A Psychoanalytic Perspective On Adolf Hitler

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Adolf Hitler from now and throughout history he is known to be someone who caused so much chaos and is considered as an evil person. What drove Adolf Hitler to cause the death of so many people, as well as to have such a huge influence with his speeches. This case study will analyze how Adolf Hitler’s upbringing as well as other factors. Using the psychoanalytic, cognitive and Humanistic perspectives I will explain how these perspectives along with his upbringing could have contributed to him making the choices he did, and how his experiences contributed to his experiences and formation of character. Which in turn resulted in the killing of 6 million Jews.

3 perspectives of the personality of Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was born on April 20th, 1889 to his mother Klara Polzl and father, who was a customs official He was born in a town called Braunau am Inn in Hungary. He had six siblings which 3 died a young age. According to his autobiography “My struggle” he didn’t enjoy school, and only did well in history. After moving to Vienna in the year of 1907 with his family. He sold some of his paintings in the city he lived in. Being that he enjoyed painting and wanting to become a painter. Even if his father didn’t approve, he applied to the Academy of graphic arts. To Hitler’s Dismay he has been rejected twice from the school. He then fled to Munich because he didn’t wanted to be drafted into the Austrian army. Eventually, he enlisted into the Bavarian army, in which he received many recognitions. (Geary, pg. 1-3).He then after the death of both parents lived with a friend.

Psychoanalytic perspective

Based on Freud’s psychoanalysis theory of the construct of the mind ID, ego and superego. Hitler was most likely driven by his ID construct. This according to Freud was related to experiences during his childhood (Twenge, 2017). An example of this is the fact that though expected, her death came as a terrible blow to me. I respected my father, but I loved my mother (Hitler Pg. 37). Based on the strong relationship that Hitler had with his mother and poor relationship with his father, it is easy to determine that this affected him greatly, which would later affect him.

According to Freud the individual uses different tactics in which way to balance the demands that the I’d, ego, and superego have by using defense mechanism as a way to deal with or diffuse emotions, particularly negative emotions(Twenge,2017). Hitler displayed signs of displacement and projection. One of the ways projection is seen played in his life is by creating a projection in his own mind as well as into those he influences, that the Jews were all bad people, and wanted to harm everyone. Hitler makes mention of this by stating “It was during this period that my eyes were opened to two perils…their terrible significance for the existence of the German people. These two perils were Marxism and Judaism” (Hitler Pg. 43). He allowed this view of thinking to them, be the driving force which led to convince others that killing the Jews was justified.

Hitler also showed displacement by using all the anger he had been holding from unresolved issues related to experiences throughout his life, such as in childhood, and failed accomplishments as an artist. He allowed those experiences to be what motivated him to create an uprisal for a one race dictatorship government that contributed to him creating concentration camps where millions of people died, mainly Jews. Another example in which he used displacement to excuse the murder of so many people was that he believed he was God’s helper. In his book he states “And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord” (Hitler Pg. 102). The way he projected the killing could have influenced the people who were assisting in committing the murders to believe he was being God’s messenger, therefore God must be okay with the killings.

Cognitive perspective

Adolf Hitler’s wanted to create a society according to his ideals. In which Hitler used the categorization model (Twenge, 2017) to put people that he based were lesser, and based stereotypes on the basis of how to treat people that were different than him. One example of how we can see how he viewed the world around him as well as people was, with the way he created laws to treat Jewish people differently. “For Hitler the opposite of the Aryan was the Jew…The use of parasitic analogies reached horrendous proportions in Hitler’s thinking Jews were likened to rats, vermin, disease, the plague, germs and bacilli….if Jews are portrayed in terms unlike human beings, they do not have to be treated as such(Geary, 8). This categorization of people that weren’t what Hitler thought Aryan people should look like or be, allowed for his to think as the “other group”, as the enemy or threat that he needed to get rid of. Which resulted in the death of 6 million Jews.

Humanistic perspective

Based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs every human needs to have important needs in order to exceed and have a good life. According to Maslow all of these needs affect one another (Twenge, 2017).After the death of his father at a young age, due to his father having been the sole provider this, Adolf and his family didn’t always have food to eat in which case his basic physical needs aren’t being met. (Payne, 63).This is turn affects all the other areas such as love and belonging, safety needs, as well as the others.

Hitler’s view of the world and his fixation with the seeing the Aryan people as better than others was seen in the way his Nazi regime treated and based their beliefs in. According the theory of existentialism the world couldn’t function without the Aryan race and wasn’t dependent of the existence of Jewish people. Hitler believed the most obvious example of this truth is furnished by that race which has been, and still is, the standard-bearer of human progress: I mean the Aryan race (Hitler, 408). This way of thinking of led him to want a dictator style government.

In such a manifestly dictatorial state and one in which the leadership principle was meant to be embodied, it might seem logical to imagine that government and administration functioned easily. Hitler give the orders and were then transmitted downloads and enacted by the relevant authorities. There is no doubt that when Hitler really wanted something he got his way. (Geary, 42). This type of thinking in his mind paved the way to think he needed to get rid of other races, ways of thinking that differed or threaten his goal of having a perfect Aryan race. For as long as a people remain racially pure and are conscious of the treasure of their blood, they can never be overcome by the Jew. Never in this world can the Jew become master of any people except a bastardized people (Hitler, Pg. 454). By seeing the Jews as less than this in turn allowed Hitler to feel like himself and the Aryan race were in control, and where the only race able to practice free will. In which by creating concentration camps taking away Jews sense of free will.


Based on the early life anecdotes and autobiography of Adolf Hitler it was be clearer to understand what led him to make the choices he did. He had many unresolved issues stemming from the way he related to his father. In addition his feeling worthless and feeling like he needed to prove himself. Hitler in many of the examples displayed how his early years played in the way different stages are development were affected.


Geary, D. (2000). Hitler and Nazism. London: Routledge.
Hitler, A., & Manheim, R. (1994). Mein Kampf. Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/read/251544174/My-Struggle.
Jewish virtual library. (n.d.). Adolf Hitler. Retrieved from https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/adolf-hitler
Payne, R. (2015). The life and death of Adolf Hitler. New York: Brick Tower Press.
Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, K. W. (2017). Revel for Personality Psychology: Understanding Yourself and Others. Retrieved from https://www.pearson.com/us/higher-education/program/Twenge-Revel-for-Personality-Psychology-Understanding-Yourself-and-Others-Access-Card/PGM2463197.html?tab=order

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