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Affirming Psychosis

The Mass Appeal of Adolf Hitler

Paul Matussek, Peter Matussek and Jan Marbach

This study emerged out of the collaboration between a psychiatrist, a scholar of cultural studies, and a sociologist. It offers a new response to the reciprocity between the individual and the collective share in the dynamic of Hitler’s delusion. Relying on a model of psychosis based on the most recent research on the polarity of the «private» and «public» self, and incorporating, with critical revisions, new literature on the cultural history of the Third Reich, the study demonstrates that Hitler was most certainly a «pathological case,» who escaped the clinical consequences only because he had found an audience that stabilized his psychosis through an immense degree of acceptance. This interdisciplinary approach to psycho-historical Hitler research avoids the dead ends of previous, one-sided psychological or historical efforts and sheds new light on the issues of responsibility with respect to both the dictator and his German helpers.