If you know the why, you can live any how.
In our recent history (the Soviet period), there have been constant attempts to convince us that a person’s ethnicity does not matter, as opposed to his social and class affiliation. It is clear that this position pursued purely political and ideological goals. Non-biased science and popular wisdom adhere to a completely opposite point of view in this matter.
According to the theory of complementarity, ethnicity is as fundamental to the development of an individual and the human community as a whole, as well as social and biological roots. We say, “He is without kith or kin,” when we need to emphasize the immorality of a person’s actions, thus emphasizing their origin, their roots.
In this study, I will try to present my view of a number of ethnopsychological features, using the psychopathological research method. This approach is far from unconventional or new, although it is long forgotten and has never been applied to an ethnic group. Even Kretschmer used the “proceed from pathology to the norm” method when he investigated the pathocharacterological features of personality in patients with schizophrenia, epilepsy, and cyclophrenia. The result of his research was a dichotomy: schizophrenia – schizoid, epilepsy – epileptoid, cyclophrenia – cycloid.
The turning points in the history of any nation and state require integrity in all aspects of the social, ideological, moral, economic, legal activity of that nation and state. Only a single national idea, based on national (and, therefore, universal) values and traditions, can bring together, unite all members of a community and offer unique and universal forms of relationship. In this regard, there is an urgent need to figure out and understand what exactly we have become in the course of our history. Where are we going? What will we be like? Naturally, we are talking about the Armenian ethnic group.
Any specialist (psychiatrist or psychologist) knows how difficult it can be to determine the character of an individual. And it seems very difficult or simply impossible when it comes to a whole ethnic group (albeit a small one) . Moreover, there is a risk of being criticized by both friends and foes. As early as in the late 19th century, Italian researcher Paolo Mantegazzi  wrote that “the difficulty of the problem stems partly from its enormity, …mainly from the many outside elements that confuse and obscure our judgment. In order to draw at least only a profile, in order to outline the main distinguishing features, in order to get even a questionable, vague image, we must extract an average number, and to get this average we have to dump into one mortar St. Francis, …and Garibaldi, …and Dante. What will we get out of this mixture? …But in order to extract …this average, which we take as the character of a nation, we have to deal with many outside elements that are products of human passions, both the highest and the lowest ones.”
Searching for an answer to this question, we (in collaboration with A.M. Minasyan) conducted a study, in which our respondents had to answer the question: “What, in your opinion, are the main features characterizing an Armenian before and after 1988?” …112 people aged between 21 and 63 were interviewed, including 40 (35.7%) men and 72 (64.3%) women. The majority of the respondents were between 31 and 50 years old (72 resp., 64.3%). The overwhelming majority of them were people with secondary and higher education (76 resp., 67.9%), socially active (101 people (90.2%) had a permanent job). The occupations included doctors, teachers, philologists, builders, economists, engineers, etc.
The following is almost the entire list of characteristics given by our respondents:
a) before 1988: hospitable, humane, peaceful, law-abiding, confident, humanitarian, intelligent, loyal, international, hardworking, kind, responsible (for the family), honest, patriotic, moral, frank, devoted, freedom-loving, patient, heroic, optimistic, careless, bourgeois, worshipper of foreign things, apolitical, idealist, naïve, repressed about the 1915 genocide, selfish, self-centered, impulsive, demonstrative, rational, conformist, patriarchal, self-involved, proud, sentimental, ambitious, envious, merchant, disgusting, treacherous, malicious;
b) after 1988: burdened (care-laden), pragmatic, calculating, patriotic, persistent, proud, hospitable, honest, enterprising, moral, sympathetic, freedom-loving, self-centered, insecure, timid, prim, misanthrope, devastated, desperate, apathetic, repressed about the genocide, impulsive, demonstrative, suspicious, rational, callous, sentimental, cunning, inclined to hoarding, nomadic, huckster, ugly, “European Asian”.
Our content analysis of the data obtained revealed the following. Based on our principled approach to the analysis of an ethnic group as an individual, functional formations (systems) that, in principle, determine the type of personality, the level of its functioning and needs, were identified as cluster categories. We identified such clusters as will (strong-willed – not strong–willed), intellect (rational – not rational, smart – not smart), “self-concept” (selfishness – altruism), activity (active – passive, businesslike – not businesslike), moral (positive – negative, malicious – good-natured, honest – deceitful), abilities (creative – rigid), values (material – spiritual), relationships with the environment (conformist – not conformist).
The self-assessment of the Armenian ethnic group before 1988 was as follows. They were quite restrained, patient and calm, their rational mind was intertwined with such irrational qualities as naivety, sentimentality and heroism. The intellectual and strong-willed energy of the ethnic group was directed towards activity (hard work) and manifested itself in such abilities as professionalism and proficiency in everything, especially in the field of commerce, entrepreneurship and crafts. According to the respondents, honesty, sincerity, kindness, devotion (to their history and traditions), conservatism, along with such traits as envy and insidiousness were the moral and ethical foundation. Successful in material activities, Armenians were more oriented towards spiritual values. In the relationship with the “environment” they were somewhat careless, loyal, peaceful, and accommodating. At the same time, being quite conformist, restrained, irrational, Armenians were emphatically egocentric, self-involved, proud, prone to overestimating their “self”.
An analysis of the same parameters, reflecting the nature of the ethnic group after 1988, showed that in the conditions of the sociopolitical and economic crisis, changes are noted in the polarities typical of the nation. Traits such as insecurity, timidity, suspiciousness, apathy, a sense of uncertainty and emptiness began to dominate. At the same time, the irrational pole in the “personality” of the nation began to be replaced by calculation, pragmatism, and rationality. Efficiency and enterprise were more often noted. The polarity of moral characteristics changed sharply, among which negative ones were clearly dominating—cunning, devious, obsequious, deceitful. Changes in moral characteristics even affected the fact that such seemingly positive traits as the desire for material security and prosperity, the expansion of commercial and entrepreneurial activities began to manifest (be mentioned) as hoarding, profiteering, and utilitarianism. Spiritual values have receded, egocentric tendencies have become more pronounced.
Even with a simple visual comparison of the data, it can be seen that there is a sharp change in the polarity of the signs: the pre-1988 positive characteristics gave way to predominantly negative ones after 1988. The polymorphism and diversity of these characteristics are obvious. To the extent that it is practically impossible (with rare exceptions) to group and organize them. We certainly take into account that all the characteristics are of a specific personal nature, that is, they reflect each respondent’s personal position and assessment, with almost complete absence of attempts to present a generalized analytical portrait of the nation.
Any people and any nation, like any developing organism, goes through the natural and inevitable phases of its development: birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity, old age and death. Speaking of the phase of death, it should be emphasized that in this case this hardly means physical elimination of any ethnic group (although there have been many examples of this in the history of mankind)—most likely, there are other possible options, such as amalgamation of peoples, assimilation of a small people by a larger one, extinction of entire peoples and tribes during the colonization of Africa, Asia and America, geoecological disasters, etc. The Armenian ethnic group has thoroughly passed the first stages in its development. And the aging stage in our case came not only in chronological order. The aging of a nation should not be understood as psychophysical insanity (as it can be with an individual) and the inevitable death. Death of a social organism and its aging occurs when the link of times, the connection between the past and the present, is severed, and the present has nothing to put up against the past. This is exactly what is happening at the present stage of our history and statehood, when attempts are made to artificially remove the last 70 years from our history, create a “black vacuum”, exaggerate the negative, ignore the positive, repeating the mistakes of the Russian revolution of 1917. Meanwhile, these decades are a historical fact that connects the past with the present and the present with the future.
Naturally, old age has its own “symptoms”, the manifestation of which at the level of both an organism and a social phenomenon indicates the onset of regression. According to the parallel I have already drawn, it is necessary to compare the psychological and psychopathological patterns of aging of an individual and an entire ethnic group. With all the conventionality of this analogy, certain general patterns and conclusions are obvious. It is important that in this way it is possible to bring to the surface and abstract some hidden, veiled phenomena and patterns.
According to the Ribot’s law (the law of retrograde amnesia), well known in psychiatry and psychology, during aging (and in some pathological conditions), the impairment of memory proceeds from the most recently acquired, least automated knowledge and skills to the earliest and most automated knowledge and skills. As a result, a person gradually loses the ability to remember and reproduce current and recent events and phenomena. There is a gradual “movement” back in time (right up to childhood), and the resulting vacuum is filled with fictional and time-shifted events as a compensation. As a result of this, the aging person sees the past as beautiful, trouble-free, especially valuable and more meaningful. Since current values, goals, attitudes (not necessarily only in an aging person, but even in a relatively young person in a state of moral crisis, existential vacuum, etc.) are absent or being erased, past ones are activated, which leads to complete disadaptation in the surrounding reality. Not having and not creating a “present”, a personal “today”, such an individual lives only in the past. It would be apt to recall here our flaunting of history and culture: the ancient state of Urartu, Erebuni is the same age as Rome, Greater Armenia from sea to sea, ancient culture—Metsamor, Zvartnots, Garni, Universities of Gladzor and Tatev, Narekatsi and Khorenatsi, Amirdovlat and Sayat-Nova, Frik and Gosh. The list can be deepened and expanded, quite deservedly and reasonably. Any comparison with the French, Russians and other peoples and histories is inappropriate here, since French history, just like Russian, English, German, etc. this is far from the Armenian history. The history of each nation shapes this nation. Of course, the role of many other factors (geography, neighbors, faith, values, etc.) cannot be denied.
Experiencing spiritual pride for the past, without objectively evaluating our present, we do not recognize the “prophet in our own land.” Of course, this quality is not exclusively Armenian. But it is here, in my opinion, that one of the most striking national features of an Armenian—egocentrism and individualism—is manifested most clearly. These are the traits characteristic of the “old-age (senile) psychopathization” of a personality. Not hiding their pride and joy that some writer, composer, artist, scientist or politician, somewhere out there, in a foreign country, is ethnic Armenian (most often only by last name and some external features), we do not recognize, and sometimes even reject, a person who is no less significant, if not more powerful, striking, creative, at home, in Armenia. And it is no coincidence that our compatriots achieve greater fame there (in Russia, America, Europe) than in their homeland, although they cause respect, surprise, admiration and, even, envy in a foreign environment, where they end up “belonging”. In the best case, recognition at home comes only after recognition there, in the worst case, it happens after death. This is consonant with the Armenian proverb translated as “Recognition and love come only after death”. In my opinion, the problem stems from the emphasized conceit inherent in an Armenian as a result of “involvement in history”, “chosenness” (but as a victim, not as an executioner). No Armenian considers him- or herself to be worse (lower, unworthier, etc.) than another Armenian consider any other Armenian better (higher, worthier, smarter, etc.) than him- or herself. An American can be all that, of course! A European—probably, a Russian—maybe. A popular proverb, it seems to me, confirms this opinion, succinctly reflecting the centuries-old experience and the deepest wisdom of the people: “The heads of two Armenians cannot be boiled in one pot.” So they scattered all over the world, although this was certainly facilitated by objective specific circumstances, such as geographic location, Muslim environment, aggressiveness and ambitions of neighbors, religion, etc. The emphasized arrogance of Armenians is based on the hypertrophied “Ego”. It is this “Self” that causes a multifaceted, variegated, contradictory, mutually exclusive range of experiences, sensations, ideas and actions.
We are often sad, indignant, surprised and do not understand ignorance and rudeness, rudeness and roughness, laziness and passivity, disorganization and laissez-faire approach, aggressiveness (naturally, not in the positive sense of this concept) and indifference of an Armenian, who at the same time can be extremely tactful and reserved, polite and courteous, kind and hospitable, energetic and hardworking. This, of course, is not about a specific person, but about a collective, generalized image of an Armenian. He/she can welcome stupidity and curse wisdom without hesitation because of the momentary gain over his strategic goals. Then he/she will blame everyone and everything (up to the clouds in the sky), not seeing “the forest behind the trees.” He/she can crush a child in line for bread, not show respect for a woman, not notice an old man, and yet time give his bread to a hungry old man, find the thin strings of a woman’s soul and become her servant and slave, and warm a child with his attention and affection, even if it is someone else’s. He can do nothing, goof off all day, skip work. But the same Armenian slacker can bend over backwards, working in the sweat of his brow for seven days in a row, without fatigue and without rest, if he/she wants to or has to work. He/she can by hook or by crook avoid his/her duties (family, professional, civil, etc.), up to the point of providing his/her own death certificate. At the same time, the weakest and most defenseless Armenian will show such miracles of dedication, heroism, dedication that only he or she is capable of. An example of this is our life, when at the call of their hearts, a father and son go to die for the lands of their ancestors, which they have never seen, nostalgia for which, perhaps, is genetic; others follow them, but in order to plunder and loot; someone else gets successful, grows fat and stop noticing the hungry, the sick and the weak around them… Our history has an example of this: the small Karabakh regiment of Tigran the Great became “famous” as the “Karabakh donkey” for their stubborn resistance even after the defeat of the Roman legionaries at the beginning of the common era.
Many well-known (and not so well-known) people of science, politics and art tried to characterize the Armenians. French scientist of the 18th century Olivier wrote that “with their intelligence and abilities, Armenians deserve attention everywhere—in Russia, Persia, Turkey, India, Europe”. American pastor Dwight, who lived in Turkey for many years, emphasized the “resourcefulness and flexibility, knowledgeability in all areas, high intelligence” of Armenians. “They,” the pastor wrote, “are not of a simple mindset… Armenians are the Anglo-Saxons of the East.” German traveler Haxthausen, having visited Armenia, wrote that “Armenians are very restrained in success, far from frivolous ostentatious extravagance in wealth, and in misfortune they are submissive and humble” (quoted from Aleksanyan V. ). In his little-known essay “An Armenian” (banned under Soviet rule), Armenian writer Derenik Demirchyan  pointed out accurately that “in his life he (an Armenian) did not see two things at all: first, happiness, and second, despair. How to know it, how to measure it? Its measure is an excessive, amazing balance in extremes.”
Where does this polarity, even ambivalence, come from? Is there a paradox here somewhere? It seems to me that the whole problem is in the Armenian nature, shaped by suffering over many centuries of survival in an aggressive environment. In any case, Armenians focus on their “self” and satisfies their needs. In this, it is, of course, not unique, as any person and any nation are similarly oriented. It is about the peculiarities of this Armenian “self”. Realizing the relativity of the extrapolation of purely psychopathological characteristics of an individual to an entire ethnos, we still have to admit that there are two most pronounced and outlined radicals in our national psychology—hysterical and paranoid. It does not at all follow from this that Armenians are completely paranoid and hysterical. We are talking only about the ethnic parallel of the typological characteristics of the personality, which suggests that along with other features, those singled out constitute the “structure of the Armenian character” and somewhat prevail. Both in the case of hysterical and paranoid character, there is an exaggerated, emphasized attitude towards one’s “self”. The hysterical type is characterized by the tendency to “seem larger than it is”. It is characterized by such mechanisms of manifestation as “withdrawal into the situation”, “mechanism of benevolence and auspiciousness”, a (solely subconscious) striving to satisfy one’s desires and needs as much as possible, to achieve the desired goal, etc. All these mechanisms are mediated by and oriented to one’s own “self”. External manifestations of such behavior are characterized by demonstrativeness, theatricality, affectation, grotesque, striving to be better, to be ahead, to be more beautiful, stronger, etc. Moreover, most often this behavior corresponds to objectivity (opportunities, situations, needs). This type is characterized by posturing, actions meant for external effects and emotions that are shallow and fleeting, but violent in external manifestations.
The paranoid radical in the Armenian ethnicity almost completely corresponds to the classical and modern descriptions of this range of typological features . It is manifested, first of all, in heightened conceit and egocentrism, distrust and suspicion, persistence in defending one’s ideas and, in general, everything that “belongs” to one, the readiness to see everyone an opponent, a competitor, as well as one-sidedness and poor plasticity of thinking, persistence and perseverance (in many cases growing into stubbornness), surliness, which has already become genetic (Armenians perform sad songs even at weddings and feasts), a tendency to form overvalued categories in everyday life, politics, society and become their victim. On the one hand, they are children—naïve, immature, dreamers and romantics, and on the other, they are idealist philosophers, prone to reflection, ponderism. By extension, they react very strongly, straightforwardly and one-sidedly, without thinking about the consequences. Only later, when the action is over, they begin to look for their mistakes, blunders and have the wisdom of hindsight. This is what another Armenian proverb says.
The speed of perception of something new and its alienation among Armenians are direct proportional to each other. There are more than enough examples of this in ancient and modern Armenian history. This is a separation from their Urartian roots and the Hellenization of the Armenian (pre-Christian) culture, the hasty adoption of Christianity as a state religion (although they could wait and take a closer look); in the modern period, this is the hasty belief in perestroika, in democracy and in a quick solution to the Karabakh problem, and so on and so forth. But failures only stimulate Armenians and never stop them halfway. “Non-recognition” of their virtues, merits, and achievements leads them to clash with their own kind. Perhaps that is why he (an Armenian) finds recognition in a non-Armenian environment, where we are absent or very few.
Almost everywhere, socially regulated norms and forms of behavior come into conflict with his “self”. He is not what he should be, he is not like everyone else, he demands exceptions for himself always and everywhere.
I would not want my reader to conclude that I am trying to diagnose mental disorders in the Armenian ethnic group. This is not about nosological forms and not even about pathological conditions (the ratios of “nosos” and “pathos” according to A.V. Snezhnevsky), but about the characterological characteristics of personality, which I tried to extrapolate to the entire ethnic group.
Until now, we have been talking about the so-called “mental status” of the patient—the Armenian ethnic group. That is, a cross-section of its development was presented. However, according to the clinical and psychopathological method of examining the patient, it is also necessary to analyze the longitudinal section of the dynamics, that is, to study the medical history of “life” and “illness”. In this aspect, the “patient” is undoubtedly interesting in many ways. Throughout its centuries-old history, the Armenian ethnic group has experienced something that, perhaps, no other people has experienced (and God forbid it should). A hasty reader will immediately and rightfully think of the Jewish ethnic group, also subjected to centuries of persecution and suffering. However, this is only partly correct. With all the external similarities of their destinies, a comparison of many tragic aspects of the history of these two peoples is inappropriate, if only because the final result of their historical development (of course, at the present stage) is completely different.
The people experiencing a historically long period of positive development and establishment entered negative dynamics in the development and formation of a national character with the loss of its statehood (in the 11th century) as a result of centuries of persecution on the part of aggressive and quarrelsome neighbors. With the loss of statehood, the world became quite fragmented and aggressive for the Armenians in geopolitical, cultural, creative and other aspects. Although in fairness it should be noted that there were some outstanding phenomena and achievements in culture, science, politics in the history of the people: the Cilician state, khachkars, Narekatsi, Gosh, Frik, Kuchak and so on. However, these separate parts did not create the perception of integrity, was characterized by instability and impulsiveness, which naturally reflected on the peculiarities of the life of the Armenian ethnic group. And the only stable phenomenon in the course of Armenian history was family and intrafamilial and clan ties. This factor was, in my opinion, the most important in the selection and organization of the environment, and remains significant at the present time. It is the clan and familial affiliation that determines the place of an individual in the hierarchy of socio-economic values. The instability of life, the loss of statehood, physical and mental violence against the people by numerous enemies led to the formation of a unique ability to survive separately, that is, not by as a state, not as an individual region, city or village, but as a family, as a clan. The uniqueness of such survival was that surviving separately, Armenians did not dissolve in a new environment, did not identify themselves with the conquerors, a foreign environment, did not lose their roots, but, while preserving their “self” and their family (hearth), they preserved their national values and dignity, national unity. Each time fleeing another massacre (Arab, Mongolian, Turkish, etc.), they saved themselves with their books, icons, khachkars, rebuilding their hearth and their church next to it, seeing this as the only way of self-preservation. The newest history of the people demonstrates this unique feature in the best possible way, when, in the absence of conditions for the preservation of life, the people did not rebel, demand, destroy and rob, did not take to the streets, but began to survive as best each could, one by one, separately finding for themselves the best options for adaptation. The entire people “switched” to the minimum level of consumption and rather steadfastly endured more than one harsh winter and half-starved year. Adequate mechanisms of adaptation, existence and survival, historically hard-won and genetically entrenched over the millennia of existence, were activated. One cannot but agree with R. Angaladyan  that it was the negative aspects of Armenian history (life) that contributed, on the one hand, to the universalization of Armenians (both creative and ordinary people), on the other hand, they forced to overestimate, elevate, mythologize the conquests of national culture and history. In general, this is what “gives us the opportunity to talk about our own dignity.”
Speaking in medical terms, in the history of life of the Armenian people, there were numerous strong traumatic experiences that certainly affected its mental state, causing a kind of accentuation, a stigma in the national character. The genocide of the late 19th century and especially of 1915-1921 was the powerful factor that led to the development of a condition known in modern psychology and psychiatry as post-traumatic stress disorder and social stress disorder) . PTSD is characterized by experiencing suffering and sensations that lie outside the limits of normal human capabilities. The traumatic situation is experienced repeatedly in the form of persisting memories, visions, actions and fears; suffering is intensified by events or phenomena that resemble or symbolize a traumatic situation, including the anniversary of the trauma; they are also characterized by stubborn avoidance of anything related to the trauma. In their dynamics, these disorders go through such stages as disorganization with the development of apathy, passivity, lack of purpose in actions; subsequently, heightened suggestibility and altruism dominate, which are replaced by euphoria, strengthening sense of collectivism, and the forgetting of previous grievances. Finally, with an adverse course of the “post-stress disorder”, disorganization, demoralization and isolation (a kind of autism) from others occur. The social environment (in this case, the world community) does not provide protection and support, causing instead changes in the “world picture”, the feeling of losing one’s “self”.
Analyzing our history from 1915 to the present, one can clearly distinguish all stages of development of a post-traumatic stress disorder: complete disorganization, the breaking of intra- and inter-ethnic, social ties of the people, separation of Eastern and Western Armenia, scattering all over the world, passivity and apathy in everything, first of all, in solving the fateful issues of national self-determination at the beginning of the century. The lack of purpose in the actions of the people, scattering and searching manifested themselves, in my opinion, in the creation of the first two Republics. The birth of the First Republic and especially Soviet Armenia played, of course, a positive role in the development of national values and the formation of national psychology. The first 50 years of the existence of the Soviet rule were especially favorable in this regard, when the USSR, acting as a “social environment”, provided both protection and support to the Armenian people. During this period, the formation of a mono-ethnic republic took place, where Armenians made up 89.7% of the total population (according to the 1979 census), with one of the highest levels of education . In the context of a mono-ethnic environment and a high level of education, familial and marital relations were strengthened and developed . Family for an Armenian was of absolute value, and everything was done to preserve it . Statistics show that the smallest divorce rate among all the former Soviet republics was observed in Armenia—only 1.2 per 1,000 people in 1988. This figure is comparable only with the indicators for Georgia (1.3) and Azerbaijan (1.3), while for the USSR as a whole, i was 9.4. The concept of “family” or “hearth” is understood by us as the presence of a child: no child means no family. It is the child who becomes the essence and basis of all subsequent family life. And it is no coincidence that in 52% of cases the reason for divorce in an Armenian family is childlessness (infertility of marriage), while in Lithuania, for example, it accounts only for 37% of cases.
Despite its positive role, the second republic (Soviet Armenia) still could not compensate for the loss of homeland for Armenians and play a crucial constructive role for the psychology of the people that remains divided into “locals”, “repatriates” and “diaspora” (Spurk). Not only because it was only a small part of our historical homeland, but also because it was only a “small room” in a large “Soviet communal apartment”, where, warm and nourishing as that life was, the younger brother had no choice but to “agree” with the older brother in everything, constantly suppressing his “self”, bringing it in line with the demands and needs of the “communal apartment”.
The birth of the Third Republic as a result of the collapse of the USSR led to colossal shifts in all institutions of the society. The liberalization of socio-political, economic and moral-ethical relations, easily accepted by the people, led to the aggravation of many deeply hidden problems and, as a result, to disorganization, demoralization and social autism of the people, described by Frankl for traumatized persons in his famous work . Unlike the USSR, the world community (that is, the social environment) does not seek to act as a provider of protection and support, which in modern conditions causes a change in the “world picture”, a feeling of losing one’s “self”. And today we have what we have—an almost total collapse of the economy and agriculture, social security, healthcare and educational system, as well as migration, unemployment, the breaking of many social ties, social apathy, frustration, loss of the meaning of life, moral crisis, etc.
Thus, we have examined some of the features of the dynamics and statics of the “mental status” of the Armenian ethnic group from a psychiatric point of view, which allows us to proceed to the analysis of interpersonal problems that arise in the communication of people with such similar, uniform national characteristics. It is possible to get a graps of these problems from the standpoint of Eric Berne’s theory of “ego states” (1988). “Ego-states” mean the current way of existence of the ego subject, namely, the “parent” ego state, the “adult” ego state and the “child” ego state. Entering into certain relationships with the social environment, a person is always in one of these ego states. Extrapolating what has been said to the psychological state of the ethnic group, one can notice that an Armenian has mainly two roles or “ego states”—“parent” and “child”. The “adult” ego state, which includes a probable assessment of the situation, rationality, independence, competence and functioning “here-and-now” regardless of the past, practically does not play any part in interpersonal relationships, at least at the present time. The “parent” ego state manifests itself in prohibitions, control, demands, worries, sanctions, contains and presupposes certain norms and regulations, requirements and instructions, that is, everything that has to do with “can” and “cannot”. According to E. Berne, the “parent” ego state contains automated forms of behavior that have developed during lifetime, eliminating the need to consciously calculate each step. At the same time, the Armenian version of the “parent” ego state is mainly the “controlling” type, rather than the “caring” type, although this “control” certainly includes “care”.
The “child” ego state contains affective complexes (that is, sensory, emotional connections) associated with early impressions and experiences, which emerge when faced with certain phenomena similar to those that generated them. The Armenian version of the “child” is characterized as “adapted” as opposed to “natural” (free). A “natural” child tends to be lively, cheerful, relaxed, whereas an “adapted” child manifests itself as rebellious, agreeing, alienated. The same personality in different life situations can manifest itself in different ego states—now as the “parent”, now as the “child”. That is, one ego state can morph into another. Besides, in many situations, these states can be combined and overlap. The interaction of ego states manifests itself in various forms of behavior, which are interpreted by the author of this theory as “games”. These games are based on the so-called “scripts”, that is, life scenarios (life paths) of every person (or ethnic group). Continuing the extrapolation of individual psychological (or psychopathological) characteristics to the ethnopsychological, it can be noted that it is the script of the Armenian people that in many ways predetermines the ethnopsychological characteristics of the Armenian people. It is its life path from deep antiquity to the present day, filled with more dramatic and tragic experiences, that predetermines those, in the words of E. Berne, “games people play”. First of all, these “games” are manifested in the primary and basic unit of society—in the family, which we consider from a functional-role position. No matter how dearly and selflessly all family members (husband, wife, children) may love each other, as a kind of community, a kind of aggregate, it also needs its members as constituent elements of the whole to fulfill certain functions and “play” corresponding roles . Continuing the analogy between life and theater, we can see that the games are played both on stage and backstage.
There is a postulate in psychology and psychiatry, according to which the measure of how accomplished a person is as a person (personality) is their ability to make decisions and endure the hardships of life, the way they carry their cross, the courage they show in suffering, the dignity they display when condemned and doomed. And this, of course, refers not only to a person, but also to any ethnic group.
 In many ways a watershed year for the Armenian ethnic group, with a succession of natural disasters, socio-political crisis, economic collapse, etc.
Professor Sukiasyan S.G., MD, PhD, DSc
(Director of Stress Mental Health Center, Yerevan, Armenia)
Translated from “Edip philosophical, psychoanalytic and pedagogical journal, No. 2, 2007, pp. 42-48.” // Psychopathology of the Armenian ethnos
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