A Psychopathic God, Richard III Was Not


“If all you see is what you’ve seen before,
you’re going to miss half of what’s going on.”

~Diana Bennett, “Beauty & the Beast”

I’m in the middle of reading a book called The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, written by Robert Waite. The publisher marketed the 1977 book as a psycho-historical examination of Hitler that explores the events of his life “by documenting accounts of his behavior, beliefs, tastes, fears and compulsions.”

I tend to devour books in only a few sittings, but that’s impossible with this one. The details are too dark, precise, and damning. It’s researched and referenced and reasoned to the nth degree, ad nauseum – which isn’t Waite’s fault. It’s Hitler’s.

“You want to know what a real monster looks like?” Waite seems to ask before taking his reader by the hand and pulling them into an unspeakable mental hell that’s incomprehensible to people who are mentally healthy, but was reassuring and comfy to the psychotic mind that was Hitler. So I read in fifteen-minute snatches because that’s all the darkness I can tolerate before needing to come back to the light.

The title of The Psychopathic God is taken from a passage in W. H. Auden’s poem, “September 1, 1939”. The date is generally acknowledged as the beginning of World War II, when Hitler’s tanks invaded Poland.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic God:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

What struck me as I read Auden is how the life of the most maligned king of England does not line up with Hitler’s life – or behavior – in any way, shape or form. Hitler’s boiling hatred and fear helped him destroy the lives of millions. In carrying out his insane plans, he came very close to ruling Europe. Waite outlines how evil was done to young Adolf, and how he responded to it by projecting his fears and torments outward, onto other people.

Evil was also done to Richard III during his youth — his father and older brother were murdered by the “enemy”, among other things — and yet he did not embrace hatred or fear as the foundation of his life. One of the reasons Richard failed by medieval standards (and perhaps by modern standards) of “kill or be killed” was because he did not return evil for evil as did Hitler. Again and again, Richard forgave his enemies – a behavior that can easily be traced to the teachings of his religion. Ironically enough, Hitler shared Richard’s Catholicism, but Adolf wasn’t able to forgive even his Wolfshund. Writes Waite:

“One of the women with whom Hitler had intimate relations during 1926, Maria (or Mimi) Reiter, recalls that she saw him turn savagely on his own dog:

‘He whipped his dog like a madman [Irrsinniger] with his riding whip as he held him tight on the leash. He became tremendously excited…I could not have believed that this man would best an animal so ruthlessly — an animal about which he had said a moment previously that he could not live without. But now he whipped his most faithful companion.’

“When Mimi asked him how he could possibly be so brutal, Hitler replied grimly, “That was necessary.”[1]

Hitler abused dogs (and human beings) and was terrified of horses, yet he revered stallions in symbol and sculpture. You can beat a dog and not have it try to kill you: such is not the case with a stallion.

I challenge anyone who still clings to the myth that Richard was an evil tyrant, a child-murdering dictator, to read The Psychopathic God alongside Paul Murray Kendall’s Richard the Third – or even alongside a less supportive biography on Richard, if you like.

Keep a pad of paper at your side as you read. Make two columns. In one, keep a running tally of the terrible things Richard did, or was said to have done. In the other, keep a running tally of the terrible things Hitler did — or any other dictator, if you like.

If you take up this challenge, your perspective on what makes a bloody tyrant – and what a tyrant does – just might change.


[1] Waite, Robert. The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, Basic Books, Inc., New York, NY, 1977. Page 192.

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