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GERMANY: Neurotic Germans

Psychiatrist Daryl DeBell responds to requests that he comment on "neurotic Germans": "I am reluctant to do so because I am not convinced that a 'people' can be pigeonholed in that way. I do think that there are national characteristics however, that have a loose relationship to political tendencies. Germans, and perhaps more particularly Prussians, seem to tend more than other peoples to admire and aspire to orderliness both in their private and public lives. Freud tried to explain this to strict and early toilet training, a thesis which may have put the cart before the horse, since there is anthropological evidence that preliterate peoples who enforce early bowel control do not become "anal characters" or form authoritarian societies. It is not much of a theory, but I am inclined to think that chance circumstances and a few like-minded individuals create a local culture which becomes more widely established. The American culture which promotes self-reliance and individual ingenuity was certainly adaptive to the 'pioneer' circumstances, and it persists albeit in a faded form even today, notably and I think regrettably in our fierce capitalistic competitiveness. Germans appear to me to have been particularly willing to accept strong, authoritarian leaders, who promise them order and power. (but then the peoples of South America have had a similar willingness) As you can see, I am not very happy or convinced about these ideas, even though they may have a superficial appeal".

RH: How does this relate to suicide, in which Hungary topped the list. Surely the suicide rate has some significance.

Ronald Hilton - 5/9/03