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Cassity, J.H. (1925). Psychopathological Glimpses of Lord Byron. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(4):397-413.

(1925). Psychoanalytic Review, 12(4):397-413

Psychopathological Glimpses of Lord Byron

John Holland Cassity, M.D.

So fascinating and so decidedly tempting have been the purely literary considerations of Byron's character and productions, that the psychological and psychiatric phases of his life, if not overlooked, have at least been underemphasized. It is the purpose of this paper to call attention to a few of the psychopathological features of Lord Byron's personality, with special reference to the etiological motivation of both his literary productions and his singular behavior.

Minute dissections of Byron's life have been very admirably effected, in the literary sense, by such biographers as Thomas Moore, (1) Robert Charles Dallas, (2) Sir Cosmo Gordon (3) and Karl Elze, (4) in earlier years, and more recently by Samuel Chew (5) and S. D. Symon. (6) In these various biographies, the effect has been rather capably considered, but the causative elements activating Byron's particular types of mental reaction, have been ignored.

John Knott, (7) C. H. Hughes, (8) Mathew Woods, (9) and other medical men, have made rather shallow gestures toward offering explanations of Byron's behavior from the psychiatric angle. Woods very naively stresses what Byron accomplished in spite of epilepsy In the light of the newer conceptions of the epilepsies, it would have been much the wiser to have emphasized what heights he had attained by virtue of the epileptoid seizures, which possibly afforded an outlet for his vicious psychic accumulations. Hughes makes“A Neurological Plea for Lord Byron,”and attributes his baser tendencies to“brainfag,” conveniently oblivious of the fact that Byron displayed rather gross disorders of conduct before he was of sufficient age to have thought exhaustively. Knott fixed the blame for Byron's neurosis on alcoholic excesses, apparently unaware of the existence of markedly neurotic manifestations in the poet before he had so much as tasted alcohol. Further, alcoholism itself, in the opinion of the more advanced workers, is expressive of a neurosis.

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