Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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HISTORY OF MEDICINE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 348-351

Johann bernhard aloys von Gudden and the Mad King of Bavaria


Department of Neurology, RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Kalyan B Bhattacharyya
Department of Neurology, RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_489_16

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Bernhard von Gudden was a psychiatrist in Prussia and he was summoned in March 1886 to examine King Ludwig II for his apparently insane activities like, profligate spending and erratic behaviour. A team of four estimable psychiatrists pronounced that he was not capable ruling. Consequently, he was dethroned and kept in a castle under supervision of von Gudden. Gudden championed the idea of 'no restraint' and advocated free movement of insane persons and one evening in June, he accompanied the King during an evening stroll to a lake. A few hours later, the corpus of both of them were recovered under mysterious circumstances. Autopsy suggested that the King was drowned but no post-mortem examination was performed on von Gudden. There are plenty of controversies regarding their death like, murder, accidental death or even natural death from cardiac arrest following immersion in cold water, but no incontrovertible conclusion could be arrived at, even after scrupulous analysis by historians and even the diagnosis of insanity of the King has been doubted. Some even suggested that the opinion of psychiatrists were sought as a pretense in order to depose the King.


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