After a day when Moamar Gadhafi pledged to "crush any enemy" and seemed to untether from reality after protesters were shot at, the White House is fearing he has become so unstable that he may "burn down the house with him," an official said.
In another troubling speech today, the Libyan dictator said that he would "open up the arsenals" and that "life without dignity has no value."
"A lot of his speeches over the last years have been increasingly surreal," said Dirk Vandewalle, an associate professor at Dartmouth College. "This is very much a man who has a kind of apocalyptic vision of how politics takes place."
Earlier today, Gadhafi blew kisses to a crowd of supporters in Tripoli after his troops shot at demonstrators chanting for him to go. This week he said that protesters were being fed hallucinogens by Osama bin Laden.
Jerrold Post, a psychiatrist who worked for the CIA for 21 years, said Gadhafi had a borderline personality disorder that caused a person to lose touch with reality during stressful times.
"We're hearing the paranoid, besieged language from him as he's trying to find an explanation for how his people who love him so could possibly turn against him," Post said.
"Under this eccentric, idiosyncratic facade -- and he's almost considered a buffoon at times -- this is a very dangerous man," Post added.
For its part, the administration has treaded carefully, with President Obama appearing as a hostage negotiator. In his first public remarks on the crisis Wednesday, he didn't mention Gadhafi's name in an attempt to not feed the leader's megalomania.
"This is not about personalities," White House spokesman Jay Carney said today as the White House announced sanctions on Libya.