There’s Something About Rasputin

Remember to raise a toast to Grigory Rasputin, the mysterious Siberian monk. Today is the 106th anniversary of his murder…all five of them!

Rasputin called himself a monk and a holy man, but there are people who believe he was actually possessed by some evil spirit.

One of the most remarkable about him was the power he wielded over nearly everyone. His connection with Romanovs was very useful in this way, but even before he knew them, he was able to control people. How he did it–that is the question. He was a peasant, he had no political power or money, but people felt compelled to do as he wished. Whatever that ability was also made him irresistible to all women, regardless of class.

Rasputin surrounded by admirers

 

Many people credit his hypnotic gaze, and his ability to dilate his pupils at will. Rasputin would likely credit his connection to God. Was it either of these things? There must have been something about Rasputin. Do you have a theory?

On a related note the second episode of The Romanovs, Rasputin, and the Collapse of a 300-Year Dynasty is available today!

Rasputin

 

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  1. Well, I for one don’t trust people who allow and encourage wild and unbridled admiration of themselves and who then use it to control, manipulate, or seek the sympathies of those around them. There is something sinister about that and very dubious to my way of thinking. So people who I don’t trust include Rasputin, who left his wife and children, and right there he goes down about 10 points in my mind, to pawn himself off as some sort of prophet, wiseman, seer. HOGWASH. He could have stayed home and done the same thing, but he was off looking for followers, being deliberately mysterious, and then having affairs with other women. Really? He is not the sort to admire, but many will fall for these charismatic types.

    I think of Trump, a truly untrustworthy man in so many ways – his affairs, his financial skullduggery, his upholding of lies as truths, and yet he is religiously – yes I use that word deliberately – religiously followed and upheld. The same goes for Diana, the late Princess of Wales. When I compare her nonsense, victimhood, cunning way with the press, her several affairs compared to her husband’s one now longstanding and stable relationship, well I just don’t like her. She had a charming way about her – and again I use that word very deliberately – as compared to Kate who is just wholesome and honest, truly down to earth. Diana put on that woe-is-me, so-sad-and-unloved, crap when I really think the fault lay in her demands to be more in the equation than Charles. Kate doesn’t do that. Yes, the people love her, but it is not she who will be monarch, it is William, and she respects that.

    Well, here endeth the sermon LOL, but that’s my theory. Some charismatic people use their charisms for themselves rather than for the good of humanity.

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    • This is very interesting stuff! I’ve never heard anyone talk about Rasputin, Princess Diana, Princess Kate, and Donald Trump together before but you are right, they all have it and use it! Charisma is one of the topics in psychology that really interests me because people refer to it like it’s a universally good thing but it’s actually a strongly neutral thing. It’s neutral the way being left-handed or having violet eyes is: it doesn’t tell us what kind of person someone is. But it’s strong in that whatever it is applied toward gets a full dose of it! I’d be interested to know if you thing charisma is something you’re born with or something that is learned.

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      • Hm, well that’s an interesting question. It’s the old nature vs nurture question, yet I think both are true. Having had four kids and now seven grandkids, I can say that kids are born with a certain personality; that’s nature. But what you do with it and how you handle it, that’s nurture. I remember reading that Diana’s father, the late Earl Spencer, remarked to someone, “Well good luck to him (Charles), because what Diana wants, Diana gets”. That’s rather telling considering she was engaged at the young age of 19. Obviously, in spite of the shy-Di moniker, her father, who knew her well, was well aware that she had a very determined and single-minded personality.

        Mary Trump, Donald’s mother, begged her husband to get Donald off to a boarding school at 11 years of age because he had absolutely no respect for his mother’s rule in that home. He was a budding misogynist from a very young age and his father put him in a military-style boarding school perhaps in a bid to teach him respect for authority and discipline (total hypocrisy because his father was as opportunistic as Donald himself is). A fat lot of good it did him. His nature was obviously much stronger than the attempted nurturing.

        Charisma perhaps is just the ability to lead, but I haven’t given it much thought. Charismatic people are usually in the forefront of something, and all leaders have followers, but the nub of the question is where the people are being led. Mother Teresa led others to help the poor. Nelson Mandela led others to freedom and equality as did Abraham Lincoln and Ghandi. The Queen quietly led others to do their duty just by her longstanding and tireless example. Jane Goodall has led the world to a deeper respect for wildlife. You can think of more anonymous and local people who do the same things, leading others to do charitable work, or leading the way for women to open businesses, or perhaps stepping up and blowing the whistle on some serious problem under the surface in a company or institution. All these ones lead others to also do what is best for the common good of all.

        But others with just as much charisma can lead others down the wrong path entirely or just cause others to adore them to the point where people are manipulated into thinking the person in question can do no wrong which can cast a poor light on others who don’t deserve it. Here I am specifically thinking of Diana, who was no angel if you start poking around into her life. She wasn’t evil, but she was quite happy to point fingers and lay blame elsewhere thereby effectively assassinating other people’s characters all while maintaining a victim-heroine character sketch of herself. People still willingly defend her and would consider themselves lucky to die at her feet to defend her. (I personally know a man who does the same thing for his now deceased partner who was the most abusive, nasty woman to him, yet she maintained an outward mystique to her local groupies that to me seems unfathomable. He feels compelled to uphold that mystique even now in spite of how abysmally she treated him). I can also think of sports stars, and rock stars, and TV evangelists who have devoted and rabid followers in whose eyes no evil can be done. But then the proverbial poop hits the fan and the pedestal comes down with a crash. The fans are devestated after sinking so much of their lives into these charismatic people. Yet the Billy Grahams, and the Dolly Partons, and the Terry Fox’s of the world also inspire others, are well known, and yet remain so very down-to-earth, making the world a better place in which to live.

        Al Capone was a very charismatic leader as are the leaders of most gangs and cults, yet no good comes from them at all and often there is much harm done yet people again feel compelled to follow them. The snake-oil salesman of old (perhaps all salesman, lol) and the marketing gurus of today probably don’t do an awful lot of harm per se, but they certainly scoop a lot of money out of people’s pockets in exchange for a bunch of stuff no one really needs. People desperately want to believe the lies. Trump could almost say anything to his followers and they would believe him. I sometimes wonder if he didn’t believe his own lies. These people are sometimes gods in their own minds and somehow with their leadership skills can convince others of the same thing.

        So perhaps we have two things to think about. The first is charisma or leadership ability. The second is what is driving that ability, good or evil, selfishness or selflessness, a conscience or an unhealthy lack of conscience, a willingness to give back, or a desperate desire to take all they can.

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