Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia’s Sociopathic Symptoms

Last evening I was reminded how Russia refuses to take responsibility for their actions by a trusted colleague.

Having previously studied psychology, I recalled this was one of the classic symptoms of a sociopath.

The symptoms of a sociopath paint a clear picture of someone who is a cold, self-centered, manipulative person with no conscience. A sociopath is

  • antisocial, caring neither for societal rules, norms, and laws, nor for other people; a sociopath has no empathy.
  • conniving, manipulative, deceitful, and dishonest; a symptom of a sociopath is blatant violation of the rights of others.
  • a control freak; a sociopath needs control, has the skills to get it, and will stop at nothing to achieve it.
  • charming and smooth; for someone who is antisocial, an ironic symptom of a sociopath is someone who has incredible social skills. However, don’t let this sociopath symptom fool you, for these social skills are superficial, insincere, and only used by the sociopath to get his or her way.
  • a rule-breaker and a risk-taker; for this reason, the sociopath has repeated clashes with the law and commonly has a criminal record.


More to the point of not accepting responsibility,

4. Unreliability

While giving the impression of being reliable, it very quickly becomes obvious that they have no sense of responsibility whatsoever. No matter how often they have promised, or how important, they don’t take responsibility. And when confronted about it their attitude or their decision making does not change either.

However, he notes that they can actually do what it takes to appear reliable. They turn up to study or to work for weeks or months. They get elected as president of the club. They win a scholarship. What they are doing is creating an impression. This makes it more difficult to deal with them, because if they were unreliable from day one, people would know what to expect.

The sociopath will be unreliable in trivial and serious matters. It’s impossible to determine when they will be reliable and when not. Hervey Cleckley says this is not even a consistency in inconsistency, but an inconsistency in inconsistency!

Source: If You Recognize These Sociopath Symptoms You Need To Take Action!

Further sealing the diagnosis of Russia being a sociopath, Russia constantly claims that it is the perennial victim.  Everyone is lining up against Russia.  Russia is claiming that there is a vast kluge of governments purposefully planning actions that limit, inhibit, and control Russia. Russia offers conspiracy theories and alternate reality for any incident which remotely throws shade on Russia.

Then there is this article by EU Vs. Disinfo: Everyone Against Russia: Conspiracy Theories on the Rise In Russian Media. In the words of my esteemed colleague: [Russia engages in] “massive blameshifting to put the responsibility on to others”.

Here are the top ten conspiracy theories espoused by Russia.

  1. A network of historians conspire against Russia 
  2. There is a secret world government
  3. HIV/AIDS is a hoax, and this is kept as a secret
  4. Genetically modified food is dangerous, and this is kept as a secret
  5. The world is controlled by reptilians or aliens, and this is kept as a secret
  6. The US moon landing was a hoax
  7. Vaccinations are extremely dangerous, and this is kept as a secret
  8. A gay lobby destroys Russia’s moral foundations
  9. The world is flat
  10. The world is controlled by Freemasons

The conclusion of the article gives a good synopsis.

But conspiracy theories are not just useful as material for disinformation campaigns. Audiences that are often confronted with disinformation can perceive conspiracy theories as less problematic than other audiences. Commenting to Vedomosti on the study’s findings, Dmitry Leontiev, a psychologist at Russia’s National Research University Higher School of Economics, sees the dramatic increase in the popularity of conspiracy theories as a result of a societal order in which “the distinction between real and unreal ceases to be relevant”. In Leontiev’s words, “conspiracy theories are supported by the information policy in [Russian] media where the truth only plays a secondary role, and where messaging, even from sources with authority, mixes correct information with claims that are in no way verified”.

About ten years ago I asked a Russian propagandist, Dr. Igor Panarin, who advises the seniors in the Russian government how to wage information warfare if he believes the “stuff” that he was pushing. There was probably a problem communicating by email, but he wrote back, ‘of course’.  Not only did I fervently believe that he was delusional as a result, but I wondered how anybody could even dream up their alternate reality theories. Whatever he was smoking, please remind me never to get remotely near the stuff. Please note, he did not claim what he was pushing to be “the truth” or even real. In other words, he gave himself an “out”.

The truth is that Igor Panarin and Alexandr Dugin push these theories.

One of the theories offered to justify why Russians do this is called “Cognitive Dissonance”.  If an individual believes A and theory B is a radical departure from A but is believable, this may cause psychological discomfort or stress in the individual. If pushed onto a large audience, say Russian citizens or the West, it can cause a small percentage to disbelieve what they read in the press or are told by their leaders. In Russia, however, the theory is that the citizens of Russia are fed a consistent mistruth and to resolve their cognitive dissonance by accepting what their leaders tell them versus outside truths. Russian propagandists further this by pushing a theory that there is no such thing as objective truth, reinforcing the believability of Russian alternate reality theories.

This type of behavior is not only typical in Russia, it is stereotypical. Lies based on lies which are based on lies is a common logic flow, not only in the Russian media but also in interpersonal conversation.

Are Russians sociopathic?  I can’t make a diagnosis, but it sure looks that way. Someone associated with the Russian information warfare program certainly is, to weave conspiracy theories into the alternate reality that is the truth in Russia.  The question should rather be, how widespread are these sociopathic personalities?