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Type: Journal article
Title: 'Struensée's memoir on the situation of the King' (1772): Christian VII of Denmark
Other Titles: 'Struensee's memoir on the situation of the King' (1772): Christian VII of Denmark
Author: Schioldann, J.
Citation: History of Psychiatry, 2013; 24(2):227-247
Publisher: Alpha Academic
Issue Date: 2013
ISSN: 0957-154X
Statement of
Johan Schioldann
Abstract: Christian VII of Denmark (1749–1808) was insane throughout his long reign. The royal physician, Johann Friedrich Struensée (1737–72), usurped his power. In 1771 the King appointed him Privy Cabinet Minister. Struensée revolutionized the whole administration of the Danish-Norwegian kingdom and had an adulterous relationship with the Queen, Caroline Mathilda, George III's sister. In January 1772 he was arrested, sentenced to death for lese-majesty and executed. During his confinement, he wrote a memoir on the King's condition, which he considered to be caused by, or the effect of, masturbation. In 1906 Christiansen interpreted it as a case of dementia praecox, i.e. schizophrenia. It is now suggested that Christian's insanity, like that of George III (his cousin), might have been due to porphyria – the 'royal malady', possibly inherited through his mother, Princess Louise of England or his father, King Frederik V, who died from an illness which retrospectively resembles a case of porphyria.
Keywords: Christian VII; George III; masturbatic insanity; pathography; porphyria; psychopathology and kingship; 'royal malady'; schizophrenia; Struensée; 18th century
RMID: 0020128873
DOI: 10.1177/0957154X13476199
Appears in Collections:Psychiatry publications

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