Don’t call me Adolf

hitler by heavyweighthowe, deviantart

There’s an article that has been floating around for the past few months wherein the authors conjecture that the atrocities of Adolph Hitler may have been linked to his having Parkinson’s Disease.  I read this piece in Discover magazine. I’m curious what you think of it. Could he have indeed been suffering from Parkinson’s? Obviously, this couldn’t be rationalized as an excuse for his actions but where does this line of enquiry take us? Might it suggest that we who have PD share similar characteristics?  What do you make of the purported link? Here’s an excerpt:

Did Parkinson’s Disease Influence Hitler?
By Neuroskeptic | June 30, 2015 

A new paper from a group of American neurologists makes the case that Hitler suffered from Parkinson’s disease for much of his life, and that some of his most fateful decisions were influenced by the neurological disorder. The article is by Raghav Gupta and colleagues and it appears in World Neurosurgery – a journal with an interesting political history of its own.

Gupta et al. note that “The possibility of Hitler suffering from Parkinson’s has long been the subject of debate… [a researcher] Lieberman suggested that Hitler suffered from Parkinson’s as early as 1933: video evidence depicts that Hitler exhibited progressive motor function deterioration from 1933 to 1945”.

That Hitler suffered from Parkinson’s at the end of his life is not a new idea but Gupta et al. say that Hitler’s disease may have impacted large parts of his career, making him impulsive and reckless, and ultimately making him lose WW2. They suggest that “Hitler’s condition may have led him to attack Russia prematurely [in 1941]… Lieberman has suggested that the decision to invade Russia without and before defeating Britain on the western front and waiting for reinforcements from Japan, was not only reckless but also was influenced by Hitler’s failing health”.

The authors also cite other bad decisions of Hitler’s such as the failure to defend Normandy in 1944, and his refusal to allow his forces to withdraw from Stalingrad in 1942, as products of the dictator’s “volatile temperament” which, they say, may have been exacerbated by his Parkinson’s.

But military incompetence is not the end of it. Gupta et al. go as far as to suggest that Hitler’s inhuman policies were influenced by his disease. “Hitler often accused, deceived, and betrayed others for personal gain and was especially known for his lack of remorse and sympathy, which can be further associated with his Parkinson’s… The character traits which define Hitler as a notorious political leader and brutal dictator, one who carried out innumerous war crimes in the 20th century, may then be directly associated with his diagnosis”. Gupta et al. seem to be suggesting that Parkinson’s can make people, literally, prone to becoming like Adolf Hitler. I don’t think this will go down well with Parkinson’s sufferers. The authors go on to say that “Hitler’s inhumane personality, marked by a true lack of sympathy and remorse, can also be ascribed to his condition, often compelling him to act in ways that we today characterize as brutal, callous, and unethical”.


9 thoughts on “Don’t call me Adolf”

  1. Thanks Rob-what a horrible thought! You have done well to pass it along to some other people with PD.I’m amazed how you find these related stories! Must be work for sure.See you later today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rob, this piece is the worst form of biological determinism. In this case the claim that judgment, morality and even one’s essential humanity is determined by one’s biological and neurological condition. At the same time it quite directly suggests by implication that Hitler’s quite horrible attributes are shared by others who have Parkinsons. Overall, it seems to fail to recognize that personal character is not in most cases determined by biology but by non biological factors including one’s culture, ideology, value system etc. They seem not to remember the countless Nazis who participated in Hitler’s crimes that did not have Parkinsons. What caused them to commit such crimes…some other neurological disease? Hardly likely. So, yes, do not call people with Parkinsons Adolf. It is an insult to them. Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree Michael…I’d be tempted to line these ‘Gupta et al’ along a wall and shoot them, if it weren’t…er…illegal.
      Thing is, it was most often Hitler’s henchmen ideas that came to fruition – not his…he was far too lofty for much more than ‘concepts’. The evil actually done in his name was rarely of a singular mind.

      Tell you what, if I had Parkinson’s, I’d sure as all hell be pissed. But my husband (who does have it – 16 years now) is far too BUSY to orchestrate such balderdash!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Adolf – Oh, I mean Rob! – for housewatching & mail “pick-up-ing” yet again.

    Now that I’ve seen this though, I’m just going to climb up into my Berghof on our Eagle’s Nest, and keep a neighbourly eye on you. 😉

    Never let it be said “She went down without a fight”.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. How preposterous can someone get! To state such nonsense would infer that those with PD lack no morals, sense of justice and decency. From what I know about Rob Kendrick and Micheal J. Fox – this couldn’t be farther from the truth. To state that those with a life altering disease of any kind also attacks someones moral fiber is beyond insulting for lack of a better word. The “pit bull” in me is angered at the ignorance as I see if as an attack on a dear friend. I will have to pull up the article and respond to the editor. Why would anyone want to defend the actions of Hitler? They are not dependable!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I understood that PD is so difficult to diagnose that doctors often just make an assumption that a person has it if he/she responds positively to L-Dopa. Here is a man (Adolph Hitler) who has been dead 70 years who may have been sick – but to say he had PD is utter speculation.


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