Last week as I waited for nearly two hours to see the doctor, I picked up a magazine called Monitor on Psychology. This publication is issued by American Psychological Association and I was intrigued by a the title of one of the stories inside — “In Search of the Nazi Personality.”
I took a lot of notes, figuring that the article wouldn’t be online. But, to my surprise, it was.
It’s a fascinating overview of how psychologists and psychiatrists have attempted to analyze the minds of the Nazis who took inkblot tests while in Nuremberg prison during their trials.
From Monitor on Psychology – Time capsule (the bolding is mine):
In search of the Nazi personality
The Nazi Rorschach responses have captured psychologists’ imaginations for decades.
By Nick Joyce
Print version: page 18
It’s true: Hermann Goering, among others, took inkblot tests in Nuremberg prison. What’s less certain is what the results of these tests mean.
In the aftermath of World War II, Allied forces captured and detained many of the remaining Nazi leaders, including Goering, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Rudolf Hess and Albert Speer. The Allied leaders in charge of the Nuremberg trials sought psychological profiles of the Nazis and asked psychologist Gustave Gilbert, PhD, and psychiatrist Douglas Kelley, MD, both Americans, to collect the data using psychological tools such as the Thematic Apperception Test, Rorschach Inkblot Test and the German translation of the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Test. Even though the tests played little role in the trials, the scientists were searching for answers to a question that still lingers today: Were the Nazis evil men or merely ordinary people who did horrific deeds because they were ordered to do so?
Both examiners found all of these men legally sane, but had different views on how to interpret the data.
…Gilbert was attuned to the socio-cultural context of the Nazi leadership. He claimed that the Nazis were raised in a culture that had a primary value of deference to authority to which all other reason and intelligence took a backseat. He concluded that democratic leaders should be trained as critical thinkers to prevent that same kind of blind obedience.
In his 1947 book, “Twenty-two Cells in Nuremberg” (unknown publisher), Kelley wrote that although some of the Nazi prisoners showed some pathology of personality during the examinations, he did not believe they were mentally ill. Kelley cautioned that a Nazi-style government would be possible even in America because it was a “socio-cultural disease” and not a product of insane leaders…
At the time Gilbert and Kelley were publishing their analyses, Molly Harrower, PhD, a Rorschach authority, tried to gather a panel of 10 experts to add their insights, but none agreed to do so because at the time, there was little chance that the world wanted to see these men as anything but pathological.
Thirty years later, Harrower believed the political environment had changed enough to allow for an objective evaluation of the results. She used a double-blind procedure to have 10 Rorschach experts interpret the Nazis’ results and matched control responses from clergy and hospital patients. Harrower arranged four groups of reports, two with all Nazis, one with clergy and the last with patients. The responses of the experts noted no similarities in the Nazi protocols nor signs of mental disturbance, indicating that Nazi leaders were seemingly no different from average Americans.
Harrower’s findings are not definitive and there has been discussion about methodological problems and other factors. But, she published her final work, as part of a book called “The Quest for the Nazi Personality” in 1995, more than 60 years after VE-Day.
The interest in the personality of Nazi leaders continues unabated. One has to wonder what psychologists will be saying about the “Obama culture” — followers and leaders — that we’ve seen take over America over the last year…
Filed under: Current Politics | Tagged: "The Quest for the Nazi Personality", "Twenty-two Cells in Nuremberg", Albert Speer, American Psychological Association, blind obedience, deference to authority, Hermann Goering, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Molly Harrower PhD, Monitor on Psychology magazine, Nazis, Nick Joyce, Nuremberg trials, Obama Administration, psychiatrist Doublas Kelley MD, psychologist Gustave Gilbert PhD, Rorschach Inkblot Test, Rorschach test, Rudolf Hess, Thematic Apperception Test, Wechler-Bellevue Intelligence Test | 24 Comments »