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‘Small man syndrome’ Putin is ‘beating his chest to compensate for inadequacies’

Vladimir Putin's 'small man syndrome' discussed by Beresford

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Psychotherapist Lucy Beresford believes Ben Wallace’s assessment of Vladimir Putin having small man syndrome is plausible, given his macho behaviour. The Defence Secretary suggested in an LBC interview on Wednesday that Putin’s view of the world and of himself are signs of “small man syndrome” and a “macho view.” The latest example of the Russian President suffering from that syndrome is his unilateral decision to invade Ukraine, Mr Wallace added.

Psychotherapist Beresford argues Ms Wallace’s theory holds up given recent events.

She explained on Times Radio: “When you’ve got men in particular who might think the confidence of being a senior politician goes to their head. And they look around and think: ‘Well, what else can I do?’ 

“And that’s why I think Ben Wallace’s comment was so interesting today, wanting to talk about the small man syndrome because it’s rather an attempt to diminish what Putin is doing, as if to say, you know, you’re such an inferior person, you’re so small that actually you have to run around and show everyone how great you are beating your chest and riding the horse with no shirt on in order to compensate for your own inadequacies.”

“Now, somewhere between the two is the truth”, Ms Beresford said. “This is a man who has got a lot of confidence, who has surrounded himself by yes men and has never had anybody asking him or advising him to rein it back in.

“But at the same time, he’s got that potential for being very dramatic. But he might also have this self-destructive death wish, really. Almost a desire to be caught, because he’s got to the point where you think he believes he’s invincible.

“But he always needs someone to stop him and say, ‘no you’re not. Go back into the playground.'”

In his assessment, Ms Wallace said Putin’s worldview could make him more prone to invading some states “that are lesser than others, their rights don’t count.”

“If they want to paint themselves into a new history, they seem to think the way to do that is through violence and invasion. And I think that’s something to worry about,” Mr Wallace said.

Russia under Vladimir Putin has a long history of invading former Soviet Union countries, with the same blueprint he is now using in Ukraine. In the days running up to the invasion, Putin unilaterally recognised the independence of the Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas.

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Putin used that same playbook in 2008 when Russian troops invaded the Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia.

Under Putin’s command, Russian troops alongside pro-Russia Chechen paramilitary forces faced Chechen separatists in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in 1999.

In January, Putin sent troops to Kazakhstan to conduct peacekeeping operations – similarly to Ukraine’s invasion in late February – to suppress pro-democracy protests sparked by economic hardship and corruption in the country.

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