“Stalin, so many paranoid posts and if you didn’t like them quick enough you’d sent to a gulag.” Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) was the dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1929 to 1953. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union was transformed from a peasant society into an industrial and military superpower. However, he ruled by terror, and millions of his own citizens perished during his brutal reign. Of course, his mind must have also been ruled by terror. He was notoriously paranoid. Many have actually speculated as to where his paranoid tendencies came from. And its roots could have been found in untreated mental illness.
Stalin left no room for opposition within his party. Whether a party member was truly a threat or not, Stalin left no room for contemplation. He simply nipped the perceived problem in the bud through swift extermination. “Personality and Foreign Policy: The Case of Stalin,” which appeared in the journal Political Psychology is an excellent source in understanding the theory that Stalin’s terrorizing behavior stemmed from paranoia. The author, Raymond Birt, explains that paranoia often begins during childhood in a situation in which the child feels both dependent on and threatened by the father. Stalin indeed experienced this situation with his drunken and abusive father. Birt claims his behavior while in power is indicative of a paranoid need to protect his narcissistic ego from external threats.