Was famed nurse Nightingale bipolar?

  1. 0
    This article is from: May. 02, 2003 but still thought it was worthy of posting for discussion:

    Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing who said God called her to her work, "heard voices" and suffered from a bipolar disorder, a University of Pittsburgh mental health expert said Friday.

    Nightingale was 31 when she asked God in a letter why she couldn't be happy: "Why, oh my God, can I not be satisfied with the life that satisfies so many people and told that the conversation of all of these clever men ought to be enough for me? Why am I starving, desperate and diseased on it?"

    Dr. Kathy Wisner, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, cited the note as evidence that Nightingale suffered from a bipolar disorder that caused long periods of depression and remarkable bursts of productivity.

    Nightingale was the subject of a conference Friday at the University of Maryland School of Medicine that discussed Wisner's theory. The annual conference has diagnosed the ills of historic figures since 1995.

    "Florence heard voices and experienced a number of severe depressive episodes in her teens and early 20s - symptoms consistent with the onset of bipolar disorder," Wisner said.

    Full Article: http://www.timesleader.com/mld/timesleader/5773355.htm
    Last edit by brian on Apr 13, '04
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  4. 31 Comments so far...

  5. 1
    On the other hand, what if God really does speak to people?
    HappyJaxRN likes this.
  6. 0
    I think we all have to be a little crazy! :chuckle
  7. 0
    I think the letters posted in the article sound like many teens and women, even nowadays. When I was a teenager I constantly wondered about the meaning of life and wrote in my journal and if you looked at it now could probably diagnose all kinds of mental illnesses. :chuckle

    The fact that she had periods of depression, well, welcome to the real world.

    Not discounting those who truly are bipolar but looking back in time and trying to diagnose from personal writings seems a bit far-fetched to me.

    steph
  8. 0
    I don't know if she was bipolar, but I do believe she was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

    Country Joe MacDonald has a site dedicated to her. Very interesting.
  9. 0
    When you get down to it how can you really prove anything about the mental health status of anyone that has been dead and buried for the last hundred years? There are a lot of theories about a lot of famous people floating around out there in the world. If they were born in the 19th century, these theories are going to remain just that theorectical. I saw a program once that seemed to prove that Van Gogh was bipolar. I believed without a doubt for years that he was. Then recently I saw another program on PBS that claimed he had a totally different type of mental illness. That is when it hit me that these people that make these claims don't know anymore than I do.
  10. 1
    I think, considering her circumstances, that I would have been depressed from time to time as well. And I DO believe that God speaks to people. Maybe you don't call it God, maybe you call it "gut instinct" or something else, but I do believe that SOMETHING or SOMEONE speaks to all of us in different ways.
    HappyJaxRN likes this.
  11. 0
    I've seen that article before, and it is ridiculous. How does anyone know what Florence Nightingale suffered from? The woman died in 1910!

    As someone who has done a bit of research about Nightingale, I can say that she had every reason to be depressed in her youth. Here was a brilliant young woman, a mathematical genius, who had no outlet, no prospect of any career, no prospect of anything beyond embroidery, parties, finding the right man, and being a proper society lady. She wanted to do something worthwhile, felt called to make her mark on the world, yet she was completely stifled by a rigid society. Is there any wonder that she fell into a deep depression?

    And as far as the voices, how many of us have felt prompted to do something? How many great people have stated that they felt led to do whatever it was--Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, Jane Adams, Winston Churchhill--were they also all bipolar?

    Nightingale was ill when she returned from the crimea, and doctors have speculated that she had contracted brucellolsis, which was responsible for her becoming a semi-invalid during the last 50 years of her life. She may also have suffered from post-traumatic syndrome. When she had periods where she was feeling better, Nightingale worked very hard--probably because she knew that it wouldn't last. Her illness apparently waxed and waned. I hardly think that she was going through a manic phase, and then a depressive phase.

    I think people who put out papers like this really need to get a life. It's obvious they don't get out much.
  12. 0
    Quote from brian
    This article is from: May. 02, 2003 but still thought it was wothy of posting for discussion:

    Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing who said God called her to her work, "heard voices" and suffered from a bipolar disorder, a University of Pittsburgh mental health expert said Friday.

    Nightingale was 31 when she asked God in a letter why she couldn't be happy: "Why, oh my God, can I not be satisfied with the life that satisfies so many people and told that the conversation of all of these clever men ought to be enough for me? Why am I starving, desperate and diseased on it?"

    Dr. Kathy Wisner, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, cited the note as evidence that Nightingale suffered from a bipolar disorder that caused long periods of depression and remarkable bursts of productivity.

    Nightingale was the subject of a conference Friday at the University of Maryland School of Medicine that discussed Wisner's theory. The annual conference has diagnosed the ills of historic figures since 1995.

    "Florence heard voices and experienced a number of severe depressive episodes in her teens and early 20s - symptoms consistent with the onset of bipolar disorder," Wisner said.

    Full Article: http://www.timesleader.com/mld/timesleader/5773355.ht


    m




    Cant we accept her for who and what she represents without tranishing her image.

    Enough name calling and mud slinging as is.

    Lets not add to it
  13. 3
    Well, being bipolar is NOT a crime or a character defect, you know. Many bipolar folks are brilliant, high-functioning and wonderful people. Sheesh what ignorance we still hold about mental health these days. It really upsets me this is even a concern at this point. I would like to leave the woman and her memory alone. One thing to consider: In another time and another culture (certain native American ones) schizophrenics and folks who would have been classified bipolar were believed to be seers of considerable wisdom. Maybe, just maybe, they were right.
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Apr 13, '04


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