Inside the mind of a dictator

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Inside the mind of a dictator


In the early 1940s, at the height of World War II, Adolf Hitler was an enigmatic figure for the Allies. Although he was a cold-blooded murderer who sent innocent Jews to the gas chambers en masse, he was also known for such incomprehensible behavior as being afraid of moonlight and sucking his little finger when he became impatient.

In the midst of the war, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency, decided that in order to overcome Nazi Germany in the war it was imperative that they understand Hitler’s psyche. They assigned this task to Walter Langer, an authority on psychoanalysis. Langer collected a massive amount of material on Hitler’s family and childhood. He also interviewed secret agents who had collected information on Hitler.

Then, Langer wrote a secret report, in which he said that Hitler suffered from neurotic depression and was obsessed with absolute power. The conclusion was that Hitler was a psychopath who may have been suffering from schizophrenia. The report, entitled “A Psychological Profile of Hitler,” was declassified in 1968.

It appears that Hitler was also suffering from a “messiah complex.” In his memoir “Mein Kampf,” he wrote that a man would be sent to liberate the nation from oppression, and that the man would accomplish the long-cherished wishes of the people. And he believed that the man was himself. His delusions of grandeur were revealed in a speech he delivered at a rally in November 1937, after he became the Fuhrer. He said that it was a miracle that the citizens of Germany had found him and he considered himself Germany’s savior.

In his quest to demonstrate the superiority of the German race, Hitler became a warmonger. In the second volume of his memoir, Hitler said that war was a nation’s ultimate weapon in its struggle for survival and that the economic and social tasks of a nation should be decided in accordance with the preparations for war. In the end, he turned Europe into a sea of blood.

The insanity of Hitler reminds us of North Korea, which also suffers from military provocation syndrome. Seemingly unsatisfied with the sinking of the navy boat Cheonan, it now seems eager to provoke us, going so far as to attack Yeonpyeong Island. I’d love to read a report on the psyche of Kim Jong-il. Based on North Korea’s actions over the years, I can’t help but wonder what form of psychosis is driving him.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Ko Dae-hoon
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