Anatomy of Malice: The Enigma of the Nazi War Criminals

Anatomy of Malice: The Enigma of the Nazi War Criminals

by Joel E. Dimsdale
Anatomy of Malice: The Enigma of the Nazi War Criminals

Anatomy of Malice: The Enigma of the Nazi War Criminals

by Joel E. Dimsdale


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In this gripping and haunting narrative, a renowned psychiatrist sheds new light on the psychology of the war criminals at Nuremberg

When the ashes had settled after World War II and the Allies convened an international war crimes trial in Nuremberg, a psychiatrist, Douglas Kelley, and a psychologist, Gustave Gilbert, tried to fathom the psychology of the Nazi leaders, using extensive psychiatric interviews, IQ tests, and Rorschach inkblot tests. Never before or since has there been such a detailed study of governmental leaders who orchestrated mass killings.

Before the war crimes trial began, it was self-evident to most people that the Nazi leaders were demonic maniacs. But when the interviews and psychological tests were completed, the answer was no longer so clear. The findings were so disconcerting that portions of the data were hidden away for decades and the research became a topic for vituperative disputes. Gilbert thought that the war criminals’ malice stemmed from depraved psychopathology. Kelley viewed them as morally flawed, ordinary men who were creatures of their environment. Who was right?

Drawing on his decades of experience as a psychiatrist and the dramatic advances within psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience since Nuremberg, Joel E. Dimsdale looks anew at the findings and examines in detail four of the war criminals, Robert Ley, Hermann Göring, Julius Streicher, and Rudolf Hess. Using increasingly precise diagnostic tools, he discovers a remarkably broad spectrum of pathology. Anatomy of Malice takes us on a complex and troubling quest to make sense of the most extreme evil.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300226935
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 05/30/2017
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Joel E. Dimsdale is distinguished professor emeritus and research professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. He lives in San Diego, CA.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

The Protagonists xi

Introduction 1

Part 1 Run-Up to Nuremberg

1 The Holocaust: How Was This Genocide Different from All the Rest? 9

2 The Gathering at Ashcan 22

Part 2 Nuremberg

3 The War Crimes Trial: What Do We Do with the Criminals? 37

4 War Criminals with Psychiatrists and Psychologists? 51

Part 3 Faces of Malice

5 Defendant Robert Ley: "Bad Brain" 71

6 Defendant Hermann Goring: "Amiable Psychopath" 85

7 Defendant Julius Streicher: "Bad Man" 102

8 Defendant Rudolf Hess: "So Plainly Mad" 114

Part 4 Coda to Nuremberg: Rorschachs and Recriminations

9 Douglas Kelley and Gustave Gilbert: A Collaboration from Hell 139

10 A Message in the Rorschachs? 155

11 Malice on a Continuum: The Social Psychologists' Perspective 167

12 Malice as Categorically Different: Encounters with "the Other" 182

Conclusion 198

Notes 205

Acknowledgments 233

Index 235

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