Hypnosis

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David Edward Post,1 M.D.

The Hypnosis of Adolf Hitler

REFERENCE: Post DE. The hypnosis of Adolf Hitler. J Forensic Sci 1998;43(6):1127–1132. ABSTRACT: A little-known United States Naval Intelligence document (declassified in 1973) for the first time identified Dr. Edmund Forster as the psychiatrist who treated Adolf Hitler during his recovery in Pasewalk Military Hospital. The fact that Adolf Hitler served as a corporal in World War I is known. However, little has been known as to the psychiatric treatment of Hitler during the autumn of 1918 after he fell victim to a mustard gas attack while serving in the front lines with The 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment. Historians (Rudolph Binion and John Toland) have acknowledged Hitler’s days in the Pasewalk Hospital, but Hitler’s psychiatric treatment was not the focus of their attention. The author of the present paper (a psychiatrist) sets out to better understand what is known about Forster’s encounter with Adolf Hitler; and discusses the possibility that suggestions given to Hitler under hypnosis may have influenced the course of history. KEYWORDS: forensic science, forensic psychiatry, psychohistory, hypnosis, Hitler, Ernst Weiss, The Eyewitness (Der Augenzeuge), Toland, Binion, Post, Pasewalk, Forster

(3). Recognizing that further clarification was needed, the author located, interviewed, and videotaped Toland to get further leads to pursue. Out of this encounter, the author located, interviewed, and videotaped Rudolph Binion. Finally, the author located a copy of The Eyewitness and then re-reviewed all materials. Results Mustard Gas Attack/Hitler’s Pasewalk Hospitalization In mid-October 1918, Hitler served with the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment, which was subjected to severe mustard gas bombing while serving on the Belgian front. ‘‘The men huddled in trenches while British shells tore up the ground around them. The veterans were numbed; the recruits terrified’’ (4). ‘‘Those who escaped with their lives were painfully blinded; all but one who could still see faintly led the others to a first aid station as they hung on to each other’s coattails. From there, a hospital train carried the survivors to the military hospital in Pasewalk (4). ‘‘Still blinded as the train carried him eastward, Hitler was in a state bordering on collapse . . . Like other victims, his eyes were swollen; his face puffed up . . . The soldiers would not allow their eyes to be treated; they would not eat (4). Four years earlier Hitler’s regiment had been bloodied in battle in that same (Belgian) area (and) losing an almost inconceivable eighty per cent of its personnel in one week . . . Yet, Hitler remained unshaken as indicated by writing his Munich landlord that ‘with pride I can say our regiment handled itself heroically from the very first day on . . .’’’ (4). While at Pasewalk Military Hospital, Hitler rejected defeatist talk, and ‘‘if anyone argued with him he would become furious and then jam his hands into his pockets and pace back and forth with long strides, abusing the pessimists’’ (4). Psychiatric Consult by Forster During Hitler’s hospitalization, Dr. Edmund Forster (chief of the Berlin University Nerve Clinic) was consulted (3,4). Forster diagnosed Hitler as a ‘‘psychopath with hysterical symptoms’’ rather than attributing his initial symptomology to mustard gas, which is not surprising since mustard gas was a new warfare agent. Nonetheless, Hitler had experienced the usual symptoms of moderate mustard gas poisoning: burning, swelling, moaning, depression and recovery in weeks (4). Gradually, ‘‘the swelling of Hitler’s eyelids and the piercing of his sockets began to diminish and slowly he succeeded in distinguishing the broad outline of things about him (4). Yet, on the evening of November 9, 1918, patients gathered in the hospital to receive news from the pastor, who informed them

Reconstructing events in a Pasewalk military hospital during the autumn of 1918...
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