Neurodivergent intersectional axis
- May 28, 2018
- 149d 22h 59m
A phrase that Winston Churchill coined with reference to Russia—‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’—could usefully be applied to Hitler. Many of Hitler’s traits seem very autistic. Hitler was interested in art, but failed in his efforts to get into the Vienna Academy. He lived in poverty, unemployed or doing various menial jobs, until he went to Munich and volunteered for service in the First World War, during which he was decorated. It was said that he was quite courageous and never tried to evade dangerous assignments in the war. It is clear that the army gave him a structure that he could adapt to in his own way, and it took him off the streets. After the war he returned to Munich, became a member of the German Workers’ Party and began his rise, basically as a mob orator. There then followed his relatively rapid rise to become leader of the German nation, the Second World War and his death by suicide. He was a poor sleeper and had food fads. He recoiled from physical contact, was unable to forge genuine friendships, and showed an emptiness in his human relations.28 His conversations in the Men’s Home in Vienna were really harangues and invited no reciprocity, for which he lacked the capacity. In Munich he was distant, self-contained, withdrawn and without friends.29 His comrades noted that he had no humanitarian feelings.30 He was extremely socially awkward and uncertain in small groups. He showed little human interest in his followers, and even one of his leading supporters accused him of ‘contempt for mankind’.31 In addition, a colleague, Gregor Strasser, thought that there was ‘something other-worldly about Hitler…a lack of knowledge of human beings and with it a lack of sound judgement of them…he lived without any bonds to another human being’.32 His poor adaptation to people was perhaps most obvious in his relations with women.33 During his life he took only a slight interest in a couple of women. One was his niece, Geli Raubal, who effectively became his prisoner and said ‘my uncle is a monster’;34 she apparently committed suicide in his apartment. His second relationship Autism and creativity 22 was with Eva Braun, who apparently attempted suicide by shooting in 1932 and died with him in the bunker in 1945. His colleagues regarded him as a remote figure: he was an obsessive, and obsessives rarely make good or interesting company, except in the eyes of those who share the obsession or those in awe of, or dependent on, such an unbalanced personality.35 He was single minded and inflexible. He spent a great deal of time with Albert Speer, examining architectural plans, and this remained a major focus throughout his life. His other major interest was in the music of Wagner. His greatest interest, clearly, was in control over people and power over people. His ability to achieve this control and power was extraordinary: he was able to extend that power until it became absolute, until field marshals were prepared to obey without question the orders of a former corporal, until highly skilled ‘professionals’ and clever minds in all walks of life were ready to pay uncritical obeisance to an autodidact whose only indisputable talent was one for stirring up the base emotions of the masses.36 He was an ‘ideologue of unshakeable convictions’.37 Hitler had ‘a bed compulsion, which demands that the bed be made in a particular way with the quilt folded according to a prescribed pattern and that a man must make the bed before he could go to sleep’.38 Hitler did not use language for the purpose of interaction with others, but only for the purpose of dominating others. He endlessly engaged in long-winded, pedantic speeches, with ‘illogical arguments full of crude comparisons and cheap allusions’.39 When Anton Drexler, the leader of the DAP,40 first heard him speak in September 1919, he remarked: ‘goodness, he’s got a gob. We could use him.’41 Hitler was regarded as a great orator even though his voice could be ‘distinctly unpleasant. It has a rasping quality and often breaks into a shrill falsetto when he becomes aroused.’42 He was unable to carry on a normal conversation or discussion with people. Even if only one other person was present, he had to do all the talking. ‘His manner of speech soon loses any conversational qualities it might have had and takes on all the characteristics of a lecture that may easily develop into a tirade. He simply forgets his companions and behaves as though he were addressing a multitude’, repeating the same stories over and over again in exactly the same form, almost as though he had memorised them.43 After the First World War ‘his awkward mannerisms’ were noted.44 At that time: in his gangster hat and trenchcoat over his dinner jacket, touting a pistol and carrying as usual his dog-whip, he cut a bizarre figure in the salons of Munich’s upper-crust. But his very eccentricity of dress and exaggerated mannerisms…saw him lionized by condescending hosts and fellowguests.45 In his early days he wore the Bavarian costume. His clothes were not clean with ‘his mouth full of brown, rotten teeth and his long fingernails he presented a rather grotesque Diagnostic issues 23 picture’. His gait was ‘a very lady-like walk. Dainty little steps. Every few steps he cocked his right shoulder nervously, his left leg snapping up as he did so.’ He also had a ‘tic in his face that caused the corner of his lips to curl upwards’. People found his look ‘staring and dead’46 Herman Rauschning stated that ‘anyone who has seen this man face to face, has met his uncertain glance, without depth or warmth, from eyes that seem hard and remote, and has then seen that gaze grow rigid, certainly has experienced the uncanny feeling: that man is not normal’.47 At the home of Ernst Hanfstaengl, an upper-middle-class American, the host noted ‘his awkward use of a knife and fork’.48 He ate ‘large quantities of eggs prepared in 101 different ways by the best chef in Germany, and a large variety of fresh vegetables prepared in unusual ways. In addition, Hitler consumes incredible quantities of pastries.’49 Adolf Hitler meets the criteria for autistic psychopathy described by Hans Asperger.50 He was not schizophrenic. The combination of a person with autistic psychopathy and a nation in turmoil after the First World War (even though this nation was modern, cultured, and technologically advanced) caused Germany to sink into what Kershaw51 describes as ‘scarcely imaginable brutality and rapaciousness…a form of nuclear blowout within modern society’.