The man who gave that order is not well. And he is running the country

Evgeniya Shvedova assesses the situation professionally. She is a psychotherapist. However, the main topic of her discussion is not Putin's mental health, but the state of mind of Russian society. And there is no good news here. People are frightened, many of them identify themselves with the aggressor out of fear. We should expect an increase in family violence and suicides. War cripples. What did you think? "Eyewitnesses 24/02/2022". New series.

Tell us about yourself.

- My name is Evgeniya Shvedova. I am a private practicing psychologist and work as a clinical psychologist in a hospital.

How did you learn about the war, and what were your first feelings?

- I was on my way to work, I logged on to Telegram. I'm subscribed to Medusa and I see that there is too much news for early morning, which is not typical. I open it and realize that a war has started. At first it was a shock, I couldn't believe it. It was kind of sur, as if something wrong had happened, and now half a day would go by and everyone would say it was over. But it wasn't over. I got to work and kept reading the news. I texted my husband that there was a war going on. He didn't believe it at first either. In general, the first reaction was shock and consternation.

Is it true that the majority in Russia supports the war?

- No. I believe, and what's more, I know that part of the population does support it, as scary as it sounds. Everyone has a mechanism in their psyche called "identification with the aggressor. There is a lot of talk about this now, and it's true. If I don't go into details now, it's easier to merge with something bigger than myself. And then it's not so scary for myself. This mechanism allows you not to feel your own fear and terror, and part of the people really believe, support the war. But not the majority.

Has the war affected people's mental health?

- The first month after the 24th, I worked more like a crisis psychologist. People were so scared, they were so close to panic, that I had to just say, as in crisis psychology, very simple things: breathe, how you sleep, how you eat, do you go out, do you take care of your loved ones, if there are children, relatives who need care and so on. That is, something very simple, very trivial. Starting plus or minus the second month, people began to bring up their own traumas: violence, some childhood trauma, people suddenly began to remember being beaten as a child, being rejected, these are rejection traumas, or other traumatic events. And the second story is anything to do with anxiety, panic attacks, depression. It's all in here as well. It was there before, but it's multiplied. So many people now complain about: "And I don't know how to plan next. I can't plan for a week, I don't know if they're going to announce a mobilization or what? As the sense of the future is gone, so is the meaning of life. "If I can't build my life, then why live?"

Do you feel guilty about what is happening?

- The first time I felt it was when it first started. It was expressed as if I hadn't done enough, as if I should have done more, but didn't. I thought: why wasn't I interested in politics before? Then I realized that if I sat there and covered my head in ashes, it would do no one any good, least of all me. I decided for myself that I could do what I could do, and I could help people cope with their worries, with their problems, with their difficulties in life, because no matter how you look at it, life goes on.

Have you encountered bad attitudes because of your anti-war stance?

- Yes. My dad, unfortunately, supports what's going on. He and I live in different cities, we don't see each other in person, but some time ago, maybe a month, there was a conflict by correspondence. I was called a fool and told that I didn't understand anything and that Nazis were doing something there, I don't remember what he wrote. In general, something very, very propagandistic, what they say on TV. That's all he was broadcasting to me. I told him I didn't want to talk to him, and we didn't talk to each other for the last month or so. I'm sorry, I'm sad, but for now I can't separate the man from his views. That doesn't take away from my love for him. It's very difficult for me so far. If it were an acquaintance, a colleague at work, then yes, well, okay, you don't have to worry too much, you can just wave it off and that's it. But here it doesn't work - it's a family member. I think that even though a person supports the war, it still weighs on him: the tension, the fear, the terror. Another thing is that he does not realize it, and here it is probably even more difficult for him than for me. A man, when he is not aware of his experiences, can do some crazy things. Forgive me for not speaking psychologically. I think that his outburst toward me was also a way of coping with something of his own.

How do you maintain relationships with relatives who support the war?

- Separate the man from his beliefs. The second thing is that even though I'm not in contact with my dad right now, it helps me, in general, to keep the relationship alive, at least in my head. Now, when values are crumbling, when meanings are crumbling and life is also crumbling, the thread that can hold us together is the relationship, and that's the most important thing right now. It's hard, it's really hard, and I'm not saying, "Hold on to relationships at all costs, turn a blind eye to what your loved ones are pouring into your ears and so on." No. But if there's an opportunity to become above the situation, you better try to do it, because sooner or later the war will end, that's a fact. Everything in this life ends. And people will remain, and we will continue to live with them. And again, it's very easy to destroy something, very difficult to build and restore relationships and sympathy.

Do you follow the news from Russia and Ukraine?

- It is a continuous horror. Sometimes the pain is even on a physical level, when there were events in Bucha, when there were and still are explosions in Odessa, in Mariupol. It is not a feeling, but rather a physical reaction - a daze of terror, when I realize that I am not breathing, that my body does not move, that I am frozen. It's important to get out of this state, because it's impossible to stay in it. I don't know if that's the right thing to say or not... It's really the hatred that hundreds of thousands of civilians die because of one person who did nothing. It's not their fault. And that, of course, is where hatred is born. Really, I can't put it any other way. It's so searing, you hate to the point of tears. It's also just tons of powerlessness from the fact that I personally can't do anything about it.

What are you afraid of?

- The first is that mobilization will begin, and my husband is a conscript, and he will be drafted. The second thing is that it's scary that the war will last for years. Third. The person who gave this order is unwell and is running the country. You know, when there is a mentally ill person in the family, there are different options as to what to do. If he has an escalation, you can take him to a psychiatric hospital where he will be treated, send him to rehabilitation - you can do something. And you can't do anything here. That is, you can't do anything globally. And that is very frightening. And what will be the consequences? That's what else is frightening - the consequences. It's very difficult and scary to predict what will happen. There will be trauma, there will be PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), there will be a huge number of suicides, there will be a huge amount of violence in the family, because all those who are fighting will return to their wives and children, and the amount of physical violence will increase many times over.

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