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Carl Jung: Answers to “Mishmar” on Adolf Hitler


The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings (The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 18)

Carl Jung: Answers to “Mishmar” on Adolf Hitler

[Eugen Kolb, Geneva correspondent of Mishmar (The Daily Guardian) of Tel Aviv, wrote to Jung on 4 September 1945 for his answers to the following questions.

Jung replied on 14 September.]

How do you, as a psychiatrist, judge Hitler as a “patient”?

Hitler was in my view primarily an hysteric. (Already in the first World War he had been officially diagnosed as such.)

More particularly he was characterized by a subform of hysteria : pseudologia phantastica.

In other words he was a “pathological liar.”

If these people do not start out directly as deceivers, they are the sort of idealists who are always in love with their own ideas and who anticipate their aims by presenting their wish-fantasies partly as easily attainable and partly as having been attained, and who believe these obvious lies themselves.

(Quisling, as his trial showed, was a similar case.)

In order to realize their wish-fantasies no means is too bad for them, just because they believe they can thereby attain their beloved aim.

They “believe” they are doing it for the benefit of humanity, or at least of the nation or their party, and cannot under any circumstances see that their aim is invariably egoistic.

Since this is a common failing, it is difficult for the layman to recognize such cases as psychopathic.

Because only a convinced person is immediately convincing (by psychic contagion), he exercises as a rule a devastating influence on his contemporaries.

Almost everybody is taken in by him.

How could this “psychopath” influence whole nations to such an extent?

If his maniacal wish-system is a socio-political one, and if it corresponds to the pet ideas of a majority, it produces a psychic epidemic that swells like an avalanche.

The majority of the German

people were discontented and hugged feelings of revenge and resentment born of their national inferiority complex and identified themselves with the underdogs.

(Hence their special hatred and envy of the Jews, who had anticipated them in their idea of a “chosen people”!)

Do you consider his contemporaries, who executed his plans, equally “psychopathic”?

Suggestion works only when there is a secret wish to fulfil it.

Thus Hitler was able to work on all those who compensated their inferiority complex with social aspirations and secret dreams of power.

As a result he collected an army of social misfits, psychopaths, and criminals around him, to which he also belonged.

But at the same time he gripped the unconscious of normal people, who are always naive and fancy themselves utterly innocent and right.

The majority of normal people (quite apart from the 10 per cent or so who are inferior) are ridiculously unconscious and naive and are open to any passing suggestion.

So far as lack of adaptation is a disease, one can call a whole nation diseased.

But this is normal mass psychology; it is a herd phenomenon, like panic.

The more people live together in heaps, the stupider and more suggestible the individual becomes.

If that is so, how can they be cured?

Education for fuller consciousness!

Prevention of social herd formations, of proletarianization and mass-mindedness!

No one party system! No dictatorship! Communal autonomy ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 604-605