Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet

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9780195057829: Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet
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Adolf Hitler unleashed a nightmare of terror in Europe that changed the course of history and forever altered our conception of human nature. But how is it possible to understand Hitler? Hitler: Diagnosis of Destruction begins to answer that question by providing the first analysis of Hitler's life by a trained MD and practicing psychiatrist.
Fritz Redlich, MD, provides a full-length biography of Hitler, focusing especially on his medical and mental history and showing us precisely how Hitler's physical and mental health influenced his beliefs and behavior. Redlich engages a host of fascinating questions. Was there a history of mental illness in Hitler's family? Did he suffer from congenital abnormalities? Did he contract syphilis as a young man? What bizarre role did that disease play in his anti-Semitism? What is the history of Hitler's amphetamine abuse? Did he suffer from Parkinson's disease? Drawing upon medical records of Hitler's World War I injuries andsubsequent illnesses, combined with a penetrating exploration of Hitler's writings, Redlich offers new insight into Hitler's vision of himself as a prophetic leader. The final chapter offers a psychiatric portrait of Hitler, and it is here that Redlich's analysis reveals the highly combustible mixture of denial, projection, sexual repression, paranoid delusion, and narcissistic rage that transformed Hitler from an aimless, friendless, and vaguely resentful youth into the most destructive force of the twentieth century.
Complete with illustrations, critical medical reports by Hitler's personal physicians, and a medical glossary, this book brings to light the darkest recesses of one of the world's most impenetrable minds.

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Many theorists in psychology have attempted to understand Adolf Hitler, but no analyst has put the Führer on the couch with more throrough results than Fritz Redlich. In Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet, the Yale psychiatrist considers whether physical illness and mental disorder affected the dictator's state of mind. In this matter, Redlich allows no simplistic labels or easy explanations. Keenly aware of the limits that historical sources impose on medical and psychological approaches, he overturns many diagnostic assessments of Hitler, arguing that "precise and subtle description is superior" to often inaccurate generalizations about personality.

While there have been hundreds of biographies of Hitler, Redlich's stands out for its extensive use of the Führer's medical records, and an exhaustive survey of the relationship between Hitler and his personal physician, the controversial Theodor Morrel. Redlich also approaches more enduring issues, such as the Führer's sex life, vegetarianism, rumored genital deformity, possible syphilis, Parkinson's disease, and amphetamine addiction with fresh insight. Out of Redlich's absorbing account emerges a mercurial, paranoid fanatic who went to any lengths to maintain his popularity. --James Highfill

About the Author:


Fritz Redlich was born in Vienna in 1910 and received his medical doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1935. He was forced to emigrate to the United States in 1938. Currently, he is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of California at Los Angles, and formerly Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Dean, School of Medicine, Yale University.

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Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2000
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