Rare Historical Psychoanalysis of Hitler Available Online

Released: 3/29/2005 12:10 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
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Newswise — A rare 1943 document -- a psychological analysis of the personality of Adolph Hitler that predicted, among other things, his eventual suicide -- is now available on the Cornell Law Library's Web site, at: http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/library/donovan/hitler/.

The copyright to the original document -- number three of only 30 copies made -- was granted to the Law Library by Nina Murray, the widow of the document's main author, Dr. Henry A. Murray.

Henry Murray was a pre-World War II director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic and, during the war, served in the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency. The psychological profile of Hitler was among the papers discovered in the Law Library's Donovan Nuremberg Trials Collection.

"It's almost a unique piece," said Claire Germain, the Edward Cornell Law Librarian and professor of law at Cornell Law School. "Posting it on the Web in pdf format makes it available to a broader audience and shows the uniqueness of the documents located at Cornell Library."

Murray was commissioned in 1943 to help the Allies understand Hitler's psychological makeup. He wrote that Hitler had a personality type stimulated by real or imagined insult or injury, that held grudges, had a low tolerance for criticism, an excessive demand for attention and a tendency to belittle, bully or blame others and seek revenge. But his personality also manifested a persistence in the face of defeat, along with strong self-will and self-trust. However, Hitler lacked "the offsetting qualities that round out a balanced personality," wrote Murray. Murray guessed that if Germany were to lose World War II, Hitler might kill himself in a dramatic, explosive way, but he worried that Hitler might become a martyr if he were killed.

Murray himself was a controversial figure. Returning to Harvard after the war, he was involved in psychological experiments in 1959-62 in which a stress test was administered to unwitting student volunteers, including the young student Theodore Kaczynski. Kaczynski's lawyers in his trial as the Unabomber traced some of his emotional instability and fear of mind control to his role as a subject in those tests.


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