Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Psychoanalysis Of Adolf Hitler Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 2777 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this

It is said that perception is reality. I suppose that would all depend on where you are standing and depend on what sort of person that you are. Our perception of “evil,” on a nearly universal level, is often compared with that of, the Devil and Adolf Hitler. The essential evil that Hitler represented is evocative of satanic imagery found not only in Christianity, but also within other faiths. In general, people are satisfied with labeling Hitler as ‘evil’ – this is supported by the obvious acts of atrocity committed, but strongly supported in the religious communities in light of curious correlations found within ancient scripture – and many would prefer to leave him confined within the pages of time. Religious pretenses aside, satisfying perceptions of Hitler through the application of concepts of ‘evil’ are limiting and rudimentary. This is not to be confused with implications condoning or excusing any of his ideology or methodology; for that we can be certain they are rooted in evil. What is being implied is that it would appear merely that it is Hitler’s ill will itself that is the subject of definition and not the man himself. To suggest that evil is evil just because, fails to satisfy what makes us uniquely human, our ability to reason.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Studies from and since the WW II era that document Hitler, the man, clearly have led to significant changes in our perception of evil. Hitler and the deeply antisemitic, savagely aggressive, supremacist, and totalitarian ideology that defined Nazism literally came to caricaturize and personify evil from the 20th century to the present. And yet, given the psychological analysis of Hitler’s own autobiographical work, “Mein Kampf” and case studies completed by individuals like Fromm, Langer, and Murray, even though Hitler was never directly assessed, significant evidence would seem to allow now for a different way to look at his (thankfully) rare ability to mesmerize such masses of people in a unique synthesis of personality and evil.

Thus, it is reasonable to propose a hypothetical that, by way of Sigmund Freud’s psychological analysis, would suggest childhood experiences, suppressed deep within his unconscious mind, may have rendered significant effects on early development and been at the root of Hitler’s malevolence and antisemitic discourse.

In early 1940, before Hitler’s death and the end of WWII, the United States Office of Strategic Services requested Harvard psychologist Dr. Henry A. Murray to produce, at the time, a confidential Analysis of The Personality of Adolph Hitler (Murray, 1943/2005). The objectives of the report were simple: they sought “the proper interpretation of Hitler’s personality as a step in understanding the psychology of the typical Nazi and as a step in understanding the psychology of the German people” (Murray, 1943/2005). Through the application of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis, Murray was able to provide extraordinary insight into the mind of the man behind the myth.

According to the Freud (1940/1964) and his theory on personality, he suggested that our personalities were our way of interacting with the world. He referenced 3 personality types (schemas) found within every person as being: (1) Erotic, (2) Obsessive, and (3) Narcissistic. Regarding Adolf Hitler’s personality, Freud’s theory would label Hitler as being a clear example of the Narcissistic type, yet who at the same time displayed features of the Obsessive and Erotic personality type. A narcissistic personality, according to Freud, is the self-defining and/or self-directed type who alone will decide for themselves what is right and wrong, and what values are appropriate to hold. He makes note that narcissists are not to be confused with egoists because they are, in fact, set apart from one another in that an egotist takes no interest in putting forth the efforts narcissists do to impress others. Instead, egoists insist on constantly highlighting to others their actual accomplishments. Lastly, Freud emphasizes a narcissist’s single-minded vision is his most important feature, explaining that someone of this personality type chooses not to take into consideration what others say or do because he is so focused on pursuit of his own vision. (Freud, S. 1940/1964).

According to Freud’s critique, it is clear to see how Hitler would fit into this definition. He was known for holding himself in high regard, known to consider himself comparable to a “demi-god,” and took great pride in his accomplishments. Hitler relished in the successes of Nazi Germany, attributing its achievements in large part to his genius. Clearly, his vision requires little explanation as he was in no way concerned with any of those around him as he forcefully imposed his ideology onto the country and the Holocaust onto the non-Aryan people.

Freud’s theory (1940/164) also would suggest that qualities of both the Obsessive and Erotic type were represented throughout Hitler’s displayed behavior. Representative of the Obsessive type in Hitler included both his outwardly aggressive and domineering styles; his desire and particular preference to order and stability; and his deadly assertion of always being right and his refusal to be questioned. These qualities were mesmerizing to the crowds who admired the strength and convictions of his public persona, but those in his private life were far less enthusiastic of this style and might have agreed his obsessive qualities were rather reminiscent of his father.

The most interesting of them all, according to Freud’s determinants of an Erotic personality type, would be Hitler’s experience at his public addresses where he would deliver such passionate speeches that he was aware that he controlled the provocation of intense feelings among his supporters, who, in return would offer him their infectious feelings of power, love, and admiration.

In large measure, what is known about Hitler’s life comes from “Mein Kampf,” and yet it is known that he openly claimed to have deleted significant portions of his own early life and biographical background. There is very little information known about Hitler’s early years prior to 1918, due to the dearth of credible available sources. At the same time, what information is known about Hitler is often considered to be contradictory and/or deriving from an insufficient source of information. Although Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ (My Struggle) is, for all intents and purposes, his autobiography, it is widely held to have been carefully edited by Hitler himself, who opted to reveal only selective information so as not to cast a shadow upon his public image or enable others to trace his lineage. Therefore, the book cannot be considered a factual source of material. Despite its discredited biographical validity, ‘Mein Kampf’ is still considered to be a compelling and important source because it “is probably the best written evidence of the character, the mind, and the spirit of Adolf Hitler” (Hitler, A./Ford Trans., 2009). Most notably, Hitler seemed to revel in the use of eloquently-mastered metaphors. As many as three thousand metaphors have been analyzed throughout the pages of his book, which have offered a unique introspective of the elementary facets of Hitler’s personality.

Carl Young, a sometime protégé of Freud’s, published one of the first reports on Hitler’s personality after meeting him in Berlin and observing his interactions with others in the 1930s (Coolidge, 2007). Young reported being strongly affected by Hitler’s perpetually angry demeanor which struck him so forcefully that he actually felt fear in his presence. As Young noted, he perceived Hitler as a darkly sexless and inhuman individual whose only driving motivation was the establishment of the Third Reich (Coolidge, 2007).

Dr. Henry Murray (1943/2005), a Harvard psychologist, was hired in the early 1940s by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to provide them with a detailed structural analysis of the personality of Adolf Hitler in hopes they would be able to better understand the psychological workings of his mind and Nazi Germany in general. Limited as they were by wartime circumstances to observation from a distance and interviews with a few Germans who had known Hitler, the OSS could only develop a tentative psychological analysis to support Allied efforts against the Nazis. The initiative, however, launched an entire new area of intelligence research and analysis: the production of world leadership profile studies. The OSS study also triggered a clutch of studies over the decades that essentially corroborated Murray’s conclusions.

Murray’s study was ground-breaking for the time, but psychologists in general now would agree that Hitler’s personality displayed all the characteristics of the counteractive type, defined by an “ideal ego reaction formation” (Murray, 1943/2005). This conclusion derived from research that identified Hitler’s propensity to suppress whatever he perceived as less than his ideal image of a superior German self. Although people commonly seek to live up to an idealized image, in most that is balanced by a healthy dose of self-awareness; but Hitler took it to a delusional extreme in which he actually believed himself to be that rarified example of perfection. Freud’s theory of the neurosis would help explain this personality defect, typical of a weak neurotic structural foundation.

Symptoms of gross maladjustment were overtly evident in Hitler’s behavior. People who spent time in his presence came to know his distracted nature which was punctuated by violent outbursts of temper that alternated with manic periods of activity. Reportedly, Hitler suffered from insomnia or nightmares when he was able to sleep. Those closest to him also reported that he suffered from hallucinations and hearing voices.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

Hitler displayed a need for power and dominance superiority; aggression and revenge; repression of the conscience, compliance, and love; and, outward projection onto others of his own perceived self flaws (Murray, 1943/2005). Hitler’s need for power and dominance found expression in the Nazi Party juggernaut, the adoration of the German people, and eventually the Third Reich itself, through which and from which he derived a satisfaction that, nevertheless, was never sufficient to overcome his inherent feelings of inadequacy. His inability to banish such feelings were then projected onto the masses of his hysterical admirers as well as the nation states that fell like dominos under the Nazi jackboot and for which he ultimately felt only contempt. In “Mein Kampf,” Hitler compares them to women who, lacking all self-respect, submit themselves to the will of a stranger. Hitler gloried in this dominance, writing: “Passion alone will give to him, who is chosen by her, the words that like beats of a hammer, able to open the doors to the heart of a people” (Hitler, 1925/2009).

Hitler’s warped responses to the crowds may be interpreted to describe his public addresses as an unconscious actualization of sexual gratification. This could seen through both the audiences’ own increasing arousal and Hitler’s responding gratification by way of his words that metaphorically penetrated the audience, offering some unnatural form of oral fixation. This deep need to express sexual aggression through brutality and destruction directly reflects his neurotic personality structure.

In his private life, too, Hitler displayed pathological attitudes of aggression and dominance in his personal relationships with the opposite sex. Contempt and lack of respect were characteristic of Hitler’s attitudes towards women. Within his sexual relationships, he was known for his extremely perverse nature, involving strange enslavement scenarios, as supported by analysis done by Langer, Murray, and Stasser. There also are conflicting reports that would suggest that homosexual tendencies may have played some (undefined) role in his overall pathological makeup.

Antisemitism, which many may think of as Hitler’s defining characteristic, was in fact, not at all uncommon in early 20th century Europe with a reprehensible history that stretched back for centuries. Hitler, however, magnified the common antisemitism around him to pathological extremes that dehumanized Jews, all the while projecting his own hatreds into his German audiences, who were transformed into a howling mob by Hitler’s magnetic exhortations for the extermination of the Jews. Hitler (1925/2005) said: “All great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died off due to blood poisoning,” he said. Further, “….alone the loss of purity of the blood destroyed the inner happiness forever; eternally lowers man and never again can its consequences be removed from body and mind.”

We know that Hitler’s early family life and surroundings laid the foundations for his personality structure that proved so destructive for himself and everyone around him. A typical product of Germany’s Prussian-dominated patriarchal society, Hitler’s father was reported to have treated his son harshly throughout his early childhood. This type of environment would have produced a weak and fearful individual who was outwardly submissive to authority, but who harbored hatred and resentment within. Because he was the first of his mother’s children to survive, we also know that Hitler developed an unhealthy, extreme attachment to her which he may never have outgrown. It is possible that Hitler may have recognized and at the same time resented at some deep level this perceived weakness that left him feeling dependent and resentful.

Furthermore, it is suggested that Hitler may have, as a child, walked in on his parents engaging in sexual intercourse, which may have triggered in his unconscious mind an Oedipal complex that set the stage for his later pathologies. Given the reported but unverified illegitimate Jewish heritage of his father, Hitler may have projected his beloved mother’s sexual submission to that soiled image upon the German people, who therefore in his twisted psyche, needed to purge the Jewish identity in their midst.

Many studies of Hitler’s early childhood conclude that metaphorical allusions in “Mein Kampf” suggest that Hitler’s immature, but deeply confused, even outraged, reaction to this possible event (which he may have perceived as his father’s attack on his mother) could well have served to catalyze a defensive response against a perceived Jewish attack on the German nation. This inner conflict between passionate love for his mother and hatred for his father that, in Hitler’s public appearances, reversed to became an admiring assumption of the dominant male role that would cleanse Germany in a way that he could never actually “cleanse” his mother, could have been a trigger for his split personality.

According to the American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV, everything so far described of Hitler’s temperament and reported behavior would classify him as a schizophrenic due to his aggressive, violent behavioral displays combined with an essentially withdrawn, sexually dysfunctional personality. Hitler’s profile closely seems to match a schizophrenic paranoid type with delusions of grandeur and persecution. Analysts who have studied Hitler over the decades generally agree with this diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Based on the collected research and analysis, it is virtually universally accepted that Hitler’s tragic childhood played a critically important role in defining his later outward malevolence. Simply labeling Hitler as “evil” doesn’t convey the full and likely hugely relevant psychoanalytic contribution to his destructive personality. Although other psychological theories have added other assessments of Hitler’s personality, the original use of Freud’s psychological study of the neurosis seems to offer the most complete, complex explanation for one of the worst mass-murderers of all time.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: