After reading an article written by Lee Harvey Oswald's old friend, Paul Gregory, I realized that Oswald was strikingly similar in pathology to Hitler; they were both narcissists.
In Der Fuhrer, Hitler is shown to be quite an unexceptional student, demonstrating adequacy in some subjects and inadequacy in others. Hitler did not demonstrate greatness in any aspect of his youth, and I don't say that as a contrast to his future political/genocidal career, but as an account given by his peers and experts at that time. He was spoiled, had low tolerances for discomfort, hadn't mastered or achieved anything, and had a lackluster faculty of both written and spoken word. "For four years he strove to prove his relatives at home, to the haughty professors of the Academy of Art, to the heartless city of Vienna, and above all himself, that in spite of everything Heaven had chosen him to be an artist-prince." (Der Fuhrer, 54) Look at the key concepts and noun-qualifiers in this sentence: Prove to others. Haughty professors. Heartless Vienna. Despite normalcy, appointed artist-prince. These concepts all point toward a brewing narcissism, yet lack an essential ingredient to push him over the edge into the abyss.
When he was twenty Hitler stayed in a lodging-house and befriended an older man, misinterpreting one of the man's life-lessons. Hitler was interested in digging work, but his new friend told him not to because once you start digging it's difficult to move up the ladder and find better work. Hitler obliged. "The man who characterized himself by this shrewd warning was Reinhold Hanisch, later an artist; somewhat older than Hitler he was living in the same misery, and he was an expert in the ups and downs of life...Like Hitler he had been on a downgrade fro several years; but Hitler had come to a turning point. The vagabond scholar, the artist-prince of his childhood dreams, had reached the hopeless depths in which bitter self-knowledge scornfully announced to him: now nothing can help you but work. Hitler nevertheless decided not to work." (Der Fuhrer, 56) So instead of knuckling up and digging his heels in, he convinced himself that from that point onward, reward must accompany effort. So if he were to drive forward in something, he better have an immediate reward, and adding that to his entitlement and feelings of being misunderstood, he became a through and through narcissist.
Paul Gregory knew Lee Harvey Oswald pre-JFK assassination, because Oswald taught him Russian when they were in their twenties. When Lee was a younger man, he joined the Marines but lacked the intelligent ruthlessness that granted promotion, and also the physical frame that served military life. He was skinny, weak, had a diminutive voice (unlike Hitler), with his strongest trait being an ego-fed charisma. He was known to be smug, curt. He defected to the Soviet Union because there an english-speaking white man granted one celebrity. He stayed there for two and a half years. When he returned he brought his wife, Marina, and a much larger ego and sense of purpose. When Oswald's brother greeted him upon return, the first thing Lee said was, "Where are the reporters?" If you think that indicates a massive ego, look at what he named his personal diary: "Historic Diary." Oswald believed he was made for greatness; he felt it. He just needed the world to understand his version of greatness, which, unfortunately for them, didn't see as useful.
Oswald's life in America was torturous for a few reasons. One, he didn't have the entrepreneurial skills to be creatively productive and became progressively embittered that his amazing gifts were going to waste. Two, although Marina accepted his role as the head of the household, she wasn't blind to his practical faults. She wondered why he was constantly trying to prove himself to her and the rest of the world when his family was basically starving. He took this as dismissal. Three, his book knowledge on Communism and Socialism weren't tested--which doesn't make him unique--however when you have a wife that grew up in the depravity of Communist Soviet Union, and can bring gritty reality to your Marxist-theories, you develop some contempt. And four, when Oswald emphatically declared he would be a college man and marched to a local university, he was quickly turned away because he hadn't even finished high school. All these things add up to an extremely embittered young man, and unfortunately for Marina he took it out on her. Refusing to allow her to learn English, she became his emotional garbage disposal. She yearned for more, but he protected his fragile ego by enslaving her to the ignorance of learning English in America. Unsurprisingly he admitted to his brother that he'd do something great, that he'd kill someone famous. Since he couldn't silence his ego and develop and accept a realistic self-image, he decided to go outside of himself for energy and power. And we know how his story ends.
The narcissism of these two figures did not develop overnight. It didn't happen because of one or two events, nor did it happen because they lacked resources to "help them." Both Hitler and Oswald had plenty of opportunities to calibrate their egos with reality. That's not to say it's easy, but that's the whole point of Reinhold Hanisch's advice to Hitler: Work is what brings desired effects. It won't be easy or fun, but it will get you closer to the outcomes you want. Neither Hitler or Oswald accepted that. They chose to focus on the self-perception and self-evaluation of their gifts, rather than reality's constant valuation of those "gifts" which never affirmed them. Sure, when Hitler was young he demonstrated a talent for painting, but he was most certainly not an artist-prince. Nor was Oswald a political intellectual, despite smugly "solving the problems of the world."
Narcissism is indicated by a lack of empathy, which is a cause as much as it is an effect. In other words, it's triggered by a strongly subjective orientation, creating a larger and self-feeding (self-prophesizing) subjective orientation. A lack of empathy requires self-deception and rewards self-deception; the self-entitlement, the feelings of being misunderstood, the emotional fits, and the rhetoric all convince the narcissistic person that those premises are a true and accurate depiction of reality which they deserve to reap. This explains the lack of seeing the value in empathy, which is why Oswald could blithely say he'd kill a famous person, or how Hitler could send orders to wipe out millions of human beings. The pathology of narcissism convinces one that their anti-empathic actions are misunderstood manifestations of their greatness. Both of these figures are exactly the same in that respect.
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