Worldview of a rascal

The inner world and psychology of dictators has long been a subject of research. The famous German psychiatrist Arthur Kronfeld, who in 1932, even before Hitler came to power, ordered a psychiatric examination of the future dictator and diagnosed him with "psychopathy" (psychopath), describing Hitler's mental state as follows: "Psychopaths of this type tend to fall into depression, from where they usually emerge in a state of uncontrolled aggression."

Recently, "The Insider" Internet publication released an expert assessment of the mental state of Vladimir Putin, which was carried out by the US psychiatrist, Professor James Fallon of the University of California who specialises in psychopathic disorders. He diagnosed Putin's mental state as follows: "psychopathy and narcissistic personality disorder."

One of the pioneers of the study of psychopathy, the American psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley, in his book "The Mask of Sanity" published in 1941 wrote that a psychopath looks normal and does everything to look normal. Psychopaths are very manipulative, very predatory, very aggressive. They all strive to be fearless at least for a while, they are ruthless, they feel no remorse or guilt. They are callous and focused on their personality. A psychopath does not realise the immorality of his own actions and believes that what he does is completely normal.

Psychopaths have a low level of emotional empathy (that is, a low capacity for compassion and sympathy for other people). But, as James Fallon points out, psychopaths are very good at "reading" other people's emotions, motives, and intentions. They feel very well the "psychological weakness" in other people and find painful features of their souls in order to use them in their own interests, "playing on the pain points" of someone else's psyche.

As Fallon writes, if you are a normal person and feel the weakness of another, then you will try to help the person in stress. If you are a psychopath, you will use his weakness to your advantage. Putin's key technique is not to wait for someone to become stronger, but to strike at the weakest. Psychopaths have the patience to wait for months, years or decades to strike when their victim is weak (or perceived to be weak).

The worldview of a psychopath resembles that of a scoundrel who projects his own negative traits onto others. Omar Khayyam once wrote:

What made his brain to come to such insight?

He did not lie, but judged from his mind.

A soul-taker called me soul-taker.

He saw his own nastiness inside.

It can be said that the external world in which a psychopath lives is also endowed with psychopathic traits. A psychopath believes that what he is doing is rational, justified, moral and good. The culprit is not him, but other people or groups of people. This is called "externalisation of guilt."

But in order to present his actions as rational, justified and only correct, and to shift the blame to others, a psychopath needs a coherent, ideologically and worldview-based picture of reality, which could be presented to others (at least to his associates and followers).

He himself is unable to create such a picture of reality. Hence, Hitler built on the ideological achievements of European intellectuals: the Nazi ideology was formed on the basis of a cultural trend that was clearly manifested among European intellectuals from the end of the 19th century.

Helena Blavatsky is considered one of the spiritual forerunners of the racial theory of National Socialism, with her assertions of "superior" and "inferior" races: "Humanity is clearly divided into God-inspired people and lower beings. The difference in mental capacity between the Aryan and other civilised peoples and such savages as, for example, the South Sea Islanders, cannot be explained by any reason... Fortunately, thanks to the wise balance of Nature, which is constantly working in this direction, they are rapidly dying out”.

These ideas of Blavatsky were furthered by the Dutch-German professor Herman Wirth in his book "Accession of Mankind", published in 1928. According to Wirth's views, modern humanity arose as a result of mixing two protoraces — the Nordic, and the southern one, which lived on the territory of the disappeared continent of Gondwana. The northern race was distinguished by spirituality and the thirst for knowledge, while the southern race was under the power of its own primitive instincts and base passions.

Wirth created the German Society for the Study of Ancient Germanic History and Ancestral Heritage (Annenerbe), whose purpose was declared to be "the study of the traditions, history and heritage of the Germanic race." This society was cherished by Heinrich Himmler and incorporated in the SS structure.

All this indicates that, unfortunately, intellectuals and intelligentsia do not always realise their social mission – to serve the cause of progress and the principles of humanism. Just as scientists and inventors can create not only inventions that improve people's lives but also deadly weapons, cultural figures can create misanthropic ideologies. And the sad experience of the 20th century taught us little: in the 20th century, Hitler did not create the Nazi ideology (in "Mein Kampf" he mainly compiled ideas expressed earlier), while in the 21st century, the ideology of the "Russian world" was created not by Putin but by Russian intellectuals.

Putin's psychopathy found ideological justification in the works of many generations of Russian intellectuals – from the authors of the "Third Rome" concept to Slavophiles, Eurasians, Ilyin and Dugin. Putin's scandalous article "On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians", which was published a little more than six months before Russia's attack on Ukraine and which was designed as "ideological justification" for this attack, was obviously not written by Putin, but by someone from his staff (or freelance) ideologists.

If there is an ideology that forms a psychopathic personality, there will always be a politician with a corresponding psychological predisposition, in whom, thanks to this ideology, psychopathic traits will develop to the extreme, and in the end, the consciousness of an entire social community can acquire the traits of a "collective psychopath."


Mykhailo Mischenko

Deputy Director, Sociological Service

Born in 1962 in Kyiv

Education: Taras Shevchenko Kyiv State University, Faculty of Philosophy (1984). Ph. D in Philosophy


1984 – 1990 — Sociology Department at the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

1990 – 1998 — Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

1998 – 2003 — Ukrainian Institute of Social Research

February – September 2003 — Kyiv International Institute of Sociology

Since October 2003 — Deputy Director, Razumkov Centre Sociological Service

(044) 201-11-94