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Monday, December 28, 2009

Keith Psychoanalyzes Adolf Hitler!

Keith continues the discussion of Naziism, and how it was that so many Germans were taken in by Hitler (see the full thread here).

No discussion of opposition to Hitler would be complete without a mention of Bonhoeffer and his story. His family were highly placed in the government so he knew about the concentration camps from about 1932 and acted accordingly. His courage was amazing.

I still recall how intimidated I was when the anti-terrorism laws were passed in Australia (We now live in a police state. You can be held without charge for several days and it is, of course, a very short step from using them to suppress real enemies and using them to suppress political opponents) To stand up to Hitler took enormous courage. I am very grateful that I have never had to make those sorts of decisions.

Re Hitler's mental state, I saw a tv doco on a contemporay psychiatrist's report on Hitler, I think commissioned by the US government. His assessment was spot on. Hitler had this enormous need for approval and adulation and so as things went from bad to worse he hid and was never seen. Churchill, by contrast, was quite sane and the worse things got the more he went about in public looking cheerful.

It is interesting to speculate about modern events and the psychology involved. Here in Australia we have a large group of right wing politicians in total denial about the existence of climate change and humanity's contribution to its causes. I'd love to hear a good psychological assessment on why they are in denial and also a report from an evolutionist on what evolutionary advantage they gain by that denial. Tim Flannery's book The future eaters says that we always destroy that which we most need to survive. Without a concept of sin, how do you explain that?

On a more picky note, the sociologist Richard Stark defines a CULT as something that is new. As such, a CULT is usually frequented by those in the upper half of the IQ scale (and often the social scale) as they have to understand the new ideas. Nazism seems to fit his definition of a sect. A sect is an exaggeration of an already existing belief and so can be understood by a much wider range of people as not as much new knowledge is needed. Nazism seems to have attracted a wide range of people and to be an exageration of nationalism so would more likely fit Stark's definition of a sect.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting comment about your country now being a "police state". So is the USA since Bush/Cheney, only an especially clumsy and cultish one as well.

We have come a long, sad, way since the days when Hitler was the worst representation of despotism that we had known or ever expected to know. Now, things are subtler.

10:50 AM  

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