buy expensive gas from the US; thus adversely affecting their industrial competitiveness as well as their domestic energy needs.

In Australia, the previous coalition government pilloried our biggest trading partner in tandem with the US, earning the ire of the Chinese government which reacted by banning our sale of barley amongst other agricultural and fishery products. The US seems quite happy to fill the gap.

This unjustifiably high regard for the US seems remarkably similar to a condition called “Emotional Dependency Disorder”. While it is an individual disorder, it seems to fit the behaviour of some nations in their dependence on others for protection. April Kahn (2023) defines it in “healthline” as:

Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is an inability to be alone and excessive reliance on others
for comfort and support. Unlike insecurity, which is common, there’s a need for reassurance to

The medical website WebMD provides a list of symptoms of the disorder indicated below in Italics to which I have added my own comments in regular font:

  • Inability to make decisions, even everyday decisions like what to wear, without the advice and reassurance of others – Taking out “what to wear” and substituting it with “what to arms themselves with” and “how to deal with their adversaries strategically”, we have a perfect fit.
  • Avoidance of adult responsibilities by acting passive and helpless; dependence on a spouse or friend to make decisions like where to work and live – Europe and Australia depend on the US for their security decisions. When the US banned Huawei, it was followed by Australia, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark and others. It has never been proven that Huawei posed a risk to their client countries. Moreover, these are countries with some of the best brains in electronics engineering. They are not helpless.
  • Intense fear of abandonment and a sense of devastation or helplessness when relationships end; a person with DPD often moves right into another relationship when one ends. Australia felt abandoned by the UK during WWII and moved right into a relationship with the US. Now it is in “a menage a trois” with the US and UK in an arrangement called AUKUS and buying favour by spending big on AUKUS nuclear submarines.
  • Oversensitivity to criticism – In February this year ex-President Trump criticised European NATO members by saying that he would encourage Russia to attack any NATO member that didn’t meet its financial obligations to the defence alliance. The European leaders were devastated. In Australia, the media were particularly sensitive to French President Emmanuel Macron calling Scott Morrison a liar for terminating the French/Australian submarine deal without adequate notice or compelling reason.
  • Pessimism and lack of self-confidence, including a belief that they are unable to care for themselves – This should be read in tandem with the above. If the self-appointed experts in Australia were to be believed, we are about to be invaded by China. They tell us that we need the US, UK, Japan and even NATO to take care of us.
  • Avoidance of disagreeing with others for fear of losing support or approval – I take “others” here to mean European and American allies. European leaders seek American government approval; Australian leaders seek European and American government approval.
  • Inability to start projects or tasks because of a lack of self-confidence – If the American allies in Europe and Australia have any real confidence, as demonstrated by their people, they should take the initiative to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. South Africa alone brought a case of violation of the Genocide Convention against Israel before the International Court of Justice.
  • Difficulty being alone – In Europe they have NATO and the European Union; in Australia we have ANZUS, AUKUS, Five Eyes, the QUAD and the Five Power Defence Arrangement.
  • Willingness to tolerate mistreatment and abuse from others – In September 2021 when President Joe Biden announced the AUKUS pact, he referred to Boris Johnson by name but called Scott Morrison “that fellow from down under”. Is that mistreatment or a term of endearment? When the European Union was formed Australia’s export of agricultural products to Europe was grievously compromised.
  • Placing the needs of their caregivers above their own – In the Ukraine War, Europe’s sacrifice of affordable Russian gas in exchange for expensive American gas is indeed placing the need of their caregiver above their own. The same can be said of Australia putting American need for containment of China above their own economic needs.
  • Tendency to be naive and to fantasise – Australian political leaders since the Keating government bought into the United States’ narratives about all the countries they went to war with on the heels of the US. For instance, Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was concocted by the US. Up until the war, Iraq was buying wheat from us. Despite having traded well with China for more than two decades, Australia’s stand vis-a-vis China is almost identical to that of the US.

One would ask, “Why?” One probable conclusion is that the world is in transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world. We are therefore living in troubled and stressful times. It is not easy to give up power without catastrophic resistance. Meanwhile, the lesser players exhibit symptoms of dependency akin to despondency. Until power is distributed equitably through peaceful means; and checks and balances are put in place through common multinational consensus, the problem will continue to plague us. Meanwhile, the problems of climate change and environmental pollution would still have to be solved if our children and grandchildren were to inherit a habitable world.


Article updated February 28, 2024.

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