The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind: Hitler, Hess, and the Analystsby Daniel Pick
An intellectual and cultural history of the encounter between psychology and fascism, The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind draws on neglected archive sources in Britain and the US, as well as literature, film, legal testimony, letters and memoirs, to map the rise and fall of psychoanalytic and psychiatric explanations of the Third Reich, highlighting the clinical/em>
An intellectual and cultural history of the encounter between psychology and fascism, The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind draws on neglected archive sources in Britain and the US, as well as literature, film, legal testimony, letters and memoirs, to map the rise and fall of psychoanalytic and psychiatric explanations of the Third Reich, highlighting the clinical ambition to transform mysterious "Nazi monsters" into plausible, individual "case studies."
Daniel Pick brings both the skills of the historian and the trained psychoanalyst to weave together the story of clinical encounters with leading Nazis and the Allies' broader interpretations of the Nazi high command and the mentality of the wider German public. Following the bizarre capture of Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess in 1941, leading British psychiatrists (especially Dr. Henry Dicks) assessed their new charge, in an attempt to understand both the man himself and the psychological bases of his Nazi convictions. Around the same time, Pick reveals, a similar team of American officers (notably Walter Langer) working for the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA, were engaged in an attempt to understand Hitler's personality from afar, using the theories and techniques of Sigmund Freud. Pick then weaves together these Allied attempts to understand Hess and Hitler with the wider attempt to understand the pathology of Nazism and its hold over the German people.
Pick asks what such psychoanalytical and psychiatric investigations set out to do, showing how Freud's famous "talking cure" was harnessed to the particular needs of military intelligence during the war and the post-war reconstruction period. Looking beyond this, he also shows just how deeply post-war Western understandings of how minds work and groups operate were influenced by these wartime attempts to interpret the psychopathology of Nazism.
"A superb new book ... Pick, a distinguished historian of admirable breadth as well as a psychoanalyst, is the ideal author of such a study. His treatment of psychoanalysis is both historically framed and theoretically nuanced." Professor Paul Lerner, Times Literary Supplement
- Oxford University Press, USA
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Meet the Author
Daniel Pick is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. An editor of History Workshop Journal, he is also a practicing psychoanalyst and a fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He is the author of numerous works on European cultural history, including Svengali's Web: The Alien Enchanter in Modern Culture and, most recently, Rome or Death: The Obsessions of General Garibaldi.
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