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Was Hitler A Sociopath?
I was recently talking to some friends of mine about my activities in Hubpages and mentioned about my hub on the Characteristics of a Sociopath. This sparked up an interesting conversation, which led one of my friends to ask a question which at the time, I had no answer to. This question was ‘Was Hitler a Sociopath?’ Thinking about it for some time, I decided to do some research and write up this hub on the topic.
So was Adolf Hitler, the man who was responsible into the death of millions (directly through the concentration camps and indirectly through leading Germany to war) a sociopath? Well the short answer to this question is no, Adolf Hitler was not a sociopath. Does this therefore mean that Hitler had a conscience? I don’t mean to offend people when I answer this question but yes, Hitler did have a conscience, though I must add that it was a twisted, distorted conscience.
So how can someone who caused so much death and disaster have a conscience and not be sociopathic? Well one of the characteristics which Hitler was able to display was compassion for his loved ones, i.e. Eva Braun, his long-time partner and his pet dogs. He was also able to form deep relationships with some close friends of his. Beyond forming relationships, he also had the ability to set realistic goals, strategically planning each move towards the attainment of those goals.
These are two characteristics which sociopaths severely lack. As is commonly associated with these people, they seem to lack the ability to form any long-term meaningful relationships with people. Adolf Hitler on the other hand did have a small group of friends and relatives whom he loved dearly. Likewise sociopaths seem to lack the ability to set long term goals which as history portrays, did not apply to Hitler.
Please don’t think in any way that I am saying Hitler was a good man. I think he was a very evil, sick man who if he were alive today, should be locked up in a mental institution. In my humble opinion though, to diagnose him as a sociopath simply because he did a lot of evil would be doing his particular form of evil a disservice. Instead we need to look at how he came to be the twisted and sick man that he was.
In 1972, a report which had being classified up to than was declassified for the masses to read. This report entitled ‘The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report’ by psychoanalyst Walter C Langer, revealed how during World War 2, the CIA undertook a psychological profile of Adolf Hitler, using information they had about his upbringing from his family doctor, etc. In it, they revealed how the young Hitler as a child, was a shy, awkward child who was abused by his father and had an overprotective mother. His family also had a lot of prejudice passed along from generation to generation which was largely anti-Semitic. Worse still was the belief held by many in the family that Hitler’s grandfather was actually Jewish, meaning the most dangerous anti-Semitic person to ever live was himself part Jewish!
The project of profiling Hitler also discusses how several near misses during his fighting in the trenches during the Great War (1914-1918) gave him a sense of superiority, a belief that he was destined for something better by some higher authority (call it God, etc.) It could be said that this belief, along with his distorted upbringing, is what drove Hitler onto the path of fascism, joining the Nazi party as their 55th member and through working alongside others, carried out the evil he was to commit.
The glimpse into the mind of Adolf Hitler reveals something most interesting as well as scary. The scary aspect is that one doesn’t have to be a psychopath (aka a sociopath) to commit such horrendous evil and crimes against humanity. Could a sociopath however have done as much damage as Adolf Hitler had? This is debateable for had Hitler being a sociopath, he probably would not have been bothered spending years of his life working towards his grand utopia, one consisting of a master Aryan race. All large goals (good or bad) take persistence to bring about. Sociopaths on the other hand tend to be very impulsive and easily bored and had Hitler been one, it is very likely that he would of become bored during the early years of the Nazi party when they were unknown, fallen out with certain existing members of that party very quickly and moved on to do something else.
It is also worth mentioning one other factor which indicated that Hitler was not sociopathic but just pure evil and it is due to the fact that he was emotionally affected by his upbringing. Sociopaths for some reason tend not to be too deeply affected by abuse, etc. that they experienced when they were kids. Instead they seem to live in the present moment, completely cut off from any abuse that they may have experienced in the past. This could partly be due to the fact that they don’t have access to the full range of emotions that ordinary folk have, so they wouldn’t be troubled by the feelings which that tend torment ordinary people who were abused, etc. as children.
So if I were asked again ‘Was Hitler a sociopath?’ I would have to say that he wasn’t really – instead he was just a very evil and sick human who had he being alive today, would of needed psychiatric treatment!