Ukraine Déjà Vu 1984: Political Egocentrism, Nuclear Narcissism and Political Maturity


Diane Perlman, Ph.D.  | Substack - TRANSCEND Media Service

From a Soviet Newspaper, October 1984

Back Then in the USSR

25 Mar 2022 – In 1984 I went to the USSR with the Association of Humanistic Psychology as a citizen diplomat during the height of the Soviet-American nuclear arms race. That was the good old days when Reagan called the USSR “the Evil Empire.”

I put aside my shyness to become a speaker for Physicians for Social Responsibility on the psychology of the arms race. I did slide shows (on a clunky old carousel projector) on the image of the enemy.[1] Political cartoons illustrated concepts like archetypes of enemy images, the mirror image of the enemy, the function of enemy images, etc. (I will organize these slides for Substack)

I brought copies of my booklet on “Changing the Image of the Enemy”[2] to the USSR. Someone who saw my work gave me these 5 cartoons from an October 1984 Soviet newspaper. This is how the US government was perceived by the Soviets 38 years ago. They liked the American people then, and American jeans, differentiating us from our government.

The KGB got to see my booklet during my second experience with them, having been expelled in 1971 as a young, poorly prepared student trying to visit Refuseniks. But that is another story.

A few years later, I was denied a visa, recognized as a persona non grata, to return with my Peace Research Associates colleagues for a meeting with Gosteleradio, the Soviet State TV network, to plan a Philadelphia – Leningrad Sister Cities Project,“ spacebridge” between families, three generations, to humanize the enemy. We met with Gostelaradio in New York. US TV stations refused to meet with us. Underdogs tend to be more open.

Déjà vu: The More Things change …

Cold War rhetoric rhymes with today’s hot war rhetoric., with media consumed by moral outrage, hate and fear, bombarding us with enemy imaging.  Few reflected on how the Soviets, now Russians, perceive us. I called it “nuclear narcissism.”

Never fight evil as if it were something that arises totally outside of yourself. — St Augustine

I welcome translation of Russian texts in the Join the Discussion section…

Metacognition – Seeing How They See Us



Diane Perlman, PhD   is a clinical and political psychologist, devoted to applying knowledge from psychology, conflict studies and social sciences to designing strategies and policies to reverse nuclear proliferation, to drastically reduce terrorism, reduce enmity, and to raise consciousness about nonviolent strategies for tension reduction and conflict transformation. She is a visiting scholar at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, is active in Psychologists for Social Responsibility, the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, and on the Global Council of Abolition 2000. Some of her writings can be found on her websites,  and Email:

Tags: , , , , , ,


Share this article:

DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Comments are closed.