THE NUREMBERG MIND: The Psychology of the Nazi Leaders by Florence R. & Michael Seizer Miale

THE NUREMBERG MIND: The Psychology of the Nazi Leaders

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Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking American psychologist, managed to gain unlimited access to the Nazis imprisoned at Nuremberg and give them Rorschach tests. The authors analyze their responses to ten ink blots, endeavoring to prove that the war criminals were psychologically and morally diseased, not, as Hannah Arendt and others would have it, normal people under abnormal pressure. However, the book's interpretations are far too crude and arbitrary to justify its rather startling approach. Shifts by Hans Frank, the ""butcher of Poland,"" from emphasis on the black part of a blot to the white is taken as ""unstable ethical judgment""; when Ribbentrop sees a skunk, it means he considers himself a skunk; the subjects are termed stunted when they make literal responses, and warped when they do not. Unfortunately for the authors' effort to refute Arendt, deadness and emotional vacuity come through far more than spectacular obsessions with violence or sexual fantasies, even though the blots themselves tend to invite an individual's most grotesque projections. (Albert Speer is perhaps the most remarkable for his utter inhibition and banality.) Clearly, it would take more sensitive and rigorous interpreters than Miale and Seizer to sort out the effects of defeat, imprisonment and impending death from the essential character of these men as indicated by their Rorschach responses. Undeniably interesting but quite quirky as science or even speculation.

Pub Date: Dec. 12th, 1975
Publisher: Quadrangle/New York Times