Since the start of the Ukraine war, the world has been wondering: is warmonger Putin crazy? What is behind the facade of the Kremlin boss? Psychiatry professor James Fallon has dealt extensively with psychopaths in politics and in an exclusive interview with FOCUS online makes a clear judgment.

Psychopaths in politics is one of the special research areas of psychiatry professor James Fallon. After years of studies, the US scientist from the renowned University of California is firmly convinced that Vladimir Putin is a psychopath. In an interview with FOCUS online, the doctor and author of “The Psychopath Inside” explains how he assesses Putin’s inner workings – and what he believes will bring down the Kremlin boss.

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“From afar, I’ve studied quite a few dictators, and Putin in particular, over many years. I also interviewed ten people who know him personally well, very long and thoroughly.” He then concluded: “The points in the textbook that define a psychopath apply to Putin.”

The doctor does not want to use the term lightly: “Nowadays, many people just throw the word ‘psychopath’ around. The term has really become fashionable for people you just don’t like because they’re being mean,” says Fallon. “But there are huge differences between people who just act mean and ruthless and just generally seem totally unsympathetic, like Donald Trump – and actual psychopaths.” It is clear that he cannot make an absolutely reliable medical diagnosis without extensive, detailed examinations including brain scans, according to Fallon.

In Putin’s head: the logic and arbitrariness of an autocrat

Nevertheless, the expert recognizes some clear patterns in Putin: A crucial feature is the complete lack of moral understanding, explains the psychiatrist: “As a psychopath, Putin is absolutely convinced that he is acting well and correctly. A small example: Although the society in which he grew up generally condemns murder, Putin has no doubts that he is also doing the right thing as a murderer. He always thinks: His behavior is good. With sociopaths, on the other hand, things are different. They know very well that they are acting immorally – but they cannot help it. ”

Fallon draws further parallels from his experiences with his psychopathic patients: “Absolutely every psychopath I’ve studied had a horrible childhood. In every single case of my patients, there was horrific abuse and a broken home—already in the critical period from birth to three years of age. And that also applies to Putin.”

As a toddler, the Russian president was abused and later horribly teased, says Fallon. “I spoke very extensively with the two most renowned Putin biographers and, of course, also read his own autobiography. The authors differ somewhat in small details, but everyone agrees: as a child he suffered terribly. His case is a very classic one: his mother left him. He came to the grandparents. He never met his father.” His stepfather is said to have beaten and abused him. “Sexual abuse is also mentioned. And since Putin was extremely small and frail, other children bullied him in the worst possible way.”

According to Fallon, such psychological stress in young childhood leads to formative, neurological changes in the brain, which are also clearly visible on CT scans. The trauma leaves permanent damage such as numbness. Personality is irrevocably shaped. “Like all psychopaths, Putin is cold, purely calculating and unemotional – but not ‘mad’. He doesn’t have any feelings himself, but he’s an excellent judge of those of others. And certain things trigger it.” The supposed weakness of the enemy is extremely appealing to a psychopath, explains Fallon and concludes: The West must not give in under any circumstances. This could only challenge Putin even more.

Because psychopaths would never show insight or give in. “They hardly feel fear either. Unlike ‘normal’ people, they are not afraid of being caught either. They can take an incredible amount of stress, no matter how hard they are cornered. They’re exceptionally resilient,” Fallon said.

But even a psychopath reaches the limits of his resilience at a certain point. “Putin’s mental resilience seems to be starting to falter. You can see that he doesn’t feel quite so safe anymore. At least that’s the impression he made on me in his last performances.”

The reason for this also serves as Fallon’s prognosis for Putin’s downfall: “I assume that some of his generals will take him out. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion. But I think they realize that he is far from moral. And then they bring him down.”