About the Book: Description, Excerpt, and Table of Contents
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 nor 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 the war criminals’ malice stemmed from depraved psychopathology. Kelley viewed them as 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 Goering, 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.
Excerpt from Preface
Beginnings in a land of blood and manure
When the wind blows from the east, there is a gentle wafting of manure and blood that settles over Sioux City, Iowa. It is not unpleasant, and it reminds one of the agricultural richness of the area. Growing up there in the 1940s and 1950s was about the most secure environment imaginable, tucked away in the vastness and fastness of America, surrounded by thousands of square miles of prairie and Great Plains and remote from threatening borders.
And yet, there were shadows…. I think I must have been six or seven when I learned what shadows haunted our neighbors. I was on an after-dinner walk with my dad…. It was March or April, and the ground in the neighboring park was soft from the melting snows and the land smelled fresh. It was Passover, and my father was upset about a house call he had made that week. One of his patients …. was a concentration camp survivor who had witnessed the murder of his entire family on Passover in another land of rolling hills, blood, and manure. His religion told him to rejoice in his liberation on Passover; he knew better….
The executioner in my office
I was in my office … on the Massachusetts General Hospital grounds. There was a loud knock on my door, and I was startled because I wasn’t expecting anyone …. A stocky man walked in, saying without any preamble, “I am the executioner and I have come for you.” He sat down on my sofa, gestured to a gun case, and I said a quiet little prayer to myself. When he opened the case, I saw that it was not a gun case after all but rather a document case with scrolls of World War II documents. “I was the Nuremberg executioner and these documents prove that I am who I say I am....They were scum, Dimsdale, and you need to be studying them, not the survivors.”
…. This book traces the legacy of Nuremberg and what I have come to learn about evil, what I have called “the anatomy of malice.”
Table of Contents
Part I. Run-Up to Nuremberg
1. The Holocaust: How Was this Genocide Different?
2. The Gathering at Ashcan
Part II. Nuremberg
3. The War Crimes Trial: What Do We Do with the Criminals?
4. War Criminals with Psychiatrists and Psychologists?
Part III. Faces of Malice
5. Defendant Robert Ley: “Bad Brain”
6. Defendant Hermann Göring: “Amiable Psychopath”
7. Defendant Julius Streicher: “Bad Man”
8. Defendant Rudolf Hess: “So Clearly Mad”
Part IV. Coda to Nuremberg: Rorschachs and Recriminations
9. Douglas Kelley and Gustave Gilbert: A Collaboration from Hell
10. A Message in the Rorschachs?
11. Malice on a Continuum: The Social Psychologists’ Perspective
12. Malice as Categorically Different: Encounters with “the Other”