Psychoanalysis Politics: The Extensive Myth of Zelensky

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During 2022’s Russian military aggression against Ukraine, one name rose to the surface along with his non-controversial leadership image, the current President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

His heroic stories, images, and footages from Ukrainian battlefield have been spreading like a blizzard of hopes during this time of chaos.

The Atlantic called him, “world’s Jewish hero”.
Los Angeles Time called him “a folk hero”.
CBC claimed that, “he (Zelenskyy) gave us a cold dose of reality.”
DW covered his stories entitled, “Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy: From comedian to national hero”.

However, what if we may or may not realize that the medias may have been mythologizing and idealizing the very idea of Volodymyr Zelenskyy?

Is he, really, the protagonist society needs in the time of crisis?

In this article I am going to examine this political phenomenon by using Freudian hypothesis on form-structure of myth that was classified in the article entitled Lévi-Strauss and Freud: Their “Structural” Approaches to Myths that was written by Roy C. Calogeras in 1973. I am going to use solely Freudian hypothesis, and I will use the parallel approach of Lévi-Strauss for the next article.

What is Myth, to begin with?

Some of you may associate the idea of myth into historical stories or folklore as what Greek Gods were all about. According to the Oxford dictionary, myth is a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.

Nonetheless, to what extent we can actually measure a belief could be categorized as a myth?

Aren’t contemporary religions, too, rather mythical?
Aren’t political propagandas, too, to a certain degree, mythical?

What could differ myth as in Greek mythology and today’s political narratives of a one, true, unquestionable “Heroic Leader”?

Myth as an individual thought-patterns.
In Calogeras’ examination of Freud’s psychoanalytical hypothesis, he mentioned that “myth is actually a form of shared individual thought-patterns closely akin to the individual dream and day-dream”.

During the time of crisis, historically, human beings have the tendency to create such bipolarity of goodness and badness.

The individual thought-pattern, however, does not exist without reason. The historical trauma from the previous wars and aggressions, I argue, has triggered the collective neuroethical habit of the coexist belief that there has to be an absolute evil and goodness on every crisis.

The ongoing unconscious bipolarity of political affairs.

World War 1 Diagram from
REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR. BUY WAR BONDS , 1941–1945. Still Picture Records LICON, Special Media Archives Services Division (NWCS-S) — flickr.
Japanese Poster: Second Sino-Japanese War Exhibition. Osaka, 1938.
“America — open your eyes!” Poster commissioned by the French art director for Fortune magazine in 1941 [WWII] —

The myth’s symbolism.
In a world where an expectation of an ideal and heroic leader has always been a part of the collective unconscious, the very idea of Zelenskyy and his patriotism gives the sense of comfort to the public sphere.

One of Freudian concept of Oedipus Politicus, a term that was coined by J. Brunner, examines that every form of social relations shares a manifestation of Oedipus fantasy.

In a layman term, the word Oedipus was extracted from Sigmund Freud theory of Oedipus Complex that referred its inspiration from ancient Greek mythology of Oedipus the King of Thebes.

Every revolutionary act that has been done in the historical realm creates an unconscious narrative that a leader has to have the ideal “father” figure as a symbolism of hope.

To protect, to stand against injustice, to be the front-liner, deliver patriotic speeches.

World War Two British poster — pinterest/chrishorner
Stalin’s propaganda poster with children — pinterest/moscowbooks

Distortions in myth.
Calogeras argues that Freudian form-structure approach to dreams, myth, etc. are not merely distorted due to dynamical external forces, but as well as the thinking structure. However as a structuralist, I tend to disagree. Human beings’ thinking structure, I argue, cannot be detached from collective historical trauma as what I have previously mentioned. Human beings were born in a formed societal structure where they ought to accept or challenge in one way or another. Our thinking structure is very much biased to where we are coming from. To the societal phenomenon I would often find — human beings tend to hate something they grow up with when they eventually acuminate their critical thinking.

Distortion comes within the thinking structure, however, within the thinking structure the knot of dynamical external forces play a huge role in determining the distortion.

Daily broadcasts of a mythical figure both the extreme good and evil may soothes the disquietude away and gives a sense of a possible epiphany.

In the case of Zelensky, aside from the inherent bipolarity thinking structure to which I have mentioned earlier, the fact that society tends to be easily lured by the tip of the iceberg, has given the role of Zelensky the spotlight lighter than it should be.

The fact why Zelensky has been depicted as a sole patriotic leader who is being “left alone” should already be disturbing enough to indicate.

Forgetting the fact that we need to investigate the complexity beneath the conflict’s surface; the real structure of the conflict, the Why.



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