Hitler revisited

December 4, 2013 

The recent BND letter on Adolf Hitler caught my eye. A personality theorist that we're studying in a college class I'm teaching also had a keen interest in Hitler. Erich Fromm was born of Orthodox Jewish parents in Germany in 1900. He earned his PhD in sociology from the University of Heidelberg and later authored an extensive psychohistorical study of Hitler.

Fromm regarded Hitler as the world's No. 1 example of a person with syndrome of decay, a concept he introduced to describe people who simultaneously possess three pathological disorders he discussed.

Necrophilia is the love of death and hatred of all humanity, which pervaded his entire behavior. Hitler focused not on just conquering his enemies but annihilating them.

People with malignant narcissism are convinced that everything belonging to them is of great value and anything belonging to others is worthless. Hitler was only interested in himself, his plans and his ideology.

Extreme dependency on mother or surrogate mother to the extent that one's personality is blended in is called incestuous symbiosis. Hitler's passionate devotion was centered not on his real mother but on the Germanic race. Consistent with this are his traits of sadomasochism, feelings of withdrawal and lack of love or compassion.

Fromm didn't believe Hitler was psychotic but thought him a sick and dangerous man. Fromm concluded his study with these words: "Any analysis that would distort Hitler's picture by depriving him of his humanity would only intensify the tendency to be blind to the potential Hitlers unless they wear horns."

Bill Malec


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