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Book Reviews
February 2002

Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002;59(2):192-194. doi:

What can contemporary psychiatry bring to the study of history? Fritz Redlich, MD, former Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University (New Haven, Conn), and more recently, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles, has given us reason to contemplate this question with his recent pathography of Adolph Hitler.

Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet promises to help us understand the Nazi leader by providing a detailed medical and psychiatric analysis. Toward this end, Redlich has doggedly tracked down and collated the medical files on Hitler. This book will stand for years to come as the authoritative text on these matters. Furthermore, Redlich proves to be a careful guide, taking his reader skillfully through the evidence. The author's thoroughness is exemplary; we find Hitler's electrocardiograms, his laboratory and eye examinations, his medications, and his autopsy report. In the chapter "Medical Review," Redlich evaluates the extant information, and in the end, he signs on to a few diagnoses, most notably Parkinson disease, temporal arthritis, amphetamine abuse (though not addiction), syphillophobia, and a likely congenital hypospadias. Just as importantly, however, Redlich cuts through the jungle of prior medical claims about Hitler. In fact, his book is most valuable for what it says Hitler did not have. For Redlich concludes this medical review by decisively stating on page 253 that, "Hitler's crimes and errors were not caused by [medical] illness."

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