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."