Putin and Nasruddin: a Question of Identity

” There is no place like home, not even home.” Adam Phillips,psychoanalyst.

No matter where you go, there you are. “

It seems that Putin,the Russian president had a tumutuous,traumatic early life, having been raised by a “surrogate” family. His parents “gave” him to his grandparents, who then passed him on to another family. He seems to be extremely introverted ( schizoid ), has always liked to project the image of a “tough”, macho man. He seldom talks re his wife and children ; love, even sex, seem to be foreign to his nature. It is not difficult to suppose that, he seems to lack a core sense of who he is and what his purpose in life is,ie., identity. Of course, external political and historical factors in his invasion of Ukraine are not to be dismissed, but we need to add a potential psychological perspective. He is a living, breathing human being, after all.

It is possible that he is so identified with Russia, its history, traumas, humiliations, that there is an inevitability to his need to restore its ” integrity ” and self respect. That is giving “Russia” something that he , feeling alienated, lacks in his soul. The questions about his ethnicity may reinforce these urges or impulses. The ” loss ” of Ukraine would be a personal injury, not just a national one. He would feel more at ” home ” with a Ukraine as part of Russia. I hope our leaders are enlightened enough, not to ignore these personal considerations and not dismiss him as ” crazy ” or demented. In other words, avoid narcissistic injuries or humiliation.

What has Nasruddin to do with all this ?

Born Seljuk, he travelled a lot, with his donkey, in search of something that is not always clear, but in part, attempting to help people break out of their all too fixed ways of thinking, illusions and delusions,

their ” false selves “, like a Zen master. But the inner search also seems to be for ” home “, namely identity, the way, let us say, Confucious, ( even Musashi, the well known Samurai swordsman ) during his first 40-50 years.

Emotional health, has to do with feeling at home; ie., according to Adlerian psychology, where one “belongs ” but is not submerged. Where one “ fits in ” but also ” stands out.

Home in this sense seems to point to one’s identity, at the deepest level. Thus we are all searching for a ” home “, which eludes most of us. In a sense, his donkey served as a symbol for Nasruddin’s ” true ” self. This is clear in the anecdote, where he loses the donkey. His friends are puzzled by his cheery demeanor. Whereupon, he explains that he is glad he was not riding the animal, otherwise, he would be lost as well. He and the donkey are as one, yet separate.

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2 Responses to Putin and Nasruddin: a Question of Identity

  1. Modaser Shah says:

    Addendum:Ukraine is like the tail of the
    Nasruddin’s donkey for the latter,Russia. being the animal.

  2. Modaser Shah says:

    Addendum 2: Putin is, of course, a living…. human being, but I should have added that ,he seems
    obtrusively robotic in posture and gait, cut off from his emotions. Emotions which are banished from awareness tend to become even more destructive and ruthless.Narcissistic injuries, ie., injuries to sense of self, trigger withdrawal and ” narcissistic rages “; indiscriminate lashing out and withdrawal are the result.

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