Journal logo

Is Putin’s Ill Health Making Him Crazy?

Parkinson’s and cancer have both been associated with increased aggression

By Susie KearleyPublished 8 months ago 6 min read
Is Putin’s Ill Health Making Him Crazy?
Photo by Nikolay Vorobyev on Unsplash

Russia has long been considered a threat to world peace, but never more-so than in recent times, following the invasion of Ukraine and subsequent threats to peace in the West.

Amid all this, dictator Vladimir Putin, is reportedly struggling with health issues. The problems have not been officially confirmed by the Kremlin but news outlets have variously reported that he may be struggling with Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

Specifically, different sources have reported that he’s suffering from abdominal cancer, thyroid cancer and bowel cancer. My suspicion is he has just one of those, otherwise he’d be absolutely riddled with it.

But perhaps I’m wrong and he is indeed riddled with it.

Apart from the obvious question about whether he’s well enough to run a country, let alone a war, there’s also the question as to what extent these health challenges have changed his perspective, and affected his ability to think clearly and make rational decisions.

There’s no doubt that Parkinson’s disease can change someone’s thought processes. My dad died of Parkinson’s. I watched his progression from being a tyrant who demanded compliance, to a sweet old man who didn’t have an opinion on anything. My controlling father became nice.

But could it go the other way too? Could it make people more aggressive?

Parkinson’s Disease, Aggression and Psychosis

Indeed, Parkinson’s disease can increase aggression. According to the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, “Anger, aggression, agitation, irritability and personality change,” are all characteristics of advanced Parkinson’s disease, partly because those affected by the disease are frustrated by their symptoms.

My dad’s personality change came years before his diagnosis, and he had no other symptoms at the time so it affects different people in different ways, and mobility problems may not come until later.

The American Parkinson’s Disease Association continues: “Mental health concerns in advanced Parkinson’s Disease encompass cognitive decline/dementia, depression, apathy, anxiety, psychosis (which encompasses hallucinations, delusions, paranoia), and behavior problems (which encompasses anger, aggression, agitation, irritability, personality changes).”

Some people with Parkinson’s are given anti-psychotic medications to help them manage symptoms of psychosis.

But is Putin’s disease advanced? Perhaps not, but it still affects the mind.

Some people with Parkinson’s disease experience paranoia, aggression, and distorted thinking, so is it possible that Putin’s assertion that Ukraine was a threat to Russia was simply derived from psychosis? The product of hallucinations and paranoia, induced by ill health?

Could clashes of ideologies between the two countries have been blown out of proportion by a psychotic mind?

I’m assuming he believes his own rhetoric.

Long before these health problems emerged, Russia took control of Crimea, so he’s always been a power-hungry tyrant keen to make his mark in history. But I still wonder whether the recent escalation of tensions that led to the current invasion have been in any way affected by inevitable changes to the brain when someone gets Parkinson’s.

It seems possible to me, that disease may have turned Putin from a frightening tyrant capable of logical thought, into a genocidal killer, now operating with a compromised mind.

That’s frightening, not just for Ukraine, but also remembering that he has a grudge against the West and a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Cancer can affect your mind too

Furthermore, if Putin is as riddled with cancer as some news outlets would have you believe, then he may also have a tumour on the brain. There have been tenuous links made between mass murder and brain tumours.

Mass murderer Charles Joseph Whitman notoriously killed 16 people and his autopsy revealed he had a brain tumour at the time of the killings. This may have had an impact on his decision to kill all those people, or it may have simply made him crazy.

He was complaining of headaches before the killings and he left a suicide note asking investigators to do an autopsy following his death, to see whether anything biological could explain his actions.

During Whitman’s autopsy a ‘pecan-sized’ brain tumour was discovered. It had caused brain cell injury and death, known as necrosis. Would he have gone out and killed all those people if it wasn’t for the tumour?

The Connally Commission brought together experts to examine the autopsy findings, as well as Whitman’s actions and motives. They reported: “It is the opinion of the task force that the relationship between the brain tumor and Charles J. Whitman’s actions on the last day of his life cannot be established with clarity.”

So they didn’t know whether the brain tumour caused him to kill. But it’s thought there could be a link between the brain tumour and his murderous actions.


Putin’s health has been deteriorating for years, with the first account of him having cancer reported in 2020. Parkinson’s too, takes years to develop. My dad had had a personality transplant before he had a diagnosis. The disease is slow to develop and it can change people before it disables them.

Could it be that the changes to Putin’s brain, and his actions against Ukraine, have been influenced by the illnesses that must have been affecting him for some time?

It raises some very real questions about to what extent he is in control of his thoughts and actions, and to what extent it’s driven by brain damage, or cognitive impairment, and the resulting madness.

This is no reflection upon other people with ill health

For anyone who feels this speculation is casting aspersions upon other people with Parkinson’s Disease or brain cancer, it’s not. I’m certainly not saying those diseases make people dangerous, violent, or mad.

I’m simply acknowledging that these diseases can change people — for better or worse. I watched my dad’s personality change dramatically in the years before his death. His personality improved! There’s clear evidence of cerebral changes in people who have diseases that affect the mind.

My dad had strong cognitive capabilities in many ways — he could do crosswords, retained his knowledge, and remembered things. So the brain doesn’t always turn to mush, but perspectives change. And dementia is common in advanced Parkinson’s.

Whether you’re looking at autopsies from a dead person, or scans while the patient is alive, cerebral connections and synapses are lost, broken or damaged in Parkinson’s. Brain cells can be destroyed by cancer. The result is that people change.

How that change may have played out in this instance, is pure speculation. Perhaps in Putin’s case, my speculation is over-stepping the mark, because he’s always liked to rule with terror and he’s always had an appetite for power. However reports have also said, “Putin’s psychiatric health is bad indeed, and stories about him going bonkers are not a joke.” (source)

None-the-less, it’s an interesting question to consider whether someone who’s behaving like Putin is completely in control of his mind, or whether he’s been affected by something else that screws with your head.

© Susie Kearley 2022. All Rights Reserved.


About the Creator

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


Susie Kearley is not accepting comments at the moment

Want to show your support? Send them a one-off tip.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.