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Is Putin crazy? ‘No, he is a new tsar with an addiction to power and he is very dangerous’

Vladimir Putin is not crazy. It doesn’t look like he’s sick from a medical point of view, at least. The brutal invasion of Ukraine suggests, however, that the Russian leader is a power “junkie” with a narcissistic personality. A new tsar with dangerous delusions of grandeur which must be stopped.

“No, he’s not crazy. Any more than a compulsive gambler or drug addict is. they are not crazybut their brains are grossly distorted by what has made them addicted, and in this case, Putin is hooked on power“, explains Ian Robertson, Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland).

The expert, whose work on the subject is consulted by political and business leaders, also participates in the Dédalo Foundation, dedicated to detecting the presence of hubris syndrome (Greek hero who, arrogant by power, moves away from reality).

A portrait of Putin, in Crimea. Photo: Reuters

When someone presents three or four of the 14 symptoms that define this syndrome the alarms go off. Putin, according to Robertson, suffers from various and some “very marked”such as “extreme narcissism”, evident, for example, in the 20-meter statue of Saint Vladimir that he had erected next to the Kremlin in 2016 to “feel like a demi-god”.

“Another symptom -he points out- manifests itself when this type of person totally identifies his personal interests with the interests of the countryso what is good for them is also good for the nation. It doesn’t matter that tens of thousands of people are dying“.

A demigod for Russia

Feeling like a demi-god, Robertson reasons, Putin also believes that he “he is the only one who can guide the great mother Russia to your destination.”

“Since you understand that you are carrying out a quasi-religious mission, I really think that every day is less rational and calculating. On the contrary, he is drawn more by the feeling that he leads a spiritual mission to redeem Russia,” observes the psychologist.

In this state of mystical delusion, Putin “feels a utter contempt” for mere mortals. He showed it when he humiliated his head of foreign intelligence services, Sergei Naryshkin, before the cameras during a Security Council meeting last month, after he suggested the possibility of negotiating one last time before intervening in Ukraine. .

Another worrying feature, Robertson continues, is the “total loss of judgement” caused by “biological effects in the brain” and “complete disruption of the dopamine system,” which “greatly undermines” their ability to “calculate, perceive and respond” to risks.

“Putin, finally, will lose everything because he is a compulsive gambler, because of his addiction to power”

Ian Robertson

Professor of Psychology

“In the end, end up taking big risks because all your attention is focused on achieving your personal goals. Hard-core gamblers overestimate their chances of winning a bet and they end up losing Putin will eventually lose everything because he is a compulsive gamblerbecause of his addiction to power.

These characters are, “of course, reckless and reckless“, warns Robertson, which forces us to consider the worst scenario, one in which the dictator of the Kremlin draw on their vast nuclear arsenals.

“It is possible,” he admits. “Although he is not crazy, your judgment is very distorted and you may come to believe, as a Russian TV presenter put it, that a world without Russia is not worth living in.”

This state of mind, he says, could deteriorate until it resembles that of Adolf Hitler in his last days in the Berlin bunker, when the Nazi leader asked Albert Speer to devastate Germany so that his people would fall defeated with him. When “the ego” is superimposed on everything else.

Putin's state of mind, says Robertson, could deteriorate to resemble that of Adolf Hitler in his final days in the Berlin bunker.  Photo: Reuters

Putin’s state of mind, says Robertson, could deteriorate to resemble that of Adolf Hitler in his final days in the Berlin bunker. Photo: Reuters

in modern russia there are no “checks and balances” that, without reaching those of the democracies, they did monitor the activities of the former leaders of the Soviet Union, so longed for by Putin.

The gray former KGB spy has the Duma under its absolute control, it has destroyed internal dissidence and there is no equivalent of that politburo that promoted more or less joint decision-making in Moscow under the Iron Curtain.

Robertson argues that the “internal pressure” could lead to regime change, in a dethroned Putin. But he also contemplates the possibility of finding a negotiated solution to the war in Ukraine.

“The problem is that he is like a cornered rat. He is very, very dangerous.”

However, how do you negotiate with a person like Putin?

Strength against a Putin without complexes

“The only thing he respects is strength. Any attempt at classical negotiation would fail of the ‘look, we have common interests’ type. They can raise it of course, but only if first they collide with a forceful response from the West, strong and with red lines, Just as it has been in recent weeks.

From the other side of the conversation table, it will also be difficult to exploit their weaknesses because they seem to be less visible.

“I don’t detect them, but I’m sure there are changes, just like drug addiction transforms the personality completely. The power he has amassed and the circumstances they have radically changed it“.

fear of disease

"He's terrified of getting sick, takes ridiculous precautions to dodge covid".  Photo: Reuters

“He’s terrified of getting sick, he takes ridiculous precautions to dodge covid.” Photo: Reuters

Perhaps, the expert ventures, Putin descends to the earthly world when he puts on the thermometer: “He is terrified of getting sick, take ridiculous precautions to dodge covidpeople must be disinfected before seeing it, those huge tables to keep their distance…”.

“This apprehension is perhaps good news for us because shows some anxiety about his own mortality. The problem is that he is like a cornered rat. It’s very, very dangerous“.

Dangerous and reckless. As the son of Daedalus, Icarus, who drunk with power, ignored the advice of his father and it was burned up by flying too close to the sun.

The author is a journalist for EFE

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