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Report: Pentagon Experts Once Looked At Putin’s Face And Wondered If His Mother Had A Stroke During Pregnancy

A series of Pentagon reports obtained exclusively by USA Today reveal that after extensive analysis, researchers at one point thought that Russian President Vladimir Putin suffered from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.

Two studies, one in 2008 and one in 2011, were obtained via Freedom of Information Act Request. Contractors working for the Office of Net Assessment (ONA), an internal think tank in the Pentagon, diagnosed Putin with Asperger’s, after carefully examining his behavioral and facial expressions in different social settings. The purpose of the ONA is to provide long-term, strategic analysis for the Pentagon.

With Asperger’s, cognitive development is largely normal, but social skills are usually severely lacking. However, Asperger’s no longer counts as an official diagnosis, and has been reformulated as an autism spectrum disorder. According to movement pattern analysis expert Brenda Connors, Putin’s “neurological development was significantly interrupted in infancy,” meaning that Putin is particularly defensive in social settings where a large number of people are present, owing to anxiety.

Researchers hypothesized that his mother may have suffered a stroke during pregnancy and used footage as far back as Putin’s first television appearance as president on January 1, 2000, in their analysis. The program run by Connors, called Body Leads, has netted around $365,000 dollars annually from the Pentagon since 2009.

Back in May 2014, Admiral John Kirby confirmed that the Pentagon has been studying Putin’s movements at least since 2008, but denied that the Department of Defense based any policy decisions off the analysis produced. At the time, Kirby stated that he had not even read the reports, and up until now, the reports have been kept out of the public spotlight.

“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,” Dr. Stephen Porges wrote, but Porges told USA Today on Wednesday that he’d back off on the original diagnosis in 2008. The diagnosis is uncertain, mostly because researchers weren’t able to sit Putin down and perform brain scans for final confirmation. Moreover, Asperger’s is by its nature very difficult to diagnose.

One of the conclusions drawn by the report is that officials should negotiate with Putin in quieter social settings, as the presence of large numbers of people makes him more defensive.

“His primary form of compensation is extreme control,” which “is reflected in his decision style and how he governs,” the report stated. If the diagnosis is correct, it would suggest that Putin’s governance style is unlikely to change.

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