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Hitler: The epitome of transference


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Hitler: The epitome of transference

 

I have recently watched “The Nazis: A Warning from History”. This series of DVDs makes it perfectly clear that the Germany population were handmaidens of Hitler. Hitler and the civilian population had a symbiotic relationship that provides the embodiment of the Freudian theory of transference on both the individual and on the group level.

 

Freud was the first to focus upon the phenomenon of a patient’s inclination to transfer the feelings s/he had toward her parents as a child to the physician. The patient distorts the perception of the physician; s/he enlarges the figure up far out of reason and becomes dependent upon him. In this transference of feeling, which the patient had for his parents, to the physician the grown person displays all the characteristics of the child at heart, a child who distorts reality in order to relieve his helplessness and fears.

 

Freud saw these transference phenomena as the form of human suggestibility that makes the control over another, as displayed by hypnosis, as being possible. Hypnosis seems mysterious and mystifying to us only because we hide our slavish need for authority from our self. We live the big lie, which lay within this need to submit our self slavishly to another, because we want to think of our self as self-determined and independent in judgment and choice.

 

The predisposition to hypnosis is identical to that which gives rise to transference and it is characteristic of all sapiens. We could not function as adults if we retained this submissive attitude to our parents, however, this attitude of submissiveness, as noted by Ferenczi, is “The need to be subject to someone remains; only the part of the father is transferred to teachers, superiors, impressive personalities; the submissive loyalty to rulers that is so widespread is also a transference of this sort.”

 

Freud saw immediately that when caught up in groups wo/man became dependent children once again. They abandoned their individual egos for that of the leader; they identified with their leader and proceeded to function with him as their ideal. Freud identified man, not as a herd animal but as a horde (teeming crowd) animal that is led by a chief. Wo/man has an insatiable need for authority.

 

People have an insatiable need to be hypnotized by authority; they seek a magical protection as when they were infants protected by their mother. This is the force that acts to hold groups together, intertwined within a mutually constructed but often mindless interdependence. This mindless group think also builds a feeling of potency. The members feel a sense of unity within the grasp of their leadership.

 

What do the following entities have in common: fascism, capitalism, communism, political parties, and religions? They all have a common characteristic that can be called “group mind”.

 

What is striking is that members of these entities often undergo a major change in behavior just by being members of such entities. Under certain conditions individuals who become members of these groups behave differently than they would as individuals. These individuals acquire the characteristics of a ‘psychological group’.

 

What is the nature of the ‘group mind’, i.e. the mental changes such individuals undergo as a result of becoming a group?

 

A bond develops much like cells which constitute a living body—group mind is more of an unconscious than a conscious force—there are motives for action that elude conscious attention—distinctiveness and individuality become group behavior based upon unconscious motives—there develops a sentiment of invincible power, anonymous and irresponsible attitudes--repressions of unconscious forces under normal situations are ignored—conscience which results from social anxiety disappear.

 

Contagion sets in—hypnotic order becomes prevalent—individuals sacrifice personal interest for the group interest.

 

Suggestibility, of which contagion is a symptom, leads to the lose of conscious personality—the individual follows suggestions for actions totally contradictory to person conscience—hypnotic like fascination sets in—will and discernment vanishes—direction is taken from the leader in an hypnotic like manner—the conscious personality disappears.

 

“Moreover, by the mere fact that he forms part of an organized group, a man descends several rungs in the ladder of civilization.” Isolated, he may be a cultivated individual; in a crowd, he is a barbarian—a creature acting by instinct. “He possesses the spontaneity, the violence, the ferocity, and also the enthusiasm and heroism of primitive beings.”

 

There is a lowering of intellectual ability “pointing to its similarity with the mental life of primitive people and of children…A group is credulous and easily influenced”—the improbable seldom exists—they think in images—feelings are very simple and exaggerated—the group knows neither doubt nor uncertainty—extremes are prevalent, antipathy becomes hate and suspicion becomes certainty.

 

Force is king—force is respected and obeyed without question—kindness is weakness—tradition is triumphant—words have a magical power—supernatural powers are easily accepted—groups never thirst for truth, they demand illusions—the unreal receives precedence over the real—the group is an obedient herd—prestige is a source for domination, however it “is also dependent upon success, and is lost in the event of failure”.

 

‘Why are groups so blind and stupid?’ Freud asked; and he replied that mankind lived by self delusion. They “constantly give what is unreal precedence over what is real.” The real world is too frightening to behold; delusion changes this by making sapiens seem important. This explains the terrible sadism we see in group activity.

 

Quotes are from Freud and his book “Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego”. I discovered that Freud had turned to the Frenchman Gustave Le Bon for empirical data on group behavior.

 

Gustave Le Bon was a French social psychologist, sociologist, and amateur physicist. His work on crowd psychology became important in the first half of the twentieth century. Le Bon was one of the great popularizers of theories of the unconscious at a critical moment in the formation of new theories of sociology.

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