Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chopin's hallucinations caused by epilepsy: scientists

In the great Polish composer, Frederic Chopin, towering genius combined with a wasted frame and a pallid face behind which lurked melancholy, a brooding over death, a disconnection from ordinary life and sometimes horrifying hallucinations.

A force that created this image was the French novelist George Sand, who described lyrically how her lover, cursed by prodigy and doomed by frailty to an early grave, would be shaken by ghostly visions.

"The phantoms called him, clasped him, and instead of seeing his father and his friend smile at him in the ray of faith, he repelled their fleshless faces from his own and struggled under the grasp of their icy hands," wrote Sand.

But a study by a pair of Spanish neurologists tarnishes this compelling gothic tableau.

Chopin's alienation and hallucinations probably had more to do with a medical condition than the burden of the Romantic artist, it suggests.

... one big suspect: epilepsy of the temporal lobes, whose seizures can unleash brief, stereotyped visions of the kind experienced by Chopin and a condition called "jamais vu," or a dream-like disconnection from one's surroundings. ...

via Chopin's hallucinations caused by epilepsy: scientists - Yahoo! News.

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