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J Hist Neurosci. 2013;22(2):174-82. doi: 10.1080/0964704X.2012.712825.

Friedrich Nietzsche and his illness: a neurophilosophical approach to introspection.

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Division of Neuropsychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, University Hospitals of Geneva, Chemin du Petit-Bel-Air, 1225 Geneva, Switzerland.


There are some arguments that Friedrich Nietzsche suffered from the autosomal dominant vascular microangiopathy: Cerebral Autosomal Dominant Arteriopathy with Subcortical Infarcts and Leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL). Here, a hypothesis is formulated supporting that CADASIL presenting with symptoms of bipolar disorder and Gastaut-Geschwind syndrome would contribute to the increased insight and creativity of a philosopher whose perceptions and intuitions often bear out the results of modern neuroscience. Alterations of the brain default and reward networks would account for such an increased level of introspection and creativity. A new framework on approaching illness is proposed, which, in conformity with Nietzsche's positive view, outlines the enabling aspects of some otherwise highly disabling neuropsychiatric disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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