Paranoid Putin like Stalin? Arrogance hides his fear

Of Massimo Ammaniti

Massimo Ammaniti on the psychology of the Kremlin leader. The powerful picture of how the mind of the “tsar” works? The chilling reunion with his underlings

In the great hall of the Order of Saint Catherine in the Kremlin, designed and built by the Tsars to celebrate the glories of the Russian Empire, Vladimir Putin gathered the heads of security to recognize the new Ukrainian republics. The fact dates back to a few weeks ago and is illustrative of the character and manner of having relations with the Russian leader’s collaborators.

It is a chilling scene: in the large round hall, completely white, decorated with large columns, Putin is seated in the center and around him are his seated subordinates, each distant from the other (the image is unreal, it could almost recall the scenes in Fritz Lang’s silent film “Metropolis”, in which a world subjected to a dictatorship was represented of the future that would be imposed in the year 2026, not very far from today). As we have seen, the security officials tried to indulge the monarch, as was the case with the head of the secret services Sergei Naryshkin who was struggling embarrassed about try not to contradict what the master meant giving him glances between the imperative and the ironic. At one point Putin addressed them with a question that did not require answers: “Are there different points of view?“.

It is striking in this scenario the glacial nature of the encounter, who would like to convey to the Russian viewers who followed the stages of the meeting on television the autocratic sense of Putin, who dominates the Great Mother Russia subject to his power. It is a powerful and grandiose image that in my eyes as a psychiatrist recalls what the American sociologist Norman Cameron wrote about pseudo paranoid communityare imagined and constructed in the minds of those affected by paranoia. They are mental worlds inhabited by persecutors that must be subjugated and annihilated to no longer represent a threat. More than close collaborators, the heads of the security services they seem rather gods Dangerous “competitors” which must be canceled in order not to oppose the power of the monarch.

This is not the first time this has happened in the Russian world. Stalin’s paranoia has been mentioned several times, even diagnosed in 1927 by the great neurologist of Petersburg Vladimir Bechterev who had visited him in the Kremlin and then what he paid with his life what was his last diagnosis.

I don’t think Putin has ever been seen by a psychiatrist, but it affects his for example cool attitude and distant in the interview with the American director Oliver Stoneeven when he answers the question asked about his adolescence, when it was a street boy in a run-down neighborhood. There he forged his character calloused and emotionless that is described in psychiatry treatises, learning in the daily struggles the strategies of an antisocial and violent culture.

Several times he expressed himself with these words: “You have to hit first», To avoid having to suffer the aggressions of others who in his eyes are always enemies. Certainly in the streets of Leningrad he had soon learned to distrust his fellow travelers, who were always ready to betray you for an extra piece of bread. It is the same strategy that Putin follows today again in his wretched war in Ukraine: hit the countries of the West before they can react. But beyond his arrogance, a deep fear is caught in him and a doubt that torments him: «I don’t know if it’s true but based on simple suspicion I will act as if it were safe», words that Othello continues to repeat to himself in Shakespeare’s tragedy.


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