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Steinberg, Reinhard and Falkai, Peter ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2873-8667 (2020): Was King Ludwig II of Bavaria misdiagnosed by Gudden and his colleagues? In: European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience [PDF, 941kB]


In 1886, Bernhard von Gudden and three other expert psychiatrists diagnosed the Bavarian King Ludwig II with \textquotedblparanoia (madness),\textquotedbl a diagnosis that the Bavarian government used to justify removing Ludwig from power. Although Ludwig was not evaluated in detail by the psychiatrists, in their opinion, sworn eyewitness accounts and general knowledge about Ludwig's behavior provided sufficient grounds for the diagnosis. Ludwig was a great admirer of the musician, Richard Wagner, and shared some of his ideas of an idealistic society. At first, he identified with Wagner's opera heroes, and he became Wagner's patron sponsor for life. However, he grew increasingly interested in an absolutist state, envisioning himself as a monarch with a role similar to that of Louis XIV. His multiple building projects, for which he incurred much debt, his conviction that he was descended from the Bourbons through baptism, his increasingly abnormal behavior, and his hallucinations together formed the basis for the psychiatrists' diagnosis. Although not mentioned in the expert opinion, Ludwig's homophilic behavior-a scandal at the time-was probably also an important reason for his removal from office. A review of the psychiatric knowledge and societal philosophy of the time indicates that the psychiatrists were correct with their diagnosis in their time.

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