Was Hitler a sociopath or a psychopath?

: Hitler was a sick man


Read on one side

Johann Recktenwald: What did Adolf Hitler suffer from? A neuropsychiatric interpretation. Ernst Reinhardt Verlag, Munich. 122 pages, paperback 6.50 DM, linen 8.50 DM

It's a strange book. It is written by a specialist for other specialists, it is full of learned arguments and technical terms, and yet it also upsets the layperson. The author has studied Hitler's literature and supplemented the results of his reading by questioning a few eyewitnesses. Then he draws a picture of the devastation that Hitler's illness brought on him - as he sees it.

A detailed diagnosis based on literature is certainly unusual for a specialist. But as it is, no other path is possible for any medical professional. The doctors who treated Hitler are dead; Incidentally, he always refused to be thoroughly examined. So you will basically Recktenwald's method must approve, even if the results of his deliberations may well be discussed by the experts for a long time.

It can already be said, however, that the politicians, and especially the biographers of Hitler, cannot ignore this small and content-rich book. After reading it, many will understand better what an impenetrable mystery was before them.

It was already whispered during his lifetime that Hitler was ill; after his death it was announced openly. Recktenwald rejects all previous diagnoses, such as Hitler's paralysis (softening of the brain) as a later symptom of a syphilitic disease. Nor does he want to know that Hitler was a hysterical psychopath. He certainly believes that the famous war blindness, so pathetically described by Hitler in his book, was a hysterical reaction, to be explained by the shaking of his view of the world after returning from his only home leave to a front that was already wavering. But Recktenwald considers this hysterical illness to be an event that could have hit the average person and something similar and related form also met many "normal" people at the time.


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Likewise, Recktenwald, on medical grounds, rejects the earlier diagnoses that the boy Hitler suffered from schizophrenia, that Hitler was a schizoid type, and that he had schizo characterosis or Paralysis agitans (Parkinson's disease).

In order to understand the clinical picture that Recktenwald outlines, one must first take note of what the author repeats about Hitler's inherited traits and the development of his youth. Grandparents and parents were healthy, even if - like the father - complicated natures, skillful, vital, with strong sensuality. We know nothing about Adolf Hitler's teething problems. In the village school, Hitler was seen as bright and lively. Nothing points to pathological traits, cruelty, or a bad character.