18). Author Brenda Lange explains that "Putin did well" in high school and that in fact School 281 was for "the city's brightest students" (Shields, 2007, 2007, p. 33). Putin was drawn to literature, history, and art.
It seems the response to the Erickson's 12 to 18 years-of-age format in this context is that Putin in high school had no role confusion and did not have a weak sense of him. At School 281 the teachers handed out "the underground samizdat" (materials that questioned whether or not the Soviet state was "realistic"), which was a stealth strategy in literature class, that Putin may have found to be fascinating (knowing he would pursue a career as a spy later) (Shields, p. 33). "… Classmates and teachers remembered him as a top student who was self-confident," Shields writes. One day when the teacher wasn't watching a boy kicked Putin from behind; Putin launched a strong kick back at the boy, and after school this bully and friends were waiting for Putin. He had been taking judo lessons and sambo lessons (a cross between judo and wrestling) and according to Shield's book Putin "…calmly stepped forward, and with a few moves, brought down the bigger boy… and no one at school picked on him again" (pp. 33-34).
Putin knew, as a teenager, that he wanted to become a spy. That doesn't seem to be a role confusion situation for Putin; quite the contrary, Shields explains that though Putin had told the Times of London (Beeston) that he was a "hooligan" and "a real ruffian" as a teenager, he went to the KGB offices and talked to a man in the office about how to become a spy. The man told him he needed a law degree, so Putin "made up his mind to apply to the elite law school at Leningrad State University" (Shields, p. 34).
Erikson's phases: 19 to 40 years of age; young adults at this point in their lives need to form intimate, loving relationships with other people; failure results in loneliness and isolation and success leads to strong, reliable relationships (About.com).
Given that this phase of life requires the person to develop strong relationships, Putin seems to have failed at least to some degree. His close friend Sergei Raldugin, quoted by Shields (from the Times of London), said Putin's "stoical and shoulder-shrugging attitude got on his nerves" (p. 37). "…He was completely incapable of expressing his emotions… he had powerful emotions, but couldn't put them into words," Raldugin is quoted saying (Shields, 37). Putin fell in love with a medical student, "his first real love," Shields writes (38). "She was a good person… strong-willed," Raldugin remembers.
The two actually applied for a marriage license, and the rings were purchased for the wedding, along with the dresses and suits, and everything was readied for the nuptials. But "suddenly" Putin came to the conclusion it was the wrong thing to do. He "knew that marriage was not what he wanted… I told her the whole truth," he said (quoted by Shields from the Times' article). However, in 1975 as he was graduating from Leningrad State University law school he was recruited by the KGB, an honor for Putin; he was the only one chosen out of 100 applications. "He happily anticipated that he was going to live the life of the spy in the movie he had seen when he was a young man" (Shields, 39). At this point in his life, Putin was apparently forming a relationship with the KGB, and was not known to be lonely or isolated at all.
But in the "early 1980s" (when he was still under 40 years of age) he met and married Lyudmila, a former teacher of French and English, which it is fair to assume was a loving relationship. Putin at this point (in 1985) was sent by the KGB to Dresden, East Germany to do undercover work as "Mr. Adamov" (Encyclopedia of World Biography). For a man who wanted to be undercover, who wanted to be a spy, this was a prime assignment for Putin, and in no way could he be considered lonely and isolated when this work was what he had dreamed about, worked toward, and finally achieved was based on his strong desire and aptitude.
Erikson's phases: 40 to 65 years of age; at this phase adults need to be doing something that will outlast them, like having children or creating positive change other people benefit from (About.com). Putin came back to Leningrad in 1990, continuing his KGB work, and in 1994, at the age of 42, after getting involved in politics (working for the mayor of St. Petersburg), Putin became deputy mayor of St. Petersburg.
As to Erikson's psychosocial stage (during this 40-65 years window of time) in a man's age, Putin can be credited with positive change because he helped the city "build highways, telecommunications, and hotels," the Encyclopedia of World Biography explains.
In the journal Problems of Post-Communism, Harley Blazer explains that Putin earned a Candidate of Sciences degree in economics at St. Petersburg Mining Institute in 1997. Blazer writes that Putin's thesis in the dissertation "was not publicly available" but the degree that Putin received was apparently his attempt to become a political leader, Blazer writes. The dissertation was reportedly focused on: a) economic conditions in St. Petersburg with an emphasis on the "importance of natural resources" in future development; b) strategic planning vis-a-vis resource development; and c) improvement of port facilities (for the future transport of domestic oil) (Blazer, 2006, 48).
Putin, now Prime Minister (but suspected of still retaining a great deal of power in Russian government matters) did in fact launch trends that could outlast him; he created what journalist Dale R. Herspring calls "…two items they lacked 10 years ago -- predictability and stability" (Herspring, 2009, p. 166). Moreover, "Russians are far better off economically than they were before Putin," Herspring continues (p. 167); they can now "plan for tomorrow, and the vast majority of them have achieved a certain degree of stability in their lives -- due in large part to Putin's actions," Herspring asserts (166).
Conclusion: In his tenure as Russian Federation President, did Putin create an "economic miracle," as some say he did? That would certainly dovetail seamlessly with Erikson's 40-65 years phase in his psychosocial development. Lilia Shevtsova writes that Putin's economic policies "look impressive" but the economic gains have "a false bottom" -- high oil prices are reportedly beefing up the economy but it is a fragile gain. The truth is, Putin's legacy will not really be known for a few years, but he appears to have qualified for a positive place in Erikson's Middle Adulthood phase (Generativity vs. Stagnation) because he has indeed been useful and notwithstanding the corruption that is rampant in Russia, there has been positive change.
About.com. (2008). Psychology / Erikson's Psychosocial Stage Summary Chart. Retrieved March 31, 2011, from http://psychology.about.com/library/bi_psychosocial_summary.htm.