ARTICLE: An Early Example of Personality Profiling: Henry A. Murray's Study of Adolf Hitler Written for the OSS Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2005 Rutgers University School of Law - Camden 
Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion

ARTICLE: An Early Example of Personality Profiling: Henry A. Murray's Study of Adolf Hitler Written for the OSS


8 Rutgers J. Law & Relig. 2


by Martyn Housden *, University of Bradford


History and psychoanalysis: an uneasy relationship

Henry A. Murray's memorandum, Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler with Predictions of his Future Behaviour and Suggestions for Dealing with him now and after Germany's Surrender 1, can be discussed from a number of different angles all of which reflect its status as an interesting historical source. To understand its contents more fully, we can ask after its likely origins and purposes. To give insights into political and military thinking as it was developing inside U.S. institutions during the Second World War, we can consider carefully the sort of issues Murray extended his analysis to address and the kind of recommendations about Hitler and the Germans which he was prepared to make. Rather different, but perhaps more provocative, is the fact that Murray's memorandum amounts to a "personality profile" drawn up before "profiling" had become a widely used investigative police practice. In this respect the document illuminates the history of that particular branch of psychological science. This is a particularly important point to make because it raises the current lack of an overarching scholarly history of profiling. Certainly there is no historical study which extends discussion of law enforcement applications of profiling to cover its possible military and intelligence uses. Furthermore, psychoanalysts can read Murray's memorandum to see how their discipline was developing in the early 1940s. What do the strengths and weaknesses of the author's method say about the theory and practice of their ...
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