Friday, 25 March 2016

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (ILI): Personality Type Analysis

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the Shah of Iran during 1941 to 1979. He was eventually overthrown by the events of the Iranian Revolution, and was the last monarch of the House of Pahlavi.

As a young boy, Mohammad was described by family and royal members as quiet, reserved and fearful. Primed very early by his father to take the throne, signs of Mohammad’s apparent inadequacy to take the position for the country was reinforced by his father’s lack of confidence. One of the Shah’s biographers, Marvin Zonis speaks of how Mohammad was viewed in the documentary 'The Last Shah':

“He was a frightened young boy who was always belittled by his father…Reza Shah always said - my son can’t carry on after me, he’s not tough enough to do this. He needs to be more like me to hold this country together – so the boy always felt inadequate in regards to this giant figure".

Even with these apparent differences between father and son, Mohammad was primed to be the successor of the throne. He was educated primarily in Switzerland, with a modern and progressive European upbringing.

As Mohammad took the throne at age 21, he used his time and resources trying to free up land for farmers and local people, increase military reserves, and focus on ways to modernize Iran in an attempt to push the country to a state of wealth. In addition, he was supportive of women’s suffrage movements and transforming Iran so that it could be distinguishable from its Arabic neighbors.
However, Western involvement in Iran’s oil industry also spawned resentment towards the Shah from the masses, which led to nationalistic and communistic groups. During a riot with anti-western organizations, the Shah fled the country with his family. During this event, and several others like this where the Shah left Iran due to pressure, the people of Iran nick named him 'the suitcase king'. These themes led to the degradation of Mohammad's reign.

When trying to legitimize his position and appeal to the population, the Shah organized a national pride ceremony to commemorate the ancient Persians of the past (namely the Achaemenid kings, like Cyrus the Great). The ceremony was linked to the anniversary of the first Achaemenids in an extravagant show of wealth and appreciation for Persian history. Although the ceremony was meant to invoke pride and inspire the Iranian people, they were completely excluded from this patriotic pageant. The general population was not allowed to see the exclusive ceremony and were told to watch it from television. Anger flared over the event, and riots broke out. The Shah retreated with his family, in another fleeing event, and temporarily stepped down.

Despite resentment among the Iranian citizens, the Shah further tried to modernize and progress – using economic and political means, primarily with the aid of western nations like the United States and Britain. This contributed to anti-western sentiments and  an unheard and ignored Persian population. Ayatollah Khomeini, who had considerable backing – called for the overthrow of the monarchy – supporting a strictly Shiite Republic for Iran where the needs of the people would be met. The Shah, in an attempt to quell Khomeini’s group, exiled him to Iraq where Khomeini silently rallied troops from the borders. Khomeini and his supporters eventually integrated power in the Iranian population, and over 14 years of collection - successfully overthrew the Shah in 1979. 

I think there are some consistent themes to Mohammad’s strengths and weaknesses, notably shown in the events of his time on the throne. First and foremost, Mohammad was well-known by many to be a focused and visionary king, with plans of attaining a wealthy, independent and affluent Iran that would be unlike any other middle eastern country. His primary goals to make Iran prosperous while echoing the achievements of its ancient Persian history, is in my opinion more in line with the Gamma quadra, with strengths in T and P.  The Shah’s effort to make the country an independent empire, while simultaneously using progressive elements made Iran at the time – one of the most liberal and rich countries in the middle east. A stark difference to what it is today.

It is noted by many ambassadors and biographers that Mohammad lacked assertiveness throughout his life - which in turn led to multiple events that kept him ready to step down at a moment’s notice. Although he lacked this element of action, he valued the lessons of more forceful and assertive leaders, like that of his father and the warring Achaemenid Kings. I believe this to be Weak but Valued F.

Lastly, Mohammad’s more prominent weakness was his blindness to be connected with the Iranian population. With a growing lower class, poverty and irritation towards western involvement, Mohammad failed to understand the state of his people’s sentiments, and continued to focus on making Iran an independent nation. This area of blindness in my opinion, makes very good sense for E4.

Overall, I think Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was ILI. His apparent visionary nature to progress Iran, while trying to reconnect the achievements of the past to the future, I think make sense for T1 and P2. In addition to this, his inconsistent attempt at assertiveness and force, while still maintaining an admiration for this strength in others, seems fitting for F5. Lastly, his overall blindness for the sentiments of the population point to E4.

To learn more about ILI, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.


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