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Richard A. Koenigsberg

I. Ideology and Metaphor

Ideologies contain, articulate and convey psychological meaning. Is it possible to decipher the latent content of ideological texts? My method consists of identifying recurrent metaphors in the writings and speeches of individuals who have been significant in promulgating an ideology.

An ideology structures and externalizes fantasies shared by a group. An ideology is a collective fantasy—comparable to a dream that many people are having at the same time. A psychological approach to culture focuses upon demonstrating how shared desires, fantasies, anxieties and conflicts give rise to and sustain collective representations.

Hitler's Ideology

by Richard Koenigsberg

Why did Hitler initiate the Final Solution and take Germany to war? Through analysis of the metaphors contained within Hitler's writings and speeches, Koenigsberg reveals the deep structure of Hitler's belief system.

Hitler's Ideology is available as a paperback—and for the first time as an e-book ($3.98). For information on how to order, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Praise for Hitler’s Ideology:

"The best critical analysis in English of Hitler's thought."
   —Colin Day

"Koenigsberg's genius has unlocked the secrets of a timeless drama."
   —Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology

II. Conceptual Metaphors

In The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason (1990), Mark Johnson writes about "imaginative projection," a principle whereby the body (i.e., physical experience and its structures) works its way up into the mind (i.e., mental operations). Metaphors, Johnson says, are not simply "figures of speech," rather constitute "pervasive, indispensable structures of understanding by means of which we comprehend our world."

Hitler's Ideology (Koenigsberg, 1975) presents and analyzes the central metaphors contained within Hitler's writings and speeches. Hitler's worldview grew out of his belief that Germany was an actual body—and that Jews were pathogenic organisms whose presence within the German body threatened to destroy the nation.

Hitler's understanding of Germany—Nazi ideology—was based on his perception of the Jew as a pathogenic presence within the German body politic. If Jews were not removed from within the body politic, this would spell the demise of Germany. The Final Solution was a desperate, hysterical struggle to cure Germany's disease—in order to prevent her death.

My analysis of Hitler's rhetoric is consistent with recent theories of embodied cognition. I demonstrate how a source domain (the human body) becomes mapped onto a target domain (the body politic). Hitler's metaphors played a cognitive function, generating action on the stage of political reality.

III. Fantasy and the Embodied Mind

Thomas Ogden states that fantasy "never loses its connection to the body." Fantasy content is traceable to thoughts and feelings about the "workings and contents of one's own body in relationship to the workings and contents of the body of the other."

If ideologies articulate fantasies—and fantasies derive from the body—it follows that ideologies are not separate from our bodies. How may we understand the relationship between body, fantasy and mental operations? Textual metaphors, I suggest, convey the presence of the body—and allow fantasies about the body to enter social reality.

Nazi ideology represented a fantasy about Germany as an organism suffering from a potentially fatal disease. This fantasy about the body was conveyed through the vehicle of images and metaphors that appear endlessly in speeches and ideological texts that the Nazis produced. The Nazis created culture and history based on a fantasy about the body projected into their ideology.

IV. The Human Body and the Body Politic

The reality that the Nazis constructed cannot be separated from bodily fantasy. If ideas about a target domain are derived from experiences in a source domain, it follows that ideas about bodies politic cannot be separated from the experience of our own bodies. Social theory typically focuses on the ways that discourse shapes the body. I hypothesize that our bodies—bodily experience—give rise to and structure discourse.

In the case of nationalism, the experience of one's body is projected into the idea of a body politic. Often, the line of demarcation between the two blurs. When Rudolf Hess declares, "Hitler is Germany, just as Germany is Hitler," he implies that there is no separation between Hitler and Germany. Hitler's small body has fused with the large body. Hitler has become a body politic. Two have merged into one.

Hitler's rhetoric about the German body politic contains a narrative about himself. When Hitler speaks about Germany as a body containing a disease, he is also speaking about his own diseased body. What was the nature of Hitler's disease—that led him to devise the Final Solution as a means to kill the disease within the body politic?


Koenigsberg, R. (1975). Hitler's ideology : a study in psychoanalytic sociology. New York: Library of Social Science.

Johnson, M. (1987). The body in the mind : the bodily basis of meaning, imagination, and reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ogden, T. (1986). The matrix of the mind : object relations and the psychoanalytic dialogue. Northvale, NJ: J. Aronson.