Martin Luther (1483-1546): Pathography

By Breitenfeld, Darko; Thaller, Vlatko et al. | Alcoholism, January 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Martin Luther (1483-1546): Pathography


Breitenfeld, Darko, Thaller, Vlatko, Kmezic, Ivan, Vrhovac, Dina, Babic, Gordan, Jagetic, Nada, Alcoholism


Martin Luther was a theological reformer, music theoretician, luthenist, flutist, poet and choral composer1. His pathography proves significance of traumatized childhood in genesis of revolutionary activity and major organic pathology. Being rejected by his father when he was a child places him in a specific cathegory of children who rejected any form of authority later in life, which probably led to his mutiny toward the Pope and the Catholic Church. Luther reacted psychosomatically to permanent stress in his life and suffered of sever pathology of urinary and cardiovascular system.

Difficult childhood put permanent mark on young Luther. Luther's father was an extremely difficult person who found it easy to hit his son. His mother was not very different in that matter as she also favored the same, harsh methods of upbringing a child. In multiple occasions young Luther would end up with severe nosebleeds as a consequence of their beating. There is no doubt that he suffered in his childhood and it is possible that as a result he developed revolutionary ideas. During low school, paid by his ambitious father, Luther underwent some difficult years and in that time he started to devote himself to religious activities, therefore neglecting his social relations toward his coevals. In the end, he abandoned his college education and got ordained. Intensive conflicts, religious contemplations and facing every day problems in search of his existentialistic identity defined him in years yet to come. Some psychiatrists are intrigued by connection between Luther's going to monastery and beginning of psychopathology that reached its peak at the age of forty five. According to the Danish psychiatrist Reiter Luther had fazes of manic productivity that were followed by fazes of heavy depression. Luther's bad memories of his childhood and his family resulted in a formation of specific elements that are characteristic to personalities who didn't manage to resolve their Edip's complex. Luther could not find his own identity, which had kept him from finding his true identity. On the other hand we could say that Luther craved for some sort of constant confrontation with the authorities that were present in his life and that he developed an internal need for competing with others in all aspects of life. We should also mention the event which occurred during a big storm, when a lightning struck down near Luther, throwing him to ground. This mental and physical shock awoke in Luther great fear of dying, and this anxiety was remained present in his life as he was often troubled by the idea that he would die too soon without being able to complete his life goals.

Luther began his carrier of reformer and teacher in Wittenberg. Once he took the role of a preacher he dedicated all his time to it, even showing obsessive characteristics. Luther developed anxiety which leaded to neurosis manifested in conversations with his friends, superiors and in the numerous letters that he wrote. He could not stop complaining of irritableness, tiredness, over sweating, anxiety, insomnia, alimentary problems and headaches. Time period between 1517 and 1522 represents a period of Luther's life that was decisive for the history of Reformation. When he published his Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, also known as the 95 Theses, he was ordered to report in Rome to defend his theories. This stressful situation manifested psychosomatically in digestion system so it can be assumed that Luther had gastritis or maybe ulcer2. During famous discussions Luther was very anxious and depression fazes were exchanging with periods of hyperactivity. After that five-year peak in his professional life, came the period in which Luther got married and his sons were bom. In this period of his settling, Luther has developed yet another episode of anxiety, with cycles of manic-depression that were typical for Luther, but this time accompanied by episodes of extreme melancholy.

Next year Luther published 24 important studies and this is once again a period of headaches, digestion problems and vomiting. …

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