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Unrivaled in the rare art of portraying the anomalous, the recondite, the essentially symbolic aspects of human conduct and personality with realistically convincing power, Fyodor Dostoevsky stands out as the most severely burdened of all pathological men of genius. In the case of no other writer are the creations so unmistakably the projection of the man himself.
The central phenomenon from which all the other manifestations of his life and works radiate is his epileptic constitution. It is our purpose to make exhaustive examination of this and endeavor, through a comprehensive analysis of the original evidence and the critical literature upon the subject, to arrive at decisive clinical conclusions. For there is still, be it said, considerable controversy as to the precise nature and interpretation of Dostoevsky's disorder.
Especially does the question continually arise, Was he the victim of so-called genuine or idiopathic epilepsy? And then, How far do hysterical traits enter into the picture ? What about traumatic, affective, reactive epilepsy? Moreover, Did a schizophrenic condition play a determinative role? We have every confidence that these problems, together with their cognates, can today be solved in a satisfactory manner. The present study, we trust, will serve as one more contribution to that tremendously stimulating and important program of research formulated so brilliantly by Lange-Eichbaum (21).
II. Historical Resume
Dostoevsky's letters (1, 3) and works (5, 6, 7, 8) are, of course, fundamental means for obtaining insight into his mental status and organization.
The diary of his wife (2) and her reminiscences (3) are absolutely essential documents, quite naturally.
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