The Psychological Profile Of Adolf Hitler: 9 Personality Traits

What were the psychological characteristics of this dictator? There are reports on the subject.

If someone asks us for the names of some of the people who have caused the most deaths throughout modern history, it is easy for the name of Adolf Hitler to come to mind . 

This Austrian-born German military and politician, responsible for the start of the Second World War and the deaths of millions of people under his mandate as Führer, has been one of the most feared historical figures of modernity.

The characteristics of his personality and his leadership and manipulation skills, as for example could be observed in his ability to use rhetoric and oratory, have been the object of study since then. In this article we will try to offer Hitler’s psychological profile  from Murray’s profiles and the visualization of graphic and literary documents.

Adolf Hitler: difficulties of analysis

Establishing a psychological profile of a specific person without observing or analyzing their behavior and characteristics directly is complicated and ineffective, since a real psychological examination cannot be carried out. Any psychological profile carried out on a person without contact between the health professional and the subject in question is more imprecise, which is also the case when preparing the psychological profile of a deceased person.

In Hitler’s case, there is no evidence that he underwent a psychiatric evaluation, and professionals who were in direct contact with him died, probably being executed by the SS or sent to concentration camps. The only way to try to establish something like a psychological profile is the analysis of his speeches, his actions and the ideas that he transmitted through writing.

Hitler’s psychological profile

The personality of Adolf Hitler was an aspect that greatly concerned different governments during the Second World War. At the time he lived, various researchers and experts were commissioned to establish a psychological profile of the dictator. Specifically , those made by Henry Murray for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, forerunner of the current CIA) and by Joseph MacCurdy stand out, both profiles being consistent. 

However, it must be taken into account that neither of the two authors had direct contact with the patient, so that the profiles produced were made from the analysis of different materials and not from the examination of the individual.

The main personality characteristics of Adolf Hitler that can be extracted from these reports, as well as from the different documentary sources both at the audiovisual and written levels, include the following considerations.

1. Egolatry and Messiah complex

In the different speeches and documents that are preserved by the dictator, it is possible to observe how Adolf Hitler considered himself a chosen force to lead Germany and bring her victory. He considered himself an embodiment of good, destined to lead his people. 

This fact would be favored by the adoration of a large part of the German people during their rise to power. At present, it could come to be considered a case  of self-referral delusion.

2. Difficulties for privacy

Hitler’s intimate life, apart from his relationship with Eva Braun, is little known. However, the records of the time seem to indicate that although the dictator could display great charm with those around him and who followed him, he had severe problems establishing deep relationships, in part because of how difficult it was for him to express his feelings regarding to affection.

3. Feelings of inferiority and self-loathing

The different studies and profiles that have been carried out on his personality and his history indicate that the dictator had a strong inferiority complex, which in turn drove him to seek superiority and self-assertion. In fact, the report prepared by Murray highlights the presence of a weak ego structure, possibly the product of the mistreatment to which he was subjected by his father. 

It is also partly revealing that the Aryan race he advocated had characteristics that he himself lacked, which seems to favor the idea of  low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority.

4. Contempt for weakness

Associated with the previous trait we find the presence of a contempt for weakness. This contempt for those he considered inferior can be seen in his actions and the systematic elimination of those who were considered weak at the time, such as psychiatric patients and the intellectually disabled.

5. Perseverance

The various records and communiqués seem to indicate that Hitler was particularly stubborn and stubborn when it came to his goals, and had a hard time admitting defeat. In fact, Murray’s report indicated that the dictator was likely to commit suicide if he lost the war.

6. Charisma and ability to manipulate

One of the most well-known facets of Adolf Hitler’s personality is his high capacity for charisma. The German dictator aroused passions among his troops and among the masses, as can be seen in the various graphic documents of his speeches and the behavior and staunch loyalty to his figure on the part of most of his troops. 

Likewise, he highlights his ability to convince and manipulate both the masses and individuals of his position and the truthfulness of his words.

7. Theatricality

Adolf Hitler had a great capacity for dramatization and drama, which made it easier for him to reach the people and helped convince others of his views.

8. Obsession for power

As with many other dictators, power was important to Hitler. The creation of organizations like the Gestapo to maintain the obedience of the population and the elimination of dissidents are proof of this. In the same way it can be observed in its expansionist policy, invading different countries such as Poland or trying to attack Russia. In the book he wrote during his stay in prison, Mein Kampf , he even wrote that his party was not there to serve the masses, but to bend them.

9. Little capacity for empathy

The little or no capacity to identify with the subjected peoples and the proposal of various extermination plans for various types of population such as Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, population with psychiatric problems and dissidents show little or no capacity for empathy.

Psychopathologies associated with the dictator

The different personality characteristics together with the atrocity of his actions have meant that throughout history various mental disorders have been attributed to Hitler. Murray’s report spoke of schizophrenia, neurosis, and hysteria, among other terms. 

Other authors reflect that Hitler may have suffered alterations due to substance use,  paranoid schizophrenia ,  bipolar disorder or even Asperger’s syndrome. It is also associated with different paraphilias such as sadomasochism. The aforementioned personality characteristics may have a certain link with the existence of a certain degree of psychopathy, since typical characteristics of this type of subject are met, but it is also very possible that they are pure propaganda to discredit their figure, taking advantage of the stigmas that weighed heavily. about people with mental disorders.

In any case, it must be borne in mind that none of these considerations can be considered as proven or affirmed firmly, since as we have said they start from the analysis of events and documents without having maintained a real contact with the analyzed. Likewise, there is a risk of minimizing the responsibility of the subject, as well as trivializing something as serious as the mass genocide committed by the leader of Nazism.

Bibliographic references:

  • Koepf, G. & Soyka, M. (2007) Hitler’s missing psychiatric file. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience; 257 (4).
  • Murray, HA (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.
  • Redlich, F. (1998). Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet. Oxford University Press.
  • Stewart, D. (2005) Inside the mind of Adolf Hitler. BBC.

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