Pentagon 2008 study claims Putin has Asperger's syndrome
06 February, 2015
Pentagon 2008 study claims Putin has Asperger's syndrome
"Putin carries a form of autism."

A study from a Pentagon think tank theorizes that Russian President Vladimir Putin has Asperger's syndrome, "an autistic disorder which affects all of his decisions," according to the 2008 report obtained by USA TODAY.

Putin's "neurological development was significantly interrupted in infancy," wrote Brenda Connors, an expert in movement pattern analysis at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Studies of his movement, Connors wrote, reveal "that the Russian President carries a neurological
abnormality."

The 2008 study was one of many by Connors and her colleagues, who are contractors for the Office of Net Assessment (ONA), an internal Pentagon think tank that helps devise long-term military strategy. The 2008 report and a 2011 study were provided to USA TODAY as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.

Researchers can't prove their theory about Putin and Asperger's, the report said, because they were not able to perform a brain scan on the Russian president. The report cites work by autism specialists as backing their findings. It is not known whether the research has been acted on by Pentagon or administration officials.

The 2008 report cites Dr. Stephen Porges, who is now a University of North Carolina psychiatry professor, as concluding that "Putin carries a form of autism." However, Porges said Wednesday he had never seen the finished report and "would back off saying he has Asperger's."

Instead, Porges said, his analysis was that U.S. officials needed to find quieter settings in which to deal with Putin, whose behavior and facial expressions reveal someone who is defensive in large social settings. Although these features are observed in Asperger's, they are also observed in individuals who have difficulties staying calm in social settings and have low thresholds to be reactive. "If you need to do things with him, you don't want to be in a big state affair but more of one-on-one situation someplace somewhere quiet," he said.

Putin's actions have been under particular scrutiny since early 2014, when Russian annexed Crimea from neighboring Ukraine. Since then, Russia has backed Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine while the United States and European allies have started a series of economic sanctions that have weakened the Russian economy.

Photo: Alexey Nikolsky, AFP/Getty Images
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