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Friedrich Nietzsche: a Study in Mental Pathology

  • William W. Ireland

Friedrich Nietzsche was descended from a noble Polish family which sought refuge in Germany from religious persecution. His ancestors on both sides are reported to have been healthy and long-lived. His father was a Lutheran clergyman, his mother the daughter of a clergyman. He was born on the 15th of October, 1844, in the parsonage of Röcken, in Prussian Saxony. His father laboured under a cerebral affection for eleven months, and died when Friedrich was five years of age. His sister, Frau Förster Nietzsche, tells us that this was the consequence of a fall on the head; but Friedrich stated his belief that his own nervous disorders were inherited from his father.

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(1) Olla Hansson's Friedrich Nietzsche, quoted by Dr. Hermann Türck in his pamphlet, Fr. Nietzsche und seine philosophischen Irrwege, Jena and Leipzig, 1891. The author has made a careful study of Nietzsche's writings, and his criticisms are judicious and well put. He furnishes no fresh medical details. His knowledge of insanity seems mainly derived from the Handbook of Schüle.—

(2) Das Leben Friedrich Nietzsche, von Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, Leipzig, 1895.—

(3) Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werken, von Lou Andreas Salomé, Vienna, 1894.—

(4) Andreas Salomé, p. 48.—

(5) See the number of March 16th, 1900, Le Idee sur V Arte di Frederigo Nietzsche, di E. A. Butti.—

(6) Blackwood's Magazine, vol. clxii, 1897, and Contemporary Review, 1898.—

(7) This book has been translated into German by Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche (Dresden and Leipzig, 1899). Frau Förster has added a preface of sixty-nine pages, giving some farther information about her brother's studies and the growth of his opinions.—

(8) Friedrich Nietzsche der Künstler und der Denker, ein Essay von Alois Riehl, Stuttgart 1898. This is an able critical review of Nietzsche's life and opinions.—

(9) Op. cit., p. 65.—

(10) Op. cit., pp. 38-9.—

(11) Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, p. 273, published in 1882.—

(12) Dr. Türck has a story that, while staying at Sils Maria, in the Engadine, Nietzsche used to sit and meditate on a tongue of land which ran into the lake. Returning one spring to his beloved mountain solitude, he found that a bench had been erected on the spot for the convenience of visitors. He turned away, never again to put his foot on the spot. My friend Dr. W. R. Huggard, who is a resident physician at Davos-Platz, caused inquiry to be made about Nietzsche at the time of his death. He writes to me, " Very little appears to be known here as to his residence in Sils Maria. He seems to have passed a very quiet life there without making his crankiness conspicuous to the world."—

(13) Professor Theobald Ziegler, of Strasburg, who had pored through Nietzsche's works, line by line in chronological order, finds the first signs of insanity in Zarathustra (written and published in 1883). In all the subsequent works he finds much of what is over-strung, distorted, coarse, and glaring, the loud and shrieking, in increasing intensity.—

(14) In Revue des deux Mondes, August 15th, 1895.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
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  • EISSN: 2514-9946
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Friedrich Nietzsche: a Study in Mental Pathology

  • William W. Ireland
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