RESEARCH

Psihopatologia personalităţii artistice LGBT – în comorbiditate cu toxoplasmoza

 The psychopathology of LGBT artistic personality – toxoplasmosis considered

First published: 30 iunie 2022

Editorial Group: MEDICHUB MEDIA

DOI: 10.26416/Psih.69.2.2022.6633

Abstract

Our psychiatric autopsies in biopsychosocial terms are meant to search for psychopathologies in a sample of seven iconic LGBTQIA writers who are under suspicion of having toxoplasmosis as a result of their lifelong association with cats.

Keywords
psychopathology, psychiatric autopsy, LGBT artistic personality, toxoplasmosis

Rezumat

Autopsiile noastre psihiatrice, într-o abordare biopsihosocială, cercetează psihopatologiile unui număr de şapte scriitori LGBTG reprezentativi, 
suspecţi de toxoplasmoză în urma asocierii lor îndelungate cu felinele.
 

Introduction

Working on a 1896 hypothesis of Emil Kraepelin(1), that dementia praecox might well be caused by a brain autointoxication consequent upon a “focal body infection,” and a 1911 suggestion by Eugen Bleuler(2), that schizophrenia etiology should look into “some physical weakness” or possibly “some infectious disease”, a connection between (paranoid) schizophrenia and Toxoplasma gondii (a parasite mostly to be found in cat feces) has been made since the 1950s(3-6) – schizophrenia then being extended across psychopathology, by and large(7,8).

Methodology

Given the artistic personality in the writing profession (a sample of 100 cat lovers and, further on, a sample of seven LGBT cat lovers), we will focus on the cultural “icons”: Lord Byron (Romanticism), Lewis Carroll (literature for children), Zelda Fitzgerald (Jazz Age), Jack Kerouac (Beat movement), Anais Nïn (feminism), Paul Verlaine (Absinthe Age), Oscar Wilde (Aestheticism). For each of the cases, we will search for a psychopathology, if any – in a biopsychosocial approach.

Case studies

Lord Byron (1788-1824), BD & APD

Manic episodes with decreased need for sleep (not going to bed until 7.00 or 8.00 AM for ten days in a row during the 1818 Carnival in Venice), increase in psychomotor activity (being “better in a world of harlotry” – “thank Heaven above – and woman beneath”)(9), excessive involvement in activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (being “subject to violent paroxysms of rage, so disproportioned to the cause, as to [come as a surprise] when over”: “I cannot coolly view anything that excites my feelings; and once the lurking devil in me is roused, I lose all command of myself. I do not recover a good fit of rage for days after: I do not by this mean that the ill-humour continues, as, on the contrary, that quickly subsides, exhausted by its own violence; but it shakes me terribly, and leaves me low and nervous after”)(10,11).

Major depressive episodes with depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day (“I am out of spirits, and hopes, and humor, and pocket, and health”; “I am out of sorts – out of nerves – and now and then – [I begin to fear] out of senses”; “I have been, all my lifetime, more or less ennuyé… I presume that it is constitutional”), markedly diminished interest or pleasure (“I am growing nervous… I can neither read, write, or amuse myself, or anyone else. My days are listless and my nights restless”), insomnia nearly every day (in October 1815 being “the victim again of sleepless nights and nervous fears”(12); in March 1817 being plagued by “sleeplessness and half-delirium” for a week), with recurrent thoughts of death (in November 1823 being “too lazy” to shoot [himself]”(13) and suicidally considering that “Die I must: I feel it. Its loss I do not lament; for to terminate my wearisome existence I came to Greece.”)(14)

Antisocial personality disorder, concurrent with ADHD all through his 1801-1805 Harrow years (while bullying, gambling and harassing his elders and betters)(15), with a pattern (“exquisitely improved” in his 1805-1807 Cambridge years) of financial recklessness and involvement with money lenders (accruing debts of £3,000 by January 1808, being at least £30,000 in debt by the time of his marriage in 1815), defiance of every social and academic regulation (walking his “new friend, a tame bear” through the streets of Cambridge, housing it in the turret of his college rooms, meaning it to sit for a Fellowship) and, to top it all, extreme promiscuity and incestuous relationship with his half-sister Augusta (with whom he had a child).

Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), HFA & DID

High functioning autism with speech impediments (“an incurable stammer” or perhaps the awkward distress about the p sound that made his speech “avoidant” or rather cautious, slow and precise), hearing problems (hard of hearing in the right ear from extreme coughing fits in his early childhood, fever conditions while at Rugby School, and mumps at the age of 17), face blindness (a bad memory for faces, perhaps from the prosopagnosia to be seen in the egg-shaped Humpty-Dumpty)(16,17), with all-absorbing narrow interests (“forgetting about meals and toiling on for the best part of the night”)(18), with routine- and interest-imposition (to be seen in the “compulsive” way “he dressed, put on his gloves, cared for his teeth, prepared his tea, kept his diary, indexed his entries, archived his letters and photographs, and carefully listed the names of the pretty girls he had met” – the girls in case, and now a narcissistic side to it!, having to be “up there” with him in his social class, or preferably “above” him).

Dissociative identity disorder with comorbid FNSD (functional neurological symptom disorder) and the so-called AIWS (Alice in Wonderland syndrome), with somesthetic distortions (conversions in size: macro- and microsomatognosia), hyperschematia and hyposchematia (the sensation of occupying more or less space), derealisation (a distorted sense of reality) and depersonalisation (the sensation of not being there, experiencing oneself in an oddly detached way), somatopsychic duality (the experience that one does not reside in a single place), feelings of levitation (a distortion of the sense of movement), macropsia and micropsia (feeling one’s body go smaller and larger), prosopometamorphosia (the apparent change of faces into different ones), loss of stereoscopic vision (seeing persons as “oblong and flat”), time distortions (see the “White Rabbit” motif, already on page one: “Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I shall be too late!”)(19).

Zelda Fitzgerald (1900-1948), SD & HPD

Schizoaffective disorder with two crack-ups (with hospitalization at Malmaison from April 23rd 1930 to May 2nd 1930 and Prangins from June 5th 1930 to September 15th 1931; with hospitalization at Phipps Clinic from February 12th 1932 to June 26th 1932 and Highland Hospital in Asheville, NC, from April 8th 1936 until her death by fire), with thought disorder (talking “with so spontaneous a color and wit” that her conversation was “in the nature of a free association of ideas, and one could never follow up anything”)(20), delusions and hallucinations (on voluntarily leaving Malmaison and still tormented by terrifying voices, her “dreams peopled with phantoms of indescribable horror”, she admitted she was seeing odd things: “people’s arms too long or their faces as if they were stuffed […], tiny and far away, or suddenly out of proportion”), with eating problems (less than 100 pounds at the time of her Malmaison admission), obsessive compulsions (bathing several times a day and practicing ballet non-stop), addictive disorders (a hard-drinking life-style all through)(21) and an affect disturbance (labile and inappropriate ­rather than the “zero” affect that Bleuler’s definition stipulated) making some psychiatrists question the “schizophrenia” diagnosis and opt for a schizoaffective disorder(22).

Histrionic personality disorder, with “the front page” always hers, as a tomboy (running “as fast as any boy around, roller-skating for the sake of the speed itself”, climbing trees, swimming and diving, riding bikes, dancing), a Southern belle (“the epitome of success” with a “golden glow around her”, with “dates, parties and dancing keeping her busy from morning to night, and into the next morning”, with “several dozen callers on Sunday afternoon, as many letters daily, boxes of long-stemmed roses, small square boxes of corsages, and the offers of fraternity clubs”), and finally a Roaring Twenties flapper (“reticent emotionally” and “courageous morally”, getting her hair bobbed, wearing excessive makeup, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes in public, wearing knee-high skirts, defying every convention in sight)(23).

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), A-RD & APD

Benzedrine use disorder, with the improvement of sexual performance(24) and the outstanding enhancement of creativity, “benny” making him see “a lot”, “the process of intensifying awareness” leading to “an overflow of old notions and, voila, new material well[ing] up like water and mak[ing] itself evident at the brim of consciousness” – “Brand new water!”, the art of the past turning out to be “all farce, or at least mostly.”(25)

Alcohol intoxication, with beer, marijuana and brothel life “paralyzing” him for a few weeks in Mexico City, wondering and hallucinating on the outskirts of the city, quite convinced of being a saint descended to earth so as to save sinners; in 1951 the drinking orgies keeping him in hospital for a few months; in 1952, smoking marijuana “drowsily” and drinking tequila “dizzyingly” in Mexico City, in “affordable taverns and brothels”, Christmas finding him at his mom’s place in New York, drinking scotch and smoking opium; in 1953 switching to wine, “wave after wave”, quite drunk almost all of the time; in 1954 walking around drunk in Lowell, Massachusetts, and “libidinously” hitting on the ladies around, the Christmas finding him in his own world of phantoms and moving sands; in 1955, hardly stopping from “drinking, staying in front of the TV set and screaming nervously at the screen”(26)

Antisocial personality disorder, with sensation-seeking and risk-taking, with lack of empathy, with an addictive self-destructive behavior, with a schizoid touch to be seen in his anti-authority stance and his being turned down from Navy service, with a perverse attachment to his mother, with a misogynistic approach to almost everyone around, with a “callous brutality” towards his successive wives, constantly “concerned about his cat rather than his own daughter”, a violently egocentric and brutally exploitative person, deceitful and irresponsible(27).

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977), HPD & H-RD

Histrionic personality disorder with comorbid borderline and narcissistic features, with a bohemian lifestyle and numerous libertine sexual exploits (Henry Miller and his wife June, Otto Rank and many socialites as well), with simultaneous marriages, with an incest history (detailed in House of Incest), with the first female erotica (Delta of Venus to her credit)(28).

LSD use disorder, her first trip, after “five or eight blue pills” and in “perhaps twenty minutes”, letting her see that the rug was no longer “flat and lifeless”, but had become “a field of stirring and undulating hairs, much like the movement of the sea anemone or a field of wheat in the wind”; then “doors, walls and windows were liquefying”, and “all rigidities disappeared” as if she “had been plunged to the bottom of the sea, and everything had become undulating and wavering”, the “door knobs” no longer being “door knobs”, but melting and undulating “like living serpents”, “every object” in the room becoming “a living, mobile breathing world”, with a door leading to the garden under the “blinding dazzle of the sun”, its “every speck of gold multiplied and magnified”, “trees, clouds, lawns” heaving and undulating too, “the clouds flying at tremendous speed”(29)

Paul Verlaine (1844-1876), A-RD & APD

Absinthe use disorder with comorbid cirrhosis and diabetes, with “bouts of continuous drinking at least as early as 1867”(30), “one hurried glass after another”(31), with his “bestial self-turned towards the green and terrible drink”, with nineteen hospitalizations “between 1866 and 1894”, just spending “hour after hour in that house of ill fame” […] “to be swallowed up in the taverns of the night where absinthe [flows] like Styx and Cocytus” […] “this horrible drink: this drink, this abuse itself, the source of folly and crime, of idiocy and shame.”(32)

Antisocial personality disorder, with comorbid gonorrhea and syphilis, with two years’ hard labor and a fine of 200 francs for evidence of sodomy and mainly for having shot Arthur Rimbaud twice on 10 July 1873(33), with days on end in low bars to have random sex, with ugly features and “cavernous eyes”, with “burnt-out lust smoldering upon his face”, his bald forehead half-covered by a “filthy nightcap”, his shoulders under “a nightshirt full of the grease of the bed”, “a stained and discolored pair of trousers hitched up somewhere about his waist.”(34)

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), NPD & A-RD

Narcissistic personality disorder, with (historically outdated) antisocial features (see his two-year time in Reading Gaol and his subsequent banishment in Dieppe, in 1897), with a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity” in fantasy (see The Picture of Dorian Gray) and behavior (see his American lecture tour in June 1882).

Absinthe use disorder, responsible for his “visions” (mild hallucinations) and described as: “Absinthe is to all other drinks what Aubrey [Beardsley’s] drawings are to other pictures; it stands alone; it is like nothing else; it shimmers like southern twilight in opalescent coloring; it has about it the seduction of strange sins. It is stronger than any other spirit and brings out the subconscious self in man. It is just like [his] drawings; it gets on one’s nerves and is cruel […], and changes color like jade in sunlight and makes the senses thrall, and dispatches you back in Imperial Rome, in the Rome of the late Caesars.”(35) To cut a long story short then, the first stage of absinthe drinking is “like ordinary drinking”, the second  “when you begin to see monstruous and cruel things”, the third “where you see things that you want to see, wonderful and curious things.”(36)

Discussion

It will have been understood from the above that I have worked in stages, the first one coming out with the 85.58% psychopathology for the artistic personality in the writing profession(37); the second one implying a 2.42 increase in psychopathology for the cat lovers(8). These two percentages, 85.58% and 88% taken on their face values, I further came up with a list of 100 cat-lover writers and thereby extracted the LGBT cat-lover writers: 21 all in all. Space limitations hardly allowing for the lot of them all, I finally extracted a pretty manageable list of seven such writers and, with a deep reverence to the illustrious forerunners who may have misdiagnosed once or twice, I felt obliged to comply with DSM-5 criteria and requirements. There was still another thing I was not comfortable about, the antisocial (in APD) which is a brutally unfitting attribute for the artistic personality, last but not least for reasons covering historical correctness – mention should be made that Oscar Wilde was put down for being gay!

I suggest, under such circumstances, that antisocial should change into dissocial, so that we may get DPD (dissocial personality disorder).

Conclusions

Pleasure-seeking (with its correlates, novelty-seeking and risk-taking) might well be the core trait of the seven L(esbian) G(ay) B(isexual) T(ransgender) cat-lover writers in view – thus reminding us of the ancient myth that the artistic personality is basically narcissistic. But the disorders themselves come out as diverse as could be, with at least two of them for every proband, with personality disorders prevailing by a long shot.

 

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