chapter  11
14 Pages

Inside the mind of the lone actor


In his account of how he came to be tasked with mapping the mind of Adolf Hitler, psychologist and psychoanalyst Walter Langer describes a conversation with General Bill Donovan, head of the then U.S. intelligence organization OSS. The General asked Langer for

a realistic appraisal of the German situation. If Hitler is running the show, what kind of a person is he? What are his ambitions? How does he appear to the German people? What is he like with his associates? What is his background? And most of all, we want to know as much as possible about his psychological make-up-the things that make him tick. In addition, we ought to know what he might do if things begin to go against him. Do you suppose you could come up with something along these lines?1