PERSONALITY THEORY: Adolf Hitler Struggle with Narcissistic Personality Disorder


            Narcissism is a mental disorder that makes people only to focus on their own ambitions without putting others into considerations.  People with Narcissistic Personality disorder are self-centered; tend to promote their selfish goals and lacks empathy. Narcissism is a disorder that can affect people during various stages of their lives and can be treated through counseling or after the experience has elapsed. This disorder can be passed from the parents to the children, can be learned by children as they go through various experiences in life. Hitler is one of the famous politicians who were affected by the Narcissistic Personality Disorder leading to severe consequence. Hitler’s psychological problem was triggered by the weak relationship with his father and the socioeconomic challenges that were facing Germany (Proctor, 2011).

            This Research paper examines the narcissistic personality disorder of Adolf Hitler and its effects in his leadership. The paper also explains how Hitler’s mental problem links with the Gordon Allport Personality Theory.

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was born in the year 1889 from a poor background. After going through the education system, he joined politics and rose through the ranks to become the president of Germany through his Nazi Party.  The German political leader was born to his mother and father Klara and Alois, in Germany. According to Proctor (2011), Hitler did not have a good relationship with the father, who was very authoritarian and instilled military discipline to his children. Hitler’s father Alois had relationships with different women, and in total, he had six children. Hitler’s relationship with the father played a significant role in shaping the future relationships that Hitler with others. In addition, Hitler’s childhood experiences played a role triggering the Narcissist disorder personality. Alois was an absent father who did not take time to build a good relationship with his family although he ensured that they had enough food and also catered for other needs of the family. Alois believed in whipping as a method of passing discipline to his children. He also used harsh words to his children which further weakened the relationship. Alois died when Hitler was thirteen years, and only two children out of the six made it to adulthood (Proctor, 2011).

At an early age, Hitler noticed that Jews had bigger businesses and controlled the entire wealth in the country. This made Hitler feel that his people were disadvantaged by the entire system that seemed to be under the control of the Jews in the country.  Due to the socioeconomic inequality in the country and the powerful control of the Jews, Hitler developed a great dislike for people from other races.

Adolf Hitler has been described as a name that is associated with an image of a madman in command, who had a direct hand on the suffering of millions of people in Germany.  Hitler used his great oratory skills to promote his ideologies and influenced millions of Germans to take part in the execution of the millions of Jews in the country.

According to Hyland et al (2011), Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental problem that involves a high level of arrogance and lack of empathy for other people. Narcissists are identified by their self-centeredness and demanding personality that only focus on getting special treatment from other people. The mental disorder can be triggered by various factors including genealogical inheritance to personal experiences. In the case of Hitler, his narcissism behavior was triggered by his upbringing and childhood experience in the society. There are various symptoms observed in a person suffering from Narcissist Personal Disorder which include criticism with anger, taking advantage of others, self-centeredness and lack of empathy. The killing of millions of Jews shows that Hitler was only focused on promoting self-interest goals and a great dislike of non-Germans.

Gordon Allport Theory

            Gordon Allport postulates that human beings are motivated by the tendency to satisfy opportunistic functioning.  According to Kotov et al (2010), Gordon Allport Theory presents seven functions that characterize the development of a human being. Gordon puts emphasis on the personal experience at an early age which forms the basis of behaviors of an individual. The seven functions are the sense of body, self-identity, self-esteem, self-extension, self-image, rational coping and appropriate striving.

Sense of body is a stage experience during the first two years of growth where the child develops the connection with oneself and becomes aware of the surrounding. During this stage, the child develops closeness with the family and siblings in trying to identify with the environment. The self-identity stage is characterized with identification with the past, present, and future happening around the child at the age of two. Gordon noted that the self-esteem stage is marked at the age of two to four years when the people start to understand the concept of value in life. At the age of two to four, the child starts to look for ways to improve their value in their surroundings. In the self-extension stage, people identify with the close subjects such as their parents, clans, gangs, community and nations. The Self-image stage brings in the aspect of comparison with other people or group of people. The rational coping stage is from six to twelve years when people starts to develop various methods and skills to help in dealing with various problems in life (Piekkola 2011). The last stage is propriate striving, which is past 12 years and it is marked by the idea and a sense of purpose of a person.

Based on the theory, Hitler’s weak relationship with the father hindered him from fully developing the rational coping skills. The coping skills help in dealing with people from different personalities without having a feeling of being short-changed. This is one of the reasons why it was difficult for Hitler to exercise tolerance when he gained power. As the leader of the country, Hitler collaborated with various leaders in the country to develop execution chambers that were used for killing the Jews. The bad relationship Hitler had at home prevented him from attaining full psychological maturity which would have prevented him from using anti-Semitic rhetoric to rise to power.

Hitler exercised his power by killing the Jews in the country, which according to Hyland et al (2011), was a way of dealing with his fears. Hitler feared that Germany was being taken over by the Jews. Therefore, Hitler used his oratory skills to rally masses of Germans behind his plan of eliminating the Jews for the country. The Holocaust also brings in the aspect of the weak-self image. Hitler developed a negative self-image right from his early years especially due to his childhood experiences. He experienced how the Germans were struggling when most of the Jews were in possession of major businesses in the country. In Germany, there was a huge gap between the rich and the poor and the government was doing enough to promote socioeconomic equity in the country. Therefore, as a German, Hitler saw that it was his right to be respected by other groups who were not from native Germans.

Hitler took advantage of the devastating condition of the many Germans who were living in abject poverty. During the elections of 1933, Hitler capitalized on the socioeconomic challenges that were facing the country at the time and combined with the violence that was taking place around the country. He was deemed the right person to take over the presidency. Hitler won the hearts of many Germans by branding the Jews as the sources of all the misfortunes that were facing the country. Because of the narcissist personality disorder, Hitler was able to plan for the execution of more than six million Jews without empathy. This means Hitler had already developed a self-image that only focused on self and was ready to eliminate others to lift the self-esteem (Hyland, et al 2011).

According to the Gordon Allport Personality theory, the child at the age of two to four years develops self-esteem and self-extension. From the early life of Hitler, his esteem may have been dented because he lacked a role model to guide him. Since his father was often absent, Hitler missed a fundamental growth stage of developing rational coping skills which gained at the age of six to twelve years. According to the theory, people are said to have attained psychological maturity when they are able to exhibit extension of self without conflicting with other people, form warm relations by expressing trust, tolerance, and empathy and portraying emotional security.


Narcissist Personality Disorder is a mental problem that may trigger various behaviors as the affected persons pursue their selfish goals. Hitler is a perfect example of a narcissist leader who made history by playing a major role in the execution of over six million Jews in various parts of Europe. Hitler is considered to have been suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder which is characterized by the lack of empathy and the pursuit of selfish goals. Hitler, through his good oratory skills, he spread propaganda terming Jews as the source of all the misfortunes that were facing the country. Germany was faced with socio-economic inequality and politically instigated riots. According to the theory that was developed by Gordon Allport, Hitler did not have a full psychological development during his childhood, which hindered his ability to cope with the various problems in like living with non-Germans. In addition, his self-image was skewed because he decided to promote his self-image and promote self-extension by speaking against Jews calling them a people that should only be exterminated from the world. Due to lack of psychological maturity, Hitler lacked skills to develop warm relations, emotional security and philosophy of life which include values, respect for life and personal conscience.



Kotov, R., Gamez, W., Schmidt, F., & Watson, D. (2010). Linking “big” personality traits to anxiety, depressive, and substance use disorders: a meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin, 136(5), 768.

Hyland, P., Boduszek, D., & Kielkiewicz, K. (2011). A psycho-historical analysis of Adolf Hitler: The role of personality, psychopathology, and development. Psychology and Society, 4(2), 58-63.

Piekkola, B. (2011). Traits across cultures: A neo-Allportian perspective. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 31(1), 2.

Proctor, R. (2011). Golden holocaust: origins of the cigarette catastrophe and the case for abolition. Univ of California Press.

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