The US defence department think tank claimed in 2008 that the diagnosis is “an autistic disorder which affects all of his decisions”. It also gives him the need to exert “extreme control” when faced with crisis, according to the report.
The group of researchers, from the Office Net of Assessment, studied the Russian leader’s movements, microexpressions and actions, concluding that he “so clearly” carried a “neurological abnormality”.
Experts studying Putin said his neurological development was interrupted during his childhood, giving him a sense of physical imbalance and discomfort with social interaction.
The report said the findings were identified by leading neuroscientists as Asperger’s Syndrome.
As of 2013, Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer considered a legitimate diagnosis but rather part of the autism spectrum.
Autism is a developmental brain disorder that includes many different symptoms, with a broad range of severity.
People with the disorder are said to fall somewhere along the “autism spectrum.” Some are severely disabled, but others may only exhibit only mild symptoms and live a normal life.
It is said to impact around 37 million people globally, including roughly 700,000 in the UK.
People on the “spectrum” are sometimes limited in their ability to comprehend, or care about, the emotions and motives of other people.
But they are intensely interested in how certain things work. Their brains, according to experts, are wired to “systemise,” or to pick out patterns in information and to discern the logical rules that govern systems.
That means people with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism often have great talents for creating and analysing mechanical systems, such as engines, or abstract systems, like mathematics and computer programmes.
Putin’s main symptom exhibited was said to be “extreme control” which, the report claimed, is reflected in his decision style and how he governs.
Author Brenda Connors, an expert in movement pattern analysis at the US Naval War College in Newport, wrote: “During crisis, to stabilize himself and his perceptions of any evolving context he reverts to imposing extreme control.”
Putin’s condition can also prompt him to “withdraw from social stimulation as he did at the time of the Kursk nuclear submarine incident” in 2000, when a Russian sub sank in the Barents Sea, the study claimed.
The Pentagon study also claimed that Putin’s unrelenting stare reflected an inability to pick up on social cues.
The report’s theory he has autism, also means that Putin displays “hypersensitivity” and “a strong reliance on the fight, flight and freeze responses” instead of a more nuanced social behaviour.
Putin’s “neurological development was significantly interrupted in infancy,” wrote Ms Connors.
The report by the Pentagon – US Department of Defence – think tank was carried out as a way of helping devise a long-term military strategy for the US.
Despite claims the study was backed by neuroscientists and autism experts, the researchers said they could not prove their theory without performing a brain scan on the Russian leader.
The scientific validity of the report also came into question after psychology experts claimed the method of research – analysing videos of the leader – was not an accurate way to test for autism.
At the time, a spokesperson for the Russian leader dismissed the claims as “stupidity not worthy of comment”.
Speaking about the study’s findings, Caroline Strawson, a trauma-informed therapist, said: “When we ask the question about Putin and whether or not he has autism, we run the risk of excusing his behaviour and putting someone like Putin in association with those who are autistic.”
Ms Strawson explained that Putin exhibits all the signs of a narcissistic psychopath and claims she has never “come across a narcissist who is autistic”.
She added: “It may look on the surface like Putin is autistic, but on closer inspection and understanding of narcissism and autism, my belief is that Putin does not have autism at all, but is a highly narcissistic psychopath”.