INSIDE HITLER’S PSYCHE
Ever wonder what it would be like to psychoanalyze Adolf Hitler? There’s plenty of post WWII material from psychiatrists and psychologists, all speculating on Hitler’s pathology. But there seems to be at least one Norwegian psychiatrist who diagnosed Hitler in 1933 and published his opinions in the press. In addition, he became a resistance leader when Germany occupied Norway during World War Two.
Psychiatrist Johan Scharffenberg wrote a long series of articles of the Oslo newspaper, analyzing Hitler’s thoughts and political actions. He basically concluded that Hitler was a “paranoid psychopath of the prophetic type, bordering on the insane.” Scharffenberg’s articles apparently embarrassed the German Embassy in Oslo which pressured the Norwegian government to gag the psychiatrist. The government promised to look into it, but basically did nothing.
As pointed out in Spielvogel, Hitler’s character traits include an inability to change in any significant way. This rigidity was the predominant trait. He was also considered infantile, unable to be aware of anyone or anything else other than “himself and his own mental images.” The Fuhrer was also controlled by dualities. “He saw everything in terms of extreme opposites. People were either his followers or his enemies.” And Hitler saw himself singled out for a special mission: to purity the Ayran race. His messiah complex is seen in the liturgical nature of Nazi mass meetings.
Scharffenberg published his articles under the title “Hitler-Savior or Fool?” over sixteen consecutive weeks in October, 1933. In the first article, he raises the question of whether Hitler is “going to be the savior of Germany, what millions of Germans hope and believe, or he is just a seducer, a sick fool who is leading the country towards catastrophe?” Scharffenberg continues, “If he is going to fulfill his ideas through actions, this will necessarily lead to destruction through internal chaos or war.” Scharffenberg’s diagnosis proves to be prophetic and remarkable since most of the world in 1933 was still waiting for Hitler to show his true intentions.
Nils Johan Lavik. A Psychiatrist Who Confronted Nazism. Political Psychology. Vol 10. No. 4. December 1989 pp. 757-765. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3791337
Jackson Spielvogel and David Redles. Hitler And Nazi Germany, A History. 7th Ed. Boston: Pearson. 2014. Pp 126-129.
Photo: Hitler and Goering watch a parade in honor of Hitler in Berlin, 1938. www.mirror.co.uk