An evocative new view of the Führer’s psychopathology


Hitler's Maladies

Tom Hutton, M.D., Ph.D.

Texas Tech University Press

February 28, 2023

ISBN-10 1682831663, 232 pages


Hitler’s Maladies is a groundbreaking, objective assessment of major historical significance. Dr. Tom Hutton, a neurologist, has meticulously researched and scientifically analyzed Hitler’s medical and behavioral records to formulate an evocative new view of the Führer’s psychopathology, establishing both the motivation and decision-making which ultimately resulted in millions of World War II deaths.  


Constructed from objective facts drawn from authentic records, interviews, historical accounts and artifacts, and overlaid with contemporary medical knowledge, the book is nonetheless remarkably clear and accessible to the non-medical layman. On top of that, both the narrative and the evidence are captivating: the linkage of verifiable pathologies afflicting Hitler explains the impetus and causation underlying many of his aberrant actions, beginning with his childhood and continuing through his infamous adulthood. The volume includes a fascinating collection of photos and documents relating to key points of Hitler’s entire life. 


Dr. Hutton’s analysis begins with Hitler’s parents’ medical histories gleaned from historical documents, as well as witness reports and testimony. The influence of their parenting and the acquired hereditary traits they passed along shaped the child Hitler and also influenced the adult. For example, Hitler was one of only two survivors among five siblings born to his family. His father died at age fifty of a horrifying embolism Hitler himself likely witnessed, and his mother slowly and painfully lost her battle with breast cancer.  


Dr. Hutton theorizes that all these factors combined to give the adult Hitler a sense of urgency based on the shortened lifespans of his parents and siblings due to disease, as well as a paradoxical feeling of preordination to invincibility he carried to the end of his life. These traits were likely further reinforced by his unlikely survival of a 1944 bombing plotted as an assassination attempt by some of his own military senior staff. 


His mother’s death prompted another unlikely paradox: the family physician whose medical treatment failed to save Hitler’s mother was himself Jewish. Nonetheless, he earned the gratitude of Chancellor Hitler even after the Kristallnacht watermark terrorizing of Jewish citizens. The doctor’s house was left unmarked, even as the doctor himself was allowed to purchase war-rationed items reserved for non-Jewish German citizens. Ultimately, he was allowed to emigrate to the United States. 


Dr. Hutton filters objective reports from pre- and post-war doctors and official records with an eye toward modern psychoneurological science to deconstruct the physical, mental, and emotional maladies that plagued Hitler throughout his adult life. Many afflictions were likely worsened by the ersatz treatment for digestive problems that may have then compounded other problems. For example, some of the dubious treatments for Hitler’s chronic digestive disorders may have engendered or intensified other pathologies, such as Hitler’s chronic irritable bowel syndrome that directly impacted his diet, health, and ultimately, his stamina to direct and command the German military.  


Foremost among the insidiously impactful pathologies that Dr. Hutton explicates in detail is Hitler’s affliction with Parkinson’s disease. The disease directly obstructed his ability to sort complex variables characteristically demanded by the unpredictability of war, thus precluding the German military from quickly and effectively responding to battlefield exigencies with amended tactics and strategies. 


Beyond the primary research of authenticated medical and historical reports, the author cites and explains previous and contemporary theories addressing Hitler’s diseases and their effects. When there is a conflict between older theories and current medical science, Dr. Hutton carefully clarifies. When there is reason to doubt a hypothesis regarding Hitler’s neurological and physiological condition and such impact, the author is clear and forthcoming, allowing the reader to understand the veracity and likelihood of theories, including his own. 


Dr. Hutton focuses on the importance of later-stage Parkinson’s debilitations and their effect on the warfighting ability of Axis forces due to an inability of Hitler to widen his focus, accept new and dynamic changes, and synthesize solutions collaboratively rather than autocratically. The author documents several rigid, ironfisted solutions Hitler clung to increasingly -- along with physical evidence from his doctors as well as photo evidence preserved during the war -- and the consequences those detriments exacted from the German war machine. Foremost among them was misapplication of weapons developments (Hutton highlights Hitler’s undervaluing of much needed “Wunder Weapons”) and stubborn intransigence on battle plans contradicted by his most experienced officers. 


This led to his fatal decision to attack Russia, including both Moscow and Leningrad, and Hitler’s doomed misinterpretation of the Normandy invasion. This latter blunder was hard to fathom, then or now: Hitler, the author explains, refused to discuss anything with his staff or commanding generals until after he’d had breakfast. On D-Day itself, the Führer didn’t wake until after noon, by which time the opportunity to counterattack had largely diminished, and Hitler’s hidebound orders doomed the Germans’ faint hope of negotiating an armistice to end the war on terms tolerable to Germany.   


Hutton’s Hitler’s Maladies is a must-read for historians and history buffs alike, and anyone who seeks a compelling, plainly elucidated, scientifically authenticated exploration of the inner workings of the one man most responsible for plunging the world into the deadliest war of the twentieth century.  

Tom Hutton, M.D., Ph.D., is an internationally recognized clinical and research neurologist and educator. The past president of the Texas Neurological Society, Dr. Hutton served as professor and vice chairman of the Department of Medical and Surgical Neurology at the Texas Tech School of Medicine.