Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => Alexandra Feodorovna => Topic started by: Jennifer Benjamin on February 17, 2004, 06:12:47 AM

Title: Alexandra and her Health Part 1
Post by: Jennifer Benjamin on February 17, 2004, 06:12:47 AM
Hi everyone,

We all know that Alix was frequently ill.  The question is, however, how much was caused by physical ailments and how much was caused by anxiety.  What do you all think?

And if her symptoms were truly physical (such as her "enlarged heart," headaches, fatigue, and facial pain), what do you think caused them?  I can't help but wonder what her diagnosis would have been had she lived today.

I have my own opinions on this, but I'd like to hear everyone's opinions.

Take care,

Jennifer
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: NAAOTMA on February 18, 2004, 05:53:26 PM
The Empress's "heart palpitations" and breathlessness with weaknes could be symptoms of what is now termed an "anxiety attack". Also, hyperthyroidism can have the symptoms of heart palpitations, mental agitation, tremors, muscle weakness and weight loss.

I have always wondered if the fact she had large babies with high birthweights might also be a clue to underlying metabolic health problems.    Melissa K.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: anna on February 18, 2004, 07:29:19 PM
It also crossed my mind, about Alexandra's pregnancies.
They were not easy at all. She always had a weak health and a rather nervous state of mind.

I somewhere read, as a child she crashed through glass and wounded her legs very bad. It left her with sore legs for the rest of her life, that's why she couldn't stand long and walk far. She also suffered from sciatica. Regular had migraines. At times she could be very melancholic. Later she was  constantly nervous and anxious of not producing an heir. I think (as a mother of two)  being pregnant of large babies and with such a bad health, she must have  felt worn-out.

Considering her physical and mental state- constant worries about Nicholas and the children- not to mention her feelings of guilt towards Alexis illness- opposition of relatives and court-members, eventualy the whole nation! Would it not make her an nervous wreck? I sometimes wonder if she was manic-depressive.

Yet, I think she was also a remarkable strong woman (character). I admire her very much and feel so sorry for her.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: BobAtchison on February 21, 2004, 10:03:52 AM
As for the facial pain she mentions in her letters (she received electric shock therapy for it) - it turns out when her remains were found it was discovered she had a bad filling which touched a major face nerve.  That seems to have been the cause of it.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Lorenzo_Cavalli on February 24, 2004, 03:26:31 AM
A question in spite of Alexandra's delicate health:

Why did she not give birth to a sixth child and possibly a second son? There seems to be a 50%-chance for male descendants NOT to inherit haemophilia. Moreover Alexei's birth was said to be an easy one (compared to his sisters').

A healthy son and successor to the throne would have changed history.

Do you think it was because of her illness(es)?

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: David Newell on February 25, 2004, 08:06:31 AM
I have been reading about AF since I was small. In the last few years I have been concentrating more and more on her health. I have come to the conclusion that AF may have had one of the mnay variations of Porphyria, a New Zealand doctor was going to do a DNA test on some DNA she had been sent for test that were carried out before the burial in 1998. I have not read or seen anything since. In the book The Purple Secret on Queen Victoria and porphyria in her family, say AF may have had a form of the illness. We know that AF took large amounts of Veronal which would have made the even mild prophyria worse. Her bouts of ill health and the crisis years of 1909-1912, Alexei's heamophillia and the precarious state of the russian throne must have all palyed havoc with her physical state and who knows what it did to her mental state. Its a thought, I have no real proof, but I have always believed it was a combination of problems that left her so worn out and in bad health.

David Newell.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: BobAtchison on March 09, 2004, 10:42:34 AM
Nicholas and Alexandra practiced birth control so one can assume they didn't have any more children after Aleksey on purpose.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ptitchka on March 09, 2004, 07:50:46 PM
Mr. Atchison - is it also true that Alexandra was advised not to have any more children after having given birth to Alexei?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: HRHLaurie1894 on April 29, 2004, 06:13:32 PM
Bob, That is very interesting about N & A practicing birth control.  Is it mentioned anywhere what type? And why - in your opinion - would they not have tried again for a healthy boy?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: BobAtchison on April 29, 2004, 07:07:22 PM
There were birth control devices in Nicholas's bathroom.  They were quite common at the time.  There's no record in the receipts we found for their purchase.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Joanna on April 29, 2004, 08:24:38 PM
What is veronal? Does anyone know why Alexandra was taking large amounts?

Joanna
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: JM on April 29, 2004, 08:49:29 PM
I think it's a white powder that used to be used to induce sleep.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Greg_King on April 30, 2004, 05:51:37 AM
Quote
I think it's a white powder that used to be used to induce sleep.


It's a powerful barbituate ( I did some research on the various drugs N and A were known to take-opium, cocaine, veronal, etc.)  The effect of taking it increases over time, resulting in certain pronounced symptoms including tiredness, lack of concentration, and mood swings.  From what A told Lili Dehn and from her letters to N during the War, it seems likely that Alix was taking some substantial amount, which would only have increased her sense of lethargy, which is ironic in that it's precisely the opposite from what she probably wanted, but may account for some of her various complaints and general lack of energy.

Greg King
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: BobAtchison on April 30, 2004, 07:59:57 AM
They were condoms.  These were widely available in Petersburg at the time.

Bob

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: HRHLaurie1894 on April 30, 2004, 12:10:52 PM
Thanks Helen for asking Bob the question that I was too afraid to ask.   That is what I thought too - but my imagination was beginning to get carried away with the prehistoric birth control idea.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on April 30, 2004, 12:37:32 PM
Helen,
I, too, was afraid to ask this question, even though I wondered about it ever since I first read Bob mention that they used birth control. Thanks for asking, as although it is personal it is also interesting historical information!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Janet Whitcomb on April 30, 2004, 01:33:02 PM
The things you learn on this website!

My respect for Nicholas is now underscored. Another son--possibly free of hemophilia--would have been to his benefit. But, good man, he respected his wife's need to regain her health, and he took responsibility!   8)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: BobAtchison on April 30, 2004, 03:03:22 PM
A friend of mine is a carrier of hemophilia and has one son with it. He contracted AIDs through a blood transfusion...

She says that people don't understand that a carrier has her own physical problems and illnesses that others might discount as 'female' ailments.  She knows all about Alix and she says it is easy for doctors and others to dismiss her complaints in this way, when they were probably quite real and certainly not imaginary or due to hysteria.  I suppose in those times they didn't know as much as we do today but there must still be ignorance among male doctors.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: BobAtchison on April 30, 2004, 03:11:54 PM
Also, I meant to mention that I have posted elsewhere that all of the births after Olga were planned.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Jackswife on April 30, 2004, 03:26:15 PM
 Alix's pregnancies also occurred within a few years' span of time,  and I'm sure that contributed to a lot of her illnesses. Even an uneventful, problem-free pregnancy and childbirth is a physically demanding experience, and since she had five babies within nine years  :o. I'm sure a lot of the ramifications of hemophilia, for both carrier and child, were not well understood at the time. She *may* have had a lot of psychosomatic symptoms, but my thought it was largely physical conditions.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on April 30, 2004, 03:51:16 PM
Quote
Also, I meant to mention that I have posted elsewhere that all of the births after Olga were planned.


If all of the births after Olga were planned, was Olga herself planned? I know that the couple wanted to have children but I mean did Alix plan to get pregnant so soon after her marriage? Olga was born in November, which meant that Alix got pregnant in February 1895, only three months after her wedding. I recall Queen Victoria's disappointment at getting pregnant so quickly with her first child and not getting to enjoy married life alone with her husband for very long.  I know that Nicky and Alix were not disappointed at being pregnant with their first child, but I was just wondering if they were expecting that so soon. Then again, if they practised birth control then I suppose maybe it was planned that way?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: BobAtchison on April 30, 2004, 05:17:21 PM
When you look at the calendar, possible conception dates, the births, what palaces they were in it's obvious they are planning the births.

I don't know the reason why the births are planned for the months they fall in, but it could be the court calendar, the weather, the palace they would be in at the time of the birth...

The Winter Palace was very, very bad for germs and quite noisy.

I wondered why they would pick the Farm Palace and Alexandria Peterhof.  They had medical equipment in the AP, but maybe the Farm was the best or most hygenic.  Maybe someone has found something that would clarify this.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Janet Whitcomb on April 30, 2004, 09:31:59 PM
Again, the things you learn on this website!

I had thought it was rather interesting that three of the five children were born at approximately the same time of year. Now I know the probable reason!

I rather think Olga was born just because Nicky and Alix were young, in love, and wanted a family ASAP--plus, it was what was expected of Alix. But I am both delighted and also a bit astonished about Nicky and Alix practicing birth control at a time when many people thought it sinful, weren't knowledgable, and/or couldn't access it! However, this provides an "ah-ha!" moment re: Nicky and Mathilde's relationship and why she did not conceive. As heir to the throne, Nicky was undoubtedly aware how prudent it would be to avoid fathering any out-of-wedlock children--and the scandal of his paternal grandfather's  liaison and out-of-wedlock children also may have been used as an example of what not to do.

I am in even more admiration of Nicky and Alix than before, especially considering that my grandparents and grandparents apparently did not know how to plan at all.

Also, I'm thinking that in some respects Nicky and Alix were very modern royals!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bookworm8571 on May 01, 2004, 11:16:40 AM
From what I read, the symptoms among carriers vary. Some female carriers are symptomatic carriers and may have blood factor levels nearly as low as a hemophiliac's. Some have no symptoms at all.

Some of Alexandra's health problems can probably be explained by her being a carrier, but Irene wouldn't necessarily have had any.

In another thread, there's mention of a passage from Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna's biography. She apparently believed that all of her nieces had bleeding problems and would have passed on hemophilia to their sons. Grand Duchess Marie hemmoraghed during an operation to remove her tonsils which is a sign that she might have been a symptomatic carrier.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: grandduchessella on May 02, 2004, 04:31:49 PM
In addition to condoms, if the other pregnancies were planned and carefully timed, it sounds as though they may have practiced the old tried-and-sometimes-true rhythm method. It's much more accurate now with various ovulation tests and such but I know a lot of people of older generations used this (it's how my Mom was conceived--planned). Also, I don't know how the Orthodox church differs from the Catholic Church on these teachings but as devout as they were this may also have been a preferred method.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: PotatoSoop on May 04, 2004, 01:41:30 PM
Maybe PRE-traumatic stress disorder hehehe ???
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Arleen on May 04, 2004, 01:57:15 PM
Is that supposed to be funny??  Not here!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: NAAOTMA on May 27, 2004, 08:37:33 PM
There was an article in the newspaper last week about high birthweight babies (average newborns weigh in between seven and nine pounds) being the result of metabolic disorders in their mothers. It is another insight into the possible various medical underlays in Alix's physical health. Her babies were all unusually large at birth-between nine and eleven pounds, if memory serves me correctly. Melissa K.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Guinastasia on May 30, 2004, 03:58:07 PM
As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder and depression, as well as migraines-I can DEFINITELY sympathize with Alix!  

Migraines aren't just bad headaches-(which can be quite severe)-they're often accompanied by vomitting, diarrhea, sensitivity to light, sounds, smells, dizzyness, and "auras" (flashes of light or colors in your vision-they can be scary!)  Sometimes, the only thing one can do is curl up in a quiet, dark room and sleep them off.  

Also, with the amount of stress she had to deal with, it's no wonder she wasn't in perfect health.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on June 01, 2004, 01:53:47 PM
In Nicholas & Alexandra, Massie writes that in 1908 the Empress began to develop a series of symptoms that she attributed to an enlarged heart. An enlarged heart, however, is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of an underlying condition. This can be either an actual disease of the heart muscle (such as coronary artery disease or heart valve disease; Dr. Botkin once commented that the Empress had inherited a "family weakness of the blood vessels"), or, perhaps most likely in Alix's case, another cause which is overworking the heart, such as high blood pressure. An enlarged heart often has no symptoms until it has progressed to a more serious condition, such as congestive heart failure. Symptoms include shortness of breath, extreme tiredness, dizziness, heart palpitations, and fluid retention in the lungs, abdomen, and legs. This certainly jives with what GD Olga A. wrote about her, saying that "her breath often came in quick, obviously painful gasps. I often saw her lips turn blue." This condition is most prevalent in older persons, not in a 36 year old woman, which was Alix's age when she started reporting these symptoms. Yet we know that she was prematurely aged due to the great stress upon her, and her heart suffered the strain. I don't think that these very real symptoms were all in her mind, although I'm sure her mental state may have exacerbated them. I do think that if she had been allowed to live a natural life, this serious heart condition would have been a likely cause of death, provided she didn't develop any other serious illnesses.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Greg_King on June 01, 2004, 11:26:34 PM
Alexandra's health is a complex issue.  Never particularly strong or vigorous, she entered her marriage with increasingly ill health; having inherited her fragile health from both her mother and from her grandfather Prince Albert, she also inherited their fragile mentality that often aided in exacerbating any physical complaints.  There's no doubt, as Olga Alexandrovna recalled, that Alexandra was “indeed a sick woman.  Her breath often came in quick, obviously painful gasps.  I often saw her lips turn blue.”  She obviously suffered from real, physical symptoms, but what was the cause?  According to Princess Naryshkin-Kuryakin, Dr. Fischer and Dr. Dranitzin and eventually diagnosed “a severe nervous disorder.”  In 1910, the Empress traveled to Nauheim in Germany, where she spent a month attempting to recover her health at the famed spa, and consulted with several specialists.  Madeleine Zanotti recalled that Dr. Grotte, “did not find in her any signs of heart disease, but symptoms of a nervous ailments for which he prescribed quite a different treatment from the one which she had been following.”  Dr. Eugene Botkin confirmed this diagnosis.  In a letter to his brother Peter, written from Nauheim, Botkin reported: “I am very pained about the malady of the Empress; it is a nervousness of the heart related to the cardiac muscles.  This is affirmed by the physicians here that I have consulted.  I spoke without restriction because I believed it to be in the best interests of the Empress.  I like to let my imagination free to search for different names for the Empress’s condition.”

As this letter indicates, treating the Empress was a difficult matter, for she refused to consider any suggestion that her illness derived from any cause other than an organic disease of the heart.  But Botkin's letter seems to confirm that while the physical symptoms were real, the cause was not organic but psychological.  On her return to Russia, Dr. Fischer, as Zanotti recalled, “presented to the Emperor a secret report on the condition of the health of the Empress.  Fischer foretold accurately what happened later on and insisted on treating not her heart, which he found in good condition but her nervous system.  In some way or other the Empress heard about this report of Fischer and he was instantly dismissed and replaced by Botkin who was on her express desire appointed her physician.”  As the years passed, Alexandra’s ill-health became more pronounced, and during the First World War it seemed to prey on her already highly-strung character, though she unwittingly revealed its true nature to intimate members of the Imperial Court.  “When she found herself among congenial people,” recalled Zanotti, “she was quite well and never complained about her heart, but the moment anything displeased her or people she did not care for came near she immediately began to complain.”  So were the symptoms organic or psychological, as this suggests?  Alexandra didn't do herself any favors by taking veronal, which only exacerbated her fatigue.  It's an interesting conundrum, because the root of the symptoms seem to be a synthesis of both actual, physical ill-health coupled with psychological strains that enhanced and accelerated her symptoms.  But the evidence, such as it is, seems to suggest that there was no organic heart disease involved.

Greg King
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alexandra on October 01, 2004, 04:29:40 PM
Hello, everyone,


I am so glad to find this aspect of the site especially devoted to AF's illnesses, and to read all of your posts. A book which may interest some of you who expressed interest in what you found a refreshingly 'modern' attitude on the part of Nicky and Alix to contraception is Peter Gay's *Schnitzler's Century: The Making of Modern Middle-Class Culture, 1815-1914** [I'm sorry, can't figure out how to italicise the title properly]. I have long suspected that they practised some form of birth control after Alexei's birth, but only recently found confirmation of the fact in King and Wilson's *The Fate of the Romanovs,* p.341.
A propos of AF's medical conditions, today's physicians have a far better understanding of the fact that the body and mind are not two discrete entities, but rather form one unified whole. The question of whether or not an illness is has a 'physical' or'mental' aetiology is thus, in many cases, quite irrelevant, since the suffering has real, physical consequences. [One need only consider that stomach ulcers are caused by stress, but have very real physical sequelae.] Depressive and anxiety disorders are now known [at least, by more intelligent sectors of the population] to have their origin in dysfunction of neurotransmitters, and thus, a range of other processes and symptoms may rise from them. AF's weight appears to fluctuate quite dramatically in her photos; King and Wilson also mention that she had'merkins,' or pubic wigs; and both eating disorders and alopecia may be connected with endocrine or hormone derangement.
The large babies AF produced might have been indicative of a pre-diabetic state, and any and all of her other symptoms can easily be explained by a diagnosis of severe depression and anxiety disorders. Her daughters, too, seemed to experience considerable pre- and post-menstrual tension [AF mentions their irritability when they had 'Madame Becker' in a letter to Nicky in Lifelong Pasion]. I, too, am interested in the possibility of porphyria, but I rather think it unnecessary as an explanation of her condition.

Best to all,

Katherine Alexandra M. Hines
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: pushkina on October 03, 2004, 12:07:09 AM
Quote
A book which may interest some of you who expressed interest in what you found a refreshingly 'modern' attitude on the part of Nicky and Alix to contraception is Peter Gay's *Schnitzler's Century: The Making of Modern Middle-Class Culture, 1815-1914**


peter gay's books are so good; he is knowledgeable in so many topics that seemingly don't connect (just a few: german and jewish history, the history of medicine and psychiarty, psycho-social history, art history) yet he makes them so accessible and understandable.  he is a universally valuable commentator on the 19 and 20th centuries.

Quote
A propos of AF's medical conditions, today's physicians have a far better understanding of the fact that the body and mind are not two discrete entities...since the suffering has real, physical consequences.


we know that suffering created alix' persona and in a true victorian manner, it seems (to me at least) that suffering was paramount to her and the suffering of alexei's illnesses and  her own illnesses came before any joy that she could have found.  i know there is a xtian component: that suffering makes one come closer to christ and guarantees salvation. her suffering was such that i found it always to picture her marital relationship with N.: most times when the wife is an almost total invalid, marital intimacy is forgotten and lost.  and yet, there it remained in her life and not in a "lie back and think of england " sort of way.  i find that amazing. so many women of that period (and  i suppose any other) sometimes would maximise their illnesses to be able to gracefully get out of 'wifely duties'. but not A.  

another thing that sometimes happens when one is unwell, is that one uses one's illness as a means from escaping unpleasant life.  being wheelchair bound/bed-ridden means that one cannot possible carry out other responsibilities which mean leaving home, or see outside people. being sick allows one to escape totally or to choose what one is willing to do.  as a shy woman, i've often though A. did just that once she began to be sick; when she was sick, she was excused from seeing unpleasant (or just different) people.  she could stay in and just be herself.  it seems that as she got older and the girls were able to sub for her she did just that, claiming to be more unwell as time went on.  was she really so unwell?  after the revolution, when she had to, was she was able to "rise" to the occasion when she had to?

Quote
Depressive and anxiety disorders are now known [at least, by more intelligent sectors of the population] to have their origin in dysfunction of neurotransmitters [and]... both eating disorders and alopecia may be connected with endocrine or hormone derangement.


funny how these tendencies travel in families: did no one ever look at victoria's descendants (after her breakdown after albert's death) and wonder if they had inheirited her tendencies toward melancholia?
Quote
The large babies AF produced might have been indicative of a pre-diabetic state, and any and all of her other symptoms can easily be explained by a diagnosis of severe depression and anxiety disorders.

how much we've changed as a culture!  now we understand that big babies can be/are dangerous and a sign of ill-health in the mother and possibly in the baby.  when i first read N&A, i asked questions about the babies, my grandmother told me quite proudly that she had almost died having such "big, healthy" babies, as big as and bigger than
A.'s. last year, when i was expecting my daughter, based on my remembered history of granma's, i wasn't allowed to gain any weight, my baby was brought early becasue they were afraid of diabetes and pre-eclampsia.

are there any specific  medical articles / literature looking at A. retrospectively and trying to sort out her many ailments?  not that it would change history, but it would be interesting to try and parse them out.  i assume that N. & A. (and of course the children) had extensive medical notes / records.  have any of these been found and published on their own?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alexandra on October 03, 2004, 12:56:46 AM
Hi, Pushkyna,

Yes, I am looking for such medical records, too, if any survived. It will be interesting to see if they have been among the material due to be declassified in 2005.
I can't figure out how to have your text and this reply form before me simultaneously, but you asked about whether AF simply withdrew from unpleasant people and situations or ever rose to the occasion, so to speak [if you will forgive me for paraphrasing you]. Yes, in the war years, you will recall, she trained as a nurse and assisted at very gruelling treatments and surgeries, her day often beginning at 7 am and continuing well into the night. GD Olga and Tatiana also did so.In AF, matters of religious response and those of health, including sexual and reproductive matters, are very intricately enmeshed - as indeed they are in many persons, whether on not they ever present for formal psychotherapy. A seventeenth-century book, Robert Burton's *The Anatomy of Melancholy,* does not go amiss as part of one's background reading on the last Tsaritsa, and there is plenty of modern material to provoke thought, as well.

Best wishes,

Katherine Alexandra M. Hines
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dashkova on October 03, 2004, 01:01:14 AM


Pushkina wrote:  now we understand that big babies can be/are dangerous and a sign of ill-health in the mother and possibly in the baby.  when i first read N&A, i asked questions about the babies, my grandmother told me quite proudly that she had almost died having such "big, healthy" babies, as big as and bigger than
A.'s. last year, when i was expecting my daughter, based on my remembered history of granma's, i wasn't allowed to gain any weight, my baby was brought early becasue they were afraid of diabetes and pre-eclampsia.

******I think you make some very good points in this post, particularly regarding Alix, but I wanted to stress where you wrote: "can be/are" with regard to big babies.  As someone experienced in this realm, on a personal level :) I can vouch that such babies and moms certainly *can* be very, very healthy.  I've got two grown up babies in absolute perfect health and know of many, many others.  I wonder if good nutrition may have anything to do with it.  Certainly Alix had the best possible nutrition of the day, whereas many others during that period did not.  The current young generation up to babies being born this year tend to be on the larger side, but also healthy, perhaps due to widespread better nutrition than in generations past.
Just a thought.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: pushkina on October 03, 2004, 01:30:18 AM
Quote
Yes, in the war years, you will recall, she trained as a nurse and assisted at very gruelling treatments and surgeries, her day often beginning at 7 am and continuing well into the night.


i find that SO amazing: prior to the war, in the years after alexei's birth, A became an invalid, travelling to take the waters a number of times, being seen by botkin daily and by his specialists called in when needed.  then the war breaks out and A trains to be a surgical nurse (!) and literally rises from her couch and sickbed, to spend gruellingly long days on her feet, doing things that defy logic.  one could look at her and either think, "the will of that woman! what a saint!" OR " if she can stand and do this, was she not really sick all those years?  can she make up her mind please?"

i bet that made problems for people to understand her.  i remember a conversation she had with a soldier after the revolution, during which she explained why she hadn't been seen in public;  not because she shunned "the people" but becasue she was sick!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: pushkina on October 03, 2004, 01:38:41 AM
Quote
I wonder if good nutrition may have anything to do with it.  Certainly Alix had the best possible nutrition of the day, ...  The current young generation up to babies being born this year tend to be on the larger side, but also healthy, perhaps due to widespread better nutrition than in generations past.
Just a thought.


better nutrition, absolutely BUT as we learn more about metabolism and endocrineology, and even perhaps things taht don't have names yet, we are learning that bigger isn't necessarily better and  can mean, there is / could be  a problem lurking.  

i think that once we get over 10 pounds, unless the babies parents are giants, that isn't necessarily better nutrition.  and families can have a history of big babies but also later, a history of silent diabetes or heart disease.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dashkova on October 03, 2004, 02:14:43 PM
Good points.  I'd like to know if large babies run in certain families, too. In my own case, my family always had babies between 6-7 pounds, so when I had larger babies no one could figure it out until we learned on my husband's paternal side of the family babies of 11 and 13 pounds were the norm. This, too, could be merely a metabolic family history, yet all those in question lived long healthy lives.

Were Alix's large babies deemed remarkable in either family, and were other women in those families also producing larger babies?

 It is interesting to learn about the research in this field, so thanks for the info!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on October 03, 2004, 04:25:14 PM
Dashkova...Hello!

   Well I was curious, as I have read that Alix suffered from Sciactica (Sp. :-[) would this have been a condition brought on by this sort of "big baby" childbearing? Or was this a preexisting condition? I do know that she often found walking difficult and needed to be carried upstairs on a number of occassions.

R.

 PS. Were all the children as big as Olga?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sergio on October 03, 2004, 05:06:23 PM
Hello, Rskkiya.
Quote
Were all the children as big as Olga?

When Alexei was born his measures were:
Weight-- 11 pounds (4.6 kg)  :o
Lenght--  58 cm
Head--    38 cm
Chest--   39 cm
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on October 04, 2004, 09:14:32 AM
Thanks AanastasiaFan :)

I was under the impression that Alix suffered more from Aniexty and emotional stress and any cardiac condition-that really her heart was fine- but when the doctors disagreed with her about this, it only made her more "stressed". I can understand both possibilities.

R.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Michelle on October 04, 2004, 04:57:00 PM
Quote
Dashkova...Hello!

    Well I was curious, as I have read that Alix suffered from Sciactica (Sp. :-[) would this have been a condition brought on by this sort of "big baby" childbearing? Or was this a preexisting condition? I do know that she often found walking difficult and needed to be carried upstairs on a number of occassions.

R.

  PS. Were all the children as big as Olga?


I believe I remember reading possibly on the internet somewhere that (along with Alexei) Maria was around eleven pounds as well, and that Anastasia was also quite large.  Tatiana seemed to have been the only "normal" weight of OTMAA, however even she was  bigger than I was.  I was seven pounds seven ounces. So yes, I do think Olga was definitely surpassed.  I'm deeply sorry that I cannot provide you with the
source(s), but I just can't remember considering I've read SO MUCH over the past few years.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on October 04, 2004, 09:04:14 PM
Thanks Michelle...
Sergio had the information!
(thank you too, Sergio.)



the cat Rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on October 16, 2004, 04:12:44 PM
Quote

I believe I remember reading possibly on the internet somewhere that (along with Alexei) Maria was around eleven pounds as well, and that Anastasia was also quite large.  Tatiana seemed to have been the only "normal" weight of OTMAA, however even she was  bigger than I was.


On the "Children's Births" thread, the birth weights of the children are given as:

Olga - 10 lbs.
Tatiana - 8-3/4 lbs.
Maria - ?
Anastasia - 11.5 lbs :o
Alexei - 11 lbs.

So it seems Anastasia was the heaviest baby! This weight is directly from Nicholas's diary. Looking at her baby pictures, to me she didn't look quite so big; instead, she seemed like a smaller baby, similar to Tatiana, and not large and chubby like Olga. I can't find the weight for Maria, though - does anyone know?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Michelle on October 16, 2004, 06:13:22 PM
I could've sworn I read in perhaps "The Last Empress" (not that I own it, I was just reading it in Barnes and Noble one day ::)) that Maria was around 11 pounds as well.  :-/

Olga didn't seem to be an exceptionally large baby, none of them did.  She just had a really big head and that's probably why she seemed so big.  I kind of think she was a rather pretty infant, second to Maria whom I think was the prettiest infant.  Anastasia was cute, but not quite 'pretty.'  Tatiana just (in my opinion) looked plain weird.  Please no one be offended. :-[

Tatiana
(http://www.livadia.org/tanya/images/nickyalixbigpairbabies.jpg)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Abby on October 16, 2004, 08:55:12 PM
AWW thats cute! Heh, thats OK Tatiana was a little odd-looking as an infant. Of course, she outgrew it!  Marie was such a beautiful baby.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on October 17, 2004, 08:07:46 PM
Does anybody know anything about where the term "Madame Becker" came from?  I know what it means but had never heard it used before.  A Google search didn't help much.  

Thanks!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on October 17, 2004, 08:49:05 PM
Another term she used was "engineer-mechanic"

R
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ashanti01 on October 17, 2004, 09:35:33 PM
I thought Tatiana wasn't the most attractive of the OTMA babies, but one has to admit that Alexei was a very beautiful baby
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Olga on October 18, 2004, 12:50:48 AM
Quote
Does anybody know anything about where the term "Madame Becker" came from?


Wasn't it from one of Alexandra Fyodorovna's childhood friends, Tori Becker?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: elisa_1872 on October 19, 2004, 05:56:24 AM
Quote

On the "Children's Births" thread, the birth weights of the children are given as:

Olga - 10 lbs.
Tatiana - 8-3/4 lbs.
Maria - ?
Anastasia - 11.5 lbs :o
Alexei - 11 lbs.

So it seems Anastasia was the heaviest baby! This weight is directly from Nicholas's diary. Looking at her baby pictures, to me she didn't look quite so big; instead, she seemed like a smaller baby, similar to Tatiana, and not large and chubby like Olga. I can't find the weight for Maria, though - does anyone know?



Thanks for these Sarai! I wondered does anyone know  the weight of Alix herself at birth, or that of Nicholas?

PS) As to "Madame Becker" i believe that in this same thread it has been further discussed as to why Alexandra called it that.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ashanti01 on October 19, 2004, 02:11:15 PM
I can't remember Nicholas weight but I do remeber reading that at the time of his birth he was the smallest Romanov baby in a while
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on October 21, 2004, 05:01:10 PM
Help!

I am reading the complete war correspondences of N & A - from 1914 to 1917 and she often writes that she is taking drops or cannot take her drops due to "Mme Becker" ...
   Does anyone know what kind of medication this could be? She associates it with her "heart" (nervous) condition... Might it be ladanum or maybe some other sedative?  As far as I know there was nothing wrong with Alix's heart, but she did seem to be highly strung and rather prone to anxiety attacks-- so I am guessing that the drops relate to this?

Information please?
rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Lanie on October 21, 2004, 05:03:31 PM
I think she's talking about valium drops... or arsenic (or maybe I'm getting confused with Olga taking arsenic)...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: IlyaBorisovich on October 21, 2004, 05:52:06 PM
There's a reference in one of Alix's letters from October 1915 to Olga being treated with arsenic.  I had thought this was treatment for the nervous breakdown she suffered while working in the hospital.

Ilya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on October 22, 2004, 05:09:30 AM
I believe the drops to which she refers are valerian (valerianka).   This is a tincture distilled from the entire valerian plant and is still in popular use in Russia.   It has similar sedative properties to 'Valium', but is a natural herbal medicine.   It is addictive.   The drops are usually added to water.

In her correspondence when the Empress referred to 'Becker' or to the 'Engineer', she was referring to her monthly cycle.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: pushkina on October 22, 2004, 05:25:07 AM
well, i know that i always need a seditive when mme. becker visits our house.  (my husband does too.)

why would that interfere with her seditive medications?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Elisabeth on October 22, 2004, 07:10:10 AM
I am also confused about why Alexandra couldn't take valerian or veronal during "Becker." Surely if she was already chemically dependent on these drugs she would have had to take them anyway? Perhaps she simply cut the dose once a month?

On another subject. I remember reading somewhere that, according to the forensic experts, some of the lower vertebrae in Alexandra's skeleton had actually fused. (No, I'm sure I'm not confusing this information with Dr. Maples' analysis of the developmental level of the daughters' vertebrae and the Anastasia controversy! That's a separate issue.) The fused vertebrae were somehow connected to (perhaps even an effect of) her rigid, upright posture. Does anyone know if they might also have had something to do with her sciatica? And does anyone here know much about sciatica and its symptoms in general?  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on October 22, 2004, 10:30:32 AM
Everyone,
Thanks for all the information about the drops!
Who knows if she was addicted ...maybe she would take other medication at that time which would have interfered with the "Veronol"...

I am so sorry Elizabeth --I do know that Alix suffered from sciatica, but I don't know anything about any other spinal problems.

Rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lilavanderhorn on October 22, 2004, 10:40:09 AM
Wearing corsets add to the ridgid upright posture.  When wearing one, you cannot help but sit upright after wearing one for all those years.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on October 22, 2004, 01:52:31 PM
Quote
Tatiana just (in my opinion) looked plain weird.  Please no one be offended. :-[


I can understand how you may think that Tatiana looked a bit "odd" as a baby. I think this is most evident, however, when she is compared to her sisters, as by herself she wasn't a particularly unattractive baby. Baby Tatiana appears to me to just look rather thin and delicate, and not quite as robust as her sisters appear in their baby pictures.

I have also observed that as an infant and very young toddler, she didn't resemble her older self very much. Sometimes you can look at a baby picture and you can see a strong resemblance between the child at that stage and how they look when they're older. But with Tatiana it seems - to me, anyway - that this didn't happen until she was probably around 3 years old (a good comparison of her at different stages can be seen here http://www.livadia.org/tanya/album1.html). In her pictures starting in 1900 is when I can really tell she looks like the Tatiana we all know! However, her sisters (especially Maria) start to look like themselves as early as a year or two old. Just an observation!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ashanti01 on October 22, 2004, 02:13:00 PM
I once read theat Alix and Nicholas took drugs? is that true
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on October 22, 2004, 03:36:22 PM
The use of opium for minor illnesses such as colds and 'fly-like illnesses was quite normal amongst the 'upper classes' at that time.

To return to the 'drops', I have taken some notes from a couple of Google sites -

Valerian:

The juice of the root of valerian has of late been recommended as more certain in its effects, and of value as a narcotic in insomina and as an anti-convulsant in epilepsy....
Having some slight influence upon the circulation, slowing the heart and increasing its force, it has been used in cardiac palpitations.
(Botanical.com)

Veronal:

Diethylmalonyl urea or diethylbarbituric (it comes in a white crystalline powder) given in sachets (10-15 grains).
Although its toxicity is low.... unreasonable consumption by persons suffering from insomnia has led to many deaths.
(Encylcopaedia 'Love to Know')

Along with 'black bread', I have to confess that top of my 'must have' list when in Russia, is tincture of valarian and tincture of echinaciae.   There is nothing in the UK to compare with either in terms of both efficacy and price.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alexandra on October 22, 2004, 03:57:06 PM
Hello,

Another medication quite casually dispensed in the early twentieth century was cocaine. [It was then also used 'recreationally;' at Countess Betsy Shuvalov's fancy dress ball, we are told, it 'flew up a great many noses.'] There is some evidence that both Nicky and Alix made use of it in their personal pharmacopoeia.
Has anyone found materials pertaining to what, precisely, were the'Tibetan herbs' prescribed by  'the quack Badmaiev'? Paleologue, from whom I am quoting, goes on to say,
'Judging by its effects, the elixir must be a mixture of henbane and hashish, and the Emperor should be careful not to take too much.'

Thank you, and best wishes,

Alexandra

p.s.: The Empress Maria Teresa and her daughters also had a nickname for their monthly cycles. Alix, who admired Marie Antoinette, may have imitated them in this regard.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on October 23, 2004, 07:51:30 AM
Dear Alexandra

I used to know the Tibetan 'Dr' Badmaev's daughter.   She is a qualitifed doctor and works in St Petersburg.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Michelle on October 23, 2004, 03:18:18 PM
Quote

I can understand how you may think that Tatiana looked a bit "odd" as a baby. I think this is most evident, however, when she is compared to her sisters, as by herself she wasn't a particularly unattractive baby. Baby Tatiana appears to me to just look rather thin and delicate, and not quite as robust as her sisters appear in their baby pictures.

I have also observed that as an infant and very young toddler, she didn't resemble her older self very much. Sometimes you can look at a baby picture and you can see a strong resemblance between the child at that stage and how they look when they're older. But with Tatiana it seems - to me, anyway - that this didn't happen until she was probably around 3 years old (a good comparison of her at different stages can be seen here http://www.livadia.org/tanya/album1.html). In her pictures starting in 1900 is when I can really tell she looks like the Tatiana we all know! However, her sisters (especially Maria) start to look like themselves as early as a year or two old. Just an observation!


No it wasn't her thinness that made her look odd as a baby, just her face was considerably unattractive compared with her sisters'.  As a baby, no, I can't see any resemblance to ''herself'' either.  But once she got to late age one and onto age two, for me at least, she started to resemble herself.  I also have to express my thoughts regarding Olga as a baby.  As a toddler and an infant, she looks much less like herself (ESPECIALLY when she gets to be young adult) than Tatiana.  Maria and Anastasia for the most part always looked like themselves.  But I have to say that in my eyes, Olga looked the least like herself for the longest time compared to her sisters (i.e. all the way from infant to older toddler stage).  I'll post a picture and show you what I mean.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Michelle on October 23, 2004, 03:25:46 PM
(http://www.livadia.org/olishka/images/nickyalixbabyo.jpg)

(http://www.livadia.org/tanya/images/olgatatiana1900.jpg)

(http://www.livadia.org/trw/photos/1.jpg)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: IlyaBorisovich on October 23, 2004, 10:12:56 PM
Michelle,

All I can say about the difference between the first and second photos is "What an improvement!" ;)

Ilya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Michelle on October 24, 2004, 06:30:57 PM
LOL LOL LOL Ilya!!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D :D :D

I posted another picture of her as a five year old with Tatiana, and the contrast between her at five and her at ninteen/twenty is astonishing, and yes, I have to echo your words!!!!! ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Janet_W. on October 24, 2004, 07:51:13 PM
We all have photos--or rather, our parents have them!--of which we're a bit embarrassed.

Tatiana was delicate and, according to Xenia (if I remember correctly) was the very image of her mother. Babies who appear more mature than their actual age naturally look a bit unusual. Consider the actress, Elizabeth Taylor, who as an infant looked far more mature than her age, and who evolved--as we all know--into one of the world's most famous beauties.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Michelle on October 24, 2004, 08:29:23 PM
I just can't see how anyone would say that Tatiana is the very image of her mother.  I mean, they're both totally different looking, even in terms of delicateness.  IMHO anyway, Tatiana was much more delicate than Alix.  Alix as a young toddler was actually quite chubby (as one would expect a child of that age to be), and actually VERY unattractive, MUCH more so than any of her daughters.  Alix was much more chubby as a toddler than Olga was (although Olga really wasn't all that chubby as a toddler).  

But it really is a blast looking at how Alix and OTMA matured over the years, looking at each of their stages.  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: IlyaBorisovich on October 25, 2004, 10:50:31 AM
One has to wonder how gracefully OTMA would've aged, considering their mother and the fact that had they lived to bear children, the possibility existed that they too would've been the mothers of hemophiliacs.  I think I'd rather remember them the way they were, frozen in time, youth and beauty.  It's the whole Buddy Holly/Elvis issue.  If Buddy Holly hadn't died, would success have done to him what it did to Elvis?

Ilya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on October 29, 2004, 01:54:32 PM
Back to Alix's Illnesses...

I have also read about Nicholas' use of Cocaine and Alix's use of  Opium but at that time these drugs were not illegal.

Rskkiya

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ashanti01 on October 29, 2004, 02:09:05 PM
I also read of the drug use. That could explain the severe mental changes towards the last years.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 29, 2004, 02:25:48 PM
I think that these drugs were commonly used throughout the the upper classes of the time, for both medicinal as well as recreational uses.
I do not think they were even regulated until after WWI, and Britain even had a thriving trade [even fought a couple of wars] in the opium trade before then.
Was is not also a theme in the Sherlock Holmes stories?
Cheers,
Robert
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Arleen on October 29, 2004, 02:45:47 PM
Cocaine was used the same way in America during this time period.  It wasn't thought of as being a bad thing.  Upperclass America thought of it as a perk for those able to afford it.  It began to get a bad rap in Hollywood when some of the stars got addicted and scandals happened.  I grew up in Atlanta and some of the Coca Cola people were family friends....there is a reason why the "RUMOR" about Cocaine being in Coke doesn't ever go away.  (But that was only in the beginning)      ..Arleen
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Olga on October 29, 2004, 08:42:28 PM
I read (doesn't that sound dodgy  :P) that Nikolai Alexandrovich once used cocaine for a head cold.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Merrique on October 29, 2004, 09:02:23 PM
Quote
I read (doesn't that sound dodgy  :P) that Nikolai Alexandrovich once used cocaine for a head cold.


If he had a head cold it makes you wonder how in the world he snorted it up his nose,unless there was another way to get it into the body. :P ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 29, 2004, 10:54:25 PM
Oh, there certainly IS, my friend. Several ways.
Any orifice will do.
Cheers onthat thought-
Robert
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Olga on October 29, 2004, 11:46:36 PM
Getting a bit suggestive there, Bobby........ ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Merrique on October 30, 2004, 07:33:22 AM
Quote
Getting a bit suggestive there, Bobby........ ;D


Good one Olga lololol ;D :D :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 30, 2004, 12:09:27 PM
Well, it is true ! AND, I am NOT going any further with this !
Cheers,
Robert
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: aligertz on January 11, 2005, 01:49:13 AM
could Alexandra have suffered from what today is seen researched and treated as Panic attacks? Generalized Anxiety disorder...Social Anxiety disorder [her well-known discomfort at formal gatherings]...modern psychotherapy describes all of her symptoms : stress,
irregular heartbeat,faintness,fatigue,heightened anxiety level,gasping or choking sensations,chest pain,nausea,etc.of course in her time a woman's period meant she was spiritually possessed!
we've come a long way.stress precipitates Panic Disorder and what more stress could there be than having a son with hemophilia?
Alexandra was NOT 'hysterical' or 'imbalanced'.rather,she were legitimately ill with a
psychiatric disorder at a time when medicine did not have a clue to what the Mind was.STOP CALLING H.I.H
ALEXANDRA 'CRAZY'!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 11, 2005, 06:34:06 AM
It seems a shame to me that nowadays everything is labelled. What used to be seen as genius or eccentricity is now given a 'syndrome' of something. Children aren't 'naughty' they're hyperactive...people aren't 'a bit odd' - they have some mental imbalance & it takes away all individuality & leads people to seek counselling for things which in the past they just had to get over & get on with. In short (in my opinion) I think it weakens & de-personalizes society.
Alix's problems (which doubtless were many) seem to me to be caused by all kinds of circumstances - not least the early death of her mother & little brother & sister, the enormous pressure of trying to rule in a culture which she didn't wholly understand, her natural shyness, accentuated by the sorry reception she received from St. Petersburg society &, above all the pressure on her first to have a son and then to deal with his haemophilia. It's hardly surprising she panicked sometimes and yet she must have had the intelligence to realize this herself.  But - & I'm sure many people will disagree - if it had been suggested to her that she see a psychiatrist she would have been deeply offended. Rasputin provided her with that 'someone to talk to' & though HIS influence may have been pernicious, I can't imagine that talking to a counsellor or anyone else would have helped her overcome the problems she faced - psychological (doesn't everyone in one form or another?) & physical.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on January 11, 2005, 02:20:06 PM
In those days when one had her period she was thought of as being spiritually possessed?! Never heard of that one, and it doesn't sound very Orthodox to me.

Maybe her spirit was "Mrs Becker"! ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 11, 2005, 02:27:04 PM
 :D :DHa! Ha! ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Janet_W. on January 11, 2005, 03:15:32 PM
Remember, though, that we have accounts of Alexandra at receptions and so forth, initially seeming to be fine, and then her breathing becomes labored, her face and shoulders start to flush, and her expression turns frozen. Followed by, whenever possible, her retreat. To me, this does sound like what today would be identified as a "panic attack." (Admittedly, a contemporary phrase used as shorthand for whatever formal terminology identifies this medical/psychiatriatric malaise.)

As someone who always has been shy and once went through some heavy-duty therapy for my own "anxiety attacks," I continue to feel tremendous empathy for Alexandra regarding this matter.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: aligertz on January 11, 2005, 03:52:50 PM
 ??? ??? ::)
its really nice and reassuring to know i can start a serious half-intelligent discussion about a mother's suffering and then have it degenerate into MTV humor!forgive me if i didnt laugh commisars but i do give you a B- for effort.if youd only confront your own phobia regarding the 'mentally ill' you just might develop some trace of what the Family had and that substance is called 'empathy'.
to bluetoria hello and ill send back the 'ha ha' just as soon as youve suffered your first panic attack.think it cant happen? call the CDC and check out the stats!
and to Georgiy hello and i hope this all sounded more Orthodox to you and oh yeah,-her spirit's name was 'Jesus Christ'!
AND to Janet God richly bless you for your courage in coming forward and relating Your own experience.you are right to empathise with the Tsarina.i too am being treated for the condition and thats why i pray to Her!
in love and Crown
;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on January 11, 2005, 04:10:26 PM
Dear aligertz, I was questioning the idea that a period was considered to be some sort of spiritual possession a mere 100 years ago. There has never been this sort of idea in the Orthodox faith. Maybe in other cultures, I do not know, but I very much doubt such an idea would have entered the Empress's mind. The remark about Mrs Becker was in fact using the Empress's own nickname for her period.
As for panic attacks and chest pain, well, I have had them myself from time-to-time, and depression in the past, so I too empathise with her.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 11, 2005, 04:44:56 PM
Forgive me, Aligertz. I in no way intended to mock or make fun of any panic attacks or anything the sort. (I have worked with mentally ill patients in hospitals & would not dream of making such a callous remark.) I was laughing only at the joke about Mme. Becker. Nor would I denigrate Alix in any way...as I hope come out if you read my previous posting...In any case I offer you a complete apology if if my laughter caused you offence. SORRY.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: aligertz on January 12, 2005, 02:37:09 AM
 :) :)
dear bluetoria
no apologies needed i realize you care deeply for people and the Family and I am sorry to you if i sounded a bit too stern.
friends? :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 12, 2005, 08:29:17 AM
Thank you, Aligertz :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 14, 2005, 01:13:00 PM
Quote
STOP CALLING H.I.H
ALEXANDRA 'CRAZY'!


Who are you talking to?

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: aligertz on January 14, 2005, 01:44:15 PM
dear  rskkiya
im terribly sorry if it annoyed you in any way.im an EMOTIONAL type just like my grandpa was God rest him.
actually youre right.
if i had used lower-case letters then i could have said i were addressing all the thoughtless people who added to this poor woman's suffering from her mother-in-law to the courtiers the Duma pols and the Russian press of her time and everyone after her death who called and still call her 'crazy'.she deserves far more.
there.
i talked in lower-case letters!thank you rskkiya for teaching me something new!

best of wishes :)
aligertz
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 14, 2005, 01:51:22 PM
Quote
could Alexandra have suffered from what today is seen researched and treated as Panic attacks? Generalized Anxiety disorder...Social Anxiety disorder [her well-known discomfort at formal gatherings]...modern psychotherapy describes all of her symptoms : stress,
irregular heartbeat,faintness,fatigue,heightened anxiety level,gasping or choking sensations,chest pain,nausea,etc.of course in her time a woman's period meant she was spiritually possessed!
we've come a long way.stress precipitates Panic Disorder and what more stress could there be than having a son with hemophilia?
Alexandra was NOT 'hysterical' or 'imbalanced'.rather,she were legitimately ill with a
psychiatric disorder at a time when medicine did not have a clue to what the Mind was.


I am certainly no psychiatrist, but I agree that it certainly sounds like Alix may have had an anxiety disorder, with maybe some "social phobia" thrown in, which certainly wasn't improved by her son's disease, the nature of which was such that an 'episode' can break out at any moment. This of course doesn't make her "crazy" or unbalanced, just a woman who could have used some emotional support and compassion, and maybe some good anti-anxiety meds (which can work wonders!)  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 15, 2005, 04:55:25 PM
I agree with Helen A. - Alexandra may well have had  certain social phobias and could well have had the symptoms of classical "hysteria" (conversion disorder)  as did many women at that time in Europe. Still its hard to make a fair diagnosis today.

  As I have stated in other threads, it would have been facinating if Alix could have taken the "talking cure" with Herrs Freud, Jung or Reich!

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Olga on January 15, 2005, 11:23:42 PM
Quote
STOP CALLING H.I.H
ALEXANDRA 'CRAZY'!


Alexandra Fyodorovna was not styled H.I.H.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 16, 2005, 09:22:11 AM
Both sexes can have panic disorder, social phobia and anxiety, back then as well as now, in Europe as well as everywhere else. I don't think it was just women in Europe that had "hysteria" as they called it, but maybe there was a tendency to attribute it more to women because they would not try to suppress the symptoms as much as men did (?). I dont know, just speculating.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 16, 2005, 10:03:02 AM
[I agree with Helen A. - Alexandra may well have had  certain social phobias and could well have had the symptoms of classical "hysteria" (conversion disorder)  as did many women at that time in Europe.
Quote


The trouble with terms like 'hysteria' (coming from 'the womb' and therefore applied only to women) is that it was used for a such a variety of behaviours. If a woman were not a docile wife, she might be said to be suffering from hysteria; high spirited girls were hysterical; single mothers & promiscuous women were treated as hysterical & often confined to asylums...It seems to be a diagnosis that was used to suit husbands & fathers whether or not there was anything wrong with the girl/woman and therefore I think it is rather an insulting term too & certainly would not apply to the Empress...or anyone else for that matter!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 16, 2005, 10:12:08 AM
Quote

The trouble with terms like 'hysteria' (coming from 'the womb' and therefore applied only to women) is that it was used for a such a variety of behaviours. If a woman were not a docile wife, she might be said to be suffering from hysteria; high spirited girls were hysterical; single mothers & promiscuous women were treated as hysterical & often confined to asylums...It seems to be a diagnosis that was used to suit husbands & fathers whether or not there was anything wrong with the girl/woman...
 Yes, exactly. Sometimes it is still used this way! In the meantime, I am sure we all know plenty of "hysterical" men too  ;).
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 16, 2005, 11:13:33 AM
I did not intend my comment about "hysteria" to be sexist. I was simply pointing out what Freud had noted --that this condition seemed to be one mostly suffered by women at that time (the turn of the century)!  

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dashkova on January 16, 2005, 12:27:02 PM
Well, there was hysteria and "hysteria"

Anybody notice what one of the MOST popular treatments of the "condition" was?

Seemed to have worked *wonderfully* but required repeat treatments.  And personally, I think that's where a lot of the "hype" about "hysteria" came from. :D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 16, 2005, 01:11:34 PM
 :o "Wonderfully" for whom? The embarrassed 'patients' or the rather peculiar doctors?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on January 16, 2005, 02:30:13 PM
From KR's diary, January 14, 1909: "I asked the Emperor about putting on The Bride [of Messina] at the Tsarkoe Selo Chinese theatre. The Tsar said that the Empress is very unwilling to receive, and is fearful of people, especially in crowds, and that we would hardly want to perform in front of their Majesties in an empty theatre."

Reading that statement that Alexandra was "fearful of people, especially in crowds" can lead one to believe she had something like a social anxiety disorder. Of course, it could mean she was just shy, but nowadays some shyness (depending on the severity) is attributed to this "disorder." I am a shy person myself and can relate to Alexandra in this way. She could very well have been thus labelled with this condition today.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 16, 2005, 03:50:04 PM
Quote
I agree with Helen A. - Alexandra may well have had  certain social phobias and could well have had the symptoms of classical "hysteria" (conversion disorder)  as did many women at that time in Europe. Still its hard to make a fair diagnosis today.

   As I have stated in other threads, it would have been facinating if Alix could have taken the "talking cure" with Herrs Freud, Jung or Reich!

rskkiya


Helen
THIS was my post. "Many" is not "Hundreds of Thousands" or "Millions" ! I did not post that statement!
"Europe" actually Germany, was the location that Freud was familiar with...I don't know what he thought of America...
DON'T PUT WORDS INTO MY MOUTH!

rskkiya >:(
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dashkova on January 16, 2005, 04:13:31 PM
Quote
:o "Wonderfully" for whom? The embarrassed 'patients' or the rather peculiar doctors?


HAH! I don't think you know what treatment I'm talking about...LOL!

The operative phrase to remember is "repeat visits," ok?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 16, 2005, 05:17:09 PM
 ;)I think I do understand! However! ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dashkova on January 16, 2005, 05:19:58 PM
Quote
;)I think I do understand! However! ;)


Ok, then, if you get it, then why call them embarrassed patients??

They came back for more. Not much embarrassment there, and indeed, why should there be? It was quite fashionable, and apparently effective for the short term.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 16, 2005, 05:32:07 PM
Because half the time I don't think they understood what was going on! They were very sheltered & whether or not they 'enjoyed' the experience, they were hardly willing participants...just going along with what was happening to them. (In my opinion).
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dashkova on January 16, 2005, 05:41:25 PM
Quote
Because half the time I don't think they understood what was going on! They were very sheltered & whether or not they 'enjoyed' the experience, they were hardly willing participants...just going along with what was happening to them. (In my opinion).


Um, if you're interested I could send you some links to more info about this, because they most certainly DID enjoy the experience...sheltered has got nothing to do with it.  It was a way for women to get their jollies under the cloak of "medicine."
Oh, I love that..."just going along with what was happening to them..." lol! Yeah, that's why they kept coming back for more..."hardly willing participants..." TOO RICH!!
:-/  How old are you?

Ah, ok, same age as me.  Hmmm..well, um, I'm *sorry*.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 16, 2005, 05:42:23 PM
No thanks. I don't need your links.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dashkova on January 16, 2005, 05:45:27 PM
Quote
No thanks. I don't need your links.


suit yourself! LOL!  ;D
There are some good books on the subject, some of which I read in a seminar on Victorian Women (came after a course on "Unruly Women")
But, I'm sure you wouldn't need those either!
Have fun now!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 16, 2005, 05:47:04 PM
(genuine question :)) What does LOL mean...I'm innocent enough not to understand that but lots of people write it :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dashkova on January 16, 2005, 05:49:48 PM
Quote
(genuine question :)) What does LOL mean...I'm innocent enough not to understand that but lots of people write it :)


I've been using LOL since 1993, but, ok, it stands for "laughing out loud."
This forum doesn't have an emoticon that is laughing, so most people use the LOL or lol. Old fashioned, but it works.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 16, 2005, 05:51:54 PM
Oh, right! Thanks! :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 16, 2005, 05:52:21 PM
Quote
What does LOL mean...


LOL = Laugh Out Loud (net talk  ;))
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 16, 2005, 06:08:12 PM
Thanks Helen Azar! :) I really need to get off this thread it brings nothing but conflict! :-X
To return to Alix's panic disorder...It didn't stem from her role as Tsarina, did it? When she was very young QV asked her to play the piano in front of a group of people & she fell to pieces. I am still reluctant to label her with a disorder - which I think is unjust & dangerous - but her shyness was extreme. Still, I think she needed no counsellors or psychoanalysts, just someone to talk to & it seems to me she cut off the people who might have been there for her (e.g. Ella) because she was the Tsarina & there was a conflict between her social position & her own personal needs and she opted for the role as Tsarina.  Then, by confiding in Rasputin, she picked the wrong person. I think...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 16, 2005, 06:12:33 PM
Quote
Thanks Helen Azar! :) I really need to get off this thread it brings nothing but conflict! :-X
No problem!  :)

By getting off this thread you won't avoid conlict so you might as well stay and get used to it  ;)  ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 16, 2005, 06:15:54 PM
Quote
No problem!  :)

By getting off this thread you won't avoid conlict so you might as well stay and get used to it  ;)  ;D


Well there's conflict & conflict...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 16, 2005, 06:21:49 PM
Quote
To return to Alix's panic disorder...It didn't stem from her role as Tsarina, did it? When she was very young QV asked her to play the piano in front of a group of people & she fell to pieces. I am still reluctant to label her with a disorder - which I think is unjust & dangerous - but her shyness was extreme. Still, I think she needed no counsellors or psychoanalysts, just someone to talk to & it seems to me she cut off the people who might have been there for her (e.g. Ella) because she was the Tsarina & there was a conflict between her social position & her own personal needs and she opted for the role as Tsarina.  Then, by confiding in Rasputin, she picked the wrong person. I think...


No, her shyness, or whatever it was, didn't come from being the Tsarina, it was there long before that. But this is what a disorder is, when something enters the realm of "extreme" and starts interfering with one's every day life. So if her shyness was so extreme that it got to a point that it infrindged on her life, which certainly seemed to be the case often, then yes it would have been considered a psychological disorder. If Alix lived in the 20/21 century, she would have gotten therapy (hopefully) and probably some drugs and she would be more or less fine and would be able to function "normally". Back then this wasn't available of course, so she consciously or sub- looked for other things to try to alleviate her symptoms, and yes I would say Rasputin was one of those things. Her disorder, because it was left untreated for many years, seems to have manifested in other ways, hence many "imaginary" or real health problems starting at a young age. Again, this is all speculation on my part, of course I wouldn't know enough to say anything for sure. It just kind of sounds that this may have been the case...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 16, 2005, 06:23:15 PM
Quote

Well there's conflict & conflict...
Oh, Bluetoria, you haven't yet seen Conflict  ;)  Anyway, let's stay on course here  :D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 16, 2005, 06:32:39 PM
Quote
Oh, Bluetoria, you haven't yet seen Conflict  ;)  Anyway, let's stay on course here  :D


(See I can do this quoting now! :)) I don't want to avoid conflict, just unnecessary conflict! Debates & discussions are really good, but if we learn anything at all from the Romanovs it ought to be that through talking rationally things can be resolved without resorting to pettiness & insults...don't you think! It's v. late here in England & I have to go to work tomorrow...got to go! :)  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dashkova on January 16, 2005, 06:35:13 PM
Quote

No, her shyness, or whatever it was, didn't come from being the Tsarina, it was there long before that. But this is what a disorder is, when something enters the realm of "extreme" and starts interfering with one's every day life. So if her shyness was so extreme that it got to a point that it infrindged on her life, which certainly seemed to be the case often, then yes it would have been considered a psychological disorder. If Alix lived in the 20/21 century, she would have gotten therapy (hopefully) and probably some drugs and she would be more or less fine and would be able to function "normally". Back then this wasn't available of course, so she consciously or sub- looked for other things to try to alleviate her symptoms, and yes I would say Rasputin was one of those things. Her disorder, because it was left untreated for many years, seems to have manifested in other ways, hence many "imaginary" or real health problems starting at a young age. Again, this is all speculation on my part, of course I wouldn't know enough to say anything for sure. It just kind of sounds that this may have been the case...


I think she would have benefitted enormously from hysteria treatments. Seriously!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 16, 2005, 06:35:26 PM
Quote

Debates & discussions are really good, but if we learn anything at all from the Romanovs it ought to be that through talking rationally things can be resolved without resorting to pettiness & insults...don't you think!
Yes, I agree!  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 16, 2005, 06:38:30 PM
Quote

I think she would have benefitted enormously from hysteria treatments. Seriously!


Perhaps  ;)   But for the long term or, hopefully, permanent solution, therapy and meds  :).  Poor Alexandra, if she only knew what's being said about her, she wouldn't like it one bit... :o  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 16, 2005, 08:19:56 PM
Ok
A Question...
   Do you think that Alixandra would have consented to a "talking cure," and if so, do you think that she would have prefered Adler, Reich, Jung or Freud?

I would guess "no" but had she agreed she may have chosen Jung...any opinions?

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dasha on January 16, 2005, 10:45:22 PM
Quote
Ok
A Question...
    Do you think that Alixandra would have consented to a "talking cure," and if so, do you think that she would have prefered Adler, Reich, Jung or Freud?

I would guess "no" but had she agreed she may have chosen Jung...any opinions?

rskkiya


Rskkiya, great question.  I honestly don't see her consenting to any type of talking treatment.  She was a private person who didn't want anyone to know what was really going on with her.  The only people who had any idea of what was really the matter were her close family (husband and and possibly some of her siblings), Rasputin, and maybe Vyrubova.  I highly doubt that she divulged her feelings to anyone else.  Now, I do believe that she didn't really like to be "fussed" over, so an individual therapy session would most likely annoy her as well.  However, the main issue would be divulging private thoughts and feelings to a person with whom she was not close.  

I'm not at all familiar with all the psychologists that you named, but I highly doubt that she would have been all too happy to see Dr Freud.  His ideas and interpretations would have probably appalled her.  That is not to say that she was a prude (not in private with her husband anyway), but I believe some of Dr. Freud's ideas and conclusions would have been well out of her own preceptions on what is "propper" and what isn't.

Well, there are my two cents or kopeks on the topic.  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on January 17, 2005, 07:59:10 AM
I think she would have benefitted from talking therapy. I believe it was in 1915 that she went to Maria Pavolvna Sr.  to vent about her problems, how she was misunderstood, how stressed she felt about the whole situation, etc. Maria's family was very pleased she went to speak with them, as they felt they better understood her after that talk. They felt she had a lot on her mind and in her heart that she just needed to talk to someone about. I'm surprised she chose Maria to talk to, seeing as how they were not the best of friends, so I think if she could approach her then she may have been open to talking to a therapist.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 17, 2005, 10:19:06 AM
Quote
I think she would have benefitted from talking therapy.
 Yes, I agree. And I think she may have been open to it, although I am really not sure which of the four psychology philosophies rsskyia mentioned she would have wanted to subscribe to!  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 17, 2005, 11:19:52 AM
Quote
I was not and am not putting words in your mouth!

You did write "as did many women at that time in Europe" without making clear that you were referring to Freud's research. Saying that Alix might have benefited from a talking cure with Freud, Jung or Reich didn't make clear the basis of your statement.

No, you did not mention "millions" or "hundreds of thousands of people". But you DID say something about "women in Europe". Then, isn't it clear to you that you were making a statement about millions of women? If you meant that only a few hundred of those millions of women had had symptoms of "hysteria", the qualification "many" was totally wrong. By using the word "many"  you clearly suggested that much more women than just a few hundred suffered from those symptoms. If you say "many", you can only have meant thousands and thousands and thousands of women at the least.  

Freud did his research in Germany. Why did you generalize the results of his research to Europe? And why only to Europe?

You may not know what he thought or knew about the situation in America, but that is totally irrelevant in this context. In your orginal message you didn't even mention Freud's research, so you canNOT expect people to interpret your message as if you had mentioned his research as the basis of your statement.  >:(  

Helen
Please reread my post...I did menton Freud. You seem to have misunderstood a great deal of my post!
"I drink many cups of tea in the morning" that means 6-8 cups,not 'hundreds of thousands or millions" OK. :-/

Sorry but this is really silly!
rskkiya

Back to the topic
Freud, Adler, Jung and Reich were all Psychoanalysts at the turn of the century. Many people are familiar with Carl Jung and his works on Dreams Religion and Mythology, and it's for this reason that IF Alix had agreed, she might have enjoyed discussing eastern philosophy with him.
Freud and Reich were a wee bit more focused on sex as a significant factor in behaviour - she may not have felt comfortable with them. (PS: Its been centuries since I took my "Intro to Psychology" class-- so please forgive any "gittering generalities" that I might have made!)

I don't think that Alix would have been openminded enough to consider the "talking cure" as it was then called then.  Of course we will never know!

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 17, 2005, 01:56:21 PM
Quote
I don't think Alix would have been in for talking therapy, simply because she never would have trusted this "therapist" to keep his or her mouth shut.

 This is true too. Perhaps it could have been someone from the spiritual/religious field, who may have been trained in this. I think she would trust someone like this much more than just a secular therapist.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on January 17, 2005, 02:35:39 PM
She would have talked to her Confessor about whatever was troubling her soul. If he was a good one, he would have been able to direct the Confession to get at deep seated problems. And of course the confession is completely confidential, as the Confession is to God - the Priest is a witness. (For those unfamiliar with Orthodoxy, we don't confess hidden from the Priest - it is not an anonymous confession.)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 17, 2005, 02:39:16 PM
Quote
She would have talked to her Confessor about whatever was troubling her soul. If he was a good one, he would have been able to direct the Confession to get at deep seated problems.


Yes, this is what I meant. Hopefully her confessor would have been a good one, who was trained in such things. But then again, many therapists are not very good, so it is a hit and miss no matter how you look at it.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on January 17, 2005, 03:39:32 PM
Quote
then again, many therapists are not very good, so it is a hit and miss no matter how you look at it


That is so very true. And also a therapist or a confessor might be just right for one person, and completely the wrong person for another.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 17, 2005, 04:39:56 PM
Quote


I don't think Alix would have been in for talking therapy, simply because she never would have trusted this "therapist" to keep his or her mouth shut.



Sigh  :-/

Helen
This is true --I agree that Alix would not have trusted a therapist, even though such therapists would have an obligation to keep all discussions private

I suppose that's the core problem -- Alix seems to have had some serious "trust" issues.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 17, 2005, 04:45:25 PM
Quote

 Alix seems to have had some serious "trust" issues.

Well, her judgment of character did not seem to be one of the best - she ended up trusting many "wrong" people, which ended up backfiring at her, so its understandable if she had trust issues...  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 17, 2005, 04:47:00 PM
Strangely enough I just caught the middle of a T.V. prog in which a (fictionary) policewoman went to see her counsellor about panic attacks. The counsellor said, "The main thing is to find out where these attacks spring from." (Then the scene changed!) It made me wonder where, if that was the Empress's problem, hers sprang from. Her mother's early death perhaps? She always seemed to have a sense of imminent doom (which proved justified in the end) but I wonder if it came from so many bereavements early in her life - especially as her earliest memories would be shrouded not only in the mourning for Princess Alice, May & Frittie, but also QV had such a morbid interest in everything funereal. (By the by, I read that Moretta as a small child had a horror of women in black dresses...it strikes me as significant that Vicky almost suffered a breakdown after the death of her son Sigismund which happened within weeks of Moretta's birth....all that black mourning....)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 17, 2005, 04:49:27 PM
Quote
She always seemed to have a sense of imminent doom (which proved justified in the end) but I wonder if it came from so many bereavements early in her life - especially as her earliest memories would be shrouded not only in the mourning for Princess Alice, May & Frittie, but also QV had such a morbid interest in everything funereal.


Yep, I think that could certainly do it.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 17, 2005, 04:52:28 PM
Helen Azar

   Good point ...How can one go about encouraging "trust" and teaching one the ability to judge people as 'trustworthy?"

   Sadly, I do think that Alixandra had some paranoid tendencies (as almost everyone possesses to some extent !) and this could have made "trust" especially difficult.

{Cringing and waiting for these remarks to be horribly misunderstood!}

rskkiya
(insert icon for walking on eggshells here!)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on January 17, 2005, 04:59:32 PM
It is true that at the height of her stress...shortly before the Revolution...she must have been bordering on paranoia (as anyone would be!). She trusted no one and her letters to Nicky become increasingly fraught naming name after name of people who were not to be trusted....'Ella's bigotted clique', ' Nikolai Mikhailovich 'whom I never liked or trusted', Samarin etc. etc.
Then, when the stress was removed by the Revolution (I mean the stress of having to run the country & she was resigned to her fate) all this paranoia disappears...Stress?  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: JM on January 17, 2005, 05:08:11 PM
Quote
   Sadly, I do think that Alixandra had some paranoid tendencies (as almost everyone possesses to some extent !) and this could have made "trust" especially difficult.

I agree, rskkiya. I don't know if she was exactly paranoid or just shy/nervous/compulsive, or some combination along those lines. It's too bad that she never caught it early because her marriage and the ensuing problems with Alexei and the War certaintly exacerbated these qualities.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on January 17, 2005, 05:26:34 PM
I think stress paid a big part. And a lot of people under stress at the time don't realise just how stressed they are, and also don't use their best judgement. I think during the war things became too much for her, and while she may have thought she was coping and the situation was all under control it was  getting worse and worse. The thing is, I think she'd have been able to cope a lot better had the war happened in the early part of the reign. A case of the wrong person at the wrong time, sadly.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on January 20, 2005, 04:44:58 PM
Didn't I read somewhere that N and A used drugs, such as cocaine, around the time of the revolution?  What effect would that have had on a panicky disposition?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on January 20, 2005, 04:54:51 PM
Everyone used cocaine back then. it was normal medicine for a head cold! I don't think they'd have been snorting huge enough amounts to get a buzz off it - it was just normal, every day medicine. Marijuana extracts were also used in medicine.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on January 20, 2005, 04:59:05 PM
Hey, whatever works!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on January 20, 2005, 05:05:49 PM
Yes, but these days it would get you thrown in jail! :D
("But it's for medicinal purposes, Your Honour!"
"Ten years, no parole!")
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 20, 2005, 06:18:04 PM
Quote
Everyone used cocaine back then.
It was even one of the ingredients in Coca Cola  :D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 20, 2005, 07:22:12 PM
   Yes, it was considered as healthy as vitamins, I gather...  :D
   Alix also sometimes used morphine and opium --supposedly for menstrual pain relief. But I don't know just how much this might have to do with the "panic disorder" issue, as the use seemed to be very sporatic.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 20, 2005, 07:25:46 PM
Quote
 But I don't know just how much this might have to do with the "panic disorder" issue, as the use seemed to be very sporatic


IMO, these drugs were used to self medicate - to ease the symptoms of the anxiety disorder when these symptoms became especially strong. This is still the case today!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 20, 2005, 07:35:09 PM
Quote

IMO, these drugs were used to self medicate - to ease the symptoms of the anxiety disorder when these symptoms became especially strong. This is still the case today!

Well maybe ... But as far as I can tell, Alix only used opium/morphine rarely - while she seemed to be suffering from "panic attacks" fairly often!

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 20, 2005, 07:39:53 PM
Most people with "panic attacks" can deal with them for along time until it gets extremely bad and then they can't. This is when they try to seek help or to self medicate. This could have been the case with Alix. Just a guess...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on January 21, 2005, 12:27:00 PM
So what was her deal with "the electricity"?  I read that in some of her letters to Nicholas.  Maybe she was trying to give herself shock treatments?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 21, 2005, 12:41:58 PM
Quote
So what was her deal with "the electricity"?  I read that in some of her letters to Nicholas.  Maybe she was trying to give herself shock treatments?


I have no idea  ??? What does she say in the letters?


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on January 21, 2005, 01:30:38 PM
Well, I confess I was joking about the shock treatments.  I should have inserted the  ;) sign.  But she really did have some kind of apparatus (like electro-stimulation) which she used sometimes.  I will post the quotes as soon as I can locate them.

RichC
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Elisabeth on January 21, 2005, 04:20:59 PM
As I recall the electrical therapy was supposed to assuage the pain she felt in some of the muscles of her face. And I assume this pain was a by-product of her migraines.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 21, 2005, 08:50:27 PM
Elizabeth
Hello! Good point, but I was under the impression that the face pains were due to nerve damage associated with a dental procedure. I am probably wrong about that.

Helen Azar --You may well have a point about the "self medication" - I had not thought of it in that way.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Elisabeth on January 22, 2005, 08:57:51 AM
Quote
I was under the impression that the face pains were due to nerve damage associated with a dental procedure.

rskkiya


I hadn't thought of that. It's more than likely, given how much dental work she had done.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: pushkina on January 22, 2005, 07:28:42 PM
Quote
Well maybe ... But as far as I can tell, Alix only used opium/morphine rarely - while she seemed to be suffering from "panic attacks" fairly often!


but she took a lot of valerian drops, if i remember correctly.  and laudanum drops too, i think.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on January 23, 2005, 10:03:16 AM
Pushkina

Yes!
Thanks for reminding all of us about that!
rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 23, 2005, 10:12:06 AM
Maybe she self medicated with the drops, etc.,  when her attacks weren't that bad, and dipped into her opium/morphine supply when things got a bit out of control  ;) One thing we know for sure - she did suffer from panic attacks!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: kamlowsky on February 27, 2005, 02:07:55 AM
The electrical therapy is very interesting. It might have been the precurser to the TENS unit.

Tens Unit: Tens units have been prescribed for years as an alternative to traditional analgesic pain relievers.
How Does a TENS Unit work? Electrodes are placed on or near the area of pain. Soothing pulses are sent via the electrodes through the skin and along the nerve fibres. The pulses (controlled by the user at all times) suppress pain signals to the brain. TENS machines also encourage the body to produce higher levels of its own natural pain killing chemicals called Endorphins an Encephalins
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 07, 2005, 10:41:06 AM
Hello Alekseovich  :)
While Alix may have had some symptoms of S.L.E. (lupus) e.g. joint pain I do not think her flushes appearance is in any way associated with that disease. The joint pain seems a rheumatic condition that ran in the familt. Her butterfly rash I suspect, was more a nervous thing...it was not a classical lupus style rash. It seems strange to discount haemophilia when it so clearly ran in the family?? Nor can I think that there is any reason to believe that Alexei's illness was leukaemia (apart from the nose bleeds & bruising - which are also symtpomatic of haemophilia there are no other indications of it.) Perhaps you could explain a little more why you think this?
I hope you enjoy the Forum  :) :)
 
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on March 07, 2005, 11:27:12 PM
Quote
Years ago i read an article in "Scientific American" that mentioned links to a group of viruses that were being investigated as posible causes of lupis or in some way associated with the disease. The group of viruses included some associated with leukimia. If Emeress Aleksandra had this type of infection when she was carrying Aleksei Nikolaevich, he could have been born with Leukimia as a result.


Leukemia in children is not associated with viral infection.

Leukemia is not inherited, but susceptibility to it can be inherited, BUT this is very rare.

RNA viruses can cause leukemia in cats and mice. One form of this virus may cause T-cell leukemia in adults.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, and affected women can pass on the antibodies to their unborn child. The child at birth will present with  neonatal lupus at birth.  Apart from anemia, a rash will be present and the newborn may develop cardiac problems.

Neither of these symptoms were apparant when Alexei was born, which is confirmed by Nikolai's diary entries.

Alexandra had five live births, and not one offspring presented with lupus. Therefore any suggestion of lupus in both mother and child must be excluded as a possibility.

Perhaps you should re-read the Scientific American article and ignore hypothetical proposals written by a person who was not medically trained.

Without confirmatory laboratory testing, using random "best-fit" analogies will lead to an incorrect diagnosis.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 08, 2005, 03:26:05 AM
Quote

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, and affected women can pass on the antibodies to their unborn child. The child at birth will present with  neonatal lupus at birth.  Apart from anemia, a rash will be present and the newborn may develop cardiac problems.



Belochka, do you know what per centage of women pass the condition to their children? (I know this isn't a medical advice forum but I'm just interested. I have lupus antibodies, though I have no symptoms except anaemia. It has not had any effect (please God) on my life except upon decisions I have made.)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 08, 2005, 09:33:42 AM
Quote

As for Haemophilia, I'm not convinced it did run in the family. I have more than a passing aquaintance with molecular chemistry and genetics and the evidence makes it look like people believe it ran in the family because it is believed it ran in the family. On the molecular level the evidence is absent. In this field that is a fairly good contradiction.  
After a genetic analysis done as part of a research  project i was told both of my parents appear to be decenced from HIH Queen Victoria, and there is no sign of any posibility of Heamophilia genes.


Hi, Alekseevich!
If it did not run in the family, how do you account for Leopold, Frederick of Hesse, Rupert of Teck, some children of Queen Ena of Spain, some Battenbergs etc. etc. ?
It is true than many of QV's descendants did not suffer from it - which accounts for your genes - but many did.
I have more than a passing interest in S.L.E. & that is why I don't think that Alix suffered from it. Belochka explained it v. carefully. Alix's rash may be very similar but hers might even be caused by porphyria??
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 08, 2005, 10:48:20 AM
Thank you for your long & detailed reply, Aleseevich, but I still think it is impossible to just discount haemophilia. The co-incidences would be too many. I shall find some of the descriptions of Leopold & Friitie's illness to substantiate what I have written too.
(By the way, I thought your idea about S.L.E. was a good & quite convincing one. I went through Alix's letters checking out what she herself wrote. I don't accept it but your suggestions gave me plenty to think about!  :) )
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ptitchka on March 08, 2005, 08:10:51 PM
Quote
There is one photograph atributed to one of her daughters that shows a rash that is textbook S.L.A (thanks for the correct treminology) The Imperial family were very careful how they apeared in official photographs, even tho HIH Aleksandra never cared to smile for cameras. I've measured thinss in images that are clearly meant to make Tsarovich Aleksey Nikolaevich look taller than he was. So i don't think you'll find clear  photos of the rash anywhere else. A friend who had lupus many years ago had simlar symptoms where she needed to be caried or use a wheel chair. She got "nervous" because of the symptoms, not the other way around.
As for Haemophilia, I'm not convinced it did run in the family. I have more than a passing aquaintance with molecular chemistry and genetics and the evidence makes it look like people believe it ran in the family because it is believed it ran in the family. On the molecular level the evidence is absent. In this field that is a fairly good contradiction.  
After a genetic analysis done as part of a research  project i was told both of my parents appear to be decenced from HIH Queen Victoria, and there is no sign of any posibility of Heamophilia genes.


My dear Alekseevich:

Some time ago you wrote that you were introduced to Heino Tammet as if he were your father.  Are you now under the impression that he was Alexei Nikolaevich?  Your remarks about Mr. Tammet's short stature in an earlier post and your most recent allegation that photos of the Tsarevich-Martyr Alexei were retouched to make him look taller than he was (when eyewitnesses reported that he was in fact tall for his age!!!) leave me a bit concerned that you have been taken in by the fabrications of this Estonian renaissance man.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 09, 2005, 09:23:20 PM
Isn't this thread about Alexandra and panic disorder, not Heino Tammet?  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on March 09, 2005, 10:23:18 PM
Quote
Belochka, do you know what per centage of women pass the condition to their children?


Hi bluetoria,

Your answer will depend on the presence or lack of two specific sets of antibodies in the mother.  

Women with both sets of antibodies present with the highest risk. But they still can have normal offspring.

If one antibody is present and not the other, then there is a probability of 25 % of delivering an affected child. This is only a prediction.

The female will need to have her antibodies screened serologically to assess probable risk.


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 10, 2005, 04:39:30 AM
Belochka, thank you so much for posting that information.  (The risks do seem pretty high, don't they, if it's 25% with only one antibody.) Thanks very much for taking the time to explain.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on March 10, 2005, 08:39:14 PM
You're welcome bluetoria.

The best suggestion which can be made is to seek professional counselling on this issue. :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: La_Mashka on March 15, 2005, 05:03:51 PM
so.. opium, cocaine, valerian... no wonder she felt ill!!!

imagine that?? its like a drug cocktail form the 60's!!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 16, 2005, 04:28:00 PM
I just re-read the earliest pages on this thread & I was wondering - considering the condoms found after the murder of the IF - could anyone please state what is the Orthodox teaching on contraception?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on March 16, 2005, 07:51:57 PM
Bluetoria

What a good question!
I think that the Orthodox Church is 'ok' with contraseption, but is not in favour of abortion - but I am not sure.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 16, 2005, 09:19:50 PM
Maybe Georgiy knows the answer to this? I would be curious to know too.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 17, 2005, 10:35:24 AM
Maybe I should ask again on the Orthodox religion thread?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on March 17, 2005, 01:52:33 PM
Of course abortion is completely out of the question. As for contraception, from what I understand while it is not necessarily promoted or encouraged, it is considered more of an issue between the married couple. If they already have children and don't necessarily want more children, I think that through Economia it is allowed as marital relations are an expression of love for one's spouse and not something that should be stopped when people have decided "OK, no more children." I imagine that some people would discuss the issue with their Priest in private, and it would probably be better to get a blessing to use contraception than to just go ahead. I am not sure on where the Church stands on the Pill - I think it probably doesn't approve of it - some kind of barrier method would be more desirable. Some episcopates would be stricter than others on the issue however. I think N & A had very good reasons for using contraception, in that the risk of another haemophilliac child was just too high.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on March 17, 2005, 02:08:03 PM
Probably. I will thus answer over there as best I can. (I don't have any books or anything like that with me so I can't answer too thoroughly.)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 17, 2005, 02:10:21 PM
Thanks  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 17, 2005, 02:26:08 PM
Thanks, Georgiy for your reply. I have a couple of follow up questions for when you have the chance.

Quote
Of course abortion is completely out of the question.


Does the orthodox church have the same blanket rule about abortion as the catholic church (at least as it used to)? For example can exceptions be made if taking a pregnancy to term would put the life of the mother in danger?

Quote
I think it probably doesn't approve of it [the pill]- some kind of barrier method would be more desirable.


Why would the pill method be viewed differently by the church than the barrier method? Does it have to do with spreading disease or with something else?

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on March 17, 2005, 02:36:43 PM
From what I understand abortion is completely out of the question as it is considered akin to murder. Not being a Bishop or a Priest, I wouldn't like to comment on whether it can be allowed through economia, but I think where there is a serious risk of death to the mother then it may be allowed, but I am not sure about this. Maybe matushka could answer this better than me.

As for the pill, I think it is because it medicinally interferes with the body's function. Generally speaking contraception is not formally allowed, but it can be overlooked. Once again, Matushka may know more than I do on this topic.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 17, 2005, 06:31:33 PM
Quote
As for the pill, I think it is because it medicinally interferes with the body's function.


Would something like estrogen therapy be allowed then (which is sort of similar), or any other medications for that matter which medicinally interfere with the body's functions?

I didn't realize that the orthodox church had a similar outlook as the fundamentalist sects that don't allow medical treatment (like the Church of the First Born or something like that) ???
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 17, 2005, 06:59:22 PM
Quote
I suppose there must be guidelines but they CANNOT apply to everyone in every situation, surely??


I suppose it just depends on how they are interpreted at a given time... I am sure that any rules can be "fenagled" if needed, and have been!  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 17, 2005, 07:07:54 PM
"Fenagled" ?? A new word!
Oh, isn't life - & doing what is right - hard & intriguing & fascinating & confusing    :-/ :)   :D  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 17, 2005, 07:57:44 PM
Quote
"Fenagled" ??  


I think this may be  "new yorkese"  ;)  ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 17, 2005, 07:59:20 PM
What does it mean? I even looked it up in the OED!!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 17, 2005, 08:01:18 PM
Quote
What does it mean? I even looked it up in the OED!!


The closest definition I can think of is "adjusted" but "fenagled" is so much more precise!  ;)  ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 17, 2005, 08:04:51 PM
Thanks! J'ai compris! And responding to all your posts (at 2.00a.m. here) for what my opinion is worth, Helen, I think you're a really 'good' person & I admire your work, your sense of humour, your sensitivity & your kindness! Good night!   :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 17, 2005, 08:12:11 PM
Thank you, bluetoria. Good night!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alexandra on March 19, 2005, 07:15:22 PM
This is primarily for Georgiy and Helen, but anybody else as well who is interested. I found out most about the Roman Catholic history behind all its reproductive (and related issues) theology from:

Ute Ranke-Heinemann, _Eunuchs for the Kingdom of God_

than any other single source. I emphasise that this book has to do with the history, not necessarily what any individual Roman Catholics do in practice! You might find it interesting for comparative reading with Orthodoxy. It may or may not help much in understanding more about Alix's illnesses. I wonder also to what extent her rather pragmatic English upbringing, with a commonsensical grandma like Victoria, would influence her? Victoria, be it remembered, used anaesthesia to deliver Prince Leopold at a time when much opinion held that women ought to suffer in childbirth - and called  it 'that blessed chloroform' too.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alexandra on March 19, 2005, 09:43:40 PM
I believe that 'panic disorder' would now be disgnosed in the psychiatric 'bible,' which I believe is called something like MSD IV at this point  (I'm happy to be corrected if one of those designators is wrong), and one of the best medications for its control is Effexor, a.k.a. venlafaxine. Because Alexandra, like many of her generation, was not averse to taking medicinal remedies, had such a pharmaceutical been available to her, I rather think she might have tried it. But again, a 'talking cure' would be out: she simply could not have trusted anyone enough even to try it. As for any diagnosis and treatment of 'hysteria' - well, I have read enough about those to think that she would probably have been absolutely horrified, and in any event, that department of her life didn't appear to be in need of external remediation.
Remember that the term 'shell shock' was invented by physicians serving at the front in W.W.I as a means of saving face for those servicemen who became paralysed  or otherwise incapacitated for reasons beyond those stemming from any physical injury. In short, the stigma was such that what was a psychiatric disorder could not be called such, lest the sufferer be deemed a malingerer or a coward. Even although Alix had an intense interest in nursing, she was no medical scholar, and I should think that she, too, would have felt affronted or stigmatised had anyone suggested that her problems were other than physical. She herself stoutly affirmed to her sister Victoria that her 'nerves' were as strong as ever, only the 'nerves of the heart' were affected, and she stressed that Victoria should make this point clear to anyone she encountered who asked.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: kamlowsky on March 19, 2005, 09:44:32 PM
Quote
"Fenagled" ?? A new word!
Oh, isn't life - & doing what is right - hard & intriguing & fascinating & confusing    :-/ :)   :D  


Helen, I loved the use of this word and have use it myself. Bluetoria there are so many words the English use that I don't understand. Maybe this is just one of those American ones.  ;)
Main Entry: fi·na·gle
Pronunciation: f&-'nA-g&l
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): fi·na·gled; fi·na·gling /-g(&-)li[ng]/
Etymology: perhaps alteration of fainaigue (to renege)
Date: circa 1924
transitive senses
1 : to obtain by indirect or involved means
2 : to obtain by trickery
intransitive senses
: to use devious or dishonest methods to achieve one's ends
- fi·na·gler /-g(&-)l&r/ noun
The bolded explaination is my interpretation of the word. :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 20, 2005, 05:56:10 AM
Thanks for your post, Alexandra.

Kamlowksy, I guess I misspelled "finagled", this is probably why Blutoria couldn't find it! Thanks for posting the definitions!  :D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 20, 2005, 06:11:26 AM
It didn't matter, Helen - I understood your explanation  :) (Thanks for removing your posts that removed my quotations - other thread?) And thank you Kamlowsky for the definition.  :)

Alexandra - thank you for your recommendation of the book; is it quite interesting is or it just a lot of lists of Papal declarations? (Your emphasis is doubtless more realistic.)  

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 20, 2005, 08:34:39 AM
Alexandra, what an excellent assessment.  :) I agree with every word you wrote!
I am very dubious of the efficacy of many drugs used in psychiatric medicine (though I don't claim to know much about them) as they often seem to me to mask rather than cure the problem. Nonetheless, as you write, Alexandra did take so many things, she might have accepted such medication.
The 19th century hysteria 'treatments' were, to my mind, degrading & humiliating and came about as the result of some bizarre (& probably quite perverse) thinking on the part of medics/psychologists who had no understanding of women at all. (And certainly, as you say, Alexandra would have had neither the wish nor the need for such 'treatments.')
The fact the word 'hysteria' derives from the 'the womb' does show, perhaps, that there was a vague recognition of the effects of hormones on moods etc. but - as has been previously stated - I think they tended to label any woman who did not fit the pattern of a dutiful daughter or docile wife as 'hysterical.'
Your point about shell-shock I found very interesting  :) It is slightly off topic but when you read of the poor young soldiers who were shot as 'cowards' because they could no longer bear the horrors of the war it is absolutely heartbreaking. It took some time for people to realize the traumatic effects of terrible situations & I often wonder about the effects on Alix of so many bereavements in her early childhood (combined with seemingly endless mourning).
I do think there is a danger nowadays, though, of labelling everything too quickly. Sometimes it may be better (not in extreme cases of course) to 'live through' & endure depressions, melancholy, fear etc. etc. rather than be labelled as having some condition which becomes IMO a self-fulfilling prophecy (if you see what I mean. :-/ )  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 22, 2005, 11:00:16 AM
Quote
Clearly Aleksandra Feodorovna was under considerable stress for a long time. Perhaps a Stres Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (SDNos) is as likely or more likely than Panic Disorder.
peace
Alekseevich


Yes, Alekseevich, I think this is more likely than panic disorder since she was, as you write, extremely stressed particularly in the years immediately prior to the revolution. Whether or not it was actually a 'disorder' or rather plain STRESS is a matter for conjecture. Her physical ailments cannot have helped her already nervous & highly-strung personality, particularly when she was faced with one crisis after another.  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alexandra on March 23, 2005, 05:53:23 PM
Salut, Bluetoria (moi, je parle francais aussi),
The Ranke-Heinemann book is very interesting! She is the professor who lost her job at one of the German Catholic universities for her views; she now teaches, I believe, at a secular university.
She has also published works about the Virgin Mary (this is the one that landed her up in all the trouble) and a book called, _Putting Aside Childish Things_ . In some ways, the latter is a bit like the mindset of a Salman Rushdie: that God expects us to make use of our intelligence, that to do so is a responsible aspect of what is called 'Heilsgeschichte' - the German word that Western theologians use to denote 'salvation history.'

_Eunuchs_ exists in a very lively English translation as well as in thr original German; I do not know if there are translations  into other languages, but it is such a good book, I think there ought to be!

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 23, 2005, 06:06:09 PM
Thanks, Alexandra - I think in that case I'd probably give the first one a miss, but I may look it up in a book shop & see. (It was the book aboutthe Virgin Mary that put me off. I don't like it when theologians start to destroy things which, IMO, are not childish but child-like.)
Thanks very much for the information; I shall certainly look for them both.
A bientot! (I can't do accents...Martyn tried to show me but I can't!)
  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alexandra on March 23, 2005, 09:30:42 PM
Salut encore, Bluetoria! The book about the BVM was not the same as that about childish things; it had more to do with establishing some things about Her which endorse her humanity.
At the moment, I am sorry to say, I cannot find my copy of _Putting Away Childish Things_, but it is also an interesting book. If memory serves me correctly, it has to do not so much with destruction of any of the more 'folkloric' moments  of belief, as with the Pauline notion that we are about the business of soul work. So it is not a 'sin' if, for instance, we move into a more sophisticated line of thinking than that which colored our earliest religious education. I think, in the end, that both the very simple and the very profound meet - T.S. Eliot's ideas - but this is to stray from Alix and her illnesses, even if it is a topic in which she would have been intensely interested.

A la prochaine (I also cannot do accents here! :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 24, 2005, 04:30:29 AM
Quote

I think, in the end, that both the very simple and the very profound meet - T.S. Eliot's ideas - but this is to stray from Alix and her illnesses, even if it is a topic in which she would have been intensely interested.



Bonjour Alexandra!
Thank you for the further information about it; that sounds more interesting - and less destrucitve! - than I had first thought. My initital reaction was based on an experience when I, having just returned from Lourdes, was discussing the Rosary & was mocked by a "theologian" "Oh you don't still have that childish belief!"
I should like to hear more about the book if you find it but, as you say, this is way off topic. I'd be interested & grateful if ever you would care to explain any more on, perhaps, the 'discussion about the Orthodox Religion' thread (Imperial Russian History) - I am sure the very kind Orthodox people on that thread would not mind at all; and they always offer very interesting information too.   :)
Avec amitie!  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alexandra on March 24, 2005, 05:27:40 PM
Merci, Bluetoria ... j'y irai! Et Joyeuses Paques ... avec amitie!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 25, 2005, 08:14:11 AM
Joyeuses Paques a vous aussi, Alexandra! Mais c'est encore Vendredi Sainte (sp?) et c'est un peu triste, je crois. Je dois m'en aller a l'eglise maintenant...A bientot!
(Vous etes catholique aussi?)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Lisa on March 25, 2005, 08:25:51 AM
Eyh! Everybody speaks French here! :D
J'avais oublié que nous sommes Vendredi Saint Aujourd'hui...  :-[
Normalement, dans la religion catholique, toutes les cloches restent muettes jusqu'à Dimanche matin...

Et, Oh mon Dieu, il est 3h30 de l'après midi!!!... :'( :'( :'(
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 25, 2005, 01:28:41 PM
Quote
Normalement, dans la religion catholique, toutes les cloches restent muettes jusqu'à Dimanche matin...

Et, Oh mon Dieu, il est 3h30 de l'après midi!!!... :'( :'( :'(


Hi Lisa!  :) Well surely without the bells to remind you, you can be forgiven for not remembering the time!  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alexandra on March 25, 2005, 09:07:09 PM
Hi, Bluetoria - Yes, I am indeed catholique and croyante. So one  cannot help but be triste :'( on Vendredi Saint,  :'(but to look ahead to the joyous Resurrection... I was not sure if you would see my post soon, so I was looking with faith past the tristesse d'aujourd'hui, to the victory which is 'already and not yet.'
Tonight we are already preparing for Sunday!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 26, 2005, 03:44:33 AM
Alexandra,   :) :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: hikaru on March 28, 2005, 10:32:30 AM
Countess Kamarowskaya, governess of Irina Alexandrovna wrote: I heard that Nicholas said that
" Grishka Raspoutin is better than daily three hysteries".

But Kamarowkaya did not say that if she heard it directrly in the Palace or from somebody else.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 28, 2005, 04:26:27 PM
I BELIEVE (but am not certain) that Nicholas's sister, Olga, reported something similar about her brother's view of Rasputin. She said that he paid little attention to Rasputin's advice - far less than is commonly believed - but to avoid Alix's hysterics allowed her to think he was listening. To some extent I think their later letters support this. There is at least a couple of occasions when Alix writes some message to Nicky from Rasputin and then her next letter is wondering why he hasn't acted on that advice. Again, there are occasions when Nicky warns Alix not to tell Rasputin so much information.
Immediately prior to the Revolutions Alix's letters really do border on hysteria & contain reference after reference to people she 'has never liked' 'never trusted'  'never liked me'....She really did seem to be 'cracking up' And then, once the Revolution came & matters were taken out of her hands, she seemed to me to regain her composure & her dignity and 'rise to the occasion.'

Come to think of it, perhaps her greatest problem was in making decisions. Her endless tortuous deliberations before accepting Nicky's proposal...her NEED for someone to make her mind up for her...be it Philippe or Rasputin...and perhaps for this reason she was always nagging Nicholas to 'be strong.'
Perhaps, too, being the youngest surviving child and the youngest of such dominant, confident & decisive elder sisters as Victoria & Ella, she had never been brought up to make decisions of her own until the time of her marriage...Maybe...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dasha on March 28, 2005, 06:40:59 PM
BlueToria, as always, great insight.  I think Alix had a lot of issues, and her inability to make decisions may have been due to fear of loosing someone or something (at least in the beginning).  Perhaps she felt that if she were to accept Nikolai's proposal she would loose her identity and such, or maybe even loose him to some horrible illness or accident, as was the case with the loss of her parents.  I'll end on that note, because I'm beginning to loose the main point of my ramblings.  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 29, 2005, 03:29:47 AM
Quote
??? I cannot believe my eyes.  

.


Hi Helen  :)
That's twice last night someone couldn't believe their eyes at what I wrote!

Quote

Alix's endless tortuous deliberations weren't that endless...  ... That she gave in to Nicky's plea and the pressures from relatives at the very last moment and decided to follow her heart may be called weak by some people, but is certainly no sign of indecisiveness.

.


I would not call her inability to decide about this, weakness. But I would still think she deliberated for a VERY long time. As far back as 1888 this had been on her mind (Ella had written to Nicky that in 1888 she was praying for an outcome to this). She had told Nicky she couldn't marry him...but she could not really let him go. It was undoubtedly a difficult decision to make & she was being pulled from all sides....all the same, I think she was quite indecisive about it.

Quote

Alix did say to Nicky that he had to be strong on several occasions. However, I would not call that 'nagging' nor see it as a sign of a need for someone to make up her mind for her. Look at the people around us. There are millions of people who tell their spouses occasionally that there is no need for them to let themselves be walked all over in a particular situation at work or at home. Most of us will have made such remarks ourselves. Alix's remarks to Nicky are no different.
.


This wasn't just on one or two occasions though. It was constant. I'll admit this doesn't show Alix as indecisive but I think that perhaps it shows that she despersately needed someone strong to support her, and this was another constant feature throughout her life.

Quote
Bluetoria, your remark about Victoria and Ella makes no sense to me at all. They were both several years older than Alix. In the years when Alix could be considered old enough to make her own decisions, both sisters were married women and had left their parental home. If anybody was making decisions for her in the years prior to her marriage, it wasn't Victoria or Ella. She did feel insecure at public events and would cling to her brother in a way Ernst Ludwig may not always have liked, but when it came to every-day decisions that did not relate to their public duties, there is no sign that she was not capable of making decisions in those years.


I think that Ella & Victoria were VERY dominant in her formative years particularly once she had lost her mother. As you write she also clung to her brother. While I was merely speculating on possible reasons for what I view as her indecisiveness, I was just wondering if perhaps the dominant elder siblings were the cause...maybe so, maybe not.

In the whole post I wasn't in any way criticising Alix or calling this a fault, rather I was trying to understand her. It does seem TO ME that there was hardly a time in her life when she didn't rely on a 'stronger' person and only when she was unable to find that in her family, did she turn to outsiders - Philippe, Rasputin. In this she reminds me very much of the line of the original 'Candle in the Wind'...."Never knowing who to cling to when the rain set in."
Perhaps I think this too because - as is the case with so many indecisive people - after ages deliberating about something, she suddenly rushes into impulsive decisions & I think this is very apparent during the war years when Nicky was away at Stavka.  Nicholas too did this, IMO.

(As I wrote, last night, I was only speculating & perhaps I am mistaken & need to think more about this & about your reply & then continue....you see I empathise with her for I am exactly the same   ;))








Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 29, 2005, 07:28:50 AM
Yes Helen, you have quite convinced me that I was mistaken in interpreting her behaviour as indecisive.
I find that there is probably no one word to define her at all - she is, to my mind, one of the most complex characters in the whole Romanov/19th century monarchy 'saga.' (Of course, no one could be narrowed down to one word...but I'm sure you know what I mean.)
Long, long before the stresses of Alexei & the war, she was so 'on edge' about so many things. Her deliberations about marrying Nicky - whether or not, as you say, she already knew in her heart of hearts what she would do - are quite extreme in their 'angst' and again and again I think this occurs throughout her life. According to Baroness Buxhoevden she virtually had a nervous breakdown after the death of her father and time after time she seems to come near to breaking point. Perhaps the fact that she was placed in so difficult a position made her already highly-strung personality become even more so.
I whole heartedly agree with what you wrote here:

Quote

My impression of her in those later years is that of a woman who was more or less overworked, who was mentally too tired to think things through properly and to see things clearly, but had to do something anyway. The situation was clearly becoming too much for her. She gradually lost her grip on the things happening around her. To me, her 'decisions' and 'nagging' letters are more like acts and expressions of the overworked mind of a drowning cat clutching at a straw, and another straw… and another… But this is just my personal opinion. ;)


Even to look back through this thread & similar ones the opinions about her are so diverse that it shows quite how complex she was.
I find her fascinating because there is so much to her, & in many ways she is virtually impossible to thoroughly understand because she is at once strong & determined (in her intransigence about Rasputin, her care for Alexei, her refusal to allow Nicky to give away any of his rights) & weak and afraid (needing constant reassurance.) She is kind & warm (caring for her children & tending the wounded soldiers, writing to their mothers etc.) & cold & unapproachable (even to Ella & many other members of the family.)
There is so much to think about....

But yes  :) I agree...indecisive may not be a good word to describe her  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 30, 2005, 04:05:22 PM
Yes, Helen, I agree with all you wrote. She reminds me of a quotation from Longfellow:

"Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not of, and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad."

I think her strict morality & all that had been instilled in her by Queen Victoria, made it very difficult to adapt to life in Russia. Perhaps, too, even before she arrived - thanks to QV's warnings & the rumours about Ella's marriage which she had undoubtedly heard - she had preconceived ideas about the immorality of the Court & went in rather defensively which would not have won her many friends.

I do not think either that she was the kind of person who could adpat easily to different situations. Rather, she would, as you wote, withdraw into herself & become MORE defensive. Had she been able to bend a little - without jeopardizing her own beliefs/morals - her life might have been much easier. Perhaps her inability to bend was a sign of her own insecurity..... :-/

(BTW if you don't mind my asking, you mentioned your country - what is your country?  :))


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 31, 2005, 02:56:39 AM
Quote


I have no idea about what she had heard about Russian court life before she got married. If she had heard a lot about it, that might explain part of her attitude.



I think that, considering that QV wrote this to Victoria about Ella, she had probably also warned Alix of the same:

"There is one subject you have not touched on which I consider as great a danger as any - and that is the VERY BAD STATE of society & total WANT OF PRINCIPLE
from the Grand Dukes downwards....I fear our sweet but undecided & inexperienced Ella, with her lovely face, may be misled & get into difficulties & troubles - wh. may have painful consequences.
Louis will underestand what I mean. Russians are so unscrupulous."  

Quote


And that country? I am from the Netherlands.


So that is why you have such excellent English - all the Dutch & Scandanavians seems to  :). In that case, will you please come and express your view about Queen Wilhelmina & Prince Henry on the 'Mecklenburg Schwerin' topic of the Hohenzollerns?  :)

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on March 31, 2005, 07:07:37 AM
Oh well, never mindabout Queen Wilhelmina!  :) Hope you enjoyed the rusks!!

I think QV's view of Russia was extremely biased & based on her view of the Crimean War & the experiences of her aunt who had been very unhappily married into the Russian RF & Tsarina Marie Feodorovna (wife of Alexander II.)
She never visited Russia herself (as far as I know!).
I love your suggestion of her being a little old lady who had to be humoured & I think it's probably very accurate!  :D  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on April 07, 2005, 01:38:46 PM
That's an interesting thought Alekseevich.  :)
I wonder though whether Alexandra was very exposed to such chemicals, more so than other members of the family?  
It is my view that she was a deeply sensitive person and the stressors were not chemical in origin but rather the circumstances in which she found herself. (But of course, that is only my view  :) )
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Elisabeth on April 07, 2005, 03:46:39 PM
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Come to think of it, perhaps her greatest problem was in making decisions. Her endless tortuous deliberations before accepting Nicky's proposal...her NEED for someone to make her mind up for her...be it Philippe or Rasputin...and perhaps for this reason she was always nagging Nicholas to 'be strong.'
Perhaps, too, being the youngest surviving child and the youngest of such dominant, confident & decisive elder sisters as Victoria & Ella, she had never been brought up to make decisions of her own until the time of her marriage...Maybe...


Bluetoria, although you now seem to have been persuaded otherwise, I am convinced that you have come up with some genuine insights here. We are so accustomed to thinking of Nicholas II as the "weak" partner and Alexandra as the "dominant" one, that it doesn't even occur to us that Alexandra herself was terribly dependent (even more so than Nicholas, as it turned out) on the advice and counsel of others - Dr. Philippe and Rasputin being the prime examples. I think you are absolutely right, she urged Nicholas to be strong out of an unconscious feeling of her own weakness and ineffectiveness... Who could feel more helpless, than a mother powerless to help her hemophiliac son?

Perhaps more than anything else her emotional dependency was a product of an abiding fear of abandonment. As you say, she was the youngest surviving daughter, the youngest surviving child of a family that had suffered repeated tragedies - and one could even say that Queen Victoria made an entire cult out of mourning. Alix lost her mother at the age of six, her brother Frittie even before this and her little sister May also. We know that she was sensitive and highly strung. She must have felt these losses acutely, and her grandmother's suffering would not have encouraged her to "move on" with life, but rather to dwell on the loss, the mourning.

And you are right, Victoria and Ella were both very strong characters, elder sisters whom Alix must have both looked up to and felt she must emulate. Even if they were married and no longer part of the grand ducal household, their influence would still have made a considerable impact. The family was very closely knit - we see this in the countless number of letters they exchanged between themselves and with Queen Victoria. I agree that the family played an enormous role in Alix's decision to abandon her religious scruples and marry Nicky. After all, we know from Ella's letters that she worked tirelessly to unite "Pelly I" and "Pelly II," despite all of her grandmother's (quite reasonable) objections.  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on April 07, 2005, 05:30:30 PM
Phew! I may have had something right, for once!  ;) Thank you, Elizabeth.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on April 07, 2005, 07:19:21 PM
To quote from a musical, "I think I'd better think it out again!"  :-/

Somewhere in between these 2 seemingly contradictory viewpoints, there probably lies the truth. When I have thought about all these things again - at an earlier hour of the day - I'll reply, Helen. If that's okay  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on April 08, 2005, 11:18:00 AM
Many hours later...still thinking..... :-/
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on April 08, 2005, 01:01:00 PM
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... and me getting already tired and sleepy again after a long day's work. ;)


It's not a long day's work that makes you sleepy - it's staying up half the night on here!!

I am thinking. I have to go out soon to a birthday meal (not my birthday!) but when I return I shall have thought of my reply.  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on April 09, 2005, 06:30:35 AM
Well, Helen...here goes  :) I hope we can reach an agreement without causing you anymore indignation!  ;)


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Sure, Victoria and Alix were strong characters and Alix probably looked up to them to a certain extent. However, that is no proof of emotional dependency in general on her part, neither is it proof that their scheming with regard to Nicky made her change her mind. With regard to Nicky, I wrote earlier that the situation was such that she was not given the opportunity to move on. She had decided that she was not able to change her religion, but relatives kept gossiping and scheming.


I think the only person - or at least the MAIN person pressing for this match was Ella. Since it WAS Ella, I don't consider it scheming or gossiping. I think that Ella genuinely believed (& believed rightly) that Alix & Nicholas were 'made for one another' & she could see that Alix's religious scruples were a torture to her but unnecessarily so.

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And than you want to use that as proof that she was emotionally dependent on her sisters and later on other people? Sorry, but I find that too ridiculous for words.



No, I don't mean she was emotionally dependent on her sisters - but that she had been brought up under their influence & it is perfectly natural (in my experience as a youngest child) to be greatly affected by the opinions of one's siblings - particularly elder siblings. It is OFTEN the case that youngest (or youngest surviving) children are more reckless & less 'stable/settled' than older ones on whom greater responsibility has been placed. I think Alix was GREATLY influenced by the opinions of Victoria & Ella to the extent that she was used to relying on other people rather than making decisions for herself.
In later life, I think, (&it is JUST what I think  ;)) she tried to shake herself free of this & she found it difficult to balance the fact that she was still a younger sister but also Ella's Empress (& therefore in a superior position to her) & as a result she sometimes appeared high-handed in her dealingswith Ella. (In fact very handed  :-/ - which was very sad & for which I am not blaming her.)

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I have seen no evidence whatsoever that Alix mourned these diseased relatives in an unhealthy way like Queen Victoria mourned her husband. We do know, however, that Queen Victoria was not satisfied at all with the amount of grief shown by the Hessian children when one of their uncles had died.  


Alix was always of a melancholy disposition. Marie Louise's memoirs give evidence of this. The effect on a six-year-old of such extreme mourning (& let's not forget that Alix spent a good deal of time with QV who was the doyenne of mourners!) must have been very great. QV's letters to Victoria of Hesse seem to rake up and rake up grief after grief, hardly permitting her to get over the death of her mother without making her feel guilty for not being sad all the time. She must have had the same effect on Alix.

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I am sorry, but suggestions that such normal behaviour is proof of a tendency towards emotional dependence and/or indecisiveness are farfetched, to put it politely.


The more I think of this the more I see that throughout her life Alix DID rely on other people in much the same way as QV had done. First there was Ernie, then Nicky (& natural as this is, since he was her husband - her desire to keep away from society, to build her own little coccoon in Tsarkoe Selo seems to me to suggest a need to cling to one person) then Philippe, Rasputin & Anna Vyrubova.
Alix herself wrote that she wanted a person 'totally for myself' - she needed people to be totally THERE for her & really (to my mind) allowed them little freedom beyond that. It was the same with her daughters - they were kept much younger than their years. The fact that she NEEDED this constant reassurance from these people suggests (TO ME) that she was emotionally insecure...and so perhaps, yes, emotionally dependent.

:) Please don't get cross if you don't agree, Helen  ;) I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise but these are the conclusions I have come to after much thought.
(Like I wrote previously, though, she is FAR too complex a character to be summed up in just a few paragraphs.)

BTW - How lovely it must have been for you to have been in Darmstadt!!
Now, don't stay up TOO late tonight, or you'll be sleepy all day Sunday, too.  :)    



Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on April 10, 2005, 09:34:28 AM
Hi Helen  :)

I'm really sorry you were upset on Thursday; I empathise to some extent in that I do not like to read posts about people whom I admire which seem to criticise them or give a false impression of them. (If that is what you meant - kind of  :-/ )

Gosh! What a lot to take in from your post. It will take some time to 'digest' it all & need several readings before I can even begin to respond (carefully ;) ).  
Thank you for posting all this information, explanation & your opinion.   :)


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on April 11, 2005, 11:28:35 AM
Very well, Helen,  :) after reading your very informative points I concede the greater part of my original viewpoint. You have explained very clearly more of the background of her decision to marry Nicky & I agree she had been pushed this way & that way by QV & Queen Alexandra, while at the same time having to deal with Ella's constant pressure from Russia.

With regard to her need for one-to-one relationships & her inability to socialise on a more superficial level, I should say that it may not have been emotional dependence but I still think it showed a certain amount of insecurity. (It isn't a bad thing - merely something that seems to be part of her character.) All people do depend on other people to a greater or lesser extent; perhaps Alix's circle was so small that her dependence seems magnified somehow.

Considering Rasputin, though, I feel her dependence was very great indeed. By then, of course, the pressures of her life (& her concern for Alexei) were so great that it is unsurprising that she needed someone to lean on - a more especially someone whom she viewed as having God-given powers.

The whole point is, though, that this is not a criticism of her.  :) It is an attempt to understand some of her decisions which in the long term were detrimental to herself & her family. (As has been said many times, it is very easy to state this with the benefit of hindsight.)
I believe she was a 'good' & well-intentioned person & yet - perhaps being out of place in a culture which was very different to that in which she had been raised - she closed her eyes to others' views while clinging (unreasonably IMO) to the opinions of others on whom she had come to rely.
Her attitude towards Rasputin to my mind, mirrors exactly QV's attitude to John Brown. Both QV & Alix, having made up their minds that this person was indispensible to them, absolutely refused to countenance any suggestion (even from members of their own family) that the relationship was not beneficial to them. When it came to choosing between their 'chosen one' & their extended family - (in QV's case, Princess Alice & several others - in Alix's case, Ella & many others) - both opted for the person on whom they had come to rely.
Would you, perhaps, agree with that  :) ( 'cause of course I may well be wrong ;) )
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on April 12, 2005, 04:50:21 AM
Yes, Helen!  :)
I think we are entirely in agreement now!  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 12, 2005, 07:33:20 AM
Come to think of it, I don't think Alix's unhealthy dependence on Rasputin was all that different from her grandmother's unhealthy psychological dependence on her first PM Melborne, then on her own husband, then on John Brown, and later on the Munshie, etc. In fact, Alexandra's dependence is sort of more understandable than QV's because the health or even the life of her son was involved, while for QV it was purely because of her own psychological needs.

But it does seem that Alix did inherit some aspects of her grandmother's dysfunctional personality when it came to things like that, because we do see this pattern with both women (remember that before Rasputin there was the French "holy man" - his name escapes me at this moment,  something that starts with a "V"... ), and I think some others...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: aleksandra on April 12, 2005, 03:28:13 PM
can someone make a list of drugs alix used in her life?
:) thank you
Oh I allmost forgot, what about those photo's of alix's butterfly mark on her arm. Can I please see it?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on April 12, 2005, 04:33:03 PM
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the French "holy man" - his name escapes me at this moment,  something that starts with a "V"... ), and I think some others...


Vachot. Philippe Vachot.  :)

aleksandra, I think the 'butterfly marks' you mention were part of a theory that some one put forward that Alexandra suffered from S.L.E. (lupus) in which a 'butterfly rash' may SOMETIMES be seen on a sufferer's face (not arms  :))
There is no reason at all to believe that Alix had this condition. Her flushes were simply a result of her anxiety.
(And maybe the heat in the ballrooms  ;D )
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: aleksandra on April 12, 2005, 06:09:54 PM
oh okay thanks. stil I dont get the problems she had anyways.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: borgia on May 11, 2005, 08:48:42 PM
Having had my own emotional issues,I have great feeling for what Alexandra might  and must have had to endure.And honestly,Im very impressed that she managed as well as she did,with out the  therapies and outlets we now have.Brave woman.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Frederika on May 19, 2005, 04:41:38 PM
i hered she had a problem with her legs and found walking up steep places difficult is this true?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: koloagirl on May 19, 2005, 06:33:49 PM
 :) :)

I believe that she had "sciatica" (spelling?) - which gave her problems in walking - she had had problems with her legs since at least sometime before her engagement period - and I believe it was a lifelong condition.

I remember reading about her being at a spa in a "wheeled chair" around the time of her engagement and being upset that people were flocking to look at her.

There is other info in the thread under "Alix's illnesses"
also - she had a few things going wrong I'm afraid.  :(

Janet R.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Speedycat on May 19, 2005, 07:00:15 PM
There is another thread, can't remember the exact name now, but it had something to do with her childhood.  As a young girl, perhaps 7 or 8 years old, she was running around outside with her sisters and bother and accidentally ran through some old glass panes of a greenhouse.  This caused severe cuts on her legs and some nerve damage.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on May 19, 2005, 07:32:43 PM
Weren't there times when she used a cane?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: koloagirl on May 19, 2005, 09:09:01 PM
 :)

Yes, she did use a cane or walking stick - as well as
a wheelchair at times in later life -- there are many pictures of her reclining on her chaise lounge or sofas and some also of her in a wheelchair.  

She usually wouldn't go ashore on the annual holidays aboard the Standart to Finland - but would stay on board the ship while the girlies and Nicholas went ashore - but there are pictures of her also on the beach, and at some picnics on apparently rare occasions.  

One of my absolute favorite pics of Alix is of her on one of these excursions standing on a rock in the water, sans shoes or socks....looking back at the camera....it is glimpses like this that make her seem much more accessable than she usually looks.   ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Athena on May 21, 2005, 10:44:26 AM
 ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Frederika on May 21, 2005, 12:17:42 PM
some people have all the luck :-/
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on May 21, 2005, 10:21:48 PM
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:)

Yes, she did use a cane or walking stick - as well as
a wheelchair at times in later life -- there are many pictures of her reclining on her chaise lounge or sofas and some also of her in a wheelchair.  

She usually wouldn't go ashore on the annual holidays aboard the Standart to Finland - but would stay on board the ship while the girlies and Nicholas went ashore - but there are pictures of her also on the beach, and at some picnics on apparently rare occasions.  
I've seen that photo. I love it too.

One of my absolute favorite pics of Alix is of her on one of these excursions standing on a rock in the water, sans shoes or socks....looking back at the camera....it is glimpses like this that make her seem much more accessable than she usually looks.   ;)

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RealAnastasia on May 22, 2005, 07:37:13 PM
I always wondered why Alix appears always sit, or in a bed, or in a weelchair. I noticed it, watching old Romanov's family photos. I always wondered if sciatica may cause it, since some of my mother relatives suffer from sciatica, and didn't have such troubles to walk. They only had some periodical attacks , but not all time. But I didn't know tah Alix , being a gir,had an accident involving her legs. That's sound more accurate to me. My grandma cut two nerves in her hand with a plate, and she could barely move this hand.

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alexandra on May 22, 2005, 10:54:23 PM
The sciatic nerve is one of the most important ones to serve the lower part of the body, notably, the legs and feet. Depending upon the nature of the injury, which can then be exacerbated by the normal ageing process, an individual can experience anything from mild discomfort to actual paralysis.
Her difficult pregnancies and childbeds may also have had a deleterious effect on underlying nerve damage.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: BobAtchison on May 25, 2005, 02:08:42 PM
I spoke to a female carrier of hemophilia and she said that a carrier can have all sorts of problems themselves that are related to it.  She says she understands what Alexandra was going through and how male doctors would have discounted it.

Can you imagine the pressure Alexandra was under????  It was unbearable!!!  A child with a fatal illness enduring unbelieveable pain because of his own mother;  Nicholas and her whole family being chased and hunted like animals; the gossip, the lies,surrounded by false friends and the worst family you could imagine...

Alexandra was miraculously able to endure it all and still believe in the goodness of people and the love of God for all of us.  I think she buried her fears and fright within her and this made her even sicker.  Many of us know how that can make you sick from personal experience.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on May 25, 2005, 02:47:07 PM
What Alexandra endured is unimagineable.   Any mother knows the sheer terror of having an ill child.   To have a potentially terminally ill child... well there really are no words.

History has been cruel to Nicholas and Alexandra, particularly to Alexandra.   The love, commitment and concern of her own children speaks volumes.  

When you look at photographs of the young grand duchess on their 1916 journey to Mogilev, hugging peasant children or of Olga and Tatiana working alongside their mother in the hospital, their simple, warm, kindness stands testimony to the legacy inherited from the example of their mother.  

None of us can even imagine what it was like to walk in Alexandra Feodorovna's shoes.    But one thing we do know, her faith never failed her.

tsaria  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tsarevna_Olga on May 26, 2005, 07:26:32 AM
Infact.in photos is rarely that we can see the Empress don't sit...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Lisa on May 26, 2005, 08:02:18 AM
Quote
I always wondered why Alix appears always sit, or in a bed, or in a weelchair. I noticed it, watching old Romanov's family photos.

RealAnastasia.


To be sitting when you have a sciatica crisis is the best position: it calms the pain.In spite of the other leg nerve, the crural (the femoral nerve), you feel better when you are standing or laying.
(http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/aha/sciatica.gif)

http://www.backpain-guide.com/Chapter_Fig_folders/Ch07_Symptoms_Folder/1LumbRadic.html

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on May 29, 2005, 08:02:25 PM
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The accident that took place with the glass took place only a month after her beloved mother's death. Irene and Ernie both avoided the panes, but Alix crashed right through them. (The source does not say that these panes were in the garden of the Neues Palais, if anyone knows for certain?) Her legs were badly injured and took a long time to heal. I read also that Orchie bathed and bandaged them, but that she could not run without limping for a considerable while.


I believe I had read about this accident somewhere else on the forum but now I can't find it. What source did this account originally come from - a diary or letter? And what are the details of what happened? From what I recall, she was walking along somewhere next to a greenhouse and she fell through the glass - are there any more details? Thanks Elisa for stating when the accident happened and I too would be interested in knowing if it was at the Neues Palais or not.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarushka on May 29, 2005, 08:11:14 PM
What an interesting thread! I apologize if this has come up before -- I've been skimming the last few pages in my eagerness to post  ;)

I've wondered seriously about Alix and panic disorder since I was diagnosed with it myself a year or more ago. But with all her other physical ailments, I also wonder how fuzzy the line between her physical and mental troubles might be?

While many folks get hit with panic attacks out of the blue, my experience has been in response to specific trigger situations, sometimes ridiculously specific situations (ie: I'd ride shotgun anywhere with my parents, grandparents, and two particular friends, but the idea of getting into a car with anyone else would put me over the edge). From what I recall of Alix's panic-like symptoms, they occurred when she was under the gaze of high society, but not so much so in the presence of the public or her family. The more reclusive the family became, the less evidence I recall noticing of anxiety attack symptoms. Could her anxiety have been situational, like mine? I hesitate to blame the symptoms on shyness, considering how willing & eager she was to interact with the general public during her charity bazaars in the Crimea, innumerable hospital visits during the war, and the public appearances during the tercentenary celebrations. Even the Coronation, which would have made me an absolute wreck, seems to have been a pleasurable experience for her.

That said, the trouble she had with her heart in later years makes me also wonder about the possibility of a more generalized anxiety disorder as her worries over the war and Alexei's health took their toll. Has anybody run across a descriptions of what Alix experienced physically on a day when she rather vaguely described her heart as feeling "enlarged"? (Which creates in my mind a semi-comical vision of her heart expanding and deflating like a little red souffle...) Heart attack-style symptoms are, after all, a manifestation of panic in some people. I think it's possible that once the social triggers for panic attacks faded out of her life, the anxiousness may have eeked its way out of her in a more constant, low-key manner.

But criminy, when we add all the other straightforward stuff she dealt with -- sciatica, migraine headaches, the physical toll of 5 pregnancies -- it's tough to know just where those borders might lie.

Any thoughts?
Sarah

Oh, and a ridiculous sidenote:
You know what I do to distract myself when my anxiety threatens to get completely out of hand? I recite the script of Rasputin (the Alan Rickman version) in my head!  ::)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on May 29, 2005, 08:37:52 PM
    Well as far as I can tell - not being a cardiologist - but having suffered from pulmonary troubles all my relatively short life - Alix did not have any actual heart related conditions however she did suffer from bouts of nervous anxiety wich caused her heart to race...
    Alix convinced herself that she had a 'weak' heart and refused to consider any other options. It was difficult for her numerous doctors to counter her about this - as she would only become more nervous (re: have *heart* pains) whenever they suggested another posible source for her condition - sort of a self fulfilling situation, which works well with the panic disorder notion.
   HINT whenever anything pleasant was going on she suffered no enlarged heart pains--it was ONLY difficult, unpleasant or stressful situations which aroused her "condition".

rs
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarushka on May 29, 2005, 11:49:21 PM
The amount of thought you've all put into Alix's character is really quite tremendous - wow!

Now that I've read EVERY post in this thread, I want to add a few more points about panic disorder as I know it:

1.) Regarding Helen's initial doubt (I'm going back to January, here) about Alix's potential panic disorder: You're right, Helen, that these bouts of panic are very much like intense stage fright. From the outside, they can seem to come on with no cause at all, but may actually be the result of a very particular combination of circumstances, as I said earlier. The really irritating part is being completely aware (sometimes even in the midst of an attack) of how irrational your fear is while also being completely unable to get a grip on it.

2). All the conjecture everyone has put forth about the source of Alix's anxiety is entirely realistic & plausible, considering the traumas of her early life, but it could just as easily have stemmed from something that would appear insignificant to anyone but Alix herself. The first panic attack I remember came from being corralled into a sleepover with a friend whose house I'd never been to -- I discovered I didn't like her Jerry Springer-style family or her run-down home and I wanted OUT! That urge to escape is a huge component of this disorder.  Folks like me worry about being trapped in public (and for this purpose you can define "public" as anyone in whose presence you'd rather not cause a scene) should we be struck with an attack. Hence the characteristic fear of crowds, or bridges, or movie theaters... Often, just knowing there's an emergency exit, so-to-speak, be it to a safe place or a safe person, is enough to completely squelch the fear. Somehow I doubt there were many such escape routes at St. Petersburg society happenings... Even if there are actual open doors, society's notions regarding a person's proper duty or behavior in a given situation is suffceint to make the walls close in, at least  on a girl like me. I'd imagine being an empress would compound that pressure enormously.

3). Bluetoria mentioned Alix's ability to "rise to the occasion" when matters were taken out of her hands. This has been my experience over and over again. One of the hallmarks of panic disorder is a sort of preemptive fear.  The anxiety I can work up just worrying about the possibility of having another attack if a similar set of circumstances crops up is every bit as bad as the original attack itself. But once the feared moment comes, I'm blessedly (and infuraitingly) fine!  :P

Well, the more I sqwush this around in my head to turn it into a coherent post, the more convinced I become -- our dear friend Alix was in dire need of some St. John's Wort!
;)
Sm
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on May 30, 2005, 04:18:23 AM
The move to Tsarskoe Selo was predominately for one reason - the safety of the family.

The facts that the air was fresher and that they could spend more time together are bonuses.

The Imperial Family moved to Tsarskoe Selo, permanently, in 1904, in the wake of the revolution.   This was for a practical reason.  It was much easier to protect the family in Tsarskoe Selo from constant threats of assassination.

Nicholas and Alexandra were aware of the peril in which they lived their lives.   In addition to her concerns for the health of her son, Alexandra had the added terror of the security of her husband and of all her children.   Hardly conducive to a peaceful state of mind.   Add on top of that all the other pressures..... and its hardly surprising an already nervous and highly-strung woman suffered from panic and stress.   For that matter, who wouldn't?

tsaria    
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: hikaru on May 30, 2005, 05:48:50 AM
I do not think that the life of Marie Feodorvna was easier than the life of Alix. But they have an opposite character.
Marie did not suffer of Panic Disorder.
I am sure that to live with Alexandr was harder than to live with calm Niki.
I do not want to say that Alix was not good.
I just want to say that her nature was tne reason of Panic Disorder. The tragedy with Alexey just catalized it.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on May 30, 2005, 06:39:23 AM
Hikaru

You are comparing apples with pears.   Alexandra most certainly was not like her mother-in-law.   She was very much more sensitive and much less self-seeking.   Where Marie Feodoronva thrived on being the centre of attention, Alexandra found attention positively painful.

Marie could have done so much more to smooth the path for her daughter-in-law, but she chose not to.   It is recorded history that Marie could be found at the centre of unkind comment and ridicule focussed on her daughter-in-law.

Marie had the skin of a rhino.   While Alexandra was, perhaps, rather too thin-skinned.

tsaria

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: hikaru on May 30, 2005, 07:47:00 AM
I am not comparing them .
I know that they are different.

I just wanted to say that the Panic Disorder of Alexandra was caused rather not by the circumstances, but by her nature.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on May 30, 2005, 07:51:23 AM
Instead of 'apples and pears', I think we are now pursuing chicken and egg.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on May 30, 2005, 10:51:36 AM
Hikaru makes a thoughtful and very strong insite!  

Unfortunately I do not know enough about Alix' life prior to Nicholas to know. Could any of our experts on the young Alix of Hesse enlighten us?

rs
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: hikaru on May 30, 2005, 10:57:00 AM
Yes. I agree with rskkiya.
I know that even in Catherine II's time there was a
custom to check profondly the future bride of the Heir from the medical point of view.
Who know something about the fact  - was Alix checked before marriage or when she was a candidate or not.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: BobAtchison on May 30, 2005, 11:01:08 AM
When she was young Alix was bossed around by her older sisters - Victoria took the lead and then when Alix moved to Russia it was Elizabeth.
Elizabeth made lots of decisions for Alix as she prepared to move to Russia without consulting her very much.  She chose her clothes, made decisions on the redecoration of her rooms, bought her jewels, etc.  Once she got to Russia Alix took over and went in her own direction.

Her older sisters felt sorry for her - she was the 'little sister' and they found it hard to let her grow up.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on May 30, 2005, 07:35:43 PM
Quote
Hi Sarai!
I too would like to find out much more about this accident, which I have only seen mentioned in two biographies of the Empress. It certainly happened one day in January, and i have researched into it, and found that it did indeed take place in Darmstadt, therefore most likely at the Neues Palais garden, but i would still be most grateful if this could be confirmed. (The Hessian children did play also in the Prinz-Emil-Garten, but I have only read accounts of the elder sisters playing there, and the Neues Palais seems more feasible). One author even suggested the accident happened because the children's nurse was not overseeing them at that moment. Alix appears to have been chasing her two elder siblings, who ran across an area where seedlings were growing under glass. Another account calls them "high forcing frames". Princess Irene and Prince Ernst Ludwig ran over them, "treading only on the stone". Alix followed and tried to run over them but crashed right through them. She was badly cut, blood was "pouring" from the cuts in her legs and she screamed "in pain and fear". She is said to have borne the scars of this accident all her life. In a way these scars were perhaps representative of how wounded she was feeling inside, how raw, after her beloved mother's death. I have checked Ernst Ludwig's memoirs but he does not mention the incident. One of the accounts i used was Baroness Buxhoeveden's extremely detailed book. She stated that the Empress personally communicated to her the details about her childhood which she subsequently wrote of, so one can only presume Alix told her of this accident herself.


Elisa, thank you so much for these details! You mention you found these details in two biographies, one being that of Baroness Buxhoeveden. Which was the other?

It is so sad that poor little girl was wounded so awfully especially just after her mother's death. It sounds like she was just trying to be a child again, despite the mourning, chasing after her siblings, and to have this traumatizing event happen must have been terrible for her. It must have felt as if she couldn't get over the hurt no matter what she did.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on May 31, 2005, 09:16:49 PM
Quote
There is a little passage in Lili Dehn's book which I find especially moving. Alix was telling her about when she cried at the marriage of her brother in 1894. "I cried when i thought of my mother; this was the first festival since her death. I seemed to see her everywhere.."


What a touching passage, indeed! I am always interested in reading about the times when Alix mentioned her mother, as I have read so little about that. Of course she must have always been in her heart and thoughts, and I know she had a large painting of her mother hanging at the Alexander Palace, but I haven't read too many occasions when she was heard to mention her mother, especially as an adult, other than perhaps at the anniversaries of her death.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Sarai on June 01, 2005, 07:41:54 PM
Quote
I completely agree Sarai! The passages in Alix' letters to her grandmother Queen Victoria which mention this are very moving to read, there are many references to Alice, saying that the Queen had been like a mother "Since beloved Mama died". There are also other links which i find deeply touching - Alix often used to send postcards to her close friends, one exists of the Alice-Denkmall in Darmstadt which the ladies of the town had erected to the memory of her mother in 1912. I also found out that Alix also possessed in her library at Tsarskoe Selo the wonderful book of letters that her mother wrote to Queen Victoria. From peering at one of the engravings on he walls in one of the photographs of her rooms in the Alexander Palace, i would also say that on one is a framed picture of the Neues Mausoleum where her parents are both resting with her beloved little brother and sister. Alix also possessed many books that once belonged to her mother, some with signiatures in, in her Tsarskoe library.


Thanks for pointing out those other instances when Alix mentioned her mother. I figured that Alice's daughters owned that book of her letters, as it was also dedicated to them, but it's good to know for sure. I have a copy of that book and it's nice to know that Alix read the same book.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 24, 2005, 01:14:35 AM
HI Everyone,

In view of the intense interest that has developed over the last few days, discussing Alexandra's possible medical problems and how they might have affected her reaction to the Abdication, I thought it might be better to separate out the discussion a little further.

We are aware that Alexandra was affected by a psychiatric condition, but how did the condition affect her behavior towards the Court and her own family?

Are there any other medical disorders which may have affected her?

I invite any discussion which you may care to offer.

Thanks in anticipation,

Belochka  :)

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 24, 2005, 01:18:02 AM
great! Why don't we start with the obvious one, hysteria.
Here is a definition I found: Definition:
The conversion of emotional distress or unconscious conflict into a physical symptom. It is one of the general class of Somatoform disorders.


Hysterical neurosis

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
The symptom onset of this disorder is usually very sudden and follows a stressful experience. The loss of function may symbolize the underlying conflict associated with it. Psychodynamic theory interprets the cause of the symptoms as a defense mechanism that absorbs and neutralizes the anxiety generated by an unacceptable impulse or wish. Risk factors include a history of histrionic personality disorder or dependent personality disorder.
Source: University of Maryland web site
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 24, 2005, 01:25:40 AM
Hi Lexi4,

I applaud your prompt enthusiasm!

Could you please provide a direct link to the U. Maryland site.

Thanks

How do you believe that the Hysteria may have affected her behavior towards her family?

Do you believe she demonstrated any insecurities because of her disassociative behavior?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 24, 2005, 01:35:54 AM
I should have posted the link! DUH! I will try to find it again. As for the other questions, I will answer them when I have had more time to really reflect more on the topic. I don't want to look too dumb.  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 24, 2005, 01:41:23 AM
Lexi4,

All questions are accepted provided they pertain to this topic.

Please remember no question should be considered "dumb".

I trust that no one will feel that this topic is too difficult to approach.

Everone is warmly welcome. :D

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen on August 24, 2005, 01:44:05 AM
This subject has already been discussed elsewhere. But if it is to be repeated here: could this discussion please start with references to testimonies by two or three independent medical experts of undisputed reputation who personally diagnosed Alexandra as suffering from hysteria?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 24, 2005, 02:01:03 AM
Thank you for your posting Helen,

This thread has been set up to bring together all discussions about Alexandra's medical status. It also provides for an additional expansion, whereby we can discuss how her pathologies affected those around her.

Perhaps you care to provide us here with "testimonies by two or three independent medical experts of undisputed reputation who personally diagnosed Alexandra as suffering from hysteria"?  

The intensity of your concern is noted. Thank you.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on August 24, 2005, 05:19:36 AM
I agree with you, Helen. Without in any way wishing to dismiss the testimony of the reputable Doctor Botkin or the skill of Russian psychiatrists of the time, or all the learned information presented on the other thread, I have a serious question. It returns to my objection to labelling the Empress. If at some point in my life I am depressed, does that make me 'depressive.' If at some point in am overwrought & rant & rave (even if that continues for some time) does that make me 'hysteric'? Having worked with psychiatric patients I feel very strongly about this because I feel people are too easily labelled. If a person is suffering at some point from leprosy...are they always to be seen as a leper...a person suffering from a stomach upset, always to be seen as a 'gastric patient.' This is where I am concerned about labelling Alexandra. At some point she may have (& did) behave in a hysterical fashion...at some point she behaved in a paranoid fashion, but she was not always hysteric, paranoid or any other label, was she? Anymore than the rest of us.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 24, 2005, 07:36:29 AM
I agree with Helen and bluetoria - labels are dangerous... and they STICK.   It is worth bearing this in mind.

I also agree this is an area worthy of discussion, if for no other reason but in endeavour to sift out fact from fiction.  

Alexandra was a victim.   And, in the end, an ultimate victim.   Not to be overlooked, she was also the victim of Bolshevik propaganda.

Perhaps the best place to begin with this thread is just there - at the beginning.  

The relationship between her parents.   Her mother's own 'problems' - could there be a legacy there?  

The sudden death of her little brother and the overwhelming 'Victorian' morbidity which ensued.  

The death of her little sister immediately followed by that of her beloved mother.   The subsequent imposed destruction of so many remaining physical securities - known and loved, clothes, toys, books, cards, letters and photographs.   She watched these burn.   The reactive, overbearing grief of her grandmother.   The fact that a once 'Sunny' and smiling child, seldom smiled again.  

Brought up by a single parent - her father!  

The youngest of four sisters.
.
Were the lacerations of both her legs significant in her, later, never-ending back and leg problems?

A few thoughts...

tsaria  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 24, 2005, 07:39:51 AM
Quote
Additionally, for me, shutting down a topic is like burning books, something the Germans did under Hitler nearly 70 years ago.  It is just anti-knowledge and anti-learning.


Sasha,

It is indeed unfortunate that there is some dissent emerging so early in the life of this thread, however the purpose of this thread is to enable serious discussion.
_____________________________________________
I would like to declare myself here, for those posters who may not be aware of my professional background. I am a qualified Medical Scientist with over twenty five years research experience in Pathology. Despite my progression into the legal sphere, I have not neglected my first vocation.
_____________________________________________

Quote
As you have noted elsewhere, an excellent point to begin will be the confirmed etyiological and pathological diagnosis of the Empress's own private physician of many years, Dr. E. Botkin, of acute hysteria.


The etiology and clinical diagnosis of Hysteria would be an excellent starting point.

Quote
I would suggest that we after consider this initial definition of ... "acute hysteria" .... with particular emphasis .... as it would have been known in the late 19th century and early 20th century, as Dr. Botkin would have done, and then as we understand today it.


Agreed, this is the ideal approach to follow ....

Quote
Additionally, if there are any pathogenesistetic features that manifested themselves in the Empress's illness, we should also consider those.


Yes this is a very important consideration to follow through ...

Quote
we should additionally consider whether any homeopathic methods were prescribed .... and whether or not they would have appeared to aggravate or diminish the present psychosis ...


If we do find that complimentary remedies were used to supplement her treatment, it would be interesting to discuss its efficacy.

Quote
furthermore, we should consider what disassociative phenomenae of the Empress's psychosis manifested themselves clinically and to outside observers and to what degree they manifested themselves ...


Agreed with this next phase in discussions. This phase will hopefully introduce what unusual interactions Alexandra experienced within the Court, and how those interactions were perceived by those around her.

Quote
... what conversion symptoms of the illness were present and whether or not they were either clinically recorded and/or noted or noted and observed by outside third parties, unaware of the pathological state of the Empress


e.g. Ambassador Paleologue documented a number of key observations which shall prove useful for our developing diagnosis.

Quote
and finally whether there was any organic origin of the illness in the case of this particular patient or was the origin one of severe trauma.


This phase in our discussion should provide us with a summation of our general findings. At this point we should all have reasonable confidence in forming an opinion as to whether Alexandra did indeed suffer from Hysteria or something entirely overlooked.

Quote
.... consider whether the added presence in prescribed medicines then in use of considerable doses of controlled substances, i.e., cocaine, would have aggravated a condition of acute hysteria.


I am sure that this particular discussion will provide some lively discussion!

Sasha,

Thank you very much for taking so much time and effort to work out a suitable guide which we can all follow.

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on August 24, 2005, 07:41:34 AM
Quote
Notwithstanding what would appear to be the strenuous objections of the various posteresses, I, for one, and I am sure many others, shall be pleased to continue with this topic.

After all, there many, many topics on this Board which are not to the liking of the some or of the others, and frankly, if the Administrators were to shut down every topic that displeased any given individual, I am sure that there would no topics left and by consequence no Board.

Additionally, for me, shutting down a topic is like burning books, something the Germans did under Hitler nearly 70 years ago.  It is just anti-knowledge and anti-learning.

As Lincoln said "You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but never all of the people all of the time."  And as Louis XIV said, "Que la fete continue..."

 


Alex, if this refers to my post - or to Helen's - I consider it a little unfair. No one has raised any 'strenuous objections' to the thread, nor suggested for a moment that it should be closed. Nor has anyone come anywhere near to suggesting anything like 'burning books.'

Belochka is aware, I am sure, that I have very great respect and admiration for her vast knowledge in medical fields and in Russian history. I have learned a great deal from her posts and hope to continue to do so. In order to learn, however, it is necessary to ask questions and express opinions.

Helen asked for independent scientific opinions. I stated that I think there is a danger of labelling people. Is that not simply continuing a fair discussion? Surely in a discussion we are permitted to disagree - after all that is the point of a discussion.

I do not think you intend it to be said in this way, but your tone suggests that you are becoming the arbiter of who can and who cannot post on these threads. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding in language? I hope so for I should like to continue this fairly.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 24, 2005, 08:20:37 AM
Quote
I agree with Helen and bluetoria - labels are dangerous... and they STICK.   It is worth bearing this in mind.

I also agree this is an area worthy of discussion, if for no other reason but in endeavour to sift out fact from fiction.  


Tsaria thank you so much for your extremely positive attitude!

You have offered excellent informed suggestions, and have thankfully provided the ideal starting point ... Alexandra's parents.

I believe that it is vital to first describe what interpersonal relationships Alexandra's parents expressed within the family unit ... how each member was affected by the death of Alexandra's mother and her young brother from hemophilia and other medical problems within the family unit ... her seclusion from the immediate family ... etc. and including a follow-up of her developmental years in England.

Each phase in her life from birth to her death carried much trauma. How each of these phases affected her outlook on life and what external influences impacted upon her psyche; including how she perceived her 'self', will assist us to begin to understand her developing emotional state.

In keeping with bluetoria's and tsaria's suggestion, we shall not hand out any sticky labels.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 24, 2005, 08:26:01 AM
Quote
 I will assist you all I can in this topic  


A special thank you Sasha for your generous offer of assistance! ;D

Belochka  ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 24, 2005, 10:22:46 AM
Quote
Belochka,
 And that is exactly my "problem" with this thread: I do not think people have been able to provide such references in other threads in which this topic was discussed.

... we can only guess about the exact nature and severity of any physical and/or phycological conditions Alexandra may have suffered from, and no hard conclusions on the impact of such problems on the people around her can be drawn. Without proper diagnoses, a discussion like this may provide useful information on definitions of a variety of medical conditions, but can hardly be more than tabloid gossip as far as Alexandra is concerned. I think she deserves better. Any human being would deserve better.


Hi Helen,

This thread has only been initiated a few hours ago, and may I suggest that you have not given enough time for this thread to develop to reach your conclusions.

There is documentation available in the Russian language, which perhaps was the problem that you experienced in the past. You must consider that not everything has been made available in the English language. We are afterall dealing here in the main, with the Russian Imperial Family.

A definitive clinical diagnosis was provided by Dr. E. Botkin, in the capacity as Alexandra's primary physician. In addition to his expertise, there are two more independent psychiatric assessments made available.  

Each report presented similar conclusions. However the patient did not desire to pursue with the suggested treatment. Her denial is in itself an interesting element worthy of our discussion.

It is your decision to deny or accept these facts which I have offered.

Our exercise here is a hypothetical one. Therefore on a balance of probabilities we hope to come up with some informed structured concepts. It would be inappropriate on this forum to claim that our results will be conclusive.

It is anticipated that this exercise will be stimulating for all who wish to participate. The choice is yours as to whether you wish to contribute something useful to our discussions.

However if you consider that we are engaging in "tabloid gossip" - then perhaps this discussion may not suit you.

Belochka
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 24, 2005, 11:45:07 AM
There was a huge gulf between Princess Alice and her husband - certainly intellectually.   Alice was not slow in reminding Louis of this.   She began a tradition (one of many) - maintained by her daugher, Alix.   When Louis went off to war, she bombarded him daily with letters.   The poor man made an effort to respond, but somehow this was never quite good enough for Alice.   I recall reading where she wrote in one letter to the effect - 'Just write.   It doesn't matter what... rubbish will do.'  

Of course, there was also the fact they were constantly 'hard up' - by royal standards.   It was Alice' mother, Queen Victoria, not her husband, who provided the capital for their new home in Darmstadt.   When Louis inherited the title and Alice became Grand Duchess and first lady, what did she do whenever she felt, as frequently she did, 'overwhelmed'?...   She took to her bed.  

Tensions such as these must have manifested themselves within the family unit.   Why were the other siblings apparently less affected than Alicky?   Possibly they were blessed with less sensitive, better to say, different, natures.  

Also, I think we must keep in mind one of Princess Alice' major influences.   Dr Strauss.   Did he pave the way for other gentlemen who, decades later, entered and impinged their influences on the thoughts and life of her daughter?

Louis must have felt completely out of his depth in the company of a wife who, for example, played four hands, one piano with no lesser mortal than Johannes Brahmns.

From earlist childhood, Alix, in common with her sisters, was urged to 'serve'.   Sewing = 'working'.   At a very early age Alix was introduced to those 'in need' and to the whole concept of service.

However, I do feel the constant atmosphere of doom and gloom must have left an indelible mark.   On the family's last holiday together - probably their one and only 'true' holiday of sand and sandcastles:  paddling and skimming stones:  donkey rides along the beach - even this was blighted by tragedy.  

A Thames pleasure paddle steamer - Princess Alice - named in Alice' honour, sank swiftly in the river with huge loss of life.  

Alice despaired.   Not only for those who lost their lives and for their loved ones.   She saw this as an omen.   She believed it presaged disaster and, with her fateful nature, probably regarded it as a presentiment of her own early death.   She was correct.   The Thames tragedy occured in September.   By December, she was dead.  

Atmospheres and influences such as those outlined above, must have left a profound mark on the psyche of the young, troubled, lonely, insecure 'Sunny'.

It is my contention that Alexandra Feodorovna strove to follow in her, undoubtedly talented, caring and gifted mother's footsteps... to her own detriment.   She wanted to be the mother she had lost.  

I await with interest the opinions of others.

tsaria

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Val289 on August 24, 2005, 12:04:16 PM
tsaria - I couldn't agree with you more........  Thank you for your insight.  I think you've really described the family unit that Alix grew up in very accurately, and how the relations between her, and her family (esp. her mother) affected her as a child and later, as a woman.  I never even thought to take into account Dr. Strauss and how that relationship with Alice might have paved the way for Alix's later relationship with Rasputin.  You've given us a lot to think about :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tsarfan on August 24, 2005, 01:11:00 PM
Quote
And that is exactly my "problem" with this thread: I do not think people have been able to provide such references in other threads in which this topic was discussed. However, if such diagnoses are not available, we can only guess about the exact nature and severity of any physical and/or phycological conditions Alexandra may have suffered from, and no hard conclusions on the impact of such problems on the people around her can be drawn. Without proper diagnoses, a discussion like this may provide useful information on definitions of a variety of medical conditions, but can hardly be more than tabloid gossip as far as Alexandra is concerned. I think she deserves better. Any human being would deserve better.


I find it interesting that there have been endless postings on this board about what a saint Alexandra is, about how she is sitting in heaven this very minute, about how people pray to her and get their prayers answered, about how they have seen her by their sick beds, etc.

Shouldn't you have asked that the same standard of expert analysis and proof be applied to those discussions?

As long as we all recognize the hazards of lay people trying to diagnose a long-dead personality, I see no harm in approaching this topic as an intellectual puzzle.

If Alexandra's really sitting in heaven in a state of bliss, I cannot imagine this would faze her in the least.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tsarfan on August 24, 2005, 01:34:08 PM
Quote
Apparently, an open and honest discussion is neither possible nor welcome.


How true.  Every time anyone starts a discussion that might cast Alexandra in a negative light, you go on the attack to try to shut the discussion down with all your protestations about the need for rigorous scholarship.

It would seem a laudable sentiment had I not actually read some of your posts on other threads and seen how quickly academic rigor goes out the door when it comes to adoration of the sainted Alexandra.

And Nazis?  What in the world are you talking about?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 24, 2005, 02:04:22 PM
Dear Helen

I think this rather excellent thread got off on the wrong foot with perhaps a touch too much enthusiasm.   Believe me, I understand and, to an extent, share your reservations.   However I do believe there are facets to Alexandra's character which have not yet been fully explored anywhere.   Your contribution to this thread is not just desired, it is essential.  

Please put the unfortunate 'kick-off' behind and get on with helping to illuminate unanswered, and, I believe, heretofore unasked questions.

Poor old cynical Tsarfan.   I don't know about anyone else, but I am so relieved not to live in that head.   'TSARFAN'.   The user name itself presents a conundrum.   Does it conceal a keen sense of humour?   Is it an exercise in self-mockery?   Could it possibly conceal a desire to obfuscate his true persuasions?   Surely he doesn't feel in any way intellectually or academically compromised as his post could suggest?   Only Tsarfan can enlighten us.

Thank you AlexP.   Obviously I cannot really say with even the slightest degree of certainty, but I do feel that Alexandra's 'hysteria' problems could well have sprung from seeds sown before her birth.   Add to those the inevitable problems and traumas - to which we are not privy - experienced during infancy and childhood and what role these might have played, no-one can say.  

Of one thing I am certain, there are people today who have benefitted from lifelong 'therapy' who were not exposed to the kind of mental assault experienced by Alix during her formative years.   Against that, of course, there are people who have survived much worse - apparently unscathed.

An answer may lie in an observation made by her sister, Ella.   She once said that it was as possible to change one's character as it was to change the colour of one's eyes.

tsaria    
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Rosamund on August 24, 2005, 02:54:35 PM
With some trepidation I make my contribution.

When considering Alix's health problems I think her genetics are important. Both the Prince Consort and Princess Alice are described as aging early in appearance.  Both complained about a variety of ailments. The health of relatives could be examined as well as psychological causes of her illnesses.  

I will remove this if it offends anyone.  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: CountessKate on August 24, 2005, 03:20:37 PM
Quote
When considering Alix's health problems I think her genetics are important. Both the Prince Consort and Princess Alice are described as aging early in appearance.  Both complained about a variety of ailments. The health of relatives could be examined as well as psychological causes of her illnesses.


I believe Rosamund has made an excellent point.  I have been re-reading John Rohl, Martin Warren and David Hunt's 'Purple Secret' in which they suggest Alix suffered from porphyria, a metabolic disease inherited probably through Princess Alice and her ancestors descended from Mary Stuart.  Perhaps a physical condition might explain a variety of mental problems as well?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tsarfan on August 24, 2005, 03:26:30 PM
Quote
Poor old cynical Tsarfan.   I don't know about anyone else, but I am so relieved not to live in that head.   'TSARFAN'.   The user name itself presents a conundrum.   Does it conceal a keen sense of humour?   Is it an exercise in self-mockery?   Could it possibly conceal a desire to obfuscate his true persuasions?   Surely he doesn't feel in any way intellectually or academically compromised as his post could suggest?   Only Tsarfan can enlighten us.


There were many other tsars (and tsarinas) besides Nicholas, and some of them were magnificent representatives of a fascinating institution.  I can be a fan of the breed without being enamored of its last pitiful examples.

Cynical?  Not really.  I just get tired of the "Board Nannies" who periodically troop out to set the rest of us straight about our shoddy academic standards, our poor breeding, our inappropriate capitalization conventions, our inarticulate thoughts.

Challenge points people make if you will . . . but challenge the points, not the people.  That's the lifeblood of this board.  But don't try to bully people off the board by attacking their credentials, their intellects, or their means of expression.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Rosamund on August 24, 2005, 03:47:21 PM
Quote

I believe Rosamund has made an excellent point.  I have been re-reading John Rohl, Martin Warren and David Hunt's 'Purple Secret' in which they suggest Alix suffered from porphyria, a metabolic disease inherited probably through Princess Alice and her ancestors descended from Mary Stuart.  Perhaps a physical condition might explain a variety of mental problems as well?


Thank you for your interest Caroline.  Like you I have read that book more than once.  I was also thinking about 'shyness', several of the family have been labelled 'shy'.  Is there a shyness gene?  


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Georgiy on August 24, 2005, 04:51:05 PM
I read on the other thread about how there was nothing wrong with the Empress's heart, which no doubt is true. However when a patient thinks her heart has problems, the slightest twinge or muscle pain in that area can lead to all kinds of (self-inflicted as it were) palpitations, brethlessness etc, all through anxiety. Last year for some reason, I kept on feeling a tightness and pain in the chest. The more I dwelt on it, if I had a pain there, I would be reduced to sitting down, feeling breathless etc. I thought there could well be something wrong with me, not least because one time a doctor said she thought she heard a murmur. Anyway, it turns out that what was happening was physically in the muscles in my chest, but the location was leading me to think it was my heart, and the anxiety over that caused the other symptoms. I still get twinges now and then in that area, but don't worry about it now.

The problem witht he Empress is that she did worry. No one could tell her it was mostly in her head, because to her, the symproms and feelings were all to real. Now, I don't know if clinically there is a difference or not, but could it be likely that rather than hysteria, her problems were actually anxiety?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 24, 2005, 08:57:42 PM
tsaria  I have read all of postings on this thread and the one you made at 12:45pm (my time) has me dusting off all of the references that I have on Princess Alice and her family.

Going back to to the fact that Alice, before her daughter Alix, "was married behind a coffin."  Didn't her wedding take place just after the death of Albert.  Wasn't everyone including the Queen in deepest mourning?

I think you were very clear in setting up a thread point which we should all get back to.

I for one, am excited to examine this point of view from the beginning and I believe it will go back to before Alice's marriage to an examination of her growing years and her outlook on life.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tania+ on August 25, 2005, 12:00:13 AM
Since I'm told there are no stupid questions, hear goes:
sorry to throw this into the fray, and it may mean nothing at all, but, I'll ask anyway. Does anyone know if HIHA used makeup? I know during those years, it was lead based. I wonder if that would add to any type of medical issues, including with any medications, etc. she was taking?

Tania
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 25, 2005, 12:14:16 AM
I remember once reading that Queen Alexandra used "porcelan" on her face as make-up.  I don't know what it was made of, but I will do research.

Now Alix was much younger than her Aunt, so perhaps would not have gone to that extent, but makeup could have been a factor (Max Factor  ;D).

We should check it out.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 12:59:54 AM
Quote
As a Doctor of Medicine and as a Christian, I do not think there is anything negative in asking for first-hand evidence by independent medical experts. This type of evidence is not only required from an academic point of view, but also because we are still discussing a human being who deserves our respect as such. It is sad that this simple request is answered by sarcasm and far-fetched, irrelevant references to Nazis. Apparently, an open and honest discussion is neither possible nor welcome.


Helen,

It appears that you have your own preference as to how this thread should proceed. May I suggest that you take the initiative and apply a more competant academic approach elsewhere?

Your persistant prouncements add NOTHING academic to this thread.

Perhaps you as a colleague should offer respect and support to the topic under discussion.

If you are unable to offer your own academic expertise then please find another venue to vent your spleen.

Thank you.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tania+ on August 25, 2005, 01:20:14 AM
Dear Alex and All,

Thank goodness my thoughts were not irrelevant to the discussion. I'm afraid I'm not as learned or in the fields as many of the distinguished scholars on this site, but somehow what we hear over time, does not get lost, and as with this particular issue, I thought I might share my brain. [lol].

I heard lead used over time, and or in large quantities as well can and has led to people's becoming somewhat unbalanced, even insanity. With all that HIH was going through, this could only add to the sad things that evolved over time, perhaps, mentally and physically. I don't know if at the time makeup was used extensively over the face, but the 'added use of powder, which is lead based', can only add to the overall dosage, so to speak. Whew, now I can rest.

Tatiana [Tania]
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tania+ on August 25, 2005, 02:02:17 AM
Dear Alex and All,

How many times has 'history' been written, and rewritten, and we still don't have all of it down pat. Of course history, facts, issues, can somehow and sometimes become a very 'heated' action. But I like to think of it in terms especially on this website, that we all have a right to offer our insights. Nothing is set in stone.

Let's just put that faith so to speak in action, and allow positive energy to flow. I know we can do it. In difference to the many hardships that life holds, at least here, let's make it the best in offering our best.

Tania
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 02:24:19 AM
Quote
I heard lead used over time, and or in large quantities as well can and has led to people's becoming somewhat unbalanced, even insanity. With all that HIH was going through, this could only add to the sad things that evolved over time, perhaps, mentally and physically. I don't know if at the time makeup was used extensively over the face, but the 'added use of powder, which is lead based', can only add to the overall dosage, so to speak. Tatiana [Tania]


Hi Tatiana,

Welcome to this discussion. You have raised an extremely interesting point, which will add to our inquiry very nicely.

I understand that some cosmetics did in fact contain lead, which would have been absorbed subcutaneously, and with prolonged usage would have permeated the blood-brain barrier.

Egyptians applied a powdery substance called kohl in order to beautify their eyes. It was densely applied onto the skin around the eyes.

Specifically, I have no knowledge as to whether Kohl was incorporated into cosmetics during Alexandra's era.

Some hair dyes contained a lead component.

While exposure to leads to a diversity of symptoms in adults, we can briefly list the following:

. abdominal pain/cramping
. muscular weakness,
. headaches,
. constipation,
. sleeping disorder
. anemia
. hypertension,
. lethagy
. seizures
. aggressive behavior
. irritability

Perhaps one of our posters can offer more information about Alexandra's use of make-up?

There may be a correlation with Alexandra's use of lead-based cosmetics and her documented illnesses.

Thanks for your wonderful thoughtful contribution Tatiana!

Belochka  ;D

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 03:03:20 AM
Quote
Dear Alex and All,

How many times has 'history' been written, and rewritten, and we still don't have all of it down pat. Of course history, facts, issues, can somehow and sometimes become a very 'heated' action. But I like to think of it in terms especially on this website, that we all have a right to offer our insights. Nothing is set in stone.

Let's just put that faith so to speak in action, and allow positive energy to flow. I know we can do it. In difference to the many hardships that life holds, at least here, let's make it the best in offering our best.


Hi Tatiana,

You have encapsulated everything perfectly!

Thank you kindly.

We should all take a moment and appreciate Tatiana's wisdom.

It is up to all of us to help maintain an informative stimulating forum whilst maintaining respect towards one other.

Belochka  :)

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: CountessKate on August 25, 2005, 03:42:20 AM
It would have been extremely unlikely that the Empress would have worn cosmetics to any degree - it was very much disapproved of for gentlewoman of her era and especially at Queen Victoria's court in her formative years.  Indeed, English debutantes of the 1920s wrote of how their Victorian/Edwardian mothers were very hostile to 'paint' and only a little 'pearl powder' - this was a mild cosmetic and not lead-based - was considered acceptable.  Women who used cosmetics more freely were considered 'fast' and given Alix's views on 'fast' society, it would hardly be in character for her to have used lead-based cosmetics to a degree which would have injured her health.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on August 25, 2005, 03:50:50 AM
According the Maria Pavlovna, commercial cosmetics were 'unheard of' in Russia at the time and particularly among the Imperial Family. She wrote that Ella made her own skin preparations of natural products (cucumber & cream) and it seems likely that Alexandra would have probably used the same natural preparations.

Whether Alexandra's symptoms were psychosomatic in origin, remains open to question but I am sure someone with Helen's & Belochka's medical knowledge could tell us that a very large number - far larger than is normally assumed to be the case - of illness are psychosomatic in origin (& I myself have witnessed this on many occasions where the initial illness cane be traced back to a traumatic or series of traumatic events and the mind reflects itself onto the body, as it were). This doesn't make the Empress any more 'disturbed' than any other person on the planet, nor does it make her illnesses less real.

She also suffered from frequent ear infections (which may have been genetic - since the Kaiser & his sisters also suffered the same problem). Other 'family' illnesses included gout and rheumatism, perhaps exacerbated by badly-heated rooms, and - in Alix's case - a climate to which she wasn't accustomed.

Considering the effects of Alexandra's background on her psychological state, I believe that not only the death of her mother and sister made her prone to gloom, but also the fact shortly after her birth Frittie had died which left her mother in a state of deep depression. A similar case can be seen in Moretta of Prussia (whose mother was in mourning for Sigismund in Moretta's earliest months of life and as a small child she had a great horror of women dressed in black).

Another often overlooked point is, I think, Alix's position in the family. She was 'mothered' by her elder sisters and as the youngest surviving child was doubtlessly more 'looked after' than the older ones. Then suddenly she found herself in a position of great power for which she was ill-prepared, and with a husband who, much as he loved her, depended upon her. To add to this, Ella, who had always been 'a big sister' was now her social inferior. Psychologically this must have been quite difficult for Alix to deal with.

If these were some of the difficulties she faced - not to mention the more glaring stress of not giving birth to an heir for over 10 years...and then to find him suffering from haemophilia - it is little wonder that at times her behaviour seems erratic. With responsibility for her son, and to a large extent for her husband, she was also exhausted. In such a state anyone might be prone to palpitations, and the myriad of other ailments from which she suffered. I am trying to make the point that her behaviour was really quite 'normal' for anyone in that situation. Even an eminent doctor might view it as hysterical - for outwardly that must have been on occasions how it appear. But even the most eminent doctor of the time did not have out hindsight to take all these factors into account. I believe she was simply in a very difficult position and the stress of that caused outward physical symptoms as well as psychological difficulties. Perhaps a better understanding could be gained not from 'outsiders' - even medical practitioners who knew her well - but from her own accounts, letters etc.
Perhaps Helen, who has great insight into this, could help us with some of Alexandra's own accounts of her difficulties.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tsarfan on August 25, 2005, 04:04:46 AM
Quote
I remember once reading that Queen Alexandra used "porcelan" on her face as make-up.  I don't know what it was made of, but I will do research.

Now Alix was much younger than her Aunt, so perhaps would not have gone to that extent, but makeup could have been a factor (Max Factor  ;D).

We should check it out.


It's an interesting point but apparently hard to check out.

About a year ago, I saw a documentary on Max Factor that touched on the use of make-up by the imperial family.  Max Factor was the wig-maker and make-up artist to the Maryinsky theater (if I remember correctly).  As such he was engaged to assist Alexandra and her daughters with their make-up for official photo shoots.  One of the points the documentary made was that during that era, the use of make-up was viewed as something done primarily by theater people and women of questionable morals.  Women of good breeding seldom used it and therefore had little experience with how to apply it correctly.

Indeed, in examing various photos of Alexandra, she does seem "made up" in the official photos but not in the private family photos.

I could find little published on this topic and consequently did quite a bit of internet research . . . to little result.  Perhaps others have access to sources I could not find?

(This is a modification to my original post:  The above two messages were posted while I was writing mine.  They apparently do have access to additional materials on the topic, and they seem to square with the info in the Max Factor documentary.)

There is an epilogue to the Max Factor story.  As a member of the tsar's household (as were all staff in the royal ballet and theaters), he had to procure the tsar's permission to marry.  He was Jewish, and that permission was denied him.  Consequently he left Russia and went to the U.S., where he established himself as the premiere make-up artist to the budding motion picture industry.  From there, he went on to invent or improve several now-ubiquitous products for the cosmetics industry.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 05:00:07 AM
Quote
It would have been extremely unlikely that the Empress would have worn cosmetics to any degree - it was very much disapproved of for gentlewoman of her era and especially at Queen Victoria's court in her formative years.


Hi CountessKate,

Thank you for your posting.

We need evidence which specifically states that Alexandra refrained from using facial powder or other types of cosmetics.

Is there any documented evidence which confirms CountessKate' statement?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 06:10:17 AM
Quote
According the Maria Pavlovna, commercial cosmetics were 'unheard of' in Russia at the time and particularly among the Imperial Family. She wrote that Ella made her own skin preparations of natural products (cucumber & cream) and it seems likely that Alexandra would have probably used the same natural preparations.  


Bluetoria,

Could you please provide a citation for Mariya Pavlovna's claim? I ask because it is vital to provide all our information with references as far as practicable, so that we call verify any claims at a later date.

With time I hope to compile a Table that will feature all the symptomologies with which Alexandra presented from her early childhood to her final years.

We need to identify possible trends in her behavior, and what triggers may have precipitated the onset of her symptoms.

Quote
Whether Alexandra's symptoms were psychosomatic in origin, remains open to question .... traced back to a traumatic or series of traumatic events


Any psychosomatic disturbances are an important consideration. We need to distinguish whether her symptoms were organic or as a result of emotional factors.  

Quote
She also suffered from frequent ear infections (which may have been genetic - since the Kaiser & his sisters also suffered the same problem). Other 'family' illnesses included gout and rheumatism, perhaps exacerbated by badly-heated rooms, and - in Alix's case - a climate to which she wasn't accustomed.


This is great information Bluetoria. I was unaware of these problems. Do we have a citation please?

Quote
... not only the death of her mother and sister made her prone to gloom, but also the fact shortly after her birth Frittie had died which left her mother in a state of deep depression.


These are vital contributing factors which provide a foundation for our investigations. Familial trauma experienced at an early age may have contributed to Alexandra's shy and capricious youthful demeanor.

Quote
Another often overlooked point is, I think, Alix's position in the family. She was 'mothered' by her elder sisters and as the youngest surviving child was doubtlessly more 'looked after' than the older ones. .


This is yet another important familial interfacing that will assist with our assessment.

What part did Queen Victoria play in this schema do you think? What emotional influences did Q.V. empower over Alexandra?

Quote
Then suddenly she found herself in a position of great power for which she was ill-prepared, and with a husband who, much as he loved her, depended upon her. To add to this, Ella, who had always been 'a big sister' was now her social inferior. Psychologically this must have been quite difficult for Alix to deal with.


Wonderful issues here Bluetoria. I do not believe that Alexandra had any difficulty to reverse roles. She fully comprehended her position as the future consort to the new Emperor, from the first day after she became bethrothed to Nikolai - perhaps you may recall what occured in Livadia upon Alexander III's death?

Quote
.... stress of not giving birth to an heir for over 10 years...and then to find him suffering from haemophilia... In such a state anyone might be prone to palpitations, and the myriad of other ailments from which she suffered. Even an eminent doctor might view it as hysterical .... I believe she was simply in a very difficult position and the stress of that caused outward physical symptoms as well as psychological difficulties.


However we cannot discount that her apparent Hysteria may have been attributed to her diassociative behaviour. She was comprehended the nature of hemophilia, and held herself responsible for Alexei's incurable condition. Without question this was her greatest emotional burden to bare - a burden she carried for for 13 years.

Thank you so much for your very informative well thought out posting!  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 25, 2005, 06:37:29 AM
I am so happy this thread has not just survived, but is going from strength to strength.  Thanks so much Belochka for raising this hugely important issue.   I actually do believe that answers to the outcome of the history of the 20th century may well lie in this question.   That's how important it is to me.   Indeed, I would have to say, I think this thread has the potential of becoming one of the most significant on the entire Board.

I have felt for many years this is an area which has been virtually completely ignored.    We all know the results only too well.   Historians, through the decades, have failed to look for the reasons.  Perhaps they thought them unimportant.   I, for one, consider them hugely important.  

Thankfully, after initial hiccups, we can now get round to asking questions and seeking answers - both of which, in my opinion, historians universally have singularly failed to do.  

May I humbly suggest we endeavour (problematic given the distances and time differences involved, I know) that we 'start at the very beginning'... and progress chronologically.

First of all however, I will respond as best I can to Tania's point re makeup and return to the known upheavals in Alexandra's early life later.

A shiny or oily skin was not considered attractive in a lady.   So far as I know, one of the methods used to overcome this problem was to dip a powder puff in the flour from oatmeal and powder the face.   Whether or not Alexandra did this, I am afraid I cannot say.   However, I think it highly possible.  

Alexandra was blighted with red blotchy marks appearing on her face, throat and chest (a point we MUST return to later).   A pure, pearly white complexion was highly prized.   In summer, both Alexandra and her sister Elizabeth used parasols which had dark green lining.    Green face powder was traditionally used to counteract blushing or redness of the complexion.   I am afraid I am unaware of its consituent parts.

I know, because I have seen it - I now have bought a variety of replicas in a variety of semi-precious stones - that Alexandra used a small face roller.   The one I was shown was made of amber.   If I recall correctly, there were two rollers - a large (two and a half inches approx.) roller at one end of a small gold rod with a smaller (one inch) at the other end.   She used this to encourage lymphatic drainage.   The large end for the entire face and neck and the smaller for more inaccessible areas around the eyes, nose and mouth.

I hope these remarks offer some illumination.

tsaria  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 06:37:33 AM
Quote
John Rohl, Martin Warren and David Hunt's 'Purple Secret' in which they suggest Alix suffered from porphyria, a metabolic disease inherited probably through Princess Alice and her ancestors descended from Mary Stuart.  Perhaps a physical condition might explain a variety of mental problems as well?


I have doubts that Alexandra presented with porphyria, which if in its inherited form has an extremely low occurrence. Such a condition is often triggered by environmental factors, such as use of drugs and exposure to solar radiation. Blistering of the external parts of the skin are an important clinical observation for most forms of this condition.

Neurological disturbances seen with porphyria can involve such events as confusion and hallucinations.

In the absence of confirmationary urine tests, we will not be able to offer a safe assessment.

Therefore we must ignore the possibilty of Alexandra having ever suffered with this condition.

Perhaps there are posters who disagree?  

Thank you CountessKate for your generously offering your information towards our discussion. :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 25, 2005, 06:46:48 AM
Belochka - I have seen an a laboratory report on the analysis of Alexandra Feodorovna's urine.   Unfortunately this was in Russian and, even if I could have interpreted the early 20th century handwritten report, I would have been unable to interpret the science.

Unfortunately I cannot even tell you the date of this urine analysis.   I only know it exists which does indicate her doctors were looking to her urine for an answer to some medical problem.

I will endeavour to retrieve this, historically significant, document.   I cannot guarantee my success.

May I appeal that someone 'polices' this thread.   If we really are to make anything substantial of this subject, we need focus.   Jumping around from one subject to another, I fear, will not work and a huge opportunity will be lost.   I hope others agree.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on August 25, 2005, 07:07:01 AM
Thank you, Belochka.

Maria Pavlovna's claim: "Commercial cosmetics scarcely existed in Russia at the time. I believe that my aunt [Ella] had never seen rouge and she used powder very rarely. Painting the face was an art almost unknown to Russian ladies of the day, and to princesses unknown entirely. Aunt Ella made her own face lotion, a mixture of cucumber juice & sour cream."  (Things I Remember - Hutchinson London 1930)

Baronness Buxhoeveden wrote of Alix's ear problems at the time of Cousin Mossy's wedding. I need to find the references about the Kaiser's ear complaints...I'll come back to that!

Ella wrote a letter to Nicholas in April 1909: "A wee cold or rheumatic twinges or gout can't be prevented as our family all suffers from the latter...There is hardly a person who has not that."

Marie Louise also writes of suffering from persistent colds (as did the Wales girls).

With regard to 'nerves' and 'neuraesthenia' there is also a family connection:
Queen Victoria: "My nerves are still very bad. I suffer very much from hy head and from that dreadful sensitiveness." (Rohl et al.)

Buxhoeveden of Alix: "The shock of her father's death & the fatigues which followed it were too much for her. She...had to be taken for a cure to Schwalbach by her brother."

Of Mossy of Prussia, Vicky wrote: "Her nerves are not of the strongest and she is sensitive by nature" (Beloved & Darling Child - ed. Agatha Ramm)

It may be interesting to note, too, regarding 'nerves' that Marie of Roumania was liable to periods of depression in which she took to her bed. Her younger sister, Beatrice 'almost lost her mind' over the affair with Misha. The slightest stress could send Toria of Wales to her bed; Alice of Greece described Sophie of Prussia as 'a bit mad'; and Charlotte's many many illnesses described in 'Purple Secret' included Vicky's description of her 'broken down nerves."

I will try to find fuller refs. for all of these if it would be helpful.  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 07:38:28 AM
Quote
I would like us to consider the following, in terms of psychiatric medicine:

1.  Might there be evidence that the Empress actually suffered from Acute Adjustment Disorder, which is a purely psychiatric pathology, and not a neurological condition?

2.  Might there be evidence that the Empress acutally suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a purely psychiatric pathology, and which may have been induced by many, many reasons, as Tsaria and others have noted, or could, in my opinion, have been induced at the time the Empress realized she had given birth to a sick child?

3.  Might there be evidence, as Lexi4 so correctly pointed out in a previous posting of Substance Use Disorder ?

These are avenues and thoughts on which I would appreciate all of your comments as we progress in this really informative thread..


Hi Sasha,

Indeed these are excellent avenues we must investigate.

I believe that as we progress through the "evidence" offered here on this thread, we can then both attempt to construct a Table of Alexandra's known symptomologies. By supplementing our list against known clinical symptoms for the conditions which you have klindly presented here, we might be able to find a correlation.

What do think about this approach? I would appreciate your help.

Thanks very much for your support and informed suggestions!

Belochka  :)


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Rosamund on August 25, 2005, 07:41:30 AM
I'm not saying I disagree with the elimination of porphyria but some comparison of the symptoms of Charlotte of Prussia with those of Alix could eradicate this.

My source is Purple Secret

Charlotte's DNA was analysed by the authors and found to have a novel mutation in the PPOX gene. Others better informed than I may understand the meaning of this.  

Her symptoms were:

·      Swollen knees, hands and hips
·      Severe headaches
·      Nervous problems
·      Insomnia
·      Abscesses on gums
·      Spasmodic burning and shooting pains in the abdomen
·      Biliousness
·      Lameness
·      Chronic Constipation
·      Severe back pain
·      Rash and itching
·      Faintness
·      Nausea

Charlotte was emotionally and physically ill and in pain for weeks or even months at a time.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 08:20:07 AM
Thanks Sasha!

_____________________________________________

Before we continue further with this thread, I would appreciate that all our posters who want to extract my medical/scientific information for their use outside this forum, please acknowledge myself (Margarita Nelipa) as the author of that information.

Thank you for your understanding.

Margarita Nelipa  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 09:02:43 AM
Quote
But I would like to raise this an incidence of lead.
Lead would have been present in many forms in the 19th century and in St. Petersburg, 19th century, traces of it may have been actually found in the water supply itself.  It is very possible that the piping of all of the Imperial Palaces contained a high percentage lead; that the water faucets of the palaces contained lead-based fixtures; that the pots-and-pans and other culinary items contained a lead-base or a lead-compound; that the writing ink that was used contained a lead-base; that the paint that was used to paint the room contained a lead-base; as did many other household items.

Thus, while it may be possible to discard the hypothesis that the Empress's psychosis was strictly psychiatric in nature, it nonetheless remains a strong possibility that indeed there was a recurring presence of plumbcity in all of the Imperial Family.  Additionally, it may be possible, once that face of the discussion is reached, to determiine that this presence of plumbcity, which of itself can induce hallucinations, was further complicated by a Substance Use Disorder syndrome as I have mentioned previously.

With the Belochka's consent, while the rest of you are discussing early childhood psychology, which is an area with which I am not familiar, I would like to continue to inform you of the manifestations of plumbicty and the possibility indeed that this was present in the Empress.

Belochka, your concurrence please?


Sasha,

Thank you very much for introducing this very important issue. The use of lead was very much a part of of the structural fabric of St. P. be it undergound as part of the plumbing, or used as a component in the Palace kitchen utensils. Lead was also used in paint.

I would be very grateful if you could provide us with further information about lead; and the possibility that the Tsaritsa may have absorbed lead into her body.

The question one might ask is whether Substance Use Disorder syndrome   may have affected Alexandra? If so, then a connection must be developed with that condition and the use of lead in Tsarskoe Selo and other Palaces in which Alexandra resided.

I look forward to your assessment.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 09:11:00 AM
Quote
1.  Might there be evidence that the Empress actually suffered from Acute Adjustment Disorder, which is a purely psychiatric pathology, and not a neurological condition?

2.  Might there be evidence that the Empress acutally suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a purely psychiatric pathology, and which may have been induced by many, many reasons, as Tsaria and others have noted, or could, in my opinion, have been induced at the time the Empress realized she had given birth to a sick child?

3.  Might there be evidence, as Lexi4 so correctly pointed out in a previous posting of Substance Use Disorder ?


Hi Sasha,

Thank you very much for these great contributions.

Each of the 3 neurologic conditions are worthy for further attention.

Would you care to expand further upon each of these conditions and provide a probalistic connection to Alexandra?

I will attempt to help where I can as the opportunity presents.

Thank you again for your informed expertise!  :)


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tsarfan on August 25, 2005, 09:27:18 AM
My layman's understanding is that lead exposure exacts its worst damage during the formative years, showing up in retarded mental development of children, for example.  Is this so?

It sounds as if lead might have been ubiquitous in the environment of the St. Petersburg upper classes.  If it was present in such levels as to cause serious symptoms, wouldn't we expect to find those symptoms fairly widespread . . . unless the effects of lead are compounded in the presence of other chemicals or certain people are more susceptible to its effects?  If so, did Alexandra meet those conditions?

An interesting theory was published by a medical practioner some years ago.  (Sorry, I no longer remember where.)  The examination of bodies from ancient Rome revealed increasing levels of lead exposure in the later empire.  Upon further investigation, he found a corresponding transition from pottery-based drinking vessels to lead-based drinking vessels.  And he also found a corresponding decline in birth rates, which can be a symptom of lead poisoning.  From all this, he concluded that lead poisoning may have contributed to the decline of Rome.

If he was right, its raises the spectre of whether lead poisoning might have contributed in fairly diffuse ways to the decline of the autocratic state in Russia.

Is there any data about when indoor plumbing was introduced into upper-class Russian life?  Or when lead-based eating or drinking utensils came into use?  My understanding is that lead-based paint, once dry, is an environmental hazard only if ingested.  (For instance, in some U.S. states, lead-based paint must be removed from any building prior to sale . . . but only up to a point 5 feet above the floor.  The reason is that small children sometimes scrape paint off or chew on painted wood.)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 10:15:49 AM
Quote
Belochka - I have seen an a laboratory report on the analysis of Alexandra Feodorovna's urine.   Unfortunately this was in Russian and, even if I could have interpreted the early 20th century handwritten report, I would have been unable to interpret the science.

Unfortunately I cannot even tell you the date of this urine analysis.   I only know it exists which does indicate her doctors were looking to her urine for an answer to some medical problem.

I will endeavour to retrieve this, historically significant, document.   I cannot guarantee my success.


Hi tsaria,

Thank you for all your fine postings.  :)

I am intrigued by the Urinalysis Report. If you are able to obtain a copy, please send me a PM first before it is posted here. I would like to review the data as a profesional pathologist. If there is something of relevance, then we can provide a few details from that report to add to this discussion.

Alexandra would have undergone regular medical examinations. Part of her follow-up would have included routine testing of her urine etc. That urinalysis may be simply a part of her ongoing care.

Quote
May I appeal that someone 'polices' this thread.   If we really are to make anything substantial of this subject, we need focus.   Jumping around from one subject to another, I fear, will not work and a huge opportunity will be lost.   I hope others agree.


Thank you tsaria for you concern. Since it was I who introduced this thread, I shall endeavor to provide some structure to our ongoing discussions.

This thread is only a few days in its maturation. I have been overwhelmed by the calibre of responses and the enthusiasm by the majority of posters.

Tsaria kindly proposed that we should find a starting point to our discussions, with which I have firmly agreed.
_____________________________________________

. I would request that we all shall endeavor to provide information on this thread that will have relevance to our discussion.

. Please provide references as far as practicable (either by use of hyperlinks, books, documents or similar).

. Rudeness and any slide remarks against any posters on this thread will not be tolerated here. We must respect one another and appreciate that by our interactions we shall enjoy sharing our information for the benefit of our readers and each other.

. If there will be unwelcome intrusions by any posters who prefer to destroy or disrupt the integrity of thread, then I shall report the behavior to the Forum Administrator for their advice.

_____________________________________________

Sasha has kindly offered to help in a number of key areas. He will be providing information about lead poisoning and a number of Neuropathies. Therefore there will be a few different strands to focus our attention.

Periodically, I shall tabulate all the information offered here, so that we can all keep track as to where we are heading, and what we have achieved.

All questions no matter how "dumb" they may appear will be accepted graciously.

If I have ommitted anything, kindly please remind me.

Thank you.  :)
_____________________________________________
Therefore to start the first ball rolling, we shall first  concentrate with Alexander's early childhood diseases in Germany. Later we shall progress to Alexandra's developing years and finally conclude with her adulthood.
_____________________________________________

Let us begin ....
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tania+ on August 25, 2005, 10:33:20 AM
One last thought crossed my little mind....My husband before his injury worked with teeth. Now up till 1970s dentists filled teeth a mercury-silver mixture and used this as filling. This is nothing to gloss by either. So with everything else of pots, pans, etc., this was a daily happening with much of the population...just a thought.

Feedback ?

By the way, your all a splendid think tank...bravo, bravisimo to all. :) What a sincere pleasure it is for me to come to this wonderful website!

Tatiana
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on August 25, 2005, 10:33:51 AM
12th November 1878 Alix contracted diphtheria.
13th November "Alicky tolerable."
15th November "Alicky recovering"

(Memoir & Letters of the Princess Alice John Murray 1884)

Alix's recovery was far swifter than that of any of her siblings!  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Val289 on August 25, 2005, 11:57:10 AM
On the subject of Alexandra's early childhood, it is a possiblity that she might have suffered from something that Alex P. mentioned earlier - Post Tramuatic Stress Disorder.  I've pulled up some criteria from the National Center for PTSD (online at http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/facts/general/fs_what_is_ptsd.html )

There are listed 4 criteria listed for those most likely to develop this disorder :

Who is most likely to develop PTSD?
1. Those who experience greater stressor magnitude and intensity, unpredictability, uncontrollability, sexual (as opposed to nonsexual) victimization, real or perceived responsibility, and betrayal

2. Those with prior vulnerability factors such as genetics, early age of onset and longer-lasting childhood trauma, lack of functional social support, and concurrent stressful life events

3. Those who report greater perceived threat or danger, suffering, upset, terror, and horror or fear

4. Those with a social environment that produces shame, guilt, stigmatization, or self-hatred



I also found this information helpful as well (from the same website) :

What are the consequences associated with PTSD?
PTSD is associated with a number of distinctive neurobiological and physiological changes. PTSD may be associated with stable neurobiological alterations in both the central and autonomic nervous systems, such as altered brainwave activity, decreased volume of the hippocampus, and abnormal activation of the amygdala. Both the hippocampus and the amygdala are involved in the processing and integration of memory. The amygdala has also been found to be involved in coordinating the body's fear response.

Psychophysiological alterations associated with PTSD include hyper-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, increased sensitivity of the startle reflex, and sleep abnormalities.

People with PTSD tend to have abnormal levels of key hormones involved in the body's response to stress. Thyroid function also seems to be enhanced in people with PTSD. Some studies have shown that cortisol levels in those with PTSD are lower than normal and epinephrine and norepinephrine levels are higher than normal. People with PTSD also continue to produce higher than normal levels of natural opiates after the trauma has passed. An important finding is that the neurohormonal changes seen in PTSD are distinct from, and actually opposite to, those seen in major depression. The distinctive profile associated with PTSD is also seen in individuals who have both PTSD and depression.

PTSD is associated with the increased likelihood of co-occurring psychiatric disorders. In a large-scale study, 88 percent of men and 79 percent of women with PTSD met criteria for another psychiatric disorder. The co-occurring disorders most prevalent for men with PTSD were alcohol abuse or dependence (51.9 percent), major depressive episodes (47.9 percent), conduct disorders (43.3 percent), and drug abuse and dependence (34.5 percent). The disorders most frequently comorbid with PTSD among women were major depressive disorders (48.5 percent), simple phobias (29 percent), social phobias (28.4 percent), and alcohol abuse/dependence (27.9 percent).

PTSD also significantly impacts psychosocial functioning, independent of comorbid conditions. For instance, Vietnam veterans with PTSD were found to have profound and pervasive problems in their daily lives. These included problems in family and other interpersonal relationships, problems with employment, and involvement with the criminal justice system.

Headaches, gastrointestinal complaints, immune system problems, dizziness, chest pain, and discomfort in other parts of the body are common in people with PTSD. Often, medical doctors treat the symptoms without being aware that they stem from PTSD.




This is just some basic info on PSTD, and I'm not a Dr. so I am not able to really go much further into this.  The information I've pulled from this site really seems to be in line with everything I've ever read about PSTD.  Perhaps Alex P, Helen or Belochka could provide even further information.    I also think that a table of symptoms would be a very helpful idea.    :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tania+ on August 25, 2005, 12:13:00 PM
Val,

Great to have this information you so kindly provided. PTSD would probably be applicable to many of the members of the family who lost loved ones through a series of traumatic events, childhood to elderly.

For those going through this, all it may take is the smell of a perfume, a fabric, a color, sights, flashbacks to all, and anything that reminds them of any of those past traumatic issues. This can and does knock many off of their stable foundations. It is cyclic.

Nothwithstanding, in early childhood, trauma that happen to children not yet really able to verbalize, children may hold on to these issues for a lifetime.

One other thing, in our present day issues, as the Challenger Explosion, seeing clips of 911, the public went through a ptsd type of understanding, on a mass scale. Just think what the early issues before our present day issues, including civil war, etc. All of those issues including health, and mental exacerbations can and do amount to much harm for many lives, of all communities, economics. Thanks for allowing me to share.

Tatiana
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Val289 on August 25, 2005, 12:27:08 PM
Tatiana,

Thank you for your information and for sharing.  I certainly agree with your posting.  You've made an excellent point regarding young children and trauma.  If they are not able to vocalize their feelings, understand their emotions or share them with someone - they could very well hold on to them for a long time.  I've personally seen this situation many times within my own family unit.  Perhaps there is a possiblity that this may have the case with Alix.  

As an aside (not directed at you, Tatiana, but just in general :) ) - I don't wish to "label" Alexandra at all.  Tsaria is right - labels are dangerous, hurtful and they DO stick.  Alexandra was a very complex woman, it is impossible for us to really "diagnose" her, obviously.    However, I also feel that this discussion is quite interesting and really worthy of attention.  Thank you to all who have contributed.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 25, 2005, 02:14:41 PM
I am so happy to see this thread progressing so well. I am jumping in here to volunteer to do any research that is needed. (I am about to become unemployed and will have time) So anyone who needs help, let me know. I have some expertise in the lead issue because of reporting on environmental concerns in the U.S. for so many years. Might I raise another question, I a wondering if the use of asbestos was common at the time? <fearing I have asked a dumb question here> I raise it because of experiences with its effects here. Basically, I want to participate and am awaiting some direction on how to proceed.
Thank you all
lexi4
P.S. I also have some experience working with others who suffer from substance abuse and could provided sourced information of problems this leads to if you desire.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 25, 2005, 07:21:20 PM
When I left last night, this thread was quite small.  I just finished catching up and it is wonderful!

I will volunter to begin with Alice and her marriage "behind a coffin" and her life in Hesse including her raising and teaching of her children.

I do remember reading that after Frittie died she took the other children to his tomb and became much more fatalistic.  Talking about death and God.

Prince Albert died on Dec 14 1861 and Alice was married on July 1, 1862, but mourning was hardly interupted.
QV described the day  to Lord Tennyson as "the saddest I remember" (Victoria's Daughter's by Jerrold M. Packard.

So Alice left for Hesse Darmstadt to begin her life with her husband in a far from joyful way.

I will contiune to compile info on how her life and difficulties effected her children.  I want to try to draw a picture of the way she brought them up and what she expected of them

How her death at an early age would have effected Alix and how Alix might have reacted to her mother's memory and legacy.

Thus we can begin our psychological profile.

There is another psychological possibility.  Asperger's Disorder which is part of the Autisum Spectrum Disorders.  Someone asked if shyness is a disease?  If it is coupled with the inability to read social cues and the inability to be a part of a large crowd for long periods of time.  Yes it can be.

I will ge the exact definition for you as soon as I can.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tania+ on August 25, 2005, 08:13:38 PM
I believe that when when has abscesses on one's gums, it goes into the system as well, and poisons the blood system. I don't know how bad HIH abscess were, but this might not have been understood medically in terms of checking one's blood, and the correlation of it draining into the system, and poisoning it. This is why it might be important to see the medical reports again. Thanks again for allowing me to share. :)

Tatiana
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Ortino on August 25, 2005, 08:15:35 PM
Quote
There is another psychological possibility.  Asperger's Disorder which is part of the Autisum Spectrum Disorders.  Someone asked if shyness is a disease?  If it is coupled with the inability to read social cues and the inability to be a part of a large crowd for long periods of time.  Yes it can be.



It is highly unlikely that Alexandra had Asperger's. Asperger's is a mild variant of autism and she seems to show no real signs of either. Many symptoms of Asperger's are recognizable in childhood and until her mother's death, Alix was a bright, happy child. Shyness affects one's interactions socially, so her inability to be in large crowds or to follow is largely due to this. Here is information about Asperger's.

http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/aswhatisit.html
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 25, 2005, 08:21:03 PM
AlexP, Belochka
Point me in a direction to do some research. If it is ok, I will later post symptoms and the effects of substance addiction.
Let me know,
lexi4
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 10:16:43 PM
Quote

Belochka,

Acute Adjustment Disorder ... a psychiatric condition that develops usually within three-to-six-months of a given trauma ... which impact upon the patient ... thus the patient enters into a state of extreme and reoccuring exagerrated stress.

... the reaction of the patient to the stressor will surprise all those who come into contact with the patient and appear to be exceedingly out or porportion to the stressor itself ...

... will last for only a period of about six months .... manifest itself repeatedly for the entire life of the patient, based on a early incident of stress, or on a very recent incident of stress, or based on a combination of both, or more.

It is additionally acute in that each repeated incidence of Adjustment Disorder will result in a reaction that is far more egregious than the previous reaction, in terms of relative degrees of reaction....

I will know leave it to our kind readers to draw the relationship between the Empress and Acute Adjustment Disorder.


Sasha,

There appear to be parallels with the nature of this condition and Alexandra's behavioural episodes.

Stressors may include:

. physical, e.g. due to trauma or toxicity ...

. Social, e.g. the need to adapt to interpersonal relationships, and including external factors such as the prevailing political situations (e.g. War)

. and other considerations ...

It may be tempting to apply Acute Adjustment Disorder to Alexandra, however we must use caution at this very early stage of our inquiry.

We need to persue this further ...

Thank you very much for providing this most informative posting.  :)
 

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 10:19:53 PM
Quote
12th November 1878 Alix contracted diphtheria.
13th November "Alicky tolerable."
15th November "Alicky recovering"

(Memoir & Letters of the Princess Alice John Murray 1884) 


Thanks Bluetoria! This is excellent.

We shall add Diptheria to our List.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 25, 2005, 10:32:09 PM
What is Asperger's Disorder?  Daniel W. Rosen, M.D.  From the Harvard Mental Health Letter, October 1999.


"In the same way, a condition diagnosed as autism in some children may eventually become what is better described as an adult personality style characterized by eccentricity, social awkwardness, obsessionality and rigidity, odd habits, and a strong preference for the familiar."

And by the way, Asperger's is realitively new to the ASD list,  It wasn't even named at Alexandra's time.  Mild Autism is not the "head banging" blank stare type of Autism.

All of the above statements made by Dr. Rosen seem to apply to our Alix.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 10:54:44 PM
Quote
What is Asperger's Disorder?  Daniel W. Rosen, M.D.  From the Harvard Mental Health Letter, October 1999.


Sasha would you care to respond to Alixz's query?

Thanks in anticipation,

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 10:58:36 PM
Quote
AlexP, Belochka
Point me in a direction to do some research. If it is ok, I will later post symptoms and the effects of substance addiction.Let me know


Hi Lexi4,

Try Medline ...

Your research will be most welcome. Thank you very much for your enthusiasm!

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 11:08:25 PM
Quote
...Please get the name and do me a kind favor. Search on the Internet everything that you can find out about this drug.


The drug Dr E. Botkin prescribed to Alexandra was Veronal - a barbituate.
 
Quote

... The second step is cocaine.

... Once you done all of that, we will work on lead and asbestos, all of which are very valid points to consider.


Sasha these are excellent starters.

I would also include arsenic to the list.

Thanks for your continuing contributions.

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 11:13:33 PM
Quote
It is highly unlikely that Alexandra had Asperger's. Asperger's is a mild variant of autism and she seems to show no real signs of either. Many symptoms of Asperger's are recognizable in childhood and until her mother's death, Alix was a bright, happy child. Shyness affects one's interactions socially, so her inability to be in large crowds or to follow is largely due to this. Here is information about Asperger's.

http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/aswhatisit.html


Hi Ortino,

Thank you for your contribution.

I agree with you here. I do not believe that Asperger's syndrome complicated Alexandra's panoply of conditions.

However we must not exclude this condition for the moment.

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 11:17:06 PM
Quote
Thus, excuse me, I for one will allow the possibility of Asperger's Syndrome until it has been clinically disallowed.


Agreed Sasha,

Asperger's will remain as a possibilty for further investigation.

We will need to decide which neurologic disorders must be discounted, and provide reasons for our exclusion.

Thank you again.

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 25, 2005, 11:20:30 PM
Hi all,
I did a little research on asbestos and think it is probably not worthy of pursuit. From what I read, it causes lung cancer and that is the big risk it poses. So this probably doesn't apply to Alexandra.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 11:25:14 PM
Quote
I'm not saying I disagree with the elimination of porphyria but some comparison of the symptoms of Charlotte of Prussia with those of Alix could eradicate this.

My source is Purple Secret

Charlotte's DNA was analysed by the authors and found to have a novel mutation in the PPOX gene.  Others better informed than I may understand the meaning of this.  

Her symptoms were:

·      Swollen knees, hands and hips
·      Severe headaches
·      Nervous problems
·      Insomnia
·      Abscesses on gums
·      Spasmodic burning and shooting pains in the abdomen
·      Biliousness
·      Lameness
·      Chronic Constipation
·      Severe back pain
·      Rash and itching
·      Faintness
·      Nausea

Charlotte was emotionally and physically ill and in pain for weeks or even months at a time.


Thank you Rosamund for this listing.

We cannot discount the fact that the mutation may have been spontaneous ...

Can you offer us the relationship between Charlotte and Alexandra please?

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 11:29:25 PM
Quote
Hi all,
I did a little research on asbestos and think it is probably not worthy of pursuit. From what I read, it causes lung cancer and that is the big risk it poses. So this probably doesn't apply to Alexandra.


Exposure to Asbestos causes malignant Mesothelioma.

Horrible respitatory condition!

Thanks Lexi4  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 11:35:45 PM
Quote
I am so happy to see this thread progressing so well. I am jumping in here to volunteer to do any research that is needed.


Hi Lexi4,

Thank you for your kind sentiments. ;D

Any research which you care to conduct into substance abuse will be appreciated immensely. Thank you.

Sasha has already provided you with some excellent directions.

Belochka  :)


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 25, 2005, 11:41:43 PM
Quote
1.  The onset of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome may be delayed for a considerable number of years, particularly if the event which caused, or is causing the incident of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome has been stored in the residual memory part of the brain.

2.  This psychosis may actually reside in an organic imbalance in the amygdala part of the brain, i.e., that part of the brain which produces the sensations of fear and danger. Thus in some cases, a disfunction in the amygdala may produce the requisite physiological conditions to actually engender, if not outrightly foster, an incidence of PTSD.

3.  Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome is considered to be co-morbid, i.e., in 90% of clinical inventoried-observations, it was found to co-exist with at least two other pyschoses, one of which is Controlled Substance Stress Disorder.  I draw the attention of all readers to this point very carefully.

    Thus, if a finding of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome is entered for the Empress, it is most probable that at lesat a finding of Controlled Substane Stress Disorder and Acute Adjustment Disorder might also be present.  It is highly unlikely that a sole finding of PTSS would be found, given what we know.

4.  Finally, by the time a qualified practitioner, even in 1910, would recognize Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (then it was simply called "shell" shock), the patient will have become totally nonrecoverable and only a stabilization of the exiting condition may be hoped for, not an improvement.


Thank you Sasha for these additional notes.

We are gathering information here at a rapid rate. I shall have to find quiet time and carefully examine what we have so far and provide a Table of where we are in our assessments.

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 26, 2005, 12:11:12 AM
Quote
Alexandra was a very complex woman, it is impossible for us to really "diagnose" her, obviously.    However, I also feel that this discussion is quite interesting and really worthy of attention.  Thank you to all who have contributed.


Thank you Val for your sentiments.

Agreeably will be unable to provide a confirmatory series of diagnoses, except in the cases where we do have documented evidence.

The best we can hope to achieve are presumptive diagnoses, consistant with the historic material available to us.

Secondly, we should be able to provide a number of exclusionary diagnoses; in the absence of clear cut data; and in the absence of laboratory testing and tissue sampling etc.

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 26, 2005, 12:32:55 AM
Quote
One last thought crossed my little mind....My husband before his injury worked with teeth. Now up till 1970s dentists filled teeth a mercury-silver mixture and used this as filling. This is nothing to gloss by either. So with everything else of pots, pans, etc., this was a daily happening with much of the population...just a thought.
Tatiana


Hi Tatiana,

The use of mercury in amalgam fillings has existed for over a century. It was produced as an alternative to the more expensive softer, gold fillings. It is an extremely toxic heavy metal.

Its safety is in now question, as is the impact of its exposure on our system.

From what I have read, I believe that Alexandra would have had gold insertions.

We shall need to verify this contention.

Can anyone help here please?

We shall add mercury to our growing list of toxins.

Thank you very much for bringing Mercury to our attention.  :)

I look forward to your continuing ideas.
_____________________________________________

Lexi4,

Could you please include Mercury into your research profile?

Thank you,

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 26, 2005, 12:43:35 AM
Quote

This is just some basic info on PSTD, Perhaps Alex P ... or Belochka could provide even further information.    I also think that a table of symptoms would be a very helpful idea.    :)


Hi Val,

Thank you for your additional notes.

I shall look further into this condition with AlexP's generous assistance. Thank you.

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 26, 2005, 12:52:26 AM
To all participating posters,

I have received a number of PM's from a few posters who keenly await a response to their postings.

The number of postings have been generous and it may take longer than I would desire before a response is provided.

Please bear with me, no one shall be forgotten.

I appreciate very much for your continuing support.

In appreciation,

Belochka  ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 26, 2005, 01:18:53 AM
Do we have volunteers who are willing to provide a comprehensive listing of diseases known to have affected Alexandra in her early childhood in Germany?

Bluetoria, Rosamund, Val, Tsaria? Would you care to assist with this line of inquiry?

Please confirm with me as to who  is willing to undertake this task.

Thank you.

References where possible will be appreciated.
_____________________________________________

Could all posters please provide the Title, author, page number(s) and year of publication please when quoting references.

Thank you,

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 26, 2005, 01:41:30 AM
Quote
I was also thinking about 'shyness', several of the family have been labelled 'shy'.  Is there a shyness gene?  


Hi Rosamund,

Thank you for your excellent question.

Many people suffer from shyness.

It has been shown that "shyness" in children can be genetic. Some children are born quite reserved in their nature, irrespective of external stimuli.

Shyness is an insidous condition that can be dehabilitating and traumatic. It can force the unfortunate sufferer into isolation and its consequent loneliness.

We cannot discount environmental factors as well.

Shyness can have a genetic base where there are chromosomal anomalies present, e.g. in Fragile X syndrome.

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 26, 2005, 01:50:15 AM
Belochka has posted that  Dr E. Botkin prescribed  Veronal to Alexandra.
Here is a link to a site that provides information on the drug.
http://www.a1b2c3.com/drugs/barb01.htm
Basically, it is a Barbituate which appeared on the scene in 1863. It was developed by Adolph von Bayer. The drug evenually was developed into Veronal which became available in 1903. It was primarily used as a sleeping aid. This just a summary of what is posted on the link.
The article also describes side effects: "Chronic barbiturate users often display irritability and aggressiveness, as well as lethargy, confusion and lack of emotional control (crying). They also display neurological phenomena such as nystagmus, dysarthria and cerebellar ataxia."
Cerebellar ataxia symptoms include: difficulty in walking which could lead to be in a wheelchair; difficulties in swallowing and slurred speech.
Info on nystagmus (or wobbly eye as it is sometimes called is at: http://www.spedex.com/resource/documents/veb/nystagmus.html
Dysarthria: Speech that is characteristically slurred, slow, and difficult to produce (difficult to understand). The person with dysarthria may also have problems controlling the pitch, loudness, rhythm, and voice qualities of their speech. from http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11180
Alex did have trouble walking and was at times in a wheel chair. Whether she had any of the other side effects associated with Veronal, I don't know. Maybe some else will now.
I am continuing on with my research. I hope you don't mind, but it is easier (time wise)  for me to take one topic and report on it then move to the next rather post all of the research at once.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on August 26, 2005, 04:28:43 AM
Quote
Do we have volunteers who are willing to provide a comprehensive listing of diseases known to have affected Alexandra in her early childhood in Germany?

Bluetoria, Rosamund, Val, Tsaria? Would you care to assist with this line of inquiry?


Yes, Belochka, I would happy to help anyone else in creating this list.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 26, 2005, 05:59:07 AM
Quote
Yes, Belochka, I would happy to help anyone else in creating this list.


Wonderful!! Thank you Bluetoria, yes please go ahead.

If anyone else would like to assist Bluetoria in this exercise, please let her know within the next day or so.

Bluetoria, could we have the list completed in one week please?

Thank you for offering .... It is very much appreciated.

Belochka  :D
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 26, 2005, 06:10:20 AM
Quote
I am continuing on with my research. I hope you don't mind, but it is easier (time wise)  for me to take one topic and report on it then move to the next rather post all of the research at once.


Hi Lexi4,

Thank you very much for your latest posting. The links you have provided are worthwhile summaries.

The side affects of barbituate use will be incorporated into our list.

If it is easier for you to concentrate on one topic at a time, then please do so.

Belochka  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 26, 2005, 07:12:22 AM
Yes, I am interested in Alix's childhood illnesses.   She suffered what might be termed the 'routine' childhood illnesses of the 19th century - but with no mother's love.   Orchie and various maids would have ensured her every need was catered for.   But, there is nothing to replace a mother's love.   Especially that of mother who had enjoyed such a close relationship with this particular daughter.   It is this entire area of 'loss' which I would seek to explore.     bluetoria will undoubtedly, and expertly, expand on Alix's childhood illnesses.  

What interests me most are how the many and various pre-natal and childhood influences, upheavals and experiences and how these impinged themselves in the development of the future Empress' character.  

Added to this are the remarkable similarities between mother and daughter - even down to the fact they were both 'funeral brides'.   Being, like her husband, though to a substantially lesser degree, a fatalist, I doubt if the signficance of this was lost on Alexandra.  She certainly was acutely aware of the contrast between the triumphant entrance into the flower-bedecked, flag-waving, bands playing and 'Hurrahing' crowds of the Russian capital of her sister... and of her own.

I am intrigued by Tania's observations - the loss of all Alix' personal property - her clothes, her toys, her books, all her childhood keepsakes AND she saw them reduced to ashes - immediately following on her own illness, the death of her sister and of her mother, from that self-same illness, it is impossible to imagine that 'flashbacks' would not haunt her for the rest of her life.

Another point which could be significant given Alexandra's almost obsessive awareness of her dental status, is Tania's reference to the mercury used in dental amalgam.      However, I think gold was the more likely substance used for Alexandra's teeth.

Didn't Alexandra use tincture of Valerian?

tsaria    
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on August 26, 2005, 07:46:36 AM
I agree, tsaria, the loss of everything to such a young child must have been devastating. Baroness Buxhoeveden wrote:

"The first months after her mother's death were untold misery & loneliness for Princess Alix...[she] long afterwards remembered those deadly sad months when, small and lonely, she sat...in the nursery trying to play with new and unfamiliar toys (all her old ones were burned or being disinfected)."

The whole situation was surely not helped by Queen Victoria's numerous letters (continuing for years and particularly on anniversaries & birthdays) reminding the children of their sad loss and what it meant to lose a mother. It was as if they were not allowed to stop grieving....

Another physical illness of Alix's childhood is described here:

3 September 1886 Queen Victoria writes tp VMH:

"Many thanks for your letter of 21st August with accts. opf dear Alicky. I am rather alarmed at her being allowed out so soon. Here never before 3 weeks are allowed - as often at that time a species of dropsy shows itself - which is often very & dangerous & even fatal. And the slighter the attack the more dangerous the consequences.  I will send later the acct. of the procedure necessary to avoid infection. Till the peeling has entirely ceased & any particle of peeling still continues, the infection is not over & all woollen things or others wh. cannot wash or be scalded shld. be destroyed!"  

The editor Richard Hough writes "She probably had scarlet fever."

(pg. 82 Advice to a Granddaughter  ed. Richard Hough Heinemann London 1975)

It would be interesting if anyone could confirm that it was scarlet fever as this could account for Alix's later ear problems. Scarlet fever can have long term effects on the middle-ear. This, in turn, might account for her later 'facial neuralgia' since ear problems can cause pain in the face, can they not?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: grandduchessella on August 26, 2005, 08:21:55 AM
Quote

Hi Rosamund,

Thank you for your excellent question.

Many people suffer from shyness.

It has been shown that "shyness" in children can be genetic. Some children are born quite reserved in their nature, irrespective of external stimuli.

Shyness is an insidous condition that can be dehabilitating and traumatic. It can force the unfortunate sufferer into isolation and its consequent loneliness.

We cannot discount environmental factors as well.

Shyness can have a genetic base where there are chromosomal anomalies present, e.g. in Fragile X syndrome.

Belochka  :)
 


This thread is so interesting! I confess I don't know much about it so I'm just reading everyone else's posts and the knowledge & expertise is amazing.

The only area I feel qualified to venture into is the 'shyness' one. AF could very well have had social anxiety/panic disorder. I have had this myself and had medication for it. The person becomes almost unbearably panicked at the idea of meeting new gatherings of people, holding conversation and feeling that everyone is examining them. Based on what people have written about AF in public (ie the red flush that would spread over her neck & face) she could very well have had this. It would have been almost unbearable in her position. Since reports of her in private with those she was comfortable with are so at odds with what are almost uniform descriptions of her public appearances this is a possibility. The times in public when she was relaxed seem to be when she could either just walk by (preferably on Nicholas's arm) or be in a carriage or when she had dealings with the peasantry or would be less likely than vicious St Petersburg gossip to criticize and judge her.

It also isn't at odds when descriptions of her as a child since the symptoms often manifest themselves in the teen or early adult years.

Here's some factual information:
"The socially anxious person can't relax, "take it easy", and enjoy themselves in public. In fact, they can never fully relax when other people are around. It always feels like others are evaluating them, being critical of them, or "judging" them in some way. The person with social anxiety knows that people don't do this openly, of course, but they still feel the self-consciousness and judgment while they are in the other person's presence. It's sometimes impossible to let go, relax, and focus on anything else except the anxiety and fear. Because the anxiety is so very painful, it's much easier just to stay away from social situations and avoid other people altogether."

Symptoms of manifest themselves physically and can include:
palpitations
tremors
sweating
diarrhea
confusion
blushing

"Blushing when in social situations is particularly common and often causes the sufferer further embarrassment.


People with Social Phobia tend to be sensitive to criticism and rejection, have difficulty asserting themselves, and suffer from low self-esteem. The most common fears associated with the disorder are a fear of speaking in public or to strangers, a fear of meeting new people, and performance fears (activities that may potentially be embarrassing), such as writing, eating or drinking in public. Sufferers usually fear more than one type of social setting.

Onset of the disorder is usually in mid to late adolescence"
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Rosamund on August 26, 2005, 08:55:30 AM
Alix's shyness was apparent before she lived in Russia according to this source:

Queen Victoria's Relations by Meriel Buchanan

Here at Wolfsgarten, the Grand Duke spent all the summer months, with guests constantly coming and going. His sister, Princess Alix, did not always appreciate these guests, her inherent shyness making it almost a torture to be forced to receive strangers. Diffident and restrained, she often appeared cold, and almost hostile in her manner.

Meriel's Personal observations:

In a dress of blue-and-silver brocade, crowned with a magnificent tiara of diamonds, the Empress opened the ball with her husband in the old traditional polonaise, to Chopin's beautiful music. She passed close to where I was standing; she was very pale, her eyes lowered, her mouth unsmiling. Then she vanished, leaving her husband and her daughter to continue the evening without her. She sat for a while in the Imperial box at the gala performance at the Marinsky Theatre, the diamonds, which covered the front of her bodice, shooting iridescent fire as her breast rose and fell with her quick, convulsive breathing, her hands trembling so violently that she seemed hardly able to hold her fan of white eagle's feathers. Some stress of emotion, some physical torment, seemed to possess her, and before the performance was over she had retired to the back of the box, and had not reappeared.

Like Grandduchessella I have had some experience of a phobia and am quoting from a book I bought to help my understanding of my problem.  

Living with Fear by Isaac M Marks (subtitled Understanding and Coping with Anxiety)

It is difficult to know at what point one calls shyness in particular situations a social phobia. When it is very pronounced in certain kinds of situations, the label phobia seems justified.  Extreme shyness can prevent people from making friends and can lead to great loneliness and social isolation.  


Social phobias occur equally in men and women. They also tend to start gradually in young adult life. The phobia may be of very specific social situations, for example, of eating in formal restaurants, or at the other extreme result in excruciating shyness everywhere, leading to severe isolation and loneliness.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Kimberly on August 26, 2005, 09:06:14 AM
This thread is fascinating, congratulations to you all ( hope thats the right thing to say) Poor Alix, from what I have just read, it sounds to me that she was having some kind of "panic" or "anxiety attack." Hyperventilation, tremors and possibly palpitations. I too am familiar with that book... and anxiety attacks.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Rosamund on August 26, 2005, 09:12:01 AM
Quote

Thank you Rosamund for this listing.

We cannot discount the fact that the mutation may have been spontaneous ...

Can you offer us the relationship between Charlotte and Alexandra please?

Belochka  :)


They were first cousins, daughters of Queen Victoria's daughters.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Rosamund on August 26, 2005, 09:34:41 AM
Quote
author=Belochka link=board=alix;num=1124860475;start=75#93 date=08/26/05 at 01:18:53
Could all posters please provide the Title, author, page number(s) and year of publication please when quoting references.

Thank you,

Belochka  :)


Sorry, I forgot the dates and pages.
Queen Victoria's Relations by Meriel Buchanan published 1954
pages 29, 211-212

Living with Fear by Isaac M Marks (subtitled Understanding and Coping with Anxiety) published 1980

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Arleen on August 26, 2005, 09:50:34 AM
Dear Friends, Please forgive my interuption as I have nothing to add but incouragement and appreciation for what you are doing here.  The stimulation and education is so wonderful to me.  I just got out my old medical dictionary to go along with my regular dictionary and can keep up quite nicely.  Bravo to you Belochka for starting this and to all of the contributors and our own Dr. Freud, AlexP.
People working together can create miracles...this is our own little miracle.
Much appreciation!
Arleen

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tania+ on August 26, 2005, 10:23:58 AM
I want to underline the long term effect of taking drugs, and the combination of drugs. Alex, I think its very prudent that you have asked for an in depth assessment on 'bayer aspirin'.

Notice the pharamacology reports on 'aspirin'. I'm almost convinced, the dosage may have not at all set well with her system.  

How many drugs was she taking? Was there anything that may not have been stated she was taking?
Also, did she partake in drinking alcohol on these state occasions? The mixture alone is not good for anyone's system.

Does anyone know if she had gastro issues? Just a thought to ask. Thanks for allowing me to share.

Tania
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Val289 on August 26, 2005, 10:30:54 AM
Quote
.............

Another physical illness of Alix's childhood is described here:

3 September 1886 Queen Victoria writes tp VMH:

"Many thanks for your letter of 21st August with accts. opf dear Alicky. I am rather alarmed at her being allowed out so soon. Here never before 3 weeks are allowed - as often at that time a species of dropsy shows itself - which is often very & dangerous & even fatal. And the slighter the attack the more dangerous the consequences.  I will send later the acct. of the procedure necessary to avoid infection. Till the peeling has entirely ceased & any particle of peeling still continues, the infection is not over & all woollen things or others wh. cannot wash or be scalded shld. be destroyed!"  

The editor Richard Hough writes "She probably had scarlet fever."

(pg. 82 Advice to a Granddaughter  ed. Richard Hough Heinemann London 1975)

It would be interesting if anyone could confirm that it was scarlet fever as this could account for Alix's later ear problems. Scarlet fever can have long term effects on the middle-ear. This, in turn, might account for her later 'facial neuralgia' since ear problems can cause pain in the face, can they not?



I've done some basic research regarding Scarlet Fever online.  Here's some info from: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec17/ch190/ch190s.html (thanks Alex P for the recommendation for this website) :  

Scarlet fever results when streptococci infecting a person—usually in the throat—release a toxin. This toxin leads to a widespread, pink-red rash that is most obvious on the abdomen, on the sides of the chest, and in the skinfolds. The rash does not itch or hurt. Other symptoms include a pale area around the mouth, a flushed face, and dark red lines in the skinfolds. Also, the tongue develops a white coating with red spots (white-strawberry tongue). After several days, the coating disappears and the tongue turns beefy red. The outer layer of reddened skin often peels after the fever subsides.    

Perhaps that's the "peeling" that QV was talking about in her letter?   I'm still in the process of discovering more about the possible affects of Scarlet Fever in the long run.  I believe that it can develop into Rheumatic Fever, which, can damage the heart and have long lasting consequences.   I'm going to see if I can find anything regarding bluetoria's suggestion of possible ear and face pains too.   From the same website, regarding rheumatic fever :

Sometimes, children with heart inflammation (due to rheumatic fever) have no symptoms, and the past inflammation is recognized years later when heart damage is discovered. Some children feel their heart beating rapidly. Others have chest pain caused by inflammation of the sac around the heart. Heart failure may develop, causing the child to feel tired and short of breath, with nausea, vomiting, stomachache, or a hacking cough.

Heart inflammation disappears gradually, usually within 5 months. However, it may permanently damage the heart valves, resulting in rheumatic heart disease. The likelihood of rheumatic heart disease varies with the severity of the initial heart inflammation. About 1% of people who had no heart inflammation develop rheumatic heart disease, compared to 30% with mild inflammation and 70% with severe inflammation. In rheumatic heart disease, the valve between the left atrium and ventricle (mitral valve) is most commonly damaged. The valve may become leaky (mitral valve regurgitation), abnormally narrow (mitral valve stenosis), or both (see Heart Valve Disorders: Mitral Regurgitation and Heart Valve Disorders: Mitral Stenosis). Valve damage causes the characteristic heart murmurs that enable a doctor to diagnose rheumatic fever. Later in life, usually in middle age, the valve damage may cause heart failure (see Heart Failure) and atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm (see Abnormal Heart Rhythms: Introduction).


Could Alix have developed rheumatic fever, and then later, have heart problems (or palpitations/abnormal heart rhythm) because of this?  If she were to have developed rheumatic fever, I do think there would have been documentation by family (letters, etc..).  I am not at home and don't have the ability to check my sources right now, though.  

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Rosamund on August 26, 2005, 10:45:41 AM
Quote
Do we have volunteers who are willing to provide a comprehensive listing of diseases known to have affected Alexandra in her early childhood in Germany?

Bluetoria, Rosamund, Val, Tsaria? Would you care to assist with this line of inquiry?



Thank you for asking me to help.  My resources on Alix are probably meager compared to others.  

The short amounts I have read from 'Alexandra the last Tsarina' by Carolly Erikson (pub. 2001) give me the opinion that it is not completely accurate, but she describes (pages 5&6) how in Jan 1879 Alix had lacerations on her legs from contact with a glass frame in the garden, these healed slowly.  

It sounds extremely painful and I wonder if there might be a link to the leg pain she suffered later in life.  

Sorry not to be more help.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Val289 on August 26, 2005, 11:33:52 AM
Quote

Thank you for asking me to help.  My resources on Alix are probably meager compared to others.  

The short amounts I have read give me from 'Alexandra the last Tsarina' by Carolly Erikson (pub. 2001) give me the opinion that it is not completely accurate, but she describes (pages 5&6) how in Jan 1879 Alix had lacerations on her legs from contact with a glass frame in the garden, these healed slowly.  

It sounds extremely painful and I wonder if there might be a link to the leg pain she suffered later in life.  

Sorry not to be more help.




Belochka, thank you for helping me to ask as well!

Rosamond - thank you for bringing up the incident where Alix hurt her legs.  I've heard many people correlate this incident with her latter leg problems and sciatica.   I have read in many books that Alix suffered from sciatica.  Please excuse me not citing a specific source right now, as I'm not near my books!  :P.  Perhaps bluetoria (or anyone) might be able to elaborate on the correlation between these incidents?  I have suffered from siactica and it's sometimes so painful that I have been unable to drive my car, sit in a chair, etc for any long period of time.  Alix's case was probably worse - and that pain must have been almost unbearable.  Sciatica can even cripple some people.  Here's some more info about what can cause it from : http://www.sciatica.org/index.html

Why do people get sciatica?

Sciatica arises from injury to the fibers of the sciatic nerve. The injury can occur in one of four places:

- inside the spinal canal (cauda equina)
- where bundles of sciatic nerve fibers pass through bony openings in the spine (neuroforamina)
- In the pelvis (lumbrosacral plexus)
- Where the sciatic nerve exits the pelvis, below the piriformis muscle in the buttock (Piriformis Syndrome), or along the leg.



Also from the same site :

What are the main causes of sciatica?

- Herniated or slipped disc (herniated nucleus pulposus). This is by far the most common cause of sciatica
- Pressure by the piriformis muscle in the buttock on the sciatic nerve. (Piriformis Syndrome)
- Misalignment of the bones in the lower back and buttocks (Sacroiliac Joint Derangement)
- Narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on or pinches the fibers that make up the sciatic nerve
-  Slippage of one vertebra so that it is out of line with those above or beneath it (spondylolisthesis)
- Abnormality of the nervous system itself, so that nerve fibers don’t transmit signals properly, especially to feet and calves (neuropathy)
- Tumor (this is rare)


So, there may be the possibility of the injury to her legs causing such pain, or perhaps she had some pressure or misalignment issues from that fall itself or from any possible later injuries?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 26, 2005, 11:43:54 AM
Ok. I'm in over my head here. So many of you have an expertise I do not have. Maybe it would be better for me to just read along.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Arleen on August 26, 2005, 11:50:25 AM
Dear Alex, At this point I would just like to interject the personal side of Alexandra.  This thread is all so clinical (and I know that is the REASON for it) but it makes me feel we have lost the essence of the beautiful woman that we are studying. It behoves me to say a word FOR her.......

Here it is a hundred years later and I LOVE this woman and her family, she was physically beautiful, intelligent and a good Mother.  To me she was splendid!

OK, CARRY ON DR. FREUD....analize every cell of her!  (I wonder how many of US someone will care to analize a hundred years from now.)
It is nearly 1:00AM in Shanghai.

Thank you!
..Arleen
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Val289 on August 26, 2005, 12:00:15 PM
Quote
....... Here it is a hundred years later and I LOVE this woman and her family, she was physically beautiful, intelligent and a good Mother.  To me she was splendid!
..................

Thank you!
..Arleen


Thank you Arleen for bringing this up.  I completely agree with you.  It is important for us to remember the complete essence of Alexandra, and not just her illnesses/conditions.

And lexi4 - your contributions are always welcome!  You don't have to be an expert in anything to be here, please keep posting if you feel you'd like to!  You've already brought up some very good points here :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Val289 on August 26, 2005, 12:11:43 PM
Alex - I completely understand that this thread is regarding Alexandra's medical problems.  I simply like not to forget the complete essence of Alexandra, that's all.  I sincerely appreciate the complete efforts and time of every poster here, please know that.   I don't feel that my posting is needed/wanted here anymore, and I will politely decline from posting here further.

Kind Regards
Val
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Arleen on August 26, 2005, 12:29:56 PM
Val, Thank you so much for putting into words what I was trying to get across......just don't forget the essance!  

No one likes for anyone to rain on THEIR parade Alex, but no one likes dominance either.......Dr's tend to get carried away and need to be reminded of their humaness once in a while.

Carry on...I won't bother you again.

Your friend,
Arleen
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tania+ on August 26, 2005, 01:22:32 PM
Hello Alex, Everyone,

Glad to be of assist, and I will hop on it right quick :)

It's very good to hear those here expressing for us to 'keep the human side in view of HIH'. I have mentioned this a few times here and on other places on this website. It's important that we keep this in full memory when speaking about any of their IH. Still, this is a particular discussion wherein we are at length discussing and or bringing up most relevant understandings of HIH 'medical problems'.

This is an objective fact finding mission, not an attack on HIH, God rest her soul. She was a human being first, last and always.

So many of you are just amazing in the way you find your material. For me, I personally know what it means not to really go out because of many disabling issues.
Sciatica is one of the many issues, and it is more than dibilatating, and painfilled.

Keep in mind, when one is addressing one issue of pain, and other physical features, it is both a mental and physical issue. One cannot divide the physical from the mental. Added to that the mental issues she faced as a child, up onto adulthood, it explains much.
Thanks again for allowing me to share my thoughts.

Tania
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on August 26, 2005, 01:26:08 PM
Is there perhaps a possibility of a little compromise here? I have felt a little uneasy about treating the Empress rather like a specimen in a science museum and at the same time appreciate Belochka's wonderful efforts to understand the nature of the illnesses which may have affected her.
It does seem a little over-clinical at times and to lose sight of her humanity. I am particularly uneasy about the number of psychological conditions which are being considered as I wonder how many of us could escape from being assumed to have one condition or another were all our diaries, letters etc. open to such scrutiny. While I appreciate the necessity of gaining facts etc. I do not believe the two can be separated. More and more, it must be agreed, clinicians are taking a holistic approach to the people with whom they are dealing and perhaps it is possible for us to take the same gentle attitude when discussing Alexandra.

Perhaps it may be better if those of us who do not feel fully at ease with the more clinical approach, leave the thread? Before I do that, however, I will continue to find out all I can about Alexandra's childhood illnesses as I said I would.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 26, 2005, 01:41:48 PM
Quote
Is there perhaps a possibility of a little compromise here? I have felt a little uneasy about treating the Empress rather like a specimen in a science museum and at the same time appreciate Belochka's wonderful efforts to understand the nature of the illnesses which may have affected her.
It does seem a little over-clinical at times and to lose sight of her humanity. I am particularly uneasy about the number of psychological conditions which are being considered as I wonder how many of us could escape from being assumed to have one condition or another were all our diaries, letters etc. open to such scrutiny. While I appreciate the necessity of gaining facts etc. I do not believe the two can be separated. More and more, it must be agreed, clinicians are taking a holistic approach to the people with whom they are dealing and perhaps it is possible for us to take the same gentle attitude when discussing Alexandra.

Perhaps it may be better if those of us who do not feel fully at ease with the more clinical approach, leave the thread? Before I do that, however, I will continue to find out all I can about Alexandra's childhood illnesses as I said I would.


Thank you Bluetoria, that was well said. And perhaps I too should leave this thread.
AlexP, with all due respect, I do not see how researching the chemcial content of a barbituate will enhance our knowledge of Alexandra.
I have no clinical expertise in any of these matters feel that I can't make a contribution. I do not want to impede those of you who are interested in the clinical approach. So it is probably best if I leave this to the experts.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Forum Admin on August 26, 2005, 03:34:34 PM
I must agree with bluetoria.  This thread must NOT get so overly clinical nor "dogmatic" that any user should feel "chased out" or no longer able to participate reasonably.  Frankly, I believe that it is simply impossible to not take Alexandra's mental state into account, as her physical health is clearly related to and in some way influenced by her mental health.  I should ask, however, that we all discuss Alexandra in EXACTLY the same manner that you would want a member of your own family discussed, ie: with respect and consideration for their "human-ness" please. She may be dead, but she is still a blood relative of living, feeling people, some of whom read this forum regularly.

I am frantically trying to find the one first hand diagnosis of Alexandra by a German specialist that I have. I posted it once somewhere here in the forum and I just can't find it  ???  When I do locate it I'll put it up here.

Without any first hand symptomology or diagnosis by doctors who treated her, it is a bit "arm chair" quarterbacking to try to be too specific about her illnesses.  

This is a fascinating topic, and I think all participants should make each other feel welcomed and their insights valued. Everyone interested, please stay and participate as you might want.  Drop me a PM if you feel there are continuing problems.



Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: grandduchessella on August 26, 2005, 03:44:50 PM
Quote


      Your posting, please, if you do not mind, should be broken down into four distinct areas:

      1.  A definition of the disease in a sufficiently-easy-English non-medical translation;

      2.  The symptomology, pathology, etiology of the psychosis;

      3.  The prescribed, if any pharmacology, and what if any supplmental therapy would be recommended.

      On behalf of Belochka, let me thank you very much for your kind assistance in this regard.  I very much look forward to reading your posting.

      And yes, this is a very, very aperpos posting, particularly because Panic Disorder is co-morbid by nature.

      With all of the very best from Shanghai and with many thanks,                       A.A.


I will do what I can. I'm in the middle of a move right now and have limited access to the computer (and I severely miss my cable-modem as well as dial-up is sooo slow) and none of my books.  :(  Until I get settled I may just have to lurk around and read the studies of those who have far more expertise than me. I have to read the posts a couple times before I quite understand them. Luckily I used to work in a medical library.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Louis_Charles on August 26, 2005, 05:28:08 PM
Does anyone think there might be a psychological component in both Ella's and Alexandra's fervent embrace of religion as a consolation in adversity? Both women concealed great passion beneath cold exteriors. Marie Pavlovna describes an Ella virtually bifurcated in personality when it came to demonstrating love, and Alexandra, while giving an appearance of freezing control, was able to give herself over to excessive displays of emotion in private. And not only "good" emotion. There is a strong sense in her letters of a woman who used emotional displays of jealousy and hurt to manipulate those closest to her. Tatiana, Olga and Marie write letters asking forgiveness and to be allowed to see her. She followed her mother's example by taking to her bed, although during crisis moments --- I am thinking of Spala in 1912 --- Alexandra was capable of enormous expenditures of physical energy. Her sexual drive was strong. To me, this sounds like bipolar disorder.

I have a godson with Asperger's, and really see no signs of symptomatic behavior in Alexandra, but that is not an informed medical opinion.

I am grateful to Tsarfan for steering me to this thread, and regret the initial response he received from certain quarters. Alexandra was a human being, which means she was flawed and glorious. In any event, this thread does not diminish her achievements, but will perhaps illuminate certain mistakes.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on August 26, 2005, 06:16:11 PM
Quote
Does anyone think there might be a psychological component in both Ella's and Alexandra's fervent embrace of religion as a consolation in adversity? Both women concealed great passion beneath cold exteriors. Marie Pavlovna describes an Ella virtually bifurcated in personality when it came to demonstrating love, and Alexandra, while giving an appearance of freezing control, was able to give herself over to excessive displays of emotion in private. And not only "good" emotion. There is a strong sense in her letters of a woman who used emotional displays of jealousy and hurt to manipulate those closest to her. Tatiana, Olga and Marie write letters asking forgiveness and to be allowed to see her. She followed her mother's example by taking to her bed, although during crisis moments --- I am thinking of Spala in 1912 --- Alexandra was capable of enormous expenditures of physical energy. Her sexual drive was strong. To me, this sounds like bipolar disorder.

I have a godson with Asperger's, and really see no signs of symptomatic behavior in Alexandra, but that is not an informed medical opinion.

I am grateful to Tsarfan for steering me to this thread, and regret the initial response he received from certain quarters. Alexandra was a human being, which means she was flawed and glorious. In any event, this thread does not diminish her achievements, but will perhaps illuminate certain mistakes.


Hi Louis_Charles,

I'm not sure if this would be helpful, but I wanted to pass along some information I got from Hugo Vickers bio of Princess Alice of Greece.  Chapters 20 through 23 detail her diagnosis as a "paranoid schizophrenic" by an eminent German psychiatrist in the early 1930's.  (Vickers seems to think she was bi-polar).

Based on my laymen's observations from bookreading, there do seem to have been a few parallels between the two individuals.  Throughout her life, for example, Princess Alice believed she had a bad heart, although this apparently was not the case.  

I know from personal experience that bi-polar disorder can run in families.

Princess Alice was, of course, Alexandra's niece.


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 26, 2005, 06:33:47 PM
Quote

No problems, RobM.  I have removed all of my postings that Belochka asked me to do, and on which I have spent so much of my free time, and which I have spent so much of time this past seveal days.  Your ingratitude is STIFLING, as is that of the others.
I could have spent my time in a lot better ways -- with family and friends -- rather than catering to a group of anonymous, illiterate, coffee-table Internet wannabes and have-beens.


Alexp, I am sorry that you feel badly, but there is no reason to be rude.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: AlexP on August 26, 2005, 06:39:57 PM
Quote

Alexp, I am sorry that you feel badly, but there is no reason to be rude.


Lexi4,

You pointedly asked Belochka and I to give you a project to research.

When you were given a project to research, at your request, not at mine, you promptly proceeded to whimp out of it.

You wrote "I don't see how this can help".  If you had bothered to ask why we were asking you, you would have shown a causal-and-effect relationship.  Instead you simply whimped out and once you were asked to really contribute something meaningful, you whined and whimped away -- particularly when you WERE the one that asked.

And franky your comments about rudeness are not germane.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 26, 2005, 07:57:02 PM
What has happened here?  I go away for a day and when I come back I find the thread in shambles.

Since when do we snipe at each other and intentionally write hurtful things to each other.

I, personally, have been welcomed and helped at every turn.

Again, those who are not interested in this thread, should not post, as I don't post on the color of Alix's hair.  I just don't care!

I am an "arm chair" historian, but that doesn't make me feel that I should not be a part of this thread.

I'm not sure why anyone is worried about labeling a woman who already has more labels than a FedEx Package.

David_ Pritchard ?????????  I am at loss for words.  You are even newer here that I am and I would never presume to judge a long time member in that fashion.

AlexP Cpacibo for all of your help and encouragment.  I am sad to see you leave this thread.  I hope to meet you again on another thread.

One more thing about Asperger's Disorder.  It is not just an diagnosis for children.  I work with and around patients with Asperger's and some are not diagnosed properly until they are in their teens.  We have a special support group for Adults with Asperger's.

You may embrace or reject my theory, that is what we are here for, but the quote I posted from Dr. Daniel W. Rosenn which was taken from the Harvard Medical Letter, October 1999. sounds to me so much like Alix.

"...may eventually become what is better described as an adult personality style characterized by eccentricity,social awkardness, obsessionality and rigidty, odd habits and a strong preference for the familar.

Alix was socially akward.  Obessional.  Rigid in her standards,  and had a strong preference for the familiar as she showed by retreating to her safe and familiar world of Tsarskoye Selo.

Believe me the social awkwardness of the child and adult Asperger's sufferer is painful to watch.  Without the constant support of therapy these adults have trouble going to the mall!  Alix had to go to balls, and make appearances and give dinner parties.  That would be paralizing to an Asperger's sufferer.

I am so disappointed in they way things are turning out here.  I was so hoping for a intellectual discussion, not just postings on hair color and nail varnish.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 26, 2005, 08:14:23 PM
Alixz,
FYI, David has been a poster here much longer than you or I have, it is just that his account is new. You might also check his credentials since he posts his real name. A simple google search would to it.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on August 26, 2005, 08:18:38 PM
Quote

Alix had to go to balls, and make appearances and give dinner parties.  That would be paralizing to an Asperger's sufferer.



That's why I doubt she had it.  Alexandra did not behave awkwardly when she was with people she trusted, friends and family.  I am quite familiar with Asperger's on a personal level and believe me, an Asperger's sufferer behaves "awkwardly" when he is at home among family, among his loved ones.  Alexandra, by many accounts, only became this way when she was outside the family circle.  An additional note about Asperger's; this condition is very rare in females, however when it does occur in females, it tends to be more severe.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Louis_Charles on August 26, 2005, 08:24:53 PM
My own personal experience with this disease also makes me doubt it as a diagnosis for Alexandra, or at least would make her highly functional. My understanding is that Asperger's have difficulty expressing love for anyone, even those closest to them. That doesn't seem to be the case for her. Again, this is not an informed medical opinion, just experiential.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: NAAOTMA on August 26, 2005, 08:29:51 PM
Dear FA,

You have created a wonderful site and spent a huge amount of time ensuring the success of the Discussion Group. We are your guests, and sometimes some of us forget that.

At times some guests also forget that Bob created this site to honor and remember the last Tsar Family of Imperial Russia.

That guests presume they can be rude to you is unacceptable under any circumstance. Thank you for putting up with alot of stress and unpleasantness, as well as some very rude and hurtful words that have been hurled your way.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tania+ on August 26, 2005, 08:53:32 PM
To AlexP and All,

I wish to extend my apology[ies] if anyone has found my posting to be of upset. I've not wished to create any difficulty, nor offer harm to anyone, least of all create bad feelings. I have tried to stay objective, and supportive in memory to TIH, and to HIHA.

This website and all it's entries by global posters, have been the highlight of my every day. Perhaps when one cannot get out, one may become a bit to outspoken, and I may have been, and again apologize.

To AlexP, I apologize if I have upset you in any way.
I extend to you, and to all, an olive branch of peace. I hope that an olive branch of peace will continue to be offered amongst all threads on this website. It cannot be lesser.

We hardly know each other, and only as fellow posters. But even so, I have and will take the continued treasure of this website in a very serious way, because of the global offering it offers to one, to all of us in maintaining and creating a fellow appreciation of getting along together, and creating a bond that can go beyond time and space.

No matter if there is one iota of misunderstanding, we must as human beings continue to afford the true commonality of making sure, real communication does not die. Though we are not perfect, we all have hearts, and to that its important to recognize the 'feeling' part of life. I thank you all for your patience with me.

I thank you and wish you all the very best.I remain most

Respectfully,

Tatiana [Tania]
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 26, 2005, 10:29:17 PM
tania,
You have certainly not offended me. I don't think this has anything to do with any of your posts.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 26, 2005, 10:31:14 PM
O.K. I Googled him, and I still don't know who he is or what gives him the right to speak to another member in that fashion.  What credentials ever give a person that right?

I must also admit that AlexP was out of line in his response to Forum Administrator.  But he is insightful and knowledgeable and this site would be all the lesser for his not being here.

 I don't know anyone here well enough to call them by their first name.  But Forum Administrator this site is too good for all of the back biting and sniping that is going on.

I am new here.  I want to continue to study and learn  here.  I don't want to get further involved in ongoing personality conflicts or personal theory conflicts.

Let's remove this thread if we must, but let's get back to the give and take of learning.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 26, 2005, 10:42:37 PM
So let's get back to topic.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Belochka on August 26, 2005, 10:57:58 PM
To all posters on this thread,

It is with immense disappointment I return to this thread and find that what I was hoping to achieve here has been destroyed by a few.

I thank all the posters who willing and generously gave their time in participating on this thread. I have enjoyed your contributions with gratitude.

I am extremely upset what has transpired in my absence over the last few hours.

My partcipation here has terminated.

I wish you all the best in your futures.

Thank you,

Belochka :'(


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Forum Admin on August 27, 2005, 08:59:16 AM
First, I am not offended by any of the remarks made, as frankly, I just no longer let them "get to me".  I come in here and do my "job" as best I can, trying to accomodate everyone that I can. It will be inevitable that there will just be some "unhappy campers" who can't play well with others.

I AM disappointed that personal egos continue to get in the way of a genuinely intriguing and historically important discussion.  I stronly URGE everyone with any interest and knowledge of this topic to PLEASE stay, return, contribute, read, etc. This is too important a topic to lose, most especially given the shambles it got into PURELY because of personal ego and "wounded pride". Pride goeth before a fall...

FA
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Arleen on August 27, 2005, 10:28:36 AM
There is a letter from Dr. Eugene Botkin to his brother Peter Botkin, it has always endeared Dr. Botkin to me because it was written as if he really cares about Alexandra.  I am quoting from Penny and Greg's FOTR page 43 bottom paragraph.

"I am very pained about the malady of the Empress; it is a nervousness of the heart related to the cardiac muscles. This is confirmed by physicians here who I have consulted.  I spoke without restriction because I believed it to be in the best interests of the Empress.  I like to let my imagination free to search for different names for the Empress's condition"

This is one letter I really would like to read all of.  But perhaps this is his entire mention of Alexandra's condition to his brother.

This is such an interesting topic we must continue with it.  I do hope that you can find your German Physicians diagnosis Rob. There must be many first hand things out there still!  Personally I am not for trying to "second guess" the physicians who were there treating her in person, with out 21st century diagnosis......just my opinion.


..Arleen
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 27, 2005, 10:43:47 AM
I wonder what Botkin meant by "differnt names for the Empress's condition".

I will still do my research on Princess Alice and the Hessian Grand Ducal family.

It may take a while to get it all in order, but I will try.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Arleen on August 27, 2005, 01:05:52 PM
I would like to know anything and everything about this letter.....it interests me.  Like what was the date it was written?  

..Arleen
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 27, 2005, 01:47:50 PM
Quote
I would like to know anything and everything about this letter.....it interests me.  Like what was the date it was written?  

..Arleen


So would I. I also remember reading on this thread that Dr. Botkin diagnosed her with acute hysteria. Does anyone know where to find that? Rob, perhaps you can help here. I have been doing research on acute hysteria and will post when I have my thoughts together.
Refresh my memory, (I am lazy today) did we have a list of symptoms from which to work?

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 27, 2005, 02:41:22 PM
Well, this is some turn of events.

Don't you think we should redraw the plan - perhaps it would be more appropriate to begin a new thread with a new title?   I certainly would feel more comfortable.  

Hopefully then we can treat the subject of this thread with the sympathy it deserves?

tsaria



Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Arleen on August 27, 2005, 04:23:43 PM
ME TOO!

.A
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 27, 2005, 04:50:21 PM
Thanks Arleen.   Lets be democratic (enough of autocracy).    What do others feel?   Any suggestions?

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Louis_Charles on August 27, 2005, 05:26:12 PM
It seems to me that the thread has picked itself up and moved on, and I can't see the point of starting a new one to discuss this topic. While some people have been disrespectful of each other, there has been none directed at Alexandra in anything that I've read. So my vote is to continue as we have been going.

Botkin's letter is interesting to me as well, and I would hope someone can publish it to the thread. What does he mean by a "nervous heart"? Was she arythmic, or is this a reference to her hysterical tendencies?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Leonid on August 27, 2005, 05:33:37 PM
I wonder if 'Factitious Disorder' could be considered as Alexandra's problem. Here genuine and non-genuine medical disorders go side by side with diagnosable psychiatric illness and the assumpion of physical illness as a coping strategy for those genuinely ill around the patient. It is also considered that such sufferers also use illness as a way of bringing attention to themselves as compensation for a childhood in which they felt neglected or,  shows
"Underlying masochistic tendencies-A need to be the center of attention and to feel important-A need to assume a dependent status and receive nurturance-A need to ease feelings of worthlessness or vulnerability-
A need to feel superior to authority figures (eg, the physician) that is gratified by being able to deceive the physician
See: "http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic3125.htm" in the absence of a fuller academic study which I hope to find.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Louis_Charles on August 27, 2005, 06:01:36 PM
Quote
I wonder if 'Factitious Disorder' could be considered as Alexandra's problem. Here genuine and non-genuine medical disorders go side by side with diagnosable psychiatric illness and the assumpion of physical illness as a coping strategy for those genuinely ill around the patient. It is also considered that such sufferers also use illness as a way of bringing attention to themselves as compensation for a childhood in which they felt neglected or,  shows
"Underlying masochistic tendencies-A need to be the center of attention and to feel important-A need to assume a dependent status and receive nurturance-A need to ease feelings of worthlessness or vulnerability-
A need to feel superior to authority figures (eg, the physician) that is gratified by being able to deceive the physician
See: "http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic3125.htm" in the absence of a fuller academic study which I hope to find.


Is there evidence that Alexandra thought she was neglected as a child? I know her mother died young, but she had older sisters, and was part of a complex larger family.

The description of this disorder seems to fit some of her symptoms. I have always thought that one of the things that attracted her to Phillipe and Rasputin was the fact that they functioned outside of the medical establishment, and it gave her association with them the cachet of being above what "normally" was used.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 27, 2005, 06:16:31 PM
Just a reminder...Where can Botkin's letter to his brother be found? Is there any thing written about Dr. Botkin's treatment of Alexandra that we know about?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on August 27, 2005, 06:22:18 PM
Quote
I wonder if 'Factitious Disorder' could be considered as Alexandra's problem. Here genuine and non-genuine medical disorders go side by side with diagnosable psychiatric illness and the assumpion of physical illness as a coping strategy for those genuinely ill around the patient. It is also considered that such sufferers also use illness as a way of bringing attention to themselves as compensation for a childhood in which they felt neglected or,  shows
"Underlying masochistic tendencies-A need to be the center of attention and to feel important-A need to assume a dependent status and receive nurturance-A need to ease feelings of worthlessness or vulnerability-
A need to feel superior to authority figures (eg, the physician) that is gratified by being able to deceive the physician
See: "http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic3125.htm" in the absence of a fuller academic study which I hope to find.


This question was discussed on another thread back in June:

Quote

Well, my life partner is a shrink, so I asked him about Alexandra (I had to do some explaining as he knows nothing about the Romanovs).  So, based on the skimpiest of patient histories, with the proviso that this is just a discussion forum about long-dead historical figures, he suggested that Alexandra suffered from a factitious disorder.  Factitious comes from a Latin term meaning artificial.  We know that Alexandra suffered from a false pregnancy in 1903.  She told everyone she was pregnant while not allowing the doctors to examine her.  People with factitious disorders truly believe they are sick with all kinds of illnesses when in reality they're fine.  And there is something called a factitious pregnancy, when a woman wants so badly to be pregnant, she actually convinces herself she really is.  

But in addition to this we know that Alexandra suffered from a bunch of other supposed conditions as well.  

For complex reasons, the patient suffering from factitious disorder needs to be perceived as injured or ill in order to meet underlying, chiefly unconscious, needs.


The thread is here:

http://hydrogen.pallasweb.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=alix;action=display;num=1102892038;start=216#216
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 27, 2005, 06:34:12 PM
Here is what I found in Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie on page 160.

"Dr. Botkin, who came every day at nine in the morning and five in the afternoon to listen to her heart, smentioned leyars later to an officer in Siberia that the Empress has 'inherited a family weakness of the blood vessels' which often led to 'progressive hysteria.'"
He does not cite his source for this.
Massie goes on to say:
"In modern medical terminology, the Empress Alexandra undoubtedly was suffeing from psychosomatic anxiety symptoms brought on by worry over the health of her son." (again no source cited.

Someone mentioned that she went to ball as a reason for diqualifying Asperger's as her problem. I am wondering if Asperger's is progressive.
According to Massie, Nicholas worte:
"She keeps to her bed most of the day and does not reeive anyone, does not come out to lunches and remains on the balcony day after day," he wrote to his mother. "Botkin has persuaded her to go to Nauheim [a German health spa] for a cure in the early autumn. It is very important for her to get better, for her own sake, and the children's and mine. I am completely run down mentally by worrying over her health."

His mother wrote: "It is too sad and painful to see her [Alexandra] always ailing and incapable of taking part in anything."

I know from personal experience that these are also symptoms of Bi-polar disorder. Whatever, is sounds that she was suffered terribly from depression.
Will keep looking.
             
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 27, 2005, 10:25:34 PM
I just took the cyber trip to the site that RichC gave us.  It is Alexandra - Russia's Worst Nightmare.

That site, last posted in late June has already covered so much of what we are looking for.  I found it fascinating reading!  Thank you RichC.

I think (IMHO) that Alix suffered from numerous disorders.

I, too, have seen that quote by Nicky of the "Rasputin vs hysterical Alix"  I will see if it is anywhere besides Massie.

I postulated that perhaps Nicky went to Stavka to "get away" from the pressures at home.  Even he had to have a saturation point.

In The Romanovs, Love Power and Tragedy the authors leave out all of the "Peter the Great - Ivan the Terrible" Letters.  It would appear that they wanted to stress the "happy family" and "loving couple" view above all else.

Can we ask RichC again about starting a book list?  I would dearly love to find out which books everyone owns and treasures as their best source of information.
Perhaps a thread for this RichC?

Tonight my cat is lying on my mouse pad ;D ;D, but she has nothing to add to the subject, she just keeps me from using it effeciently.  I keep bumping her in the nose, while using the mouse, but she just won't move.  Perhaps I should have named her Alix instead of Noelle. :D :D  Please no offence intended!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on August 27, 2005, 11:29:02 PM

I'm glad you liked the thread, AlixZ.  It was really going there for a while -- and that's when I enjoy this forum -- when it's almost like a bunch of people sitting around a cyber-living room chatting about a topic of intense mutual interest.  

Of course anyone would be able to start a booklist thread; perhaps the posts could consist of lists of relevant books each forum member has read (I realize some have read *hundreds* of books by now)  --  both in Russian and in English, German, French and other languages.

Or perhaps Bob Atchison might consider asking a group of academic experts in the field to recommend books for further reading and post the list on the AP website.  Just a thought.  Of course there is already an immense amount of online reading material on the main website.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 27, 2005, 11:56:34 PM
RichC  I hadn't thought about the list on the home page of the forum, thank you.

I just wondered which ones our fellow posters liked the best and which ones they thought were useless.

Sometimes I will be looking at a list of books without any description of the subject.  Just a title that looks interesting or an author I have read before.  I hate to jump in without some help.

Opps, I just jumped off topic. Sorry.



Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 28, 2005, 12:03:11 AM
Rich Aliyz
There are hundreds of lists of books on the books thread. It is toward the bottom of the main page. Check it out. There is even a post from people who have duplicate books and will give them to you. Back to topic.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Leonid on August 28, 2005, 03:52:24 AM
Thank you RichC. I had only seen current discussion.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 28, 2005, 01:24:14 PM
It doesn't seem like this thread is recovering well. Someone suggested starting a new thread, that is probably the only hope for this discussion in my opinion. Whatever you guys want to do is fine with me. I think we all feel kind of battered by what happened here. But I don't think we have to worry about having the same problem on another thread.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 28, 2005, 02:00:40 PM
OK - I'll start a new thread with a new title and see how it goes.

How about -  

'Causes & effects of Alix' illnesses'

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 28, 2005, 02:04:36 PM
Let hope this thread, like its predessor, goes off like a rocket...  but, unlike its predessor, does not end with a bang!

I would suggest that we begin by looking for - and at - the causes of many of the symptoms and illnesses endured by Alexandra Feodorovna before we reach for conclusions.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Louis_Charles on August 28, 2005, 02:16:30 PM
Thanks, but this thread is working for me. I am interested in the causes and effects of Alexandra's illnesses, and I am also interested in the possible diagnosis of the illness --- if there was only one --- that caused her to behave as she did.

I am sorry that AlexP and Belochka left the thread, wish that they hadn't, but frankly, to close a thread down because people chose to leave it makes little sense to me.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Forum Admin on August 28, 2005, 02:32:18 PM
At long last I found the passage in Spiridovitch which quotes the first hand medical diagnosis of Empress Alexandra.  I hope it helps you all to get started on this fascinating discussion (les Derniers Annees... Vol 1 Ch. 16 "The Year 1909", my translation from French):

"Here is the report given to me on this subject by M. X. one of the most celebrated Russian professors who was completely up to date on the state of the Empress's health.
     "The hereditary morbidity of the house of Hesse is transmitted, in the male line, in the form of hemophilia, an illness accompanied by alterations of the neuro-vascular system and the composition of the blood itself.
     "In the female line, this heredity is manifested in other forms. The Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodrovna was a sick woman.
     "In the Empress Alexandra Feodrovna, this heredity is manifested, in her youth, by great vulnerability of her nervous system and by great impressionability.  Later, the fact of these unfavorable conditions were presented in her life at Court, the nervous system began to present definite alterations: hystero-neurasthenics and certain psychological troubles.
     "The proof of the hysterical nature of the nervous manifestations is furnished by the ease with which the Empress submits to the positive suggestions of some and the negative suggestions of others.
     "The neuroasthenic manifestations are presented in her in the form of a great weakness (asthenia) of the body in general, the cardiac muscle in particular, with painful sensations in the pericardial region.
     "Along with these troubles there is associated an edema of the legs, concurrent with poor circulation.
     "The troubles of the neuro-vascular system of which I spoke are equally manifested by periodic changes in the coloration of her skin (dermagraphism) and by the appearance on her face of red spots more or less extensively.
     "As for the psychic troubles (loss of psychic equilibrium), this is principally expressed by a state of great depression, by great indifference to that which surrounds her, and by a tendency for religious revery.
     "The neuro-vascular phenomenona which are the question here (dilation or constriction of the vessels) became more accute as she neared middle age.  It is also complicated by a feeling of anguish, a weakening of the centers of inhibition and intellectual troubles bearing principally upon the logical functions and intellectual operations."
     It was this illness, hystero-neurasthenia, which was the cause of the exaggerated feelings and antipathy of the Empress, in a manner bizarre in both thinking and acting, here religious exaltations, her belief in miracles and magic in general, and her belief in Rasputin in particular.
     At the onset, her illness did not affect her personal life and that of her family.  However, as middle age approached, the illness began to take on a form more and more acute.  The Empress had then felt the need to interfere in the matters of State: nothing astonishing if she had not brought about profound troubles in the public and political life of Russian by so doing.
     During the course of that summer, all of the symptoms of here illness had become manifest and her state worsened rapidly.
     Already during her stay at Tsarskoie Selo, the Empress had begun to be seriously indisposed.  The called Dr. Fischer to come, he was attached to the Palace hospital.  He was a serious doctor, methodical, of German origin, and a specialist in nervous illnesses.
     The Empress complained of cardiac troubles.  Fischer found that she was in need of absolute rest and ordered that she be kept from everything which might cause to irritate or affect her nerves in any way or another.   He added that, in his opinion, the constant presence of Mme. Vyroubova with the Empress would only be detrimental to her condition.
     Fischer gave all of his advice honestly, courageously, and insisted above all on the removal of A.A. Vyroubova from the Empress.  They listed to him, they thanked him, and he was never called to return.
     The treatment of the Empress then was confined to E.S. Botkine who obeyed his patient completely.  He conducted his treatments, not as he should have done, but rather as the Empress wished him to.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 28, 2005, 02:34:11 PM
Quote
Thanks, but this thread is working for me. I am interested in the causes and effects of Alexandra's illnesses, and I am also interested in the possible diagnosis of the illness --- if there was only one --- that caused her to behave as she did.

I am sorry that AlexP and Belochka left the thread, wish that they hadn't, but frankly, to close a thread down because people chose to leave it makes little sense to me.

That's cool Louis Charles. You probably weren't on the recieving end of some very hateful emails and posts (since removed) that others have been. I too am interested in a diagnosis. But the chances of that are slim and none of us are experts and the only information we have comes from reports of others. So most of what is here is sheer speculation.
I am happy to continue to partipate here, but the thread seems to have lost momentum. Maybe it will pick up again. That would be great. I also know there are some hurt feelings associated with this post. So we will see where it goes.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 28, 2005, 02:35:13 PM
Wow! Thank you FA. I really appreciate it. Will post more later when I have had time to digest this.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Elisabeth on August 28, 2005, 02:42:10 PM
I think we should always remember the numerous "stressors" in Alexandra's life history. I think they help explain her tendency towards "neurasthenia" or "hysteria," as they termed it in those days.

1873 - sudden death of her brother Frederick ("Frittie") from hemophilia

1878 - sudden death of her mother Alice and younger sister May from diptheria

1894 - sudden death of Alexander III of Russia, leaving her, as the fiancé of the new tsar Nicholas II, empress of Russia in all but name; lack of preparation of both Nicholas and Alexandra to rule over Russia (Alexandra's lack of familiarity with the Russian language, Russian customs, Russian high society); Khodynka Field disaster

1902 - Alix, having given birth to four daughters in a row, and under intense pressure to produce a son, experiences a false pregnancy

1904 - outbreak of Russo-Japanese War, a war which Russia loses; birth of the son and heir Alexei, a child incurably ill from hemophilia; death of her nephew, Prince Henry of Prussia, of hemophilia that same year

1905-06 - Revolution in Russia, suppressed only with largescale bloodshed and the promise of a constitutional monarchy;assassination of Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich and  the increasing threat of terrorism against the imperial family

1911 - Assassination of Stolypin

1912 - Crisis at Spala; Alexei Nikolaevich almost dies

1914 - Outbreak of World War I

1916 - Russia experiences severe reverses in war; assassination of Rasputin

1917 - March Revolution, October Revolution





Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 28, 2005, 02:43:11 PM
What a posting!   Thanks FA.   There's much food for thought in there.

The last paragraph is particularly important.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Louis_Charles on August 28, 2005, 02:45:13 PM
No, I wasn't on the receiving end, and I am sorry if you were. I did follow the fight as it erupted, and was frankly stunned at the level of anger displayed. That is why I think I will stay with the thread, however. We have both raised children, as I see from another post, and therefore I assume we both know the value of not giving in to a tantrum.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Forum Admin on August 28, 2005, 02:48:14 PM
If you wish to read the first hand medical diagnosis of Alexandra, the only one I have ever found, I posted it over on the new thread Tsaria created. You may find it of some use to your discussions here.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Elisabeth on August 28, 2005, 03:01:46 PM
What's very interesting to me about Botkin's report is that he sees the empress's "hystero-neurasthenia" as a result of her status as a carrier of hemophilia. In other words, the same blood disorder that makes her son ill is making her ill, but in a different way. Whereas nowadays we would of course interpret Alexandra's symptoms completely differently (as a result of extreme stress, trauma, or a chemical imbalance in the brain). It would be interesting to know if Botkin actually carried out medical examinations of Alexandra's immediate family, such as her brother Ernie, or if he merely consulted with their doctors. Perhaps he did neither, and simply assumed that because Alexandra was a hemophilia carrier, she would evince certain psychological symptoms (as far as I know, such an assumption would be unheard of in modern medical circles!).
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 28, 2005, 03:14:17 PM
Louis Charles, is unilaterally postulating this thread  continue.   He has made up his mind that the discussion of Alexandra Feodorovna' health issues follow what must be one of the most contentious threads on the entire Alexander Palace Discussion Forum.

There are many very valuable postings on this thread.   Equally there are many exceedingly unpleasant ones - starting with the assassination of Helen which was unforgiveable.  

It offends me that new posters, keen to participate on this particular topic, will be subjected to reading to the extreme unpleasantnesses heretofore.   Unpleasantnesses totally uncharacteristic of the Alexander Palace Discussion Forum.

Perhaps this is a subject Alexandra Feodorovna would prefer is not discussed because it seems to be dogged with controversy!!!

If this is what YOU want, Louis Charles, you can get on with it... and its legacy.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Elisabeth on August 28, 2005, 03:23:52 PM
Sorry to post twice in a row, but actually... the more I read this fascinating report the FA has supplied to us, the more I understand Alexandra's mistrust of traditional medicine and her reliance on the supposed miraculous powers of Rasputin. Of course, if she believed, through Botkin, that her medical problems were caused by the same X factor that made her son a hemophiliac, she would look elsewhere than traditional medicine for a cure. Because medical practitioners then and now know of no such cure for hemophilia or the carriers of hemophilia. So if Alexandra truly believed that her symptoms of physical and emotional distress were caused by an incurable genetic defect, then both her desperation and her faith in Rasputin are completely understandable.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Louis_Charles on August 28, 2005, 03:28:38 PM
Quote
Louis Charles, is unilaterally postulating this thread  continue.   He has made up his mind that the discussion of Alexandra Feodorovna' health issues follow what must be one of the most contentious threads on the entire Alexander Palace Discussion Forum.

There are many very valuable postings on this thread.   Equally there are many exceedingly unpleasant ones - starting with the assassination of Helen which was unforgiveable.  

It offends me that new posters, keen to participate on this particular topic, will be subjected to reading to the extreme unpleasantnesses heretofore.   Unpleasantnesses totally uncharacteristic of the Alexander Palace Discussion Forum.

Perhaps this is a subject Alexandra Feodorovna would prefer is not discussed because it seems to be dogged with controversy!!!

If this is what YOU want, Louis Charles, you can get on with it... and its legacy.

tsaria



Dear Tsaria,

I am not "unilaterally" postulating anything. If I recall, you asked for a vote. My vote is that the thread continue. When others weigh in with their votes, I will be either alone in that or not. And if I am alone, I am not going to continue posting to this thread.

If unpleasantness offends you, then I suggest you look to your own house, Madame, and stop posting things like this. I expressed sympathy with those that were on the receiving end of flames, I did not encourage rudeness, and frankly, your tone borders on it. At any rate,  "Alexandra's" opinion of this discussion is impossible to know at this point. And would be frankly irrelevant even if we did.

Could we please return to topic?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 28, 2005, 03:41:41 PM
The response was a resounding silence.   With two exceptions.   Lexi who thought it best to start afresh and your own.

I apologise if you think me rude.   I was endeavouring to expand on the reasons, as propounded by Lexi, why, on consideration, a new start was preferable.  Your determination to perpetuate this thread, appeared to me, to be pretty adamant.

My reference to Alexandra Feodorovna's feelings, were, as you surely must realise, tongue in cheek.

At no point have I inferred you were 'encouraging rudeness'.

I leave you to return to topic.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Arleen on August 28, 2005, 03:46:34 PM
Rob dear friend, I am speachless at this report.  Thank you for posing it.  It means so much!  It explains EVERYTHING!

I am thinking of poor Alexandra, she must have been terrified deep down inside...for most of her life!  All of these conflicting emotions and truly feeling the heart pains that people didn't believe that she had.  Bafflement must have been her every days companion.  I feel so sorry for her, how awful it is to be missunderstood.

I would love to know more about what Dr. Botkins feelings were....did he just throw up his hands in defeat at her strong will...demanding to have this and that in the way of medicine...after all how do you oppose the Empress?  He must have read this diagnosis by M.X.? and by Dr. Fischer.....which makes me wonder who exactly was M.X.?  I would like to know more about Dr. Botkins treatment.  Maybe some of his relatives could come in and help us?  I would love that.

Doesn't this just bring up gobs of questions?  I am so interested in it ALL.

..Arleen

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Louis_Charles on August 28, 2005, 03:56:57 PM
Quote
The response was a resounding silence.   With two exceptions.   Lexi who thought it best to start afresh and your own.


At the risk of belaboring the obvious, that would mean a tie. It is not a mandate to continue this thread or to begin another.

Quote
It offends me that new posters, keen to participate on this particular topic, will be subjected to reading to the extreme unpleasantnesses heretofore.   Unpleasantnesses totally uncharacteristic of the Alexander Palace Discussion Forum.
 
Perhaps this is a subject Alexandra Feodorovna would prefer is not discussed because it seems to be dogged with controversy!!!
 
If this is what YOU want, Louis Charles, you can get on with it... and its legacy.


I have explicitly stated my reason for wishing this thread to continue, i.e. that threads should not be closed because they caused hard feelings, or we  then have the implied threat of flames as a means to shut down discussion hanging over our heads.

The offensive quotes have been removed by both sides. Please do not imply that I wish potential new readers to see them.

That being said, thank you for your apology. I look forward to reading the information on both threads.

Louis Charles   a/k/a  Simon




Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Arleen on August 28, 2005, 04:10:04 PM
Oh come on you'all!!  Just quit posting and let this poor site die with as much dignity as it can find......

A
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 28, 2005, 06:12:45 PM
I agree arleen. I am moving to the new thread. The FA has posted some wonderful information there. see you there!
Come on over Tsaria. There is a good discussion over there. I am with you, I am ready to walk away from the unplesantness of this thread. See you on the new one.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 28, 2005, 06:17:26 PM
I thought I would bring this over from the other thread
Here is what I found in Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie on page 160.

"Dr. Botkin, who came every day at nine in the morning and five in the afternoon to listen to her heart, smentioned leyars later to an officer in Siberia that the Empress has 'inherited a family weakness of the blood vessels' which often led to 'progressive hysteria.'"
He does not cite his source for this.
Massie goes on to say:
"In modern medical terminology, the Empress Alexandra undoubtedly was suffeing from psychosomatic anxiety symptoms brought on by worry over the health of her son." (again no source cited.

Someone mentioned that she went to ball as a reason for diqualifying Asperger's as her problem. I am wondering if Asperger's is progressive.  
According to Massie, Nicholas worte:
"She keeps to her bed most of the day and does not reeive anyone, does not come out to lunches and remains on the balcony day after day," he wrote to his mother. "Botkin has persuaded her to go to Nauheim [a German health spa] for a cure in the early autumn. It is very important for her to get better, for her own sake, and the children's and mine. I am completely run down mentally by worrying over her health."

His mother wrote: "It is too sad and painful to see her [Alexandra] always ailing and incapable of taking part in anything."
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 28, 2005, 06:23:37 PM
Quote
What's very interesting to me about Botkin's report is that he sees the empress's "hystero-neurasthenia" as a result of her status as a carrier of hemophilia. In other words, the same blood disorder that makes her son ill is making her ill, but in a different way. Whereas nowadays we would of course interpret Alexandra's symptoms completely differently (as a result of extreme stress, trauma, or a chemical imbalance in the brain). It would be interesting to know if Botkin actually carried out medical examinations of Alexandra's immediate family, such as her brother Ernie, or if he merely consulted with their doctors. Perhaps he did neither, and simply assumed that because Alexandra was a hemophilia carrier, she would evince certain psychological symptoms (as far as I know, such an assumption would be unheard of in modern medical circles!).



Help me out here. I didn' think the report the FA posted was from Botkin. Are you talking about another report from Botkin? Thanks
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on August 28, 2005, 09:11:33 PM
Quote

"As for the psychic troubles (loss of psychic equilibrium), this is principally expressed by a state of great depression, by great indifference to that which surrounds her, and by a tendency for religious revery.


Very sad to read but hardly unexpected.  
 
Quote
Already during her stay at Tsarskoie Selo, the Empress had begun to be seriously indisposed.  The called Dr. Fischer to come, he was attached to the Palace hospital.  He was a serious doctor, methodical, of German origin, and a specialist in nervous illnesses.
  
Fischer gave all of his advice honestly, courageously, and insisted above all on the removal of A.A. Vyroubova from the Empress.  They listed to him, they thanked him, and he was never called to return.


I woud love to get my hands on Fischer's report some day.  Specifically, why insist on Vyroubova's removal?  What could she have been doing that was so damaging?  Why concentrate on a third party like that in a medical report?   Hmmmm....

Quote
It was this illness, hystero-neurasthenia, which was the cause of the exaggerated feelings and antipathy of the Empress, in a manner bizarre in both thinking and acting, here religious exaltations, her belief in miracles and magic in general, and her belief in Rasputin in particular.


I recognize what the report says, but I suggest that we keep in mind that Rasputin appeared after the birth of Alexei and that he did appear to be able to control the bleeding, not just to Alexandra, but to many others.  This part was not all in her head.  What do you think, other forum members?

The only other comment is that I don't recall reading that Alexandra looked to Rasputin or other "healers" to assist with her maladies -- only Alexei.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 28, 2005, 09:43:23 PM
Good Grief!

We can't even agree to disagree over moving!

I vote to go and fast.

Too much has happened to this thread and it deserves to die.  I have even written to FA in an email and suggested that it be shut down and removed.

I'll see everyone on the new thread.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 28, 2005, 09:49:03 PM
RichC Please bring your partner's interesting opinions over to this thread.  I think we need them here.


And I agree that the FA's info seems to be about Dr. Botkin, not by him.

I wouldn't doubt that Alix listened politely to anyone who would give her medical advice and then accept  only what she wanted to hear.

I am still working on Alice and her relationship with her children and her god and her morbid fascination with death.  Not, IMHO, at all unusual considering that she watched her father die and then watched her mother greive even at her own wedding.

Oh and I forgot, we have to remember the intense link between Alix and Alexis.  Every mother has that link, but hers was especially strong.  If Rasputin reassured her and calmed her by his presence (or even in the case of Spala) a telegram, that would transmit to Alexis and calm him as well.  A calm hemophiliac is more likely to see the bleeding slow than an over anxious one.

My sister in law constantly says, "When I am upset, my children know I am upset.  When I am calm, they remain calm."  It is true for all mothers.  Children take their cues from their parents, especially their mothers.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Ortino on August 28, 2005, 09:51:33 PM
Quote
I woud love to get my hands on Fischer's report some day.  Specifically, why insist on Vyroubova's removal?  What could she have been doing that was so damaging?  Why concentrate on a third party like that in a medical report?   Hmmmm....


  In many books I have read, Anna is described as naive, giddy, and even very silly. Perhaps the doctor felt that her immaturity and exuberance might prove to be too much for the Empress' nerves and health. After all, he insisted on the removal of all things that might try the Empress' health. Anna closeness to the Imperial Family guaranteed that she would be around them often, so he evidently felt the need to include her in his report. Or perhaps, like others, he found her a bad influence on the Empress.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 28, 2005, 09:54:17 PM
Or the doctor thought that Anna was giving the Empress bad advice and introducing her to "quacks".  Encouraging Alix in the hypochondiac ways.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 28, 2005, 10:40:15 PM
First dumb question:
Who's diagnosis is it that the FA posted?   ???
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 29, 2005, 05:04:45 AM
I understand this diagnosis is as presented to Spirodovich by an eminent Russian medical professor whom he has not named.

It certainly was NOT written by Dr Botkin.   Otherwise he most certainly would not have concluded -

'The treatment of the Empress was then confined to E.S. Botkine who obeyed his patient completely.   He conducted his treatments, not as he should have done, but rather as the Empress wished him to.'

Don't you think this is a very revealing concluding paragraph?

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on August 29, 2005, 08:44:12 AM
Quote
Or the doctor thought that Anna was giving the Empress bad advice and introducing her to "quacks".  Encouraging Alix in the hypochondiac ways.



I don't know.  I guess it just struck me that "removing Vyroubova" would have been beyond the scope of a doctor's examination.  It's almost like there's a political angle here -- or perhaps I'm reading too much into this?  I do agree that the entire document is very revealing.  

Also, we need to consider how much weight to give to Spiridovich's editorial comments.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Forum Admin on August 29, 2005, 08:52:05 AM
OK,
First the diagnosis was given to Spiridovitch, in 1909, by M. X., the un-named Russian Medical professor. That paragraph about the removal of Anya V. is NOT Spiridovitch's editorial comment, it is a direct statment made by Dr. Fischer after examing Alexandra.

The diagnosis essentially says that Alexandra was by this time very neurotic.  Dr. Fischer seemed to think that Vyrubova encouraged her neuroses, rather than helped abate them.  As we can see from later events, this was indeed the case.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on August 29, 2005, 09:33:44 AM
Quote
OK,
That paragraph about the removal of Anya V. is NOT Spiridovitch's editorial comment, it is a direct statment made by Dr. Fischer after examing Alexandra.


Well, that isn't what I meant to say.  I was stating two separate thoughts in the same paragraph.  I have corrected my previous post.  

The editorial comment I was referring to was what Spiridovich said about Botkin.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Forum Admin on August 29, 2005, 10:35:30 AM
Well, about Spirdovitch "editorialising", do remember that Botkin and Sprid. were well acquainted with each other, and often talked about the health matters of the entire IF.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 29, 2005, 12:24:45 PM

Quote
OK,
First the diagnosis was given to Spiridovitch, in 1909, by M. X., the un-named Russian Medical professor. That paragraph about the removal of Anya V. is NOT Spiridovitch's editorial comment, it is a direct statment made by Dr. Fischer after examing Alexandra.

The diagnosis essentially says that Alexandra was by this time very neurotic.  Dr. Fischer seemed to think that Vyrubova encouraged her neuroses, rather than helped abate them.  As we can see from later events, this was indeed the case.


Thank you. It makes perfect sense to me that he would recommend the removal of Anya V. IMO, that was an unhealthy relationship and could have indeed fostered Alexandra's illness.  Maybe it was co-dependant. It seems to me that M.X. saw that the realtionship was unhealthy and concluded that Alexandra would be better served with Anya. gone.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 29, 2005, 12:37:51 PM
In order to achieve SOME degree of continuity, perhaps members who contributed to the earlier attempt to analyse the legacies - physical and mental - and the role which her own health played in the destiny of Alexandra Feodorovna, might wish to transfer their posts on to this thread.

I'll kick off with my endeavours -

(P.1 - 24th August at 7.36a.m.)  

I agree with Helen and bluetoria - labels are dangerous... and the STICK.

I also agree this is an area worthy of discussion, if for no other reason but to sift out fact from fiction.

Alexandra was a victim.   And, in the end, an ultimate victim.   Not to be overlooked, she was also a victim of Bolshevik propaganda.

Perhaps the best place to begin with this thread, is just there - at the beginning.

The relationship between her parents.   Her mother's own 'problems' - could there be a legacy there?

The sudden death of her little brother and the overwhelming Victorian morbidity which ensued.

The death of her sister immediately followed upon by that of her beloved mother..  The following imposed destruction of so many remaining physical securities - known and loved toys, clothes, books, cards, letters and photographs.   She watched these burn.   The reactive, overbearing grief of her grandmother (who seemed almost to obtain some pleasure out of the process of 'grieving').   The fact that a once 'Sunny' and smiling child was seldom seen to smile spontaneously again.

Brought up by a single parent... her father!

The youngest of four sisters.

Were the lacerations of both her legs significant in her, later, never ending back and leg problems?

A few thoughts...


(P.1 - 24th August @ 11.45a.m.)

There was a huge gulf between Princess Alice and her husband - certainly intellectually.   Alice was not slow in reminding Louis of this.   She began a tradition (one of many) - maintained by her daughter, Alix.   When Louis went off to war she bombarded him, daily, with letters.   The poor man made an effort to respond, but somehow this was never good enough for Alix.   I recall one letter where she wrote to the effect - 'Just write.   It doesn't matter what ... rubbish will do.'

There was also the fact that they were constantly hard up - by royal standards.   It was Alice' mother, Queen Victoria, and not her husband, who provided the capital for their new home, who provided the capital for her new home in Darmstadt.   When Louis inherited the title and Alice became first lady, what did she do when she felt, as she frquently did, 'overwhelmed'?...   She took to her bed.

Tensions such as these must have manifested themselves within the family unit.   Why was it the other siblings were, apparently, less affected than Alicky?   Probably they were blessed with less sensitive, better to say different, natures.

We must also bear in mind one of Princess Alice' major influences.   David Strauss.   Did he pave the way for other gentlemen who, decades later, entered and impinged their influences on the thoughts, and life, of her daughter?

Louis must have felt completely out of his depth in the company of a wife who, for example, played four hands, one piano with no lesser mortal than Johannes Brahmns.

From earliest childhood Alix, in common with her sisters, was urged to 'serve'.  Sewing and embroidery = 'working'.
At a very early age, Alix was first introduced to those 'in need' and to the whole concept of service.

However, I do feel the atmosphere of doom and gloom must have left an indelible mark.   On the family's last holiday together - probably the one and only 'true' holiday of sand and sandcastles:  paddling and skimming stones:  shrimping in rockpools and donkey rides along the beach - even this was blighted by tragedy.

A Thames pleasure steamer - Princess Alice - named in Alice's honour, sank swiftly in the river with huge loss of life.

Alice despaired.   Not only for those who lost their lives and for their loved ones.   She saw this as an omen.   She believed it presaged disaster and, with her fateful nature, probably regarded it as a presentiment of her own death.   She was correct.   The Thames tragedy occured in the September.   By December, she was dead.

Atmospheres and influences such as those outlined above, must have left a profound mark on the psyche of the young, troubled, lonely, insecure 'Sunny'.

It is my contention that Alix strove to follow in her, undoubtedly talented, caring and gifted mother's footsteps... to her own detriment.   She wanted to be the mother she had lost.

Perhaps others who feel that the influences inherited and absorbed along with the upheavals experienced throughout her infancy, childhood, pubescence and teenage years were powerful contributors to the health issues which dogged Alexandra when she was thrust into the unforgiving limelight as the Empress of Russia, will put forward their opinions.

tsaria

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Louis_Charles on August 29, 2005, 12:41:43 PM
Quote
Thank you. It makes perfect sense to me that he would recommend the removal of Anya V. IMO, that was an unhealthy relationship and could have indeed fostered Alexandra's illness.  Maybe it was co-dependant. It seems to me that M.X. saw that the realtionship was unhealthy and concluded that Alexandra would be better served with Anya. gone.



In hindsight, she might have been. The relationship with Vyrubova was certainly fraught with neuroses far beyond those one might meet in a normal friendship. Alexandra regarded her almost as another daughter, but she was also jealous of Anna's feelings for Nicholas. One sees a lot of this in her correspondence, i.e. the constant demand to be the center of the world for her intimates. One of the symptoms of this, to me at any rate, is her firm insistence that the four girls be sequestered from contact with most of the outside world. By all reports the girls were immature for their ages, and Alexandra seems to have ignored this, along with social behavior on the part of the children that merited reproof. Most of her maternal drive seems to have been directed inward. By that I mean that she enjoyed the power associated with motherhood to an extent that prevented her from making the transition to being the mother of adults, which at least Tatiana and Olga were by 1918. It is as though she defined herself as a private person to the exclusion of any larger public role, a fatal mistake if you are the Empress of Russia.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tsarfan on August 29, 2005, 06:27:33 PM
Quote
It is as though she defined herself as a private person to the exclusion of any larger public role, a fatal mistake if you are the Empress of Russia.


I think that is the nub of it.  Alexandra was clearly a woman to be pitied, beset by a host of very real symptoms, some perhaps with origins both emotional as well as physical.

But the traumas she suffered were not unique to monarchs, including some of the most illustrious in western history.

Frederick the Great was forced as a teenager to watch his best friend (and probable lover) be beheaded.  He was publically insulted and bullied by a cruel father who had no end but to crush his son's identity.

Catherine the Great was uprooted from a secure family and transported to Russia, where she was expected to breed with a sadistic imbecile who eventually threatened her very life.  When she finally had a son, he was wrested from her care and turned into state property.

As a small child, Peter the Great saw his mother's relatives tossed over a balcony onto upturned spikes.  He then reigned for some years under the regency of a half-sister whom he probably suspected was capable of putting him away, perhaps even by murder.

Louis XIV lost his father at age five.  Shortly afterward, he and his mother had to flee for their lives from a rebellious cabal.  In later life, he watched one heir after another die off.

Elizabeth I lost her mother to the axe and was herself imprisoned under suspicion of treason by a half-sister who had every reason to want her dead.  She was reviled by half of Europe as a bastard and the daughter of a witch and spent much of her life surrounded by plots to undo her.

Even Nicholas II as a child watched his grandfather die in a pool of blood and later was on board a train that terrorists blew up in an attempt to murder his whole family.  As a young man he was almost murdered by a Japanese fanatic.

Alexandra's childhood and subsequent life were certainly less than ideal.  But to me, the crux of it all is less the nature of the adversity she suffered and more her exaggerated reaction to it.  She probably would have difficulty pursuing a moderately-stressful professional career in today's world.  She was certainly far too fragile a creature to wear the crown of Russia.  In this she reminds me of another strain of monarch -- among which are Elizabeth of Austria and Ludwig of Bavaria.



Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 29, 2005, 07:55:37 PM
Here is how Anya V described her relationship with Alexandra:
"Another thing that brought us close to each other were the Tsarina's children. And when after my divorce I was invited to serve in the Palace again my first joy was to visit the nursery. I didn't serve for money and I must say I was for the Empress her child and her sister at the same time; we became very close friends. I was 12 years her junior."

This quotes were taken form her memoirs that are posted on this forum.


"The Empress used to tell me that her best memories of the happiest days of her life are associated with Finland. I never doubted that she was telling the truth - her life was usually very hard."
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on August 29, 2005, 08:45:35 PM
Beginning my research on Princess Alice.

Princess Alice, Alix's mother, bore three daughters before she produced her first son, Ernst Ludwig.
Her next son was Frittie the hemophiliac.  Next was Alix and then May.

A kind of pattern must have been evident to Alix as she bore four daughters before her only son who was a hemophiliac.

So now we have both Alice and Alix marrying "behind a coffin" (Alice married six months after Albert's death and Alix only about a month after Alexander III)

And then both mother and daughter had many girls before the long awaited male heir.

Next, I am going into Alice and her reaction to death.  That of her father and her two young children.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on August 29, 2005, 08:54:13 PM
Quote

The diagnosis essentially says that Alexandra was by this time very neurotic.  Dr. Fischer seemed to think that Vyrubova encouraged her neuroses, rather than helped abate them.  As we can see from later events, this was indeed the case.


This is very interesting to learn.  I never knew that Vyroubova had such a negative impact personally, on Empress Alexandra. I am well aware of how much Vyroubova was disliked by almost everyone else, but all I'd ever read was how she was described as overweight, unattractive, unintelligent, tasteless, etc.  -- in short, someone utterly unfit to be a confidant of an Empress from the point of view of society.

But I never knew there was this other component -- this encouragment of Alexandra's neuroses.  Very interesting.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 30, 2005, 12:01:36 AM
I have been thinking about M.X. suffestion that Anya was part of Alexandra's problem. It sound to me like it was a co-dependent relationship. I don't know how much was known about codependency back then.  I did some research and these are the characteristics I found of codependency.
People who are codependent:
have trouble saying no.
have trouble asking for help.
tailor their actions and conversation around getting attention and approval from others
feel inferior to others/hold a lot of self-doubt.
have high expectations from others, most especially from significant others, and usually get highly angry or irritated when they don't meet those expectations.
focus a lot of mental time and attention on other people, especially significant others.
have difficulty maintaining a stable relationship with a partner.
be in and out of highly volatile (big ups and downs) relationships.
be uncomfortable when not in a relationship.
be frequently depressed.
I have no idea how many of those characteristics either of these two women possessed. I do know that people can recover from codependency. So perhaps had Anya left the court, Alexandra's mental health would have improved.
One web site http://www.allaboutcounseling.com/codependency.htm said codependency  is a dysfunctional pattern of living and problem solving developed during childhood by family rules.  
It also says "One of many definitions of codependency is: a set of *maladaptive, *compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive in a family which is experiencing *great emotional pain and stress."
I am anxious to learn more about her childhood and see what we can fin
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 30, 2005, 05:50:17 AM
Although the Empress' relationship with Mme Vyroubova is well down the line in terms of her mental and physical health issues, it is probably worthwhile, since the subject is under discussion, making a few points on the tensions which eventually manifested themselves between Anya Vyroubova and Alexandra.  

Firstly it was Orlov who Anya Tanieva wanted to marry.   Alexandra intervened (there were those - still are - who believed the Empress herself had a bit of a 'crush' on Count Alexander Orlov).  

It was Alexandra, personally, who then directed Anya towards the disastrous marriage with Vyroubov.   Alexandra felt responsible for Anya's misery.   This 'guilt', in part, may have contributed to their association developing from that of Empress and maid of honour to warm acquaintance, and then to an intense, intimate friendship.  

It was on holiday in Livadia that this friendship was to change and change forever.   This probably stemmed from Alexandra feeling Anya had by now become rather over-familiar to the point of having a 'crush' on Nicholas.   Anya had certainly become quite proprietorial towards the Emperor.   This is witnessed in the Empress' letters of that time.

Although there was a rapprochement after Anya was almost killed in the rail crash, the relationship had changed.    During her convalescence at the Alexander Palace, Anya became like a fifth daughter.   (Don't forget Anya Vyroubova virtually replaced Princess Sonia Orbeliani - Alexandra's previous maid of honour/friend/companion who tragically died from 'creeping paralysis' and who Alexandra had 'nursed' for many years.)  

Alexandra was a woman who needed to be needed.   Difficult to mix this with the role of Empress of all the Russias.  

I think Alexandra was probably more comfortable with this new relationship.   She catered for Anya's every whim and, although dreadfully injured, I do think Anya probably milked this for all she could.   She certainly did when she had measles at the same time as Alexandra's own children, demanding even more of the Empress' time and attention during a period of the utmost mental and physical stress for Alexandra - the death of Rasputin, fear for the lives of her children, the abdication crisis and the enforced separation from Nicholas.  

I think this gives one the measure of either Anya Vyroubova's childlikeness or of her total selfishness.   To make such demands on her friend and Empress, a woman who was living a life of overwhelming fear and on a woman who had more than her own share of health issues, was totally selfish.  There was plenty staff in the Alexander Palace to care for Anya Vyroubova's nursing needs.   But no, only the Empress was good enough for Anya.  

I was shocked when I read Anya's deposition to the Bolsheviks during her imprisonment in the Peter and Paul Fortress.   She said everything that would spare herself while, at the same time, showing absolutely no loyalty towards the deposed Nicholas and Alexandra.
(Unfortunately I loaned the book containing this transcript to a friend, who not only did not return it, but when I asked her for it back, maintained she had never heard of it!)

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Forum Admin on August 30, 2005, 09:08:09 AM
Don't feel too bad Tsaria, you can read her deposition on the AP main web site any time you want!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 30, 2005, 09:37:29 AM
Thanks Forum Admin.   What does this say for my powers of observation?  

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: ChristineM on August 31, 2005, 04:36:28 AM
This is an entirely different work to the one to which I referred, Forum Admin.   What I read was a book, purchased in St Petersburg about 12 or 13 years ago, written in Russian.   It was a direct transcript of the deposition made by Anya Vyroubova to her Bolshevik interrogators.

OK, one has to bear in mind the woman was in genuine fear for her life.   But she showed not one bit of sympathy or support for the family who had loved and cared for her - in some style, though she repeatedly complained about that - for many years.   Quite the reverse.   She cut them loose.   It was also in total contradiction to the fawning memoirs she wrote later.   There is a huge element of 'Poor Me' mentality about Anya Vyroubova.  

However, the reasons why Alexandra should choose a character such as that of Anya Vyroubova as her closest personal friend, deserve exploration.   Therein we will find indications and explanations as to the Empress' state of mind.

What a contrast there was between Anya Vyroubova and the Empress' other friend, Lili Dehn.    Lili Dehn was a friend indeed when the Empress was in need.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: bluetoria on August 31, 2005, 05:13:17 AM
Quote
"Here is the report given to me on this subject by M. X. one of the most celebrated Russian professors who was completely up to date on the state of the Empress's health.....  
      "In the female line, this heredity is manifested in other forms. The Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodrovna was a sick woman.
      


I know this is off topic of Alexandra but the statement about Ella is rather vague and I would like to know more exactly what the author meant. I know Ella suffered from various hereditary maladies (gout, rheumatism etc.) but she herself said these didn't bother her. Towards the end of her life, she did look very ill (unsurprisingly) but considering the amount of work she undertook and the number of journeys she made across Russia, she probably would hardly have described herself as 'a sick woman.'

Ok, back to Alexandra!  :)
The 'malign' influence of Anna is fascinating and totally new to me. As tsaria said, this is rather low down on the list of the causes of the Empress's illnesses, and from what I have read here, it seems as though Anna aggravated rather than caused any illness. It always struck me as very odd the way that Anna 'pretended' to be infatuated by Nicholas and Alix encouraged this, while complaining of it. It seems like so much attention-seeking on Anna's part and I agree with tsaria that she was a very selfish woman who had no real thought for the real needs of the Empress. She seemed to gloat over the way that Alix broke off her 'friendship' with Ella, as though Anna - like Alix herself - wanted to be the only other adult in Alix's life. It is rather parasitical, isn't it?

With regard to Alix's early childhood, I think that Princess Alice's increasing bouts of depression and physical illness (she had various gynaecological disorders as well as the problemswith her eyes, fatigue etc.) did 'pave the way' for Alix's own behaviour with her children. Their letters to her are so often filled with sympathy for her illness - and this also reminds me very much of QV's style of writing in that she seemed to revel in gloom and morbid thoughts of people who had died.
Having said that, though, I believe that until Princess Alice's death, there was probably not a happier household among the royalties of Europe. The accounts of the children's high spirits are many, and their lives were far less fraught than those of many of their cousins. Even after their mother's death, the elder Hessian girls seem to have enjoyed a good many happy times and I fear there is a danger of over-emphasising the gloom which descended upon Darmstadt.

Without overlooking Alix's emotional and psychological problems, I should find it interesting perhaps to concentrate first on the physical childhood illnesses and then, perhaps, tracing them to psychological origins (as, I believe, most illnesses can be traced somewhere along the line to psychological origins, so this does not make Alix any different from the rest of us).

Please does anyone have any more information about whether or not Alix did indeed contract scarlet fever as a child....as was suggested (and mentioned on the other thread) by Richard Hough?


Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Forum Admin on August 31, 2005, 09:45:34 AM
Tsaria,
That is my translation from the French volume of the Russian one you had. We have the same book you did, in French.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: lexi4 on August 31, 2005, 11:57:15 PM
Thank you for clearing that up FA.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: isabel on September 27, 2005, 06:15:23 AM
About Alix illnesses. It´s long but i think it´s interesting. It´s from Purple Secret, genes, madness and the royal Houses of Europe"

O, if you knew, how hard Mama´s illness is four us to bear..- Grand Duchess Tatiana to Grigory Rasputin.

As Nicholas II later recorded in his diary, even as a young girl she was easily tired and the victim of various unaccountable pains. Her condition took a distinct turn for worse in 1892, when she was just twenty, on the sudden death of her beloved father the Grand Duke. The shock of his death and anxiety about her own and her young brother´s future brought her to the edge of a nervous breakdown and she had to be sent to the spa Bad Schwalbach in the Taunus Mountains. After the death of her father, she developed "sciatica" with severe pain in  the back and legs wich returned at intervals throughout the next ten years or so.

Queen Victoria sent the Tsarevich the doctor´s report according to which Alicky "requires great quiet and rest...and also a strict regime of life as well as diet".

Soon after their marriage, Nicholas was complaining that his wife was spending a great deal of her time in bed and living in seclusion, unable to come down for meals. In these early years, visitors were shocked by the nervous condition of the Empress, who seemed to experience physical pain whenever she met anyone she did not know well. Count Alexei Ignatyev recorded in his memoirs that: "I noticed that her face had become covered with unattractive red blotches". Prince Volkonsky said about her: "Painfully shy, could only squeeze a word out with difficulty, her face becoming suffused with red blotches.

Such red skin blotches, have come to recognize as a symptom of variegate porphyria, the granddaughter of Dr. Botkin tell that the fact that Empress and Anna Anderson manifested red skin blotches, played a key part in convincing her family that Anna Anderson was who she claimed to be, the lost Grand Duchess Anastasia.

The sciatica and weakness of the legs which had come on before her marriage continued to be a major problem throughout her reign, becoming worse with time and making walking a torment.In the final years of her life she was barely able to walk at all.

It is important to note that she was capable when it was required of her of heroic efforts to attend her sick child, visit hospitals with her daugthers and assist the wounded soldiers returning from the front.

In 1909 the Tzar wrote to his mother:"Alix...is feeling better these days...It is very important for her to get better, for her own sake and the children´s and mine. I am completely run down mentally by worrying over her health".

Alexandra suffered from pain not only in the legs and back, she continued to complain of headaches and neck and chest pains, swollen feet and painful teeth, which her dentist at times needed to treat daily or even several times a day.. From 1908 onwards she put on weight and seemed to have aged prematurely, she felt herself growing weaker not only physically but emotionally too.

She became addicted to Veronal, a sedative drug based on barbituric acid once admitting. Nicotine was another false friend to whom she turned in desperation. "I came home and then i couldn´t stand it, i burst into tears, prayed, lay down and smoked to set myself right."

Did this granddaughter of Queen Victoria´s have variegate porphuria, too, like her Aunt Vicky, her cousin Charlotte, and her niece Feodora? Was that inherited metobolic disorder the cause of the terrible suffering which overshadowed her life and that of her husband and children in the final doomed decades of the Romanov empire?

Many of the symptoms which began to show themselves soon after her twentieth birthday are certainly consistent with such a diagnosis: the pain in her legas and back, her lameness, the neuralgia in her face, neck and eyes, the abdominal pain, her shortness of breath and blue lips, her racing pulse and palpitations, the periodic outbreak of red blotches on her face, neck, arms and hands, her hypersensitivity to sound, and her evident mental and emotional disturbance.

Clearly, though the balance of probabilities must be that she had indeed inherited that faulty gene in addition to the gene for haemophilia, more hard evidence is needed even in her case to arrive at a firm diagnosis.



Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Dasha on September 27, 2005, 10:20:03 AM
Isabel, that was very informative.  After reading what you posted, I started to wonder what toll Alix's health problems took on Nikolai.  It's very hard to watch someone you love suffer and not to be able to help.  Add to that the ordeal of running a country, and you got yourself a very stressed man indeed. Their marriage, as happy as it may have seen must have had a lot of strain.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tsarfan on September 27, 2005, 12:14:57 PM
Quote
About Alix illnesses. It´s long but i think it´s interesting. It´s from Purple Secret, genes, madness and the royal Houses of Europe"


Isabel, this is an extremely enlightening quote.

It triggers a discussion which might more properly belong on any one of several other threads ("Was Nicholas to Blame," "Alexandra:  Russia's Worst Nightmare," Negative Attributes of Nicholas," "Negative Attributes of Alexandra", to name but a few).  But since this thread also encompasses the effects of Alexandra's illnesses, I'll post my thoughts here:

Let's assume for the moment that all these symptoms were present in Alexandra (and I, for one, think they were).

The citation seems to indicate that Nicholas knew he was seeking to marry a woman who, at age 20, was already in a fragile state of health . . . not to mention the hemophilia that was known to run in her family.  Yet he was willing to press upon her a crown that carried very heavy public duties.

The citation reinforces discussions we've had elsewhere that Alexandra's health was a burden and a distraction to Nicholas, particularly in times when the plight of his nation was in dire need of his undivided attention.

As a person, Alexandra is to be pitied for the state of her health.

But the huge question for me is why Nicholas, knowing his wife's condition to be what it was, left the government in her hands when he went to Stavka from 1915 - 1917.  Most rulers, knowing their spouses to be ill and overwrought by public duties, would have relied on ministers and the other institutions of royal government to fulfill this role.  Why did Nicholas pick one of the most unsuitable regents in the annals of royal history to play such a critical role, especially in Russia's darkest hour?

What was going on between those two that made it seem reasonable to Nicholas to put a sick, stressed out, widely-detested, emotionally-drained semi-invalid with a sick child at the helm of his government?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on September 27, 2005, 12:43:02 PM
Quote
About Alix illnesses. It´s long but i think it´s interesting. It´s from Purple Secret, genes, madness and the royal Houses of Europe"

O, if you knew, how hard Mama´s illness is four us to bear..- Grand Duchess Tatiana to Grigory Rasputin.

Queen Victoria sent the Tsarevich the doctor´s report according to which Alicky "requires great quiet and rest...and also a strict regime of life as well as diet".



If the Queen was sending the Tsarevich such a report, presumably as a warning that Alix might be a bad choice for Empress because of her health, then why recommend her has as a possible wife for Prince Eddy?  That doesn't make sense.  Unless the Queen wasn't aware of the health problems at the time of the suggested marriage between Alix and Eddy -- but that seems unlikely.  

It would be very interesting to see this report, if it really exists.  

The only other thing I would add is there is still much debate about Prophyria and whether it existed in the royal family or not.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Elisabeth on September 27, 2005, 12:50:42 PM
Quote
But the huge question for me is why Nicholas, knowing his wife's condition to be what it was, left the government in her hands when he went to Stavka from 1915 - 1917.  Most rulers, knowing their spouses to be ill and overwrought by public duties, would have relied on ministers and the other institutions of royal government to fulfill this role.  Why did Nicholas pick one of the most unsuitable regents in the annals of royal history to play such a critical role, especially in Russia's darkest hour?

What was going on between those two that made it seem reasonable to Nicholas to put a sick, stressed out, widely-detested, emotionally-drained semi-invalid with a sick child at the helm of his government?


The short answer is because Alexandra was the only person Nicholas trusted. Her political views were in close, perhaps even complete harmony with his own. Which is another reason why I find these discussions of Alexandra's "culpability" in bringing about the revolution pretty much beside the point, since ultimately every administrative decision made was Nicholas's and Nicholas's alone. There's no evidence whatsoever that Nicholas really disagreed with Alexandra on key issues.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Tsarfan on September 27, 2005, 02:23:08 PM
Quote
The short answer is because Alexandra was the only person Nicholas trusted. Her political views were in close, perhaps even complete harmony with his own.


But did Alexandra's views naturally align with Nicholas' views, or was she instrumental in forming his views?

On another thread, I quoted the memoires of the head of Nicholas' secretariat in which it was observed that Alexandra's views were more reactionary than Nicholas'.  Where she could have been a support to him in bolstering his resolve in his own opinions, she instead led him down more and more counterproductive paths.

The imperial family, who had both information and opportunities to observe that we will never have, felt that Alexandra played a significant role behind the scenes in influencing Nicholas.  Wasn't that the whole point of Ella's visit to Tsarkoye Sleo just before the revolution and in Sandro's famous bedroom visit?

Certainly Alexandra became the only person Nicholas trusted.  But the real question is why was there no one else in Russia whom he could trust?  Was Russia really totally devoid of intelligent, trained officials who were loyal to the monarchy and interested in seeing Russia prevail in WWI?  Was the Romanov clan so devoid of people who could sympathize with Nicholas' viewpoint?

If no one in all of Russia could be called upon to assist Nicholas in pursuing his policies but his ill wife, no wonder there was a revolution.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: isabel on September 27, 2005, 03:13:12 PM
I don´t think that Queen Victoria thought that Alix´s illnesses was an impediment to be an Empress, not at all,... if she sent to Nicholas the doctor´s report was because she wanted him to take care of her, after Alix´s mother´s death, Queen Victoria was a little her substitute, she always had an specialy look for the Hessian children.

At this time is true that Alix began to suffer from sciatica and other several pains but it was the begining, and i think that no one supposed that this pains were beeing to increase with the years. Also, it´s very probably that they attributed her melancholie and emotional disorder to the death of her beloved father, no more.

I continue to belive that neither Alix or Nicholas were informed about the true tragic risk of haemophilia, but only about an strange disease of blood.

About Nicholas...i am agree with Tsarfan, it´s very courious that knowing Alix´s illnesses (physical and emotional), leaved on  her shoulders the weigh of the Empire.

About this, .....there exist some studies of Alexandra´s personality, it would be very interesting to see some informs about Nicholas personality too.

In my opinion both, Nicholas and Alexandra, were very similars in many aspects of their carachteres, if one of the two would have had a more strong charactere, if one of them would pushed the other to be not so close, things would be turned differents. Perhaps.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: RichC on September 27, 2005, 05:04:26 PM
Quote
I don´t think that Queen Victoria thought that Alix´s illnesses was an impediment to be an Empress, not at all,... if she sent to Nicholas the doctor´s report was because she wanted him to take care of her, after Alix´s mother´s death, Queen Victoria was a little her substitute, she always had an specialy look for the Hessian children.


But Alix's illnesses were an impediment to being a (good) Empress, weren't they?  Isn't that the supposition we are going on?  If this report was real, and Queen Victoria saw it, I fail to see how should could have thought otherwise.  The Queen, for all her own set of personality flaws, was a shrewd judge of character.  

It would be interesting to see this medical report; does anyone know anything more about it?  Does the book you reference have any notes or bibliographical information about it?

Quote
About this, .....there exist some studies of Alexandra´s personality, it would be very interesting to see some informs about Nicholas personality too.


It would be really interesting to see the one's about Alexandra.

Quote
In my opinion both, Nicholas and Alexandra, were very similars in many aspects of their carachteres, if one of the two would have had a more strong charactere, if one of them would pushed the other to be not so close, things would be turned differents. Perhaps.


I have always thought Nicholas and Alexandra had vastly different characters, with Alexandra having had a much stronger and forceful personality.  She spoke her mind, had no problem telling people what to do (or where to get off) (remember her "lady of the house" letter to Marie Pavlovna?).  By all accounts Nicholas was never like this.  

I have been reading Prince Wolkonski's memoirs and he mentions how Nicholas (remember, we are talking about the Tsar of Russia here) was unable even to bring himself to ask the Prince (to his face) to substitute one ballerina for another (Kchessinska was insisting that she be given a part that had been assigned to another ballerina) for a particular ballet -- and instead had someone else do it just a day or two after the Tsar had seen Wolkonski himself.  
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: aleksandra on September 27, 2005, 05:47:24 PM
Also her grandmothers death along with her fathers.
can I try to redo that list.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on September 28, 2005, 07:45:15 AM
Quote
Massie goes on to say:
"In modern medical terminology, the Empress Alexandra undoubtedly was suffeing from psychosomatic anxiety symptoms brought on by worry over the health of her son." (again no source cited.
 


Even though Massie stated no source here, I think he is right- from all looks of it Alix had classic symptoms of anxiety disorder, and later a severe anxiety disorder, which is not really unusual and from which millions of people suffer. Obviously Massie couldn't give a contemporary source, since I don't think they would have diagnosed her with it back then, but they almost certainly would have today. I don't think her anxiety  was only over her son's hemophilia, it was general as well (before that she had anxiety over not having a son), but this was the factor that made it much worse and this was mostly what she fixated on later in life(understandably so). IMO, it was not really anything more sinister than that, but because of her position, her disorder  had a much more intense  impact than anyone else's anxiety disorder would have, and of course was much more noticed.

Alexandra's condition became worse as time went by, both internal and external factors exacerbated it, as is often the case. And as time went by, her behavior became more and more controlling, which is also very common. When she felt she lost control over certain things in her life, like her son's disease and the fact that she knew he could die at any moment, her anxiety understandably kept escalating, and in an attempt to alleviate some of it she "overcontrolled" other situations in her life, like her husband's behavior, etc.

P.S. Often depression goes along with the anxiety disorder, and Alix seems to have suffered from depression as well - when she spent long periods of time in bed even when she wasn't ill - which is one of the symptoms of depression. She also seemed to have suffered from occasional panic attacks, hence the "red blotches" on her face, they may have been related to social anxiety. All these are classic symptoms that often go together, and if this was indeed the disorder she had, it would have been very easily treated today, but not back then...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: isabel on September 29, 2005, 03:29:14 PM
About the doctor´s report concerning Alexandra, i don´t think that it exists, the book don´t gives more information about it.

The report was wrote during Ali´x staying in a spa, about 1984, shortly after her engagement to Nicholas.

After the death of her father Alix was sent to Bad Schwalbach in the Taunus Mountains, the same spa wich later treated her niece Feodora, after this ,Queen Victoria, whose favourite granddaughter she was, took her on a tour of the mining towns of Wales and up to Balmoral, but with indifferent results. In the following winter she fell ill with an inflammation of the ears, and was sent with her brother to rest in Italy.

In April 1894, she wrote to the latter from Windsor Castle: "I shall do all in my power to get my legs in order till nest year, but it is not so easy".

In May of that year she was again packed off by her grandmother, this time to Harrogate, to take the sulphur water cure, the German spas she had tried haiving failed to bring relief. After Harrogate , the Queen sent the doctor´s report to Nicholas, i supose that it doesn´t exist, because it was not a so severe illness.

In Her Majesty´s opinion, "this ought to have been done a long time ago, but the family doctor (at Darmstadt)...is a stupid man, who never will do anything and says yes to all they (the family)ast. Last autumn and winter she ought to have done what she is doing now".

Alicky was visited in Yorkshire by her eldest sister Victoria of Battenberg, and together the two princesses had races in tricycle bath chairs "worked by a man sitting behind us". But even this diversion, the baths and the strict regime al Harrogate did little good, and after more than two weeks she was forced to admint that "as yet the pains are no better". After the cure the two sisters received a visit, from Nicky, though their romantic meeting on the banks of the Thames was a never to be forgotten delight, the Tsarevich recorded that his fiancee´s "sciatica" had not been banished at Harrogate. "What a pity that dear Alix cannot ride yet with us as she has just finished her cure and the pain in the legs endures", he noted.


On the voyage home he assured her"I suffered so for you, poor sweetie, when you had those awful pains in the legs". In mid-August her legs were still extremely painful. "So your poor leggies have again hurt you, very naughty of them, I wish I were there to have rubbed them".-Nicholas wrote.

Though she destroyed her correspondence with Queen Victoria after her abdication in 1917, the hundreds of rambling letters which Alesandra wrote to Nicholas, have survived and they are full or references to her failing health, as are the memoirs and letters left behind by diplomats and courtiers of pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: elfwine on October 23, 2005, 06:18:27 PM
Maybe someone has already mentioned this - but I read that Alexandra F had difficult pregnancies...Could her general immune system have been affected by this as well as worry, sciatica (spelling :-X) migraines and various nervous conditions?

elfwine
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Caleb on October 23, 2005, 09:32:10 PM
Quote
I don´t think that Queen Victoria thought that Alix´s illnesses was an impediment to be an Empress, not at all,... if she sent to Nicholas the doctor´s report was because she wanted him to take care of her, after Alix´s mother´s death, Queen Victoria was a little her substitute, she always had an specialy look for the Hessian children.

At this time is true that Alix began to suffer from sciatica and other several pains but it was the begining, and i think that no one supposed that this pains were beeing to increase with the years. Also, it´s very probably that they attributed her melancholie and emotional disorder to the death of her beloved father, no more.

I continue to belive that neither Alix or Nicholas were informed about the true tragic risk of haemophilia, but only about an strange disease of blood.

About Nicholas...i am agree with Tsarfan, it´s very courious that knowing Alix´s illnesses (physical and emotional), leaved on  her shoulders the weigh of the Empire.

About this, .....there exist some studies of Alexandra´s personality, it would be very interesting to see some informs about Nicholas personality too.

In my opinion both, Nicholas and Alexandra, were very similars in many aspects of their carachteres, if one of the two would have had a more strong charactere, if one of them would pushed the other to be not so close, things would be turned differents. Perhaps.

That's what I was thinking. But not only that, when people talk about Alexandra assisting Nicholas in ruling Russia in the time of WWI 1914-1917, people always talk about the bad outcome on Nicholas, politicaly, but I think it also took it's toll on Alexandra, but mostly physically & emotionally. I also have heard how hard it is being a parent, but imagine being a parent to 4 girls & a hemophiliac son, the sole heir to the Russian throne! Prince Nicholas Romanov & other historians have said that this destroyed Alexandra. I'm also wondering if the depression (which I'm sure she had) was not only conditional but hereditary.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Caleb on October 23, 2005, 09:36:45 PM
Quote

If the Queen was sending the Tsarevich such a report, presumably as a warning that Alix might be a bad choice for Empress because of her health, then why recommend her has as a possible wife for Prince Eddy?  That doesn't make sense.  Unless the Queen wasn't aware of the health problems at the time of the suggested marriage between Alix and Eddy -- but that seems unlikely.  
I'm also sure that had Queen Victoria known the pattern of hemophilia, I'm sure she woudn't have brought it up. Also what was the point in QV being so upset about Alix marrying Nicholas after Prince Eddy had died & Prince George had married Mary of Teck?
It would be very interesting to see this report, if it really exists.  

The only other thing I would add is there is still much debate about Prophyria and whether it existed in the royal family or not.

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Caleb on October 23, 2005, 09:39:15 PM
(Sorry!) I wonder if Queen Victoria had known the pattern of hemophilia, would she have pressured Alix to marry Eddy, namely because I think ther would have been a greater risk for hemophiliac children if Alix had married Eddy.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Helen_Azar on October 23, 2005, 10:31:03 PM
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I think ther would have been a greater risk for hemophiliac children if Alix had married Eddy.


Actually the risk would have been the same as having children with anyone else (25%) since Eddie was not a hemophiliac...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: isabel on October 24, 2005, 02:09:42 AM
I am totaly agree with Helen, Eddy would had the same risk if he would marry any grand daugther of QV. Also , Alix as carrier of haemophilia would had the same posibility to have haemophiliac children if she would married anyone else.

The destiny of the Romanov´s health only would change, if Nicholas would married another princess, Héléne of Orleans, for exemple.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Alixz on October 24, 2005, 07:06:33 AM
Every generation of QV's had sons who suffered from haemophilia and daughters who carried the gene.

QV had to know of the risks of every marriage of her children and grandchildren, not only to each other but into other royal families.

Yet is was never a deciding fator in the outcome of a royal proposal.  Alexandra of Demark married Bertie without qualms.

Many of QV's descendents married first cousins which can cause greater genetic problems than haemophilia and that didn't stop any of them either.

I agree that QV sent that report to Nicholas just to let him know that Alix needed "special" care and that he should know that he should give it to her.

But IMHO, I believe that is was Alix's mental illness more than her physical ones that dictated her actions and therefore the results of those actions.  I believe that some of her physical problems were generated by her mental illness.

Five pregnancies would help her to "put on weight" and also cause great strain.  Did they not know at that time that the sex of the baby is determined by the father, not the mother?  She seems to take that burden on herself, so she may not have known.

How much post-partum depression did she suffer from and for how long?

I don't like to defend Alix, I have never been a fan and I have always seen her as a selfish whiner.  Like a horse with the bit between her teeth, she ran amok and trampled everyone and everything in her way that did not please her.

I could go on and on, but in deference to other posters, I will not.  Sorry. :-X :-X :-X

But one more thing.  I have always almost felt a sad brittleness radiating from her photos and letters.  A brittleness that is so close to shattering.  How long can someone hold on to reality when life keeps throwing things at you that are not only bad, but worse and worse?  As much I have always thought that she caused many of her own problems, there were just some that no one could have forseen or been ready for.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: catt.sydney on November 10, 2005, 06:49:57 PM
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But IMHO, I believe that is was Alix's mental illness more than her physical ones that dictated her actions and therefore the results of those actions.  I believe that some of her physical problems were generated by her mental illness.

Five pregnancies would help her to "put on weight" and also cause great strain.  Did they not know at that time that the sex of the baby is determined by the father, not the mother?  She seems to take that burden on herself, so she may not have known.

How much post-partum depression did she suffer from and for how long?

I don't like to defend Alix, I have never been a fan and I have always seen her as a selfish whiner.  Like a horse with the bit between her teeth, she ran amok and trampled everyone and everything in her way that did not please her.

I could go on and on, but in deference to other posters, I will not.  Sorry. :-X :-X :-X

But one more thing.  I have always almost felt a sad brittleness radiating from her photos and letters.  A brittleness that is so close to shattering.  How long can someone hold on to reality when life keeps throwing things at you that are not only bad, but worse and worse?  As much I have always thought that she caused many of her own problems, there were just some that no one could have forseen or been ready for.


What a thoughtful remark!
These comments regarding both her mental and physical health are telling, and its only too bad that the Tsarina did not avail herself of the newly developed "talking cure" as popularized by the good doctors Freud and Jung.

I hope I am not being too forward -- this is my first posting here! :-[

thank you!
Catt
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: isabel on November 11, 2005, 02:21:56 AM
Welcome Cat, to the forum.

I am not sure, that Alix, realized that her mental health was not ok. Physically she was the eternal ill, but i belive that she tought, that she was tired or stressed , but not ill.

Regards
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on November 11, 2005, 12:22:12 PM
Hello.  This is my first post, so sorry if anything goes wrong.  I'm not the most computer literate person in the world!  ;)

I just wanted to add my two cents to the discussion.

I think that the medical report is very interesting in the respect that it gives a telling insight into the ignorance of medicine at the time, and Alexandra's own attitude towards her illnesses.   From my reading, and I may be wrong here, the doctor seems to be blaming Alexandra's problem on some sort of mutation of the haemophilia gene in women, which is obviously a ridiculous claim, but Alexandra also seems to have resigned herself to the fact that she was ill and didn't want to hear anything against it.  Maybe if she had have had a less sympathetic doctor, he would have realised that her symptoms were more mental than physical??

I agree with Robert Massie, who, to paraphrase, said that today Alexandra's symptoms would be taken as being psychosomatic.  Her red blotches occurred when she was nervous, and she had chest and stomach pains, as well as neuralgia, which can all be explained by extreme mental anxiety, which can, in some cases, cause physical pain.  Hence why some of us (like me) get stomach aches before exams, interviews and the like.

Judging by the immense morbidity and the unhealthy attitude towards death and grief surrounding her upbringing, it is unsurprising that Alexandra became a rather gloomy and depressed adult.  The immense stress of being the wife of an Emperor and the mother of a child with a painful and life threatening disease that she blamed herself for giving him, as well as the worry of living in and being the Empress of a country that she didn't know very well and in which she was not liked, would be a recipe for mental anguish in anyone.  

From my own research on members of the British Royal Family, Alexandra's mother Alice also suffered from nervous symptoms and found it difficult to cope with the stresses and strains of every day life.  She too took to her bed at the first sign of trouble. Alexandra may have inherited this disposition to become easily stressed and anxious, and when your life is stressful anyway, having a personality where you find stress difficult to cope with is going to cause you to find it much harder to cope than normal people, and so maybe elicit physical symptoms of that worry.  I imagine that Alexandra must never have had a day free from worry; I am sure that Alexei's illness was never far from her mind and constantly having to worry about something so important is going to take its toll on your mind and your health, no matter how strong you are.

It is interesting that porphyria came up as a possible cause of her illnesses; it has never been proven that it ever existed in the British Royal family, and besides, Alexandra was ill with something almost permanently; porphyria tends to be a disease that causes intermittent attacks rather than chronic ones.  But I may be wrong; I'm no expert.

Just my opinion.  It's interesting to read opinions of so many other people who research the Romanovs actively.  I thought I was a bit of a freak until I discovered these boards!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: David_Newell on November 11, 2005, 01:01:21 PM
I have always believed the AF may have suffered from porphyria it fits all the symtoms she had. And there are different severities of the illness

Just a thought

David Newell, London
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health
Post by: rskkiya on November 12, 2005, 12:09:22 PM
Quote

But IMHO, I believe that is was Alix's mental illness more than her physical ones that dictated her actions and therefore the results of those actions.  I believe that some of her physical problems were generated by her mental illness.

Five pregnancies would help her to "put on weight" and also cause great strain.  Did they not know at that time that the sex of the baby is determined by the father, not the mother?  She seems to take that burden on herself, so she may not have known.

How much post-partum depression did she suffer from and for how long?

I don't like to defend Alix, I have never been a fan and I have always seen her as a selfish whiner.  Like a horse with the bit between her teeth, she ran amok and trampled everyone and everything in her way that did not please her.

I could go on and on, but in deference to other posters, I will not.  Sorry. :-X :-X :-X

But one more thing.  I have always almost felt a sad brittleness radiating from her photos and letters.  A brittleness that is so close to shattering.  How long can someone hold on to reality when life keeps throwing things at you that are not only bad, but worse and worse?  As much I have always thought that she caused many of her own problems, there were just some that no one could have forseen or been ready for.


   The notion of post partum depression as well as any other mental/physical conditions is something that we will never be able to completely verify.
   People [women especially] were often kept shockingly ignorant of their own /mental conditions even into the 1930s. It's just possible that Alix didn't know [or didn't WANT to know] about her own condition.

Mr Newell,
I don't know if Alix suffered from Porphyria (sp). Its a good question, though. Maybe other posters would have some idea about this.

8)