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      The epilepsy of Dostoevsky.

      Psychiatric developments

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          Abstract

          The evidence in favour of a diagnosis of limbic epilepsy in the case of Dostoevsky is reviewed. Independent records from numerous biographical sources support the widely held view that Dostoevsky had frequent convulsive episodes, that the episodes began in childhood and continued throughout his life and that Dostoevsky himself was able accurately to record the premonitory aura and sequelae of such episodes. In addition the increasing memory impairment he suffered both for recent and remote events from the age of 40 supports the presence of progressive brain damage. This information renders implausible the analytic interpretations of Freud and his followers, that Dostoevsky's epilepsy was hysterical in origin, where epileptiform somatization was presumed to dispose of excessive psychic excitation, and that this process had its roots in Dostoevsky's unconscious hatred of his father and latent homosexuality. Nevertheless, Dostoevsky's neuroticism is clearly supported by his life-long hypochondriasis, obsessionality, paranoid traits, tendency to reactive depressions, and experience of quasi-hallucinatory episodes which were probably not epileptic in origin. Neither his epilepsy nor his neuroticism can explain or detract from the profundity and wisdom of the literary monuments which clearly attest Dostoevsky's ample genius.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Psychiatr Dev
          Psychiatric developments
          0262-9283
          0262-9283
          1986
          : 4
          : 1
          Article
          3085083
          d9301d2e-8cd0-4599-ab5e-453aa01e6192
          History

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