Erich Fromm on Recognizing the Hitlers Among Us (Obama)

Erich Fromm - The Anatomy of Human DestructivenessErich Fromm was a well-know psychologist and popular author of Jewish ancestry. In his book “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness” he psychoanalyzed, Stalin, Hitler and others. He diagnosed Hitler as an an extreme Narcissist. He points out that evil men, do not always wear horns and they are often not easy to recognize before they enter their destructive phase.

Sam Vaknin, an internationally recognized expert, has stated that he believes Obama has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (aka Megalomania)and cited this book in reference to Hitler’s narcissism. Below are the last several paragraphs from the book.

I had still another aim: that of pointing to the main fallacy which prevents people from recognizing potential Hitlers before they have shown their true faces. This fallacy lies in the belief that a thoroughly destructive and evil man must be a devil-and look his part; that he must be devoid of any positive quality; that he must bear the sign of Cain so visibly that everyone can recognize his destructiveness from afar. Such devils exist, but they are rare. As I indicated earlier, much more often the intensely destructive person will show a front of kindliness; courtesy; love of family, of children, of animals; he will speak of his ideals and good intentions. But not only this. There is hardly a man who is utterly devoid of any kindness, of any good intention. If he were, he would be on the verge of insanity, except congenital “moral idiots.” Hence, as long as one believes that the evil man wears horns, one will not discover an evil man.

The naive assumption that an evil man is easily recognizable results in a great danger: one fails to recognize evil men before they have begun their work of destruction. l believe that the majority of people do not have the intensely destructive character of a Hitler. But even if one would estimate that such persons formed 10 percent of our population, there are enough of them to be very dangerous if they attain influence and power. To be sure, not every destroyer would become a Hitler, because he would lack Hitler’s talents; he might only become an efficient member of the SS. But on the other hand, Hitler was no genius, and his talents were not unique. What was unique was the sociopolitical situation in which he could rise; there are probably hundreds of Hitlers among us who would come forth if their historical hour arrived.

To analyze a figure like Hitler with objectivity and without passion is not only dictated by scientific conscience but also because it is the condition of learning an important lesson for the present and the future. Any analysis that would distort Hitler’s picture by depriving him of his humanity would only intensify the tendency to be blind to the potential Hitlers unless they wear horns.

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