Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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we were, we had to switch … to a different kind of mentality, to a different kind of attitude.” SS doctors had to make a similar switch, in their case much helped by prior immersion in Nazi ideology: “They were well prepared.” She was able to grasp something of the murderous doubling in Nazi doctors by recognizing more limited and benign forms of a related process in herself and other prisoners.

While all Nazi doctors underwent doubling in Auschwitz, Mengele was special in the seemingly extreme incompatibility of the two components of his double self, along with the extraordinary energy he could mobilize within that adaptation. His doubling was enhanced by certain psychological traits. I have in mind three dominant features of his self-process: his schizoid tendencies, his extraordinary capacity for numbing, and his impulse toward sadism and omnipotence (which turn out to be closely related). Eva C. puts us in touch with those traits by means of an artist’s description of the man, one that turns the tables on Mengele and makes him an anthropological subject: 
He looked like Peter Sellers, but better. … His head was like a cat’s head. It was wide at the temples. He had a widow’s peak, dark brown hair, brown eyes. His eyebrows made a kind of accent circumflex, like a cat. Using Mengele’s own terminology, I. would say he had an M-shaped mouth; a straight, short regular-medium nose; a wide, broad head; a mark on his left ear — a flat round disk on his ear cartilage. … His eyes were like Peter Sellers’s eyes — as though only half of the iris would show. They were dead eyes.
The “dead eyes” were part of his schizoid pattern, as was perhaps behavior associated with the rumors that he had been “shell-shocked” or that his war injury was a concussion; and also consistent with C.’s observation that “he seemed to be from a different planet and had just come down in a space ship.”

Mengele’s withdrawn state is also reflected in Dr. Marek P.’s description of him as a man who “never looked into your eyes … [or] show[ed] any signs of enjoyment … [but] seemed always … [to have] something else on his mind other than what he was doing, even when he was speaking to you.” A related trait was one prisoner doctor’s observation of his “lightning-fast change from being, on the one side, attentive and jovial … and then, within a fraction of a second, cynical and brutal.”

One expects considerable psychic numbing in a schizoid person, but with Mengele the numbing was extreme. As Dr. Lottie M. put it, “The main thing about him was that he totally lacked sentiment, lacked feeling” concerning the horrors of Auschwitz in which he was participating. As she further explained, “It’s that he didn't ever see a person ... [in] his contempt for everybody — except the doctors.” And so he seemed to have “no personal ties.” Dr. Alexander O. said he had “indifferent eyes … indifference to pain.” Teresa W. said he was “without emotion on his  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
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