The Roots of Nazi Psychology: Hitler's Utopian Barbarism

Jay Y. Gonen, Author
Jay Y. Gonen, Author University Press of Kentucky $50 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8131-2154-3
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-8131-9046-4
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-8131-4367-5
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-8131-4368-2
Open Ebook - 472 pages - 978-1-299-15489-6
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Adolf Hitler has always been and will continue to be a tempting subject for psychological analysis--even if, despite Peter Gay's classic Freud for Historians, psychohistory and psychobiography are still considered the black sheep of historical biography. Gonen (a retired professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati and author of A Psychohistory of Zionism) offers a brief study and analysis of what he claims is a ""Nazi psychology."" Drawing from an extensive and rigorous reading of Hitler's speeches and published writings (especially Mein Kampf), Freudian theories and social, economic and cultural history, Gonen ponders whether Hitler was an aberration in German society or a ""man of the people."" (The German masses, he concludes, shared in Hitler's paranoia and delusions.) Chapters cover the role of ideology in shaping mass thinking, as well as anti-Semitism, lebensraum and the idea of the Volkish state--and contain fascinating passages on the image of the Jew, the role of women and the interrelatedness of kitsch and death in the Nazi mentality. Although Gonen doesn't really say anything new (""Hitler,"" he tells us, for example, ""was a messianic paranoid""), what he offers is compellingly written and blessedly free of social science jargon. What is troubling, however, is that Gonen fails to explore concepts central to his inquiry, such as ""utopia"" and ""barbarism,"" and that he contends that Nazism had its own ""internal [or] inherent logic."" Slightly flawed, this is still a good introduction to a difficult subject. (Apr.)
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