Tag Archives: neurosyphilis

Douglas Argyll Robertson and his pupils

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Figure 1. Argyll Robertson pupil reactions. Diagram by Chainwit. on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. In my student days, the Wasserman reaction (WR), though not specific, was performed almost routinely in patients on medical wards to detect syphilis. Several direct and serological tests of varying sensitivity and specificity have now replaced […]

Diagnosing Mona Lisa

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “Mona Lisa looks as if she has just been sick, or is about to be.” – Noel Coward   Crowd photographing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum. Photo by Victor Grigas, June 25, 2014, on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was a many-talented genius of the […]

Diagnosis: Neurosyphilis. Treatment: Malaria, iatrogenic

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Patient in Kettering hypertherm cabinet undergoing fever therapy. New Orleans, 1937. U.S. Marine Hospital. Works Progress Administration photo. New Orleans Public Library Digital Collections via Wikimedia. Public domain. “The syphilitic man was thinking hard…about how to get his legs to step off the curb and carry him across Washington Street. […]

Frederick Delius and his neurological disease

Photograph of Frederick Delius. 1907. From Monographien moderner musiker. Via Wikimedia. The life of the English composer Frederick Delius and his tragic encounter with the spirochaeta pallida has been extensively documented. He was born in 1862 in the industrial Yorkshire town of Bradford. His family had come to England from Germany but was originally Dutch, […]

Can behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia salvage Semmelweis?

Faraze A. Niazi Jack E. Riggs Morgantown, West Virginia, United States   Ignaz Semmelweis. 1818 – 1865. Age 47 years at death. Via Wikimedia. Remember me for the mind I had; not the mind a disease created.  Few physicians have made a more significant observation than did Ignaz Semmelweis.1 In 1847 he took over two […]

Heinrich Heine and the mattress tomb

Nicolás Roberto Robles  Badajoz, Spain   Harry Heine was born in Bolkerstrasse, Düsseldorf, Germany. He jokingly described himself as the “first man of the century,” claiming that he had been born on New Year’s Eve 1800. Researchers have discovered, however, that December 13, 1797, is most likely the date of his birth. The oldest of […]

Friedrich Nietzsche—much afflicted philosopher

Friedrich Nietzsche by Edvard Munch. 1906. Thielska Gallerie, Sweden. Via Wikimedia. Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the most important philosophers of the nineteenth century. Though often misinterpreted, his influence has been enormous. Like his compatriot Schopenhauer, he questioned the comfortable beliefs of the conservative bourgeoisie of his time. His writings have fascinated generations of readers, […]

The last illness of Édouard Manet

George Dunea James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois   A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Édouard Manet. 1881-1882. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed via Wikimedia. Édouard Manet (1832–1883) was one of the most famous modernist painters of nineteenth-century France. He painted life as creatively and elegantly as he lived in it, translating onto canvas the fashionable […]

Did Macbeth have syphilis?

Eleanor J. Molloy Dublin, Ireland   Gerard De Lairesse suffered from congenital syphilis. Image: Portrait of Gerard de Lairesse. Rembrandt van Rijn. 1665–67. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public Domain. Introduction Syphilis was endemic in Elizabethan England and it was estimated that nearly 20% of the population of London were infected.1 The signs and symptoms […]

Smetana, his music, his illness

Bedřich (Frederic) Smetana was one of the major figures of nineteenth century European music. Regarded as the founder of the Czech national school of music, he composed The Bartered Bride opera and the symphonic poem “Má Vlast” (My Homeland) with its beloved Vlatava (The Moldau) melody. Like Ludwig van Beethoven, he composed exceptional music even […]