Tuesday, June 18

Hitler’s darkest aspects psychoanalyzed in book


Tuesday, December 1, 1998

Hitler’s darkest aspects psychoanalyzed in book

REDLICH: Illnesses of body, mind not totally to blame for
cruelties of dictator

By Sarah Krupp

Daily Bruin Contributor

During World War II, the United States created a psychological
profile of Adolph Hitler in order to destroy him. Now, scientists
are psychoanalyzing him to prevent the rise of another such
destructive demagogue in the future. According to conventional
psychological diagnosis, Hitler was psychotic.

However, "Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet," a
biography by UCLA professor Fredrick Redlich, asserts that while
Hitler was "abnormal," he did not suffer from any serious mental
illness.

While Redlich argues Hitler had "enough (mental disorders) to
fill a psychiatric textbook," he goes on to conclude that Hitler’s
physical maladies were more detrimental than his psychological
problems. According to Redlich, none of Hitler’s psychological
problems were responsible for the atrocities he committed.

In fact, according to Redlich, Hitler’s physical ailments were
so severe that he could have never been a democratic leader. Also,
Hitler could not have been a member of the "superhuman" race he
proposed.

Hitler’s incessant afflictions included headaches, dizziness,
severe bloating, abdominal spasms, belching and constipation. He
was also a victim of coronary heart disease and hypertension, and
later developed Parkinson’s disease.

In his psychological assessment, Redlich diagnoses two
additional afflictions which would help to explain behavior
previously attributed to insanity. Many students, however, do not
believe that Hitler can be psychologically assessed.

"I don’t think its possible for anyone to diagnose Hitler after
his death. How can you know whether or not he was insane without
evaluating him in person?" said Soheila Nazariah, a third-year
psychology student.

According to the medical journals of Hitler’s personal
physician, Redlich hypothesizes that Hitler suffered from both
spina bifida oculta and urethra hypospadia, both associated with
genital dysfunctions.

According to Redlich, these abnormalities could explain Hitler’s
obsession with hand washing and his aversion to sex, disproving
theories of sexual perversion.

Redlich added that Hitler maintained syphilis was a "Jewish
disease," which he had inherited from his father, who he thought
was half-Jewish.

Though there is no evidence to substantiate Hitler’s
convictions, Redlich believes the dictator’s self-diagnosis stemmed
from his interpretation of symptoms due to other disorders.

By this rationale, Hitler’s desire to create a German
"superhuman" race was in part a compensation for physical
weaknesses, Redlich said.

In addition, many of the ideas which Hitler promoted were
already prominent in German culture.

"Hitler alone doesn’t explain the Holocaust. There was a sense
of national indignity, great economic instability, and a culture of
political violence," said David Myers, the director of the Center
for Jewish Studies.

"Hitler may have been obsessed, but he did not drive the engine.
All of these (pre-existing) things open the door to genocide," he
said.

According to Chaim Seidler-Feller, director of Hillel, UCLA’s
Jewish Center, it is important to realize that sane people also
commit evil acts. If humans are aware of this fact, it will be
easier to avoid future genocide.

"Believers defend their traditions on the grounds that the
people who perpetrate evil are sick or deviants, when in reality
they are acting upon the ideals which they are taught," he
said.

Redlich’s psychiatric diagnosis also includes a list of Hitler’s
phobias, which included a fear of water, and numerous psychological
disorders, such as depression, narcissism, anxiety, and
paranoia.

Redlich, however, did not find any evidence to suggest true
mental illness.

In fact, no one would have guessed that the young Hitler would
"try to destroy the world," Redlich said.

Investigation into Hitler’s childhood has revealed little more
than a "pugnacious boy" with a propensity to be overly competitive,
Redlich said.

As primary sources become more scarce and evidence is exhausted,
Redlich suggested the next focus of study should be to examine
Germany and to try and understand "why they (a majority of Germans)
venerated and adored Hitler, and why they closed their eyes to the
crimes."

As a victim of the Holocaust, Redlich speaks personally of the
crimes. His book is an "answer" to Hitler and an attempt to prevent
a repetition of the horrors of the Holocaust.

Comments, feedback, problems?

© 1998 ASUCLA Communications Board[Home]

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.