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04-05-1999, 03:23 PM
Awhile back, I attended an attention-deficit-disorder conference. They had a list of alleged sufferers of the disorder, including Mozart. Later, a seminar about autism informed me that the composer, was in fact, autistic. A magizine article about manic-depression informed me that Mozart was manic-depressive... I suppose they'll be saying he had PMS next.
Enough already. Is there any legitimate speculation as to why the famous composer was a little loopy?

04-05-1999, 03:46 PM
You've touched on a recent trend of historical revisionism that has infuriated me as an historian for years. This subset of History is called either Psyco-history or Bio-history and is rarely undertaken by trained historians but by Psycologists and medical experts. History has always been a very liberal art but these guys make real historians look like mathamaticians.

What these guys do is take their area of interest (depression, autism, dyslexia, hemeroids, whatever) and try to find a famous historical figure who suffered from the ailment.

Diagnosing people who died hundreds of years ago, at best, is circumstatial inference and, at worst, blind speculation.

The best a bio-historian can do is dig up the body and look for evidence of the suspected malady. A Psycho-historian can't do that. The key to psychological diagnosis is interviews and direct observation of the subject. No modern Psychologist can do this in Mozart's case. All the historical records can tell us is that he was an eccentric genius. If you want a less subjective diagnosis you're going to need a time machine.

04-05-1999, 05:44 PM
I thought so. Historical revisionists are an embarasment. Speaking of composers, have you heard the one about Beethoven being black? The logic (if you can call it that)went something like, "his nickname was 'the black one' therefore he was black'.

04-05-1999, 05:51 PM
And the Plantagent (sp?) family must have been real confused by the Black Prince!

04-05-1999, 07:53 PM
The enthusiasm of a medical expert for his/her own speciality isn't limited to historic revisionism. When I was in college, I went to the health service with a sore throat... the intern's first question was, "Have you been handling any radioactive material?" It was his specialty, and he was visibly disappointed when I said no.

04-05-1999, 07:59 PM
If you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

04-05-1999, 10:53 PM
At the end of "The Madness of King George", there's a little blurb that said that it was suspected that he suffered from Porphyria.
The general definition of Porphyria I looked up is ambiguous, at best.

<FONT COLOR="GREEN">ExTank</FONT>
"He was all powerful and all knowing."
He just wasn't all there."

04-08-1999, 09:52 PM
I've always believed that Mozart's main problem stemmed from his genius. He was so busy writing the most beautiful and sophisticated music at an age when most children are learning social skills, that he remained something of a social retard his whole life. If I'm not mistaken, he had no sense of what was appropriate, and acted extremely childish -- impetuous, churlish, selfish, pouting or having tantrums when he didn't get his way, completely lacking in tact. Heck, I've got a five-year-old son who acts the same way.

Mozart's natural gift turned out to be a handicap in this regard. Music consumed him. It turned out to be just about the only thing he was good at, and he was better at it than just about anyone else in the world, before or since. And this from the age of three or so. But a one-track mind is dangerously prone to becoming derailed.

As far as autism goes -- Huh? I doubt he could have entertained before the crowned heads of Europe if he suffered from such a malady. My own son has slight developmental problems, and a neighbor whose son was not diagnosed as autistic until adulthood was convinced my boy was autistic, even though he only exhibited the emotional outbursts sometimes seen in the autistic. He has never been withdrawn, or shown an aversion to being touched -- quite the opposite. But this well-meaning man already had him pegged as autistic. So I understand what PapaBear is saying. Pet theories and their proponents drive me crazy.

By the way, did I ever mention that Francis Bacon wrote all of Shakespeare's plays?


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The Dave-Guy
"since my daughter's only half-Jewish, can she go in up to her knees?" J.H. Marx

04-08-1999, 09:58 PM
The best a bio-historian can do is dig up the body and look for evidence of the suspected malady. A Psycho-historian can't do that. The key to
psychological diagnosis is interviews and direct observation of the subject. No modern Psychologist can do this in Mozart's case. All the
historical records can tell us is that he was an eccentric genius. If you want a less subjective diagnosis you're going to need a time machine. -- PapaBear


Your rant is right on target, but a time machine wouldn't help; the diagnostic acumen of shrinky people who work in the current era with the currently living as their clients is not much less fraught with speculation and quackery.



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dougie_monty
01-19-2000, 03:53 PM
I don't know whether Mozart was manic-depressive, but I do know he was a spectacular wastrel: He was a spendthrift and a compulsive gambler. In fact he earned immense sums of money from composing, giving music lessons, and conducting, for example; the equivalent of about $100,000 a year in modern terms. But he loved to play cards and billiards for money--in the movie Amadeus he is depicted idly rolling billiard balls on the table--despite his lack of skill at either. And he bought expensive homes and fancy clothes for himself, and his wife and son. A music teacher in college once told me that the only thing Mozart had going for him was his musical talent--though you kind of think that in his case that would be enough (or should have been; unfortunately he was also cursed with irresponsibility. :()

HeyHomie
01-19-2000, 11:39 PM
Uh, wasn't Mozart an unrepentant drunk?

My $.02.

Alphagene
01-19-2000, 11:48 PM
Wow, raising a thread from the dead after eight months. Who the hell is this PapaBear guy?

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We gladly devour those who would subdue us.

Sweet Basil
01-20-2000, 03:21 AM
I'm sure his pushy dad, Leopold had quite a bit to do with his social retardation. (See Maculy Caulkin, or the "Different Strokes" kids.) Making the kid perform and comose while still in the single digits had to have stunted his growth.

I've heard the claims about Beethoven being (part) black also. They are usually better defended than his nickname. Supposedly he had a black grandmother. Another more laughable defense is his kinky hair.

Sweet Basil

DAVEW0071
01-20-2000, 06:39 AM
Sweet Basil, you say Mozart's father made the lad perform and compose while still in the single digits. This is true up to a point. After all, how many of us took music lessons as children and then were made to perform before relatives and company? (I did, and have an aversion to playing the piano in the company of others to this day. Although reading, singing and other performances don't faze me.)

But, that aside, it also strikes me that young Mozart would have composed and performed (to some extent) on his own. At least composed music. I truly don't think he could have helped himself, the same way an early reader just devours books or an athletic child is almost compelled to play games and be competitive and active. Leopold capitalized on the unusual windfall of having a prodigy running around composing and performing sonatas at four or five, but the child's natural genius wouldn't have stayed contained in any case.

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The Dave-Guy
"since my daughter's only half-Jewish, can she go in up to her knees?" J.H. Marx