Psychopathology of Adolf Hitler

The psicopatografía of Adolf Hitler is a general term in the psychiatric literature (patografía, psychobiography) facing the hypothesis that the Fuhrer and German Chancellor Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) suffered from a mental illness . During his life, and also well beyond his death, Hitler has been associated again and again with mental disorders such as hysteria , psychopathy , megalomania and paranoid schizophrenia. Among psychiatrists and psychoanalysts who have diagnosed Hitler with mental disorder are well-known figures such as Walter C. Langer and Erich Fromm . Other investigators, such as Fritz Redlich, have in their investigations, on the contrary, received the impression that Hitler was probably not mentally disturbed.

Difficulty of psychopathology in general and psychopathology of Hitler in particular

According to the great interest that the individual Hitler still provokes in the general audience, Hitler’s psychopathologies are strongly media oriented. But in psychiatry, the pathography has a bad reputation. Such diagnoses are problematic because they have been carried out a posteriori , without the main means of diagnosis, psychiatric examination, being a direct examination in the patient. 1

The German psychiatrist Hans Bürger-Prinz (University of Hamburg) went so far as to say that any remote diagnosis constitutes a “fatal abuse of psychiatry.” 2 The immense range of mental disorders that have been attributed to Hitler over time, gives a good idea of ​​how these methods are prone to errors (see table). 3

Another indicator of the quality problems of many of Hitler’s pathographies, mentioned later in a discussion, is that the abundant publications that have already been presented on this subject by other authors are completely absent or very abridged.

In Hitler’s case, psychopathology presents particular problems. First, writers on most of Hitler’s personal affairs have to deal with the threat that a number of readers, possibly uncritically voyeurists, accept even the most unproven speculations, such as Lothar Machtan’s book, The Hidden Hitler

German philosopher Hannah Arendt, who attended Adolf Eichmann’s trial in 1961, found that a willingness to commit genocide can easily be reconciled with good mental health.

Even more serious is the warning made by some authors that pathologizing Hitler would inevitably mean discharging at least part of his responsibility. 5

Others have feared that by pathologizing or demonizing Hitler, on the contrary, all guilt could easily be relocated to the mad dictator, while the wrong “masses” and elites of power who would have been serving him would be spared guilt. 6 Hannah Arendt’s words about the “banality of evil” in 1963 are famous. She determined that for a Nazi like Adolf Eichmann , mental normality and the capacity for mass murder were not mutually exclusive. 7

Some authors were fundamentally against any attempt to “explain” Hitler, for example in psychological terms. 8 The one who went further was Claude Lanzman, who described these attempts as “obscene”; After finishing his film Shoah (1985) felt as if he was limiting the denial of the Holocaust and attacked sharply. He especially criticized historian Rudolph Binion. Referring to Fig.

As psychiatrist Jan Ehrenwald has pointed out, the often neglected question is how a possible mentally ill like Hitler might have been able to get millions of enthusiastic supporters who supported his policy until 1945. 10 Daniel Goldhagen argued in 1996 that The political ascent of Hitler was not for its psychopathology, but rather for the precarious social conditions that existed at that moment in Germany. eleven

Some authors, on the other hand, point to the cases of people like Charles Manson or Jim Jones , who suffered from a disease as incapacitating as schizophrenia, but nevertheless find multitudes of followers on whom they had enormous influence. 12

From the beginning, it was also thought that Hitler was able to handle his psychopathology very skilfully, even being aware of how he could use his symptoms to effectively direct the emotions of his audience. 13 Other authors have suggested that Hitler’s own followers were mentally disturbed, 14 although no evidence has been found. 15 The question of how individual psychopathology of Hitler could be associated with the enthusiasm of his followers was first discussed in 2000 by an interdisciplinary group of authors, Matussek / Matussek / Marbach. 16


Hitler in the military hospital Pasewalk (1918)

It has not yet been established whether Hitler was ever examined by a psychiatrist. Oswald Bumke, psychiatrist and contemporary of Hitler, assumed that this was not the case. 17 With the only psychiatrist who personally met Hitler, Munich Professor Kurt Schneider, was not his doctor. 18 Although medical documents have been found to draw conclusions about Hitler’s physical health and are accessible for investigation, there is a complete lack of original documents that allow an assessment of Hitler’s mental condition. 19

Speculation about a possible psychiatric evaluation of Hitler’s life dates back to his stay at the Pasewalk military hospital in late 1918. Hitler arrived at this hospital after a mustard gas poisoning he contracted in a defensive battle in Flanders. In Mein Kampf , he mentions his stay in hospital in connection with his temporary painful blindness, and the “disgrace” and “madness” of the German Revolution from 1918 to 1919 and the defeat of the German war, both of which He learned during his recovery, and again caused blindness. Hitler and his early biographers took into account their strong physical responses to historical events, because the relapse of blindness was identified as the turning point in which Hitler felt the vocation to become a politician and the savior of Germany. twenty

However, in the life of Hitler some psychiatrists considered that such a relapse without organic explanation should be described as a symptom of hysteria. 21 The diagnosis of hysteria was most popular with Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis, but was still in use in the 1930s and 1940s. The loss of sense organs were among the typical symptoms, in addition to selfish behavior and theatrical. The distinguished psychiatrist Karl Wilmann said: “Hitler had a hysterical reaction after being buried alive on the battlefield” ; Wilmann lost his position in 1933. 22 His assistant Hans Walter Gruhle suffered professional disadvantages due to similar statements. 23 In modern psychiatry, the term “hysteria” and is not used; Currently, the corresponding symptoms are associated with dissociative disorders or histrionic personality disorders.

Little is known about the stay in Hitler’s hospital. Out of all doubt, complaints against him were found. Hitler’s medical record of Pasewalk, which could confirm or refute the diagnosis, was considered lost in the late 1920s and has not reappeared since. 5 24 Although, authors of the most recent editions of the anthology Genie, Irrsinn und Ruhm (1992) took the freedom to specify that Hitler was not only diagnosed with physical diseases (such as Parkinson ‘s disease, encephalitis, syphilis, blindness) but also with various problems Psychiatric disorders such as paranoid personality, narcissism, and hysterical psychopathy with hysteria blindness or hysterical paresis, schizoid personality disorder, and even schizophrenia with paranoia and megalomania; Although there was no evidence. 25

Hitler psychiatric study (1943)

During World War II, the US intelligence agency, OSS , collected information on Hitler’s personality and in 1943 commissioned the team led by Walter C. Langer to develop psychological reports. 26 In one of these reports, titled A Psychiatric Study of Hitler , was the hypothesis developed that Hitler was treated in Pasewalk by the psychiatrist Edmund Forster, who in 1933 committed suicide for fear of reprisals. The starting point for this report was a testimony of psychiatrist Karl Kroner, who also worked in the hospital in 1918. Kroner particularly confirmed that Forster had examined Hitler and had diagnosed him with “hysteria”. 27 The report was kept locked, but in the early 1970s it was discovered by Hitler’s American biographer, Toland. 28

“I, the eyewitness” (1963)

In 1939, the Austrian physician and writer Ernst Weiss, who lived in exile in France, wrote a novel, Ich, der Augenzeuge (“I, the eyewitness”), a fictional autobiography of a doctor who cured a soldier with hysteria, Coming from Braunau who had lost his sight in the trenches. The plot is set in a hospital Reichswehr in late 1918. As his knowledge could be dangerous to the Nazis, the doctor (fictional) was put in a concentration camp in 1933 and released after submitting their medical records.

Ernst Weiss, the author, committed suicide after German troops entered Paris. He was Jewish and had a way to be deported. His novel was published in 1963. Weiss’s knowledge of Hitler’s stay in the hospital is believed to be due to contemporary biographical literature. 29 Although he met the equally exiled Hitler biographer, Konrad Heiden , in Paris. 30 Later the hypothesis that the portrait that describes Weiss disorder and mental healing Hitler was not a fantasy, but was based on the knowledge that he had done. Until now, the evidence for this hypothesis can not be proven. 5

Speculations based on speculations

From the assumptions of intelligence reports and Weiss’s novel, a series of researchers and authors have consistently developed suspicions about a possible involvement of Forster in hypnotherapy, supposedly firmly established. 5 These reconstructions are questionable, not only because they do not provide any new evidence, but also exclude alternative interpretations from the beginning, largely unaware of the historical context and overlook that Forster has seen any trace of hysteria that would have led to other methods Treatment instead of hypnosis. 31

  • Rudolph Binion, a historian of Brandeis University , considers the diagnosis of supposed hysteria as a fallacy; In his book of 1976 Hitler Among the Germans , took the suspicions of the secret services and in any case expanded them. Binion assumes that Weiss had met Forster himself and received from him a copy of the medical history on which his novel was based. After the novel, Binion assumes that Forster subjected blindness, subjecting Hitler to a suggested treatment and, Later, after being suspended by the civil service and fear of persecution by the Gestapo , he took his life. 32 The only evidence for these assumptions is interpreted in Forster’s legacy, while there is no proof of what kind of contact Forster had with Hitler. 24
  • In 1998, David E. Post, a forensic psychiatrist at Louisiana State University , published a report in which the hypothesis that Forster treated Hitler of alleged hysteria with hypnosis was presented as a fact. Post did not include any documented self-investigations. 33
  • Partly inspired by Binion, the British neuropsychologist David Lewis published his book The Man Who Invented Hitler (2003), in which he interpreted Forster’s hypnosis treatment not only as a historical fact but also as a reason why Hitler He turned from an obedient soldier of the World War to a determined charismatic politician. In this book, Forster is stylized as the “creator” of Hitler. 3. 4
  • Another book inspired by Binion was published by Manfred Koch-Hillebrecht, a psychologist and professor emeritus of German politics at the University of Koblenz: Hitler. Ein Sohn des Krieges (2003). Koch-Hillebrecht tried to prove that Hitler was suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder and described how Forster subjected his presumed patient to shock therapy to make him capable of fighting again in combat. 35
  • Also in Germany in 2004, lawyer Bernhard Horstmann published his book Hitler in Pasewalk, which describes how Forster had healed Hitler with “brilliant” hypnosis, not only for his blindness by hysteria, but also endowed him with sensation Of omnipotence and with the sense of mission that became so characteristic of Hitler as a politician. In this book, no other proof is presented as in Weiss’s novel. 36
  • In 2006, Franziska Lamott, a professor of forensic psychotherapy at the University of Ulm, wrote an article: As the medical records of the treatment of Corporal Adolf Hitler by psychiatrist Prof. Edmund Forster, the latter freed him from Hysterical blindness through the use of hypnosis . 37


Critical comments on these speculations appeared from the beginning. As the historian psychiatry Jan Armbruster (Greifswald University) judged, they were not convincing enough, as in the case of the journalist Ottmar Katz, author of the biography of Hitler’s personal doctor, Theodor Morell (1982). 5 Katz suggested that Karl Kroner might have had personal motives for publishing some falsehoods: life as a Jewish refugee in Reykjavik and forced to earn a living as a laborer, Kroner possibly hoped that the US authorities would not only recognize him as a key witness but Which will also help you re-establish your medical practice. 38 A comprehensive plausibility test was finally performed by Berlin psychiatrist and psychotherapist Peter Theiss-Abendroth in 2008. 39 In 2009, Armbruster carried this analysis further, dismantled the hypotheses of the diagnosis of Hitler’s hysteria and hypnotherapy completely and showed in Detail how the story of Hitler’s supposed treatment by Forster came to be progressively elaborated and detailed between 1943 and 2006, but not because of the evaluation of historical documents, but rather to the continuous addition of narratives. On the other hand, Armbruster’s work to date offers the broadest criticism of the methodological weaknesses of many of Hitler’s patographies. 5

Walter C. Langer (1943)

One of the few authors to declare that Hitler showed signs of hysteria without mentioning his stay in Pasewalk or the supposed treatment of Hitler by Forster as the main test was the American psychoanalyst Walter C. Langer. Langer wrote his study in 1943 on behalf of the OSS. 40 He and his team conducted interviews with many people who were available to US intelligence services and who personally knew Hitler. They came to the final judgment that Hitler was “a hysteric on the verge of schizophrenia.” The study was kept under lock and key for a long time and was published in 1972 under the title The Mind of Adolf Hitler. 41


Already in his life, many elements in his personal beliefs and behaviors of Hitler were classified by psychiatrists as signs of psychosis or schizophrenia: for example, his faith that he was chosen by fate to free the German people from their supposedly more dangerous threat : the Jews .

WHD Vernon (1942) and Henry Murray (1943)

One of the first to attribute Hitler to the classic symptoms of schizophrenia was the Canadian psychiatrist WHDVernon; In 1942, arguing in an essay that Hitler suffered from hallucinations (hearing voices), paranoia and megalomania. Vernon wrote that Hitler’s personality structure, although generally within normalcy, should be described with inclinations toward the paranoid type. 42

A year later, Henry Murray, a psychologist at Harvard University, developed these points of view even more. Like Walter C. Langer, Murray wrote his report, Analysis of the Personality of Adolf Hitler , on behalf of the OSS. He came to the conclusion that Hitler, along with signs of hysteria, showed all the classic symptoms of schizophrenia: hypersensitivity, panic attacks, irrational jealousy, paranoia, fantasies of omnipotence, delusions of grandeur, belief in a messianic mission, And extreme paranoia. He considered it at the edge of hysteria and schizophrenia, but pointed out that Hitler possessed considerable control over his pathological tendencies and that he deliberately used them to arouse nationalist sentiments among the Germans and their hatred against the alleged pursuers. Like Walter C. Langer, Murray thought that it is probable that Hitler eventually lost his faith in himself and his fate, and then committed suicide. 43

Wolfgang Treher (1966)

The attempt to prove that Hitler had a fully developed psychosis in a clinical sense has only been done occasionally. As an example is the book Hitler, Steiner, Schreber (1966) by the friburguesa psychiatrist Wolfgang Treher. Treher explains that both Rudolf Steiner (whose anthroposophy attributes it to mental illness) and Hitler suffered from schizophrenia. 44 He wrote that both managed to stay in touch with reality, as they had the opportunity to create their own organizations (Steiner: Anthroposophical Society; Hitler: the NSDAP and its many subdivisions) that could influence according to their delusions, and Thus avoiding the normally expected “schizophrenic withdrawal”. Treher finds that Hitler’s megalomania and paranoia are quite surprising. Four. Five

Edleff Schwaab (1992)

In 1992, the German-American clinical psychologist, Edleff H. Schwaab, published Hitler’s Psychobiographical Mind, in which he points out that Hitler’s imagination, particularly his obsession with the alleged threat posed by the Jews, must be described as a result of A paranoia Schwaab suspects that the cause of this disorder is linked to a traumatic childhood that was eclipsed by a depressive mother and a tyrant father. 46

Paul Matussek, Peter Matussek, Jan Marbach (2000)

The book Hitler – Karriere eines Wahns (2000) is the result of a joint effort by psychiatrist Paul Matussek, media theorist Peter Matussek and sociologist Jan Marbach, to overcome the tradition of one-dimensional psychiatric pathography and seek an approach Interdisciplinary in exchange, taking into account also the socio-historical dimensions. This research focuses not so much on Hitler’s personal psychopathology but rather on a description of the interaction between individual and collective factors that explained the general dynamics of Hitler’s madness. The book specifies the interaction between Hitler’s leading role (which was accused of psychotic symptoms) on the one hand, and the fascination that this role invoked in his followers on the other hand. The authors conclude that Nazi crimes had in fact been an expression of madness but of madness that was so strongly accepted by the public that the psychotic Hitler and his followers stabilized each other’s “mad” worldview. 16

Frederic L. Coolidge, Felicia L. Davis, Daniel L. Segal (2007)

The terms of the most elaborate methodology of the psychological evaluation that has been carried out in 2007 by a research team of the University of Colorado. This study differs from all previous work because of its open and exploratory approach. The team systematically tested which of the mental disorders of Hitler’s behavior may have been indicated and which were not. It was Hitler’s first patogram that was consistently empirical. Psychologists and historians reviewed reports transmitted by people who knew Hitler personally, and these accounts were evaluated with a self-developed diagnostic tool that allowed a wide range of clinical, neuropsychological and personality alterations to be measured. 47 According to this study, Hitler showed obvious behaviors of paranoia, but also antisocial and sadistic traits, as well as narcissistic personality disorder and distinctive behaviors of post-traumatic stress disorder. 12

Organically caused psychotic symptoms

Hitler’s alleged psychotic symptoms have repeatedly been attributed to possible organic causes. Psychiatrist Günter Hermann Hesse, for example, was convinced that Hitler suffered from long-term consequences of the intoxication suffered during the First World War. 48

Amphetamine abuse

In his 1980 book Adolph Hitler’s Medical Case for which he projected a large number of medical records, psychiatrist Leonard L. Heston ( University of Minnesota ) and nurse Renate Heston reported that during the last years of life, Hitler took amphetamines, including Pervitin, 49 stimulant drugs with possible side effects such as paranoid delusions. fifty


In the late 1980s, Ellen Gibbels (University of Cologne) attributed the limb trembling in Hitler’s late years to Parkinson’s disease, with widespread recognition from the scientific community. However, some researchers interpret Hitler’s tremor as a symptom of advanced syphilis, most recently the American historian Deborah Hayden. Hayden links the general paralysis of which Hitler suffered, in his opinion, since 1942, with the mental deterioration in the last years of his life, especially his “paranoid tantrums.” 51 The physician Frederick Redlich however reported that there is no evidence to suggest that Hitler had syphilis.

Parkinson’s disease

The possibility that Hilter suffered from Parkinson’s disease has been investigated first by Ernst-Günther Schenck 52 and later by Ellen Gibbels. 53 In 1994, Gibbels published a paper that sought to ascertain whether Hitler’s nervous illness could have also deteriorated mentally. 54

Psychopathology regarding antisocial personality disorder

Due to the lack of humanity in his crimes, Hitler has been related to “psychopathy”, a serious personality disorder whose main symptoms are a great or total lack of empathy, social responsibility and conscience. The biological concept still plays a role in psychiatric forensic science, but in modern medical classification systems (DSM-IV and ICD-10), it is no longer found. Today, corresponding clinical pictures are classified primarily as signs of an antisocial personality disorder. However, symptomatology is rare and different from popular discourses, where Hitler’s classification as a “psychopath” is common, 55 psychiatrists have only occasionally tried to associate it with psychopathy or antisocial personality disorder.

Gustav Bychowski (1948)

At first, some patronages of Hitler took into account not only psychological but also historical and sociological aspects. This interdisciplinary approach had been developed by the psychiatrist Wilhelm Lange-Eichbaum in 1928. 56 Hitler’s early socio-psychological pathography appeared in 1948 in The Dictators and Disciples, Gustav Bychowski’s anthology. 57 In this volume, Bychowski, a Polish-American psychiatrist, compares several historical figures who have successfully carried out a coup: Julius Caesar, Oliver Cromwell, Robespierre, Hitler and Josef Stalin. He concluded that all these men had a large number of traits that should be classified as “psychopaths,” such as the tendency to act on impulse or to project their own hostile impulses toward other people or groups. 58

Desmond Henry, Dick Geary, Peter Tyrer (1993)

In 1993, Desmond Henry’s interdisciplinary team, Dick Geary, and Peter Tyrer, published an essay in which they expressed their common view that Hitler had suffered from antisocial personality disorder as defined in ICD-10. Psychiatrist Tyrer was convinced that Hitler also showed signs of paranoia and the histrionic personality disorder. 59

Deep psychological approaches

While psychiatric authors, when it comes to Hitler, strive primarily to diagnose him with a specific clinical disorder, some of his colleagues who follow a deep psychological doctrine, such as Sigmund Freud’s school of psychoanalysis, were primarily interested in explaining his behavior Monstrously destructive. According to these doctrines, they assumed that Hitler’s behavior and the development of his personality were driven by the unconscious processes that were rooted in his early years. Pathographies that are inspired by deep psychology, usually try to reconstruct the stage of Hitler’s childhood and youth. Occasionally, authors such as Gerhard Vinnai began with a thorough psychological analysis, but then moved well beyond the initial approach.

Erich Fromm (1973)

Among Hitler’s most famous patches is the book Anatomy of Human Destruction published by Erich Fromm in 1973. Fromm ‘s goal was to determine the cause of human violence. His knowledge of Hitler was taken from various sources, such as the memoirs of a childhood friend of Hitler, August Kubizek (1953), Hitler’s biography by Werner Maser (1971), and, more importantly, a written by Bradley F. Smith about Hitler’s on Hitler’s childhood and youth (1967). 60

Fromm’s pathography largely follows Sigmund Freud’s concept of psychoanalysis and asserts that Hitler was an immature and selfish dreamer who did not overcome his childish narcissism. Due to his lack of adaptation to reality, he was exposed to humiliations that tried to overcome them through destructive lust (“necrophilia”). Evidence of his desire to destroy, including the notorious Nero Decree, was so scandalous that one must assume that Hitler had not only acted destructively but was driven by his “destructive character.” 61

Helm Stierlin (1975)

In 1975, the German psychoanalyst and family therapist Helm Stierlin published his book by Adolf Hitler, Familienperspektiven , which raised the question of the psychological and motivational basis of Hitler’s aggression and passion for destruction, similar to Fromm. His study focuses heavily on Hitler’s relationship with his mother. Stierlin felt that Klara Hitler had frustrated hopes for herself that she strongly delegated to her son, even though for him, they were also impossible to satisfy. 62

Alice Miller (1980)

Swiss childhood researcher Alice Miller gave a section to Hitler in her 1980 book, For Your Own Good . Miller owes his knowledge of Hitler to biographical and pathographical works such as those of Rudolf Olden (1935), Konrad Heiden (1936/37), Franz Jetzinger (1958), Joachim Fest (1973), Helm Stierlin (1975) and John Toland 1976). She was convinced that the family environment in which Hitler grew up was not only dominated by an authoritarian and often brutal father, Alois Hitler, but could be characterized as a “prototype of a totalitarian regime.” She thinks that the hatred and destructiveness of Hitler’s personality, which later caused millions of people to suffer, arose within the framework of humiliating and degrading treatment and the beatings she received from her father as a child. Miller believes that the mother, after her first three children died at an early age, was barely able to foster a warm relationship with her child. Hitler, who from the beginning identified with his tyrant father, later transferred the trauma of the house of his parents to Germany; His contemporaries followed him voluntarily because they had experienced a similar childhood.

Miller also pointed out that Johanna Pölzl, the cherishing sister of Klara Hitler who lived with the family throughout Hitler’s childhood, was possibly suffering from a mental disorder. According to witnesses, “Hanni-Tante” (“Aunt Hanni”), who died in 191, was schizophrenic or had mental retardation. 63

Norbert Bromberg, Verna Volz Small (1983)

Another profound psychological pathography on Hitler was presented in 1983 by New York psychoanalyst Norbert Bromberg (Albert Einstein College of Medicine) and writer Verna Volz Small. 64 In this book entitled Hitler’s Psychopathology , Bromberg and Small argue that many of Hitler’s personal manifestations and actions are regarded as an expression of a serious personality disorder. In exploring his family background, his childhood, youth, and behavior in adulthood, as a politician and ruler, they found many clues that Hitler was in line with both the symptoms of a narcissistic personality disorder and a disorder Limit of personality. The work of Bromberg and Small has been criticized for the unreliable sources on which they are based, and for their speculative treatment of Hitler’s alleged homosexuality. 65

The view that Hitler had a narcissistic personality disorder was not new; Alfred Sleigh had already presented it in 1966. 66

Béla Grunberger, Pierre Dessuant (1997)

The French psychoanalyst Béla Grunberger and Pierre Dessuant included a section on Hitler in his 1997 book, Narcissism, Christianity, Anti-Semitism . Like Fromm, Bromberg and Small, they were particularly interested in Hitler’s narcissism, which they tried to trace back in a detailed interpretation of Hitler’s alleged sexual practices and problems of constipation. 67

George Victor (1999)

The psychotherapist George Victor had a special interest in Hitler’s anti-Semitism. In his 1999 book Hitler: The Pathology of Evil Hitler , he assumed that Hitler was not only obsessed with hatred of the Jews, but with self-hatred, and also suffered from borderline personality disorder. Victor found that all these problems stem from the abuse he experienced as a child by his father, who, as he believed, was of Jewish descent. 68

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Although it is generally undisputed that Hitler had formative experiences as a soldier in World War I, it was only in the early 2000s that psychologists considered that at least part of his psychopathology may be attributed to war trauma.

Theodore Dorpat (2003)

In 2003, Theodore Dorpat, a Seattle psychiatrist, published his book Wounded Monster in which he attributes Hitler to the complex post-traumatic stress disorder. He assumed that Hitler not only experienced trauma from the war, but also, due to his father’s physical and mental abuse and parental failure of his depressed mother, chronic child trauma. Dorpat is convinced that Hitler showed signs of this disturbance at the age of 11 years. Both traumas explain why Hitler was not prepared for social development or for intellectual or professional aspirations. According to Dorpat, many of Hitler’s personality traits, such as his volatility, malice, sadomasochistic nature of his relationships, his human indifference and his escape from shame, go back to trauma. 69

In the same year, the German psychologist mentioned above, Manfred Koch-Hillebrecht, had also presented the assumption that Hitler had a post-traumatic stress disorder because of his war experiences.

Gerhard Vinnai (2004) [edit] Sound clips

The following year, social psychologist Gerhard Vinnai (University of Bremen) came to similar conclusions. In writing his work Hitler – Scheitern und Vernichtungswut (2004; “Hitler – Failure and Rage of Destruction”), Vinnai had a psychoanalytic exit point; First subjected Hitler’s book Mein Kampf to a deep psychological interpretation and tried to reconstruct how Hitler had processed his experiences of World War I against childhood and youth. Similar to Dorpat, Vinnai explains the destructive potential in Hitler’s psyche, not so much as a result of childhood experiences, but rather because of a trauma Hitler had suffered as a soldier in World War I. Not only Hitler, but a substantial part of the German population was affected by such trauma of war. Vinnai then abandoned psychoanalytic discourse and commented on social psychological issues, such as how Hitler’s political worldview could have sprung from his trauma and thus could attract large numbers of people. 70

In 2007, the aforementioned authors Coolidge, Davis, and Segal also assumed that Hitler suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder.

Smaller reviews

Hypotheses such as the personality and behavior of Hitler pointed to personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or schizophrenia have not been indisputable, but have met on several occasions approval of fellow psychiatrists. This does not apply to Hitler’s patrons of the following authors, who are largely left alone with their diagnoses.

Abnormal Cerebral Lateralization: Colin Martindale, Nancy Hasenfus, Dwight Hines (1976)

In a 1976 study, psychiatrists Colin Martindale, Nancy Hasenfus and Dwight Hines (University of Maine) suggested that Hitler had suffered from a subfunction of the left cerebral hemisphere. They referred to the trembling of his left extremities, his tendency of the ocular movements towards the left and the supposed lack of the left testicle. They believed that Hitler’s behavior was dominated by his right cerebral hemisphere, a situation that gave rise to symptoms such as a tendency to auditory, irrational hallucinations and uncontrolled outbursts. Martindale, Hasenfus, and Hines also suspected that the predominance of the right hemisphere contributed to the two basic elements of Hitler’s political ideology: anti-Semitism and Lebensraum ideology. 71

Schizotypal Personality Disorder: Robert GL Waite (1977)

Robert GL Waite, a psychologist-historian at Williams College, has been working for an interdisciplinary exploration of Nazism since 1949, combining historiographic and psychoanalytic methods. In 1977, he published his study The Psychopathic God, in which he considered that the race of Hitler can not be understood without taking into account its pathological personality. Waite assumes that Hitler suffered from schizotypal personality disorder, a condition known at that time as “borderline personality disorder.” The term received its current meaning only in the late 1970s. Until then, “borderline personality disorder” refers to a disorder in the border area of ​​neurosis and schizophrenia, for which Gregory Zilboorg had also coined The term “ambulatory schizophrenia”. 72 As a sign that Hitler had this condition, Waite specifies the complex of Hitler’s Oedipus, his infantile fantasy, his volatile inconsistency, and his alleged coprophilia and urolagnia. 73 Waite’s point of view is partially in line with that of the Vienna psychiatrist and Buchenwald survivor, Ernest A. Rappaport, who in 1975 had called Hitler an “ambulatory schizophrenic.” 74

Dangerous leader disorder: John D. Mayer (1993)

Psychologist John D. Mayer (University of New Hampshire) published an essay in 1993 suggesting an independent psychiatric category for destructive personalities such as Hitler, a dangerous leader personality . Mayer identified three groups of symptomatic behavioral singularities: 1. indifference (manifesting for example in the murder of opponents, relatives or citizens, or in genocide); 2. intolerance (practicing press censorship, directing a secret police or tolerating torture); 3. Self-aggrandizement (self-naming himself as the “unifier” of the people, overestimation of his own military power, identification with religion or nationalism, or proclamation of a “grand plan”). Maester compared Hitler to Stalin and Saddam Hussein ; The purpose of this proposed psychiatric categorization was to provide the international community with a diagnostic tool that would make it easier to recognize dangerous leader personalities in mutual consensus and take action against them. 75

Bipolar disorder: Jablow Hershman, Julian Lieb (1994)

In 1994, writer Jablow Hershman and psychiatrist Julian Lieb published their book together, A Brotherhood of the Tyrants . From well-known Hitler biographies, they developed the hypothesis that Hitler, like Napoleon Bonaparte and Stalin, was not only manic-depressive, it was simply his upset that had led him to politics and then he did it. dictator. While many depressed maniacs end up in psychiatry, others may be propelled to seek political power. Once they are successful, they show characteristics of psychotic tyranny such as self-confidence and exaggerated megalomania. 76

Asperger Syndrome: Michael Fitzgerald (2004)

Since 1991, one of the most prolific authors of psychopathology is the Irish professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, Michael Fitzgerald. Inspired by his studies of autism, he published a copy of patches of prominent historical figures, with the revelation that they had Asperger’s Syndrome. In his 2004 anthology, Autism and Creativity , he classifies Hitler as an “autistic psychopath.” Autistic psychopathology is a term that the Austrian physician, Hans Asperger , coined in 1944 to label the clinical picture that would later bear his name: the variant of childlike autism, the Aperger syndrome, which has nothing to do with psychopathology In the sense of an antisocial personality disorder. Fitzgerald appreciates many of Hitler’s publicly known traits as autistic, particularly his obsessions, his lifeless gaze, his social awkwardness, his lack of interest in women, his lack of personal friendships and his tendency to monologue as speeches that Fitzgerald , Resulted in an inability to have real conversations. 77


Patographies are by definition works on personalities that the author considers mentally disturbed. Psychiatrists deal with mental illnesses and do not usually write specialized journals about what they consider to be mentally sound. The exceptions occur at most within professional discourses in which authors individually confront the positions of their colleagues, who, in the opinion of the former, are to blame for classifying a particular personality as mentally ill. As a result, works that represent an opinion that a particular personality was mentally healthy are insufficiently represented naturally in the general body of the patographic literature. This also applies to the psychopathography of Adolf Hitler.

Some authors describe Hitler as a cynical or fanatic manipulator, but deny that he was seriously upset; Among them are the British historians Ian Kershaw , Hugh Trevor-Roper , Alan Bullock and AJP Taylor , and recently the German psychiatrist Manfred Lütz. 78 Ian Kershaw has concluded that Hitler was not suffering from psychotic disorders and that he was not clinically insane. 79 The American psychologist Glenn D. Walters wrote in 2000: “Many of the debates over Hitler’s mental illness over the long term are probably questionable, because even if he had suffered from significant psychiatric problems, he attained supreme power in Germany, more Well in spite of these difficulties and not through them. ” 80

Erik H. Erikson (1950)

Psychoanalyst and psychologist Erik Erikson gave Hitler a chapter in his 1950 book, Childhood and Society . Erikson referred to Hitler as a “histrionic and hysterical adventurer” and discovered evidence of an unresolved Oedipus complex in his self-portraits. However, he pointed out that Hitler was an actor in such a way that his expression could not be measured with conventional diagnostic tools. Although Hitler had possibly been showing some psychopathology, he dealt with this in a very controlled manner and used on purpose 81

Terry L. Brink (1974)

Terry Brink, a student of Alfred Adler , published the essay Hitler’s Case (1975) in which he, similar to the authors mentioned above, concluded that after a conscious evaluation of all records, there is still not enough evidence that Hitler Suffered from a mental disorder. Hitler’s behavior must be understood as an attempt to overcome his difficult childhood. However, many of the documents and statements that have been cited for the purpose of proving a mental illness should be considered untrustworthy.

Frederick Redlich (1998)

One of Hitler’s most complete pathographies comes from neurologist and psychiatrist Frederick Redlich. 82 Redlich, who emigrated from Austria in 1938 to the United States, is considered to be one of the founders of American social psychiatry. In his 1998 work Hitler: The Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet , in which he worked for 13 years, Redlich came to believe that Hitler had in fact shown enough mechanisms of paranoia and defense in order to “fill a book of Text of psychiatry with them, “but that he was probably not mentally disturbed. Hitler’s paranoid illusions “may be seen as symptoms of a mental disorder, but much of his personality worked normally.” Hitler “knew he did and did it with pride and enthusiasm.” 83

Hans-Joachim Neumann, Henrik Eberle (2009) [edit] Sound clips

After two years of study, from the journals of Theodor Morell and others, the doctor Hans-Joachim Neumann and the historian Henrik Eberle published in 2009 their joint book War Hitler krank? (“Is Hitler sick”), in which they came to the conclusion: “There is no evidence of an objectively medical Hitler mental illness.” 84



  • Armbruster, Jan. Die Behandlung Adolf Hitlers im Lazarett Pasewalk 1918: Historische Mythenbildung durch einseitige bzw. Spekulative Pathographie (PDF; 776 kB) . In: Journal für Neurologie, Neurochirurgie und Psychiatrie 10, 2009, Issue 4, P. 18-22.
  • Brunner, José. Humanizing Hitler – Psychohistory and the Making of a Monster . In: Moshe Zuckermann (editor): Geschichte und Psychoanalyse , Tel Aviver Jahrbuch f Geschichte XXXII., Göttingen 2004, P. 148-172.
  • Gatzke, Hans W. Hitler and Psychohistory . In: American Historical Review, 78, 1973, p. 394 ff.
  • Kornbichler, Thomas. Adolf-Hitler-Psychogramme , Frankfurt am Main, 1994. ISBN 3-631-47063-0 .
  • Rosenbaum, Ron Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil , Harper Perennial: New York, 1999. ISBN 0-06-095339-X

Episode Pasewalk

  • Köpf, Gerhard: Hitlers psychogene Erblindung. Geschichte einer Krankenakte . In: Nervenheilkunde , 2005, Volume 24, P. 783-790
Other pathographies and psychobiographies of Hitler not mentioned in this article
  • Carlotti, Anna Lisa Adolf Hitler. Analisi storica della psicobiografie del dittatore , Milan, 1984.
  • Doucet, Friedrich W. Im Banne des Mythos: Die Psychologie des Dritten Reiches , Bechtle: Esslingen, 1979. ISBN 3762803897
  • Dobberstein, Marcel. Hitler: Die Anatomie einer destruktiven Seele , Münster 2012.
  • Koch-Hillebrecht. Manfred. Homo Hitler. Psychogramm des deutschen Diktators. Goldmann: München 1999. ISBN 3-442-75603-0 .
  • Neumayr, Anton. Hitler: Wahnideen – Krankheiten – Perversionen , Pichler: Wien 2001. ISBN 3854312504
  • Recktenwald, Johann. Woran hat Adolf Hitler gelitten? Eine neuropsychiatrische Deutung , München, 1963.
  • Rudolph, Christin-Désirée. Das Leck der Hitler-Thesen: Eine Psychopathographie . Rudolph: Rheine 2016. ISBN 978-3-00-053332-7 .