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Adolf Hitler Psychotic State Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 6th, 2021


Brief history and family background of Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was certainly a disharmonious and destructive personality and, in order to define the main underpinnings and causes of his psychological disorders, family background and history information should be carefully considered. Born to an ordinary family of a customs official, Adolf accepted Catholicism and entered baptism (Zalampas, 1990 p. 4).

The future dictator made enormous effort to conceal his origins. He resisted to the NSDAP directives and rejected to provide records about his descent because any interruption in his private life was considered unacceptable. Therefore, the cases reveal that Hitler waxed indignant over the interview with Patrick Hitler, his half-brother Alois’s son (Zalampas, 1990 p. 4).

Hitler’s reluctance to discuss the facts from his family background was also explained by his fear to revealing the Jewish ancestors. However, even thorough investigation withdrawing the assumption did not make Hitler reveal the details of his genealogy (Zalampas, 1990 p. 5). The facts from the lineage also suggest that Alois and Klara, Adolf’s parents, were official cousins. Investigations assume that Johann Nepomuk Huttler was, in fact, Alois’s great-grandfather, and Klara’s grandfather.

According to the above-consideration, it can be assumed that Hitler’s fear of uncovering his lineage was due to his fear of disclosing his inferiority. Because of ambiguousness presented in his family ties, Hitler could not feel himself as a full-fledged personality. He desperately wanted to detach himself from the family background because his origins prevented him from becoming a legitimate and commendable leader for German people.

While considering general psychological aspect, the name of the dictator has always been associated with a mentally abnormal person who guided Nazi concentration camps and put fear in Jewish people’s hearts. Judging from historical events and facts linked to the personality, including Holocaust and the World War II, Hitler was, indeed, inexplicably evil. In social interaction with people, Adolf was revealed as a reserved and serious person (Zalampas, 1990 p. 6).

Judging from the above psychological and social conditions, the hypothesis is that Hitler suffered from posttraumatic disorder and schizophrenia revealed at the first Axis of DMS-IV.


Assessment and Methodology Tools

Due to the fact that the analysis and diagnosing of the patient is carried out posthumously, the clinical interview is certainly impossible. In this respect, more emphasis is placed on historical records revealing face-to-face psychological testing, clinical interviews, and self-report techniques. The research studies of people who directly interacted with Adolf Hitler will also be included to present the accurate conclusions.

As a result, posthumous DSM analysis can be presented with the help of informant ratings. Using the method of Coolidge Axis II Inventory, the research will be able to fit the criteria of DSM-IV (Coolidge, 1995). The models will not be used as the basis for the analysis, but some references will be made to identify the extent of the disorders. The core assessment of Hitler’s disorders will be performed with the help of DSM-IV coding.

The given study will also be based on the scholar’s published articles and books disclosing Hitler’s life and psychological portrait with regard to the identified DSM-IV diagnosis. Studies dedicated to the analysis of similar mental disorders are also included to better comprehend possible causes of psychological deviations.

Preview of Deviations as Presented by Coolidge Axis II Inventory

The main scope of the model consists in measuring all scales of measuring psychological and neuropsychological dysfunction (Coolidge, 1995). Hence, the scales are also aimed at defining the deficits, including decision-making problems, task completion difficulties and planning barriers.

Hostility scales should also be highlighted to measure dangerousness, anger, aggression, and impulsiveness. Personality assessment is subjected to such aspects as apathy, paranoia, and liability. According to these results, Hitler had difficulties in adjusting to new and changing environments (Payne, 2001).

DSM-IV Differential Diagnoses Analysis

Axis I

Examination of the first scale reveals that the deviations are closely connected with posttraumatic stress disorder (code 309.81) and schizophrenia (paranoid type, code 295.3). Hence, the first deviation is justified with regard to such symptoms as chronic, acute reactions to traumatic events and recurrence of flashback distressing memories (Summerfield, 2001, p. 95). In our case, the trauma is strongly associated with military combat and assault.

Displays of schizophrenia were revealed through the analysis of Hitler’s psychological behavior that was accompanied by delusions and hallucinations. This type of schizophrenia is marked by the presence of grandiosity, delusions, and suspiciousness (Murray, 1943). According to Murray’s (1943) report, “[Hitler] has exhibited … all of the classical symptom of paranoid schizophrenia: hypersensitivity, panics of anxiety, irrational jealousy, delusions of persecution, delusions of omnipotence and messiahship” (p. 14).

Axis II

The overview of personality disorders has revealed the emergence of paranoid, antisocial, sadistic, and narcissistic deviations. Based on the research conducted by Renato et al. (1998), Hitler’s personality has been diagnosed with histrionic and paranoid personality disorders.

At this point, Hitler was defined as “enfeebled self that lacked any capacity for self-worth or self-regard; …he felt that the German people after World War I suffered this same collective defect in self…” (p. 65). Judging from the above records, the personality disorders include antisocial personality disorder (301.7), histrionic personality disorder (301.50), and narcissistic personality disorder (301.81). All these psychiatric deviations referred to dramatic and emotional instabilities.

Axis III

It is documented that Hitler had serious somatic problems, although no evidence was found to believe that he had neuropsychological dysfunction (somatic and grandiose subtype of delusional disorder, 297.1) (Murray, 1943, p. 15). The disorder is premised on the physical impairment and emotional instabilities (Renato et al., 1998). In addition, it is purposeful to state that memory execution functions deficiency was also present due to the difficulties in decision-making.

Axis IV

Because Hitler had significant problems with adjusting to a changing social environment, it can be assumed that this was one of the main stressors of the disorders diagnosed in Axis I. According to Murray (1943), Hitler’s resistance to opposition was the motivation for living.

The stronger the opposition was, the more frustrated reaction was reveled through emotional outbursts, displays of inertia, and melancholy. Frustration caused by failure to gain victory while struggling with Russia was followed by collapse, which means that Hitler did not have natural mechanism for defense.

Axis V

With regard to the above-presented symptoms, GAF amounts to 50 at admission (before the World War II) and about 30 at discharge (after the World War II). The last period of his life proved that psychological and social conditions were aggravated and Hitler failed to explain his actions (Munson, 2001, p. 75).

Etiology: Theoretical Perspectives

Because most of the symptoms presented above refer to a psychoanalytic theoretical perspective, the related frameworks should be discussed to understand the causes and underpinnings of Hitler’s psychological disorders.

According to Welham et al. (2010), “subtle impairments on neurocognitive measures during childhood or adolescence are associated with an increased risk of non-affective psychosis in young adult males”. In this respect, cognitive deficit can be considered the core reasons of schizophrenia emergence. The presented analysis also explains mood and emotional abnormalities observed in Hitler’s behavior.

Psychoanalysis presented by Gaylin (2004) also underscores the above-discussed idea. Specifically, the researcher states that the main trait of the paranoid character include negativism, suspicion, chronic anger, self-referential attitude, and narcissism (Gaylin, 2004, p. 114). All these features are presented in Hitler’s personality.

To enlarge on this point, the dictator often displayed negativism when his life position was not approved by others. He never expected positive outcomes and always anticipated that each occasion was accompanied with danger. Finally, he always expressed indignation and anger on each possible occasion.

Types of Treatment

If Hitler had not committed suicide, the following treatment and therapeutic techniques should have been introduced. It would have been purposeful to present a complex approach to reducing the original causes of Hitler’s disorders.

Before analyzing the cases and possible treatment, it should be stressed that personality disorders are difficult to treat because people with such psychological deviations do not recognize those as a serious disease that should be intervened (Gaylin, 2004). The only decision that could have been made in this situation was to encourage the individual in his actions and make him persuade that all his decisions and beliefs were highly appreciated.

Because Hitler had significant family problems and because he did not want to recognize the ambiguousness and inferiority of his family lineage, the dictator strived to compensate it with other actions augmenting his feeling of superiority. Emotional outburst displayed as a result of family problems took place. These instabilities, however, could have been treated with the help of holding therapy embracing emotionally driven principles and intensified therapeutic interventions.

Notably, using a purely psychological approach would not have been effective because of Hitler’s inability to recognize his mistakes and make the right decisions based on previous experience. Most of his problems, therefore, were premised on the failure to accept the world as is it, which made it impossible for Hitler to adjust to new treatments (Murray, 1943). In this respect, mere acceptance of the rules and orders presented by Hitler was the only way out to minimize the psychotic effects.

Regarding somatic disorders treatment, it should be noted that somatic disorders treatment should have relied heavily to non-psychiatric interventions due to the fact that the depression often appeared as a result of physical impairments and dysfunction. In this respect, specific attention should have beeen paid to Hitler’s problems with physical health.

Hypothetical Prognosis and Limitations

While predicting Hitler’s behavior, it is rational to refer to Murray’s (1943) report discussing behavioral patterns of the patient before committing the suicide. Specifically, the scholar asserts that Hitler’s “neurotic spells with increase in frequency and duration and his effectiveness as a leader will diminish” (Murray 1943, p. 29). The dictator could have been seized by the military arms; in this situation, the patient’s reaction would have been worse because the possibilities of being deprived of the hero title would have been disastrous.

One of the predictions happened was that of committing suicide in case Hitler’s plans and decisions were not affected. Because Hitler did not have defense mechanisms, life termination was the only solution to the problem. Importantly, Hitler was ready to resort to all means to remain a hero in the hearts of the German people.

Murray (1943) notes that there was a possibility of Hitler’s going insane because “paranoid schizophrenia…with the mounting load of frustration and failure may yield his will to the turbulent forces of the unconscious” (p. 31). Finally, the scholar admits the possibility Hitler dying of natural reasons due to this inability to adjust to a social environment.


A thorough analysis of DSM-IV scales for paranoid type of schizophrenia has approved the diagnoses. The criteria support symptoms related to the exaggerated feelings of persecution, suspicion, negativism, and presence of delusions. Associated traits also include anger, aggression, anxiety, and apathy.

In addition, the presented DSM-IV assessment argues that persecutory displays can predispose paranoid individuals to committing suicide. Grandiose delusions and emotional outbursts also presuppose the individual’s increase predisposition to violence. Consequently, the presence of cognitive impairment and superior behavior accompanied with intense interpersonal interaction can serve a logical explanation of Hitler psychotic state.

As to personality disorders, the clinical assessment has discovered antisocial, paranoid, and sadistic deviations. These findings are sufficiently supported by reports provided by Murray (1943), Gaylin (2004), and Summerfield (2001). Specifically, life descriptions and explanations of psychological disorders are relevant because theoretical underpinnings have managed to define how Hitler’s lifestyle and position can be interpreted with regard to existing psychoanalytical frameworks.


Coolidge, F. L., Burns, E. M., & Mooney, J. A. (1995). Reliability of observer ratings in the assessment of personality disorders: A preliminary study. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51, 22-28.

Gaylin, W. (2004). Hatred: The Psychological Descent into Violence. US: Public Affairs.

Munson, C. E. (2001). The mental health diagnostic desk reference: visual guides and more for learning to use the Diagnostic and statistical manual. NY: Routledge.

Murray, H. A. (1943). Analysis of the personality of Adolf Hitler with predictions of his future behavior and suggestions for dealing with him now and after Germany’s surrender. US: Harvard Psychological Clinic.

Payne, K. B. (2001). The fallacies of Cold War deterrence and a new direction. Kentucky, US: University Press of Kentucky.

Renato, D. A., Foulks, E. F., and Vakkur, M. (1998). Personality Disorders and Culture. New Jersey.

Summerfield, D. (2001). The Invention of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders and the Social Usefulness of a Psychiatric Category. BMJ. 322(7278). 95-98.

Welham, J., Scott, J., Williams, G., Najman, J., Bor, W., O’Callaghan, M., & Mcgrath, J. (2010). The Antecedents Of Non-Affective Psychosis In A Birth-Cohort, With A Focus On Measures Related To Cognitive Ability, Attentional Dysfunction And Speech Problems. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 121(4), 273-279.

Zalampas, S. O. (1990). Adolf Hitler: A Psychological Interpretation of his views on architecture, art, and music. US: Popular Press.

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