Author Topic: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2  (Read 65180 times)

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Offline anna11

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Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« on: November 13, 2005, 07:02:41 AM »
So, it is commonly said that Alexandra was a bit mentally insane. But the thing is, I dont think she was.
And the main argument is what happened with Rasputin during the war.

What do other people think?
« Last Edit: May 06, 2011, 11:44:14 AM by Alixz »


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Offline Ra-Ra-Rasputin

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2005, 07:27:17 AM »
No, I don't think she was a 'nutcase' or 'insane'.  She has been very badly misrepresented throughout history by those wanting to put the blame on her shoulders for the downfall of the Romanov dynasty.

Alexandra was a shy, nervous person as a result of her upbringing.  She was surrounded by death and grief, both at home, after the death of first her brother Frittie and then her mother and sister May, and also at her grandmother Queen Victoria's, where she often stayed. She rarely laughed after the death of her mother, and withdrew into herself and into religion.  She was not suited to the role of Empress of the largest and richest empire in the world, and it didn't help that her mother in law Empress Marie was adored by the people and a much more outgoing and personable personality than herself.

So, firstly, she was under the immense strain of having to be the consort of an autocratic monarch, being on show the whole time and expected to live up to the example of her mother in law, who had a completely different personality to her.  Secondly, she knew she was not liked at court and amongst the public, and her lack of skill in speaking French and Russian, the languages of court and the people, alienated her.

Thirdly, she was under intense pressure to produce an heir, which it took her ten years and four daughters to do.  This made her even more unpopular amongst the public, and the family, as her sister in law Xenia managed to produce 6 strapping sons in the same time period.  When her son was finally born, he suffered from an incurable and potentially fatal disease that she had given him, causing her to worry every day for the rest of her life over his health and the impact his death would have on the family and Russia as a whole.

Imagine being in that position.  Plus, Alexandra suffered from constant (possibly psychosomatically induced) pain, which made her bedridden and depressed a lot of the time.  She was deeply religious, and she believed that Rasputin would be able to help cure Alexei.  Watching your son in such intense pain and not being able to do anything about it is going to do something to you, and unsurprisingly Alexandra turned desperately to whoever could help.  When Rasputin appeared to ease Alexei's suffering, she latched on to him and would not listen to any of the damaging rumours circulating about him and his relationship with her.

The bottom line is, Alexandra had a very difficult life.  She may have been rich and lived in opulent splendour, but she was forced into a public role she was not physically or mentally capable of fulfilling with ease, and she was also permanently worried over the health of her son.  She was not mad, just a desperate woman looking for anyone who could help her son.  Because the Russian public did not know about Alexei's illness, they jumped to the conclusion that Alexandra was having an affair.  Also, her inability to run the state while Nicholas was away and trusting in Rasputin's advice rather than ministers is also used as 'proof' that she was mad.  I prefer 'lacking in experience'.  Alexandra trusted Rasputin because she believed in him and his powers, and I don't think she really had anyone else to turn to.  Nicholas' family were not supportive of her, and she didn't trust the ministers because she thought they were conspiring against Nicholas and wanted to take away his absolute power.

People forget that Alexandra was a product of a closeted upbringing, a world where she was not needed to be practical or have knowledge of politics or policy.  She knew nothing about the people of Russia or their needs; that is evident from her diary entries.  She simply could not grasp or understand a life outside of her own.  She lived in isolation at Tsarskoe Selo and anything that was unpleasant she simply pretended didn't exist.  She wasn't mad, she was just didn't have enough knowledge of the real world to make her understand what was really going on.  Her ignorance and desperation to help her son is what people construe as madness.  

That's my opinion, anyway.

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Offline Sarushka

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2005, 07:47:23 AM »
Have a look at this thread, too. It's got lots of good info on how her health & mental state combined to make life as empress *rather* difficult...

Causes & effects of Alexandra's Illnesses
THE LOST CROWN: A Novel of Romanov Russia -- now in paperback!
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rskkiya

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2005, 08:34:41 AM »
Quote
No, I don't think she was a 'nutcase' or 'insane'.  She has been very badly misrepresented throughout history by those wanting to put the blame on her shoulders for the downfall of the Romanov dynasty.

Alexandra was a shy, nervous person as a result of her upbringing.  She was surrounded by death and grief, both at home, after the death of first her brother Frittie and then her mother and sister May, and also at her grandmother Queen Victoria's, where she often stayed. She rarely laughed after the death of her mother, and withdrew into herself and into religion.  She was not suited to the role of Empress of the largest and richest empire in the world, and it didn't help that her mother in law Empress Marie was adored by the people and a much more outgoing and personable personality than herself.

So, firstly, she was under the immense strain of having to be the consort of an autocratic monarch, being on show the whole time and expected to live up to the example of her mother in law, who had a completely different personality to her.  Secondly, she knew she was not liked at court and amongst the public, and her lack of skill in speaking French and Russian, the languages of court and the people, alienated her.

Thirdly, she was under intense pressure to produce an heir, which it took her ten years and four daughters to do.  This made her even more unpopular amongst the public, and the family, as her sister in law Xenia managed to produce 6 strapping sons in the same time period.  When her son was finally born, he suffered from an incurable and potentially fatal disease that she had given him, causing her to worry every day for the rest of her life over his health and the impact his death would have on the family and Russia as a whole.

Imagine being in that position.  Plus, Alexandra suffered from constant (possibly psychosomatically induced) pain, which made her bedridden and depressed a lot of the time.  She was deeply religious, and she believed that Rasputin would be able to help cure Alexei.  Watching your son in such intense pain and not being able to do anything about it is going to do something to you, and unsurprisingly Alexandra turned desperately to whoever could help.  When Rasputin appeared to ease Alexei's suffering, she latched on to him and would not listen to any of the damaging rumours circulating about him and his relationship with her.

The bottom line is, Alexandra had a very difficult life.  She may have been rich and lived in opulent splendour, but she was forced into a public role she was not physically or mentally capable of fulfilling with ease, and she was also permanently worried over the health of her son.  She was not mad, just a desperate woman looking for anyone who could help her son.  Because the Russian public did not know about Alexei's illness, they jumped to the conclusion that Alexandra was having an affair.  Also, her inability to run the state while Nicholas was away and trusting in Rasputin's advice rather than ministers is also used as 'proof' that she was mad.  I prefer 'lacking in experience'.  Alexandra trusted Rasputin because she believed in him and his powers, and I don't think she really had anyone else to turn to.  Nicholas' family were not supportive of her, and she didn't trust the ministers because she thought they were conspiring against Nicholas and wanted to take away his absolute power.

People forget that Alexandra was a product of a closeted upbringing, a world where she was not needed to be practical or have knowledge of politics or policy.  She knew nothing about the people of Russia or their needs; that is evident from her diary entries.  She simply could not grasp or understand a life outside of her own.  She lived in isolation at Tsarskoe Selo and anything that was unpleasant she simply pretended didn't exist.  She wasn't mad, she was just didn't have enough knowledge of the real world to make her understand what was really going on.  Her ignorance and desperation to help her son is what people construe as madness.  

That's my opinion, anyway.


    Alix - a nutter? No, but I do guess - from what second hand information is available- that she was very emotionally unstable.
    Today therapy and medication might have offered her some small comfort.... but given her shyness, her health (sciatica/ being a carrier of haemophilia, and numerous unnamed emotional/physical conditions) and her aloof remote personality - she seems a very unsympathetic person.
This can affect our 21st century way of judging her.


Offline anna11

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2005, 11:01:29 AM »
Yes, emotionaly unstable is exactly what I thought. I just couldnt think of those words.

What do you mean by unsympathetic? I think that(and her being called arrogant, unsocial etc) was just a result of her extreme shyness


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Offline clockworkgirl21

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2005, 11:59:40 PM »
I would say it was a bit selfish of Aleksandra to just want to forget about things, like the public and their problems. But I have no right to judge her, I wouldn't know how that feels. Besides, she probably handled the situation a lot better than I would have.

Offline Ra-Ra-Rasputin

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2005, 03:06:11 AM »
Quote
I would say it was a bit selfish of Aleksandra to just want to forget about things, like the public and their problems. But I have no right to judge her, I wouldn't know how that feels. Besides, she probably handled the situation a lot better than I would have.


What you have to remember is that at that time, someone of Alix's background would have been brought up to think that she was superior, and she would have had very little contact with ordinary people.  She just didn't understand that not everyone lived like her, and she couldn't grasp the severity of their suffering because she had never experienced anything like it herself.

Don't get me wrong, I think that she was a very flawed person too.  I'm just saying that she was a product of a closeted, priveleged upbringing among a world solely composed of people of her status.  When you're that insular, you do find it difficult to empathise with and appreciate the problems of people in a different situation to your own.  I think there was an element of Alexandra burying her head in the sand, ie. by moving the family to Tsarskoe Selo so they couldn't see and hear what was going on, and so 'out of sight, out of mind', as it were.  But Alexandra had so many worries to be getting on with at home, I just don't think she wanted to be confronted with more stress outside her front door every day.  Maybe that was selfish, but like you said yourself, who knows how we would have coped in the same situation? It's hard to really analyse the situation and pass judgement when you haven't gone through the same experience.
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Offline imperial angel

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2005, 10:23:52 AM »
Alexandra wasn't a nutcase, she just was very firm in her ideas, passions, and persuasions, and these were not always correct. To her, if shebelieved it it was true, although it might not be. She was never taught to look at the world through others eyes, but through her own eyes, the eyes of royalty. In those days royalty were not taught nor expected to relate to those below them. Alexandra had even more difficulty with this because she had a very shy personality and had difficulty expressing herself in public like she actually was. She wasn't haughty, not more so than any other royalty of that day.She had little charisma that you could see in public, it came out more in private. Her temprament didn't suit her position.She went though difficult things which strained her severely, and she sometimes during these things expressed or acted in a hysterical manner. But she was torn.

Offline Tsarina_Liz

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2005, 09:15:13 PM »
Nutcase is a little strong, but there was something mentally unstable about Alix.  Certainly a lot of it came from the events of her life and her upbringing, but she seems to have been genetically predisposed to 'hysteria' as many women in her bloodline were.  Like I said in another post, it also unfortunately seems that Alix passed this on to Olga.

In today's terms, I don't think it all extreme to assume she would be considered a hypochondriac (although, I do admit, many of her pains were all too real).  Furthermore, it seems that if she were alive today she would be on some sort of medication for either depression or social anxiety (her shyness did border on extreme sometimes).

Ignoring the impact of 'hysteria' on her health (which was significant, I personally believe she worked herself into more than one migraine) has anyone ever considered either here on the board, in a book, or in some academic journal that Alix had anything like lupus or Multiple Sclerosis?  Or, in a rare case, had contracted an STD like syphilis from Nicky?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarina_Liz »
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Offline imperial angel

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2005, 09:53:24 AM »
Well, people know how to speculate. But yes her character had a bit of the hysterical/emotional in it. But then wasn't some of Quuen Victoria's behaviour hysterical too? And isn't she regarded as a great queen in history?

Offline Tania+

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2005, 11:56:18 AM »
Ra-Ra-Rasputin, and Romanov_fan,

You have stated your words very fairly in regards to HIH A. I agree, with all of the extremes of issues the poor woman had to face, and remember, she faced these issues daily; it's hard to see why one would'nt be at one's wits ends. Just think, she still had to face the public, and meet public demands, and she was just one person. She was only human. That's all anyone of us could probably have accomplished during those years, and in how women's roles were looked at. It's easy to talk about the past, given all the medical support of today, but back then, they had the lesser of support, in many ways. She was not a nut-case !

Again, to the initial poster, would you mind please to state, just who were the supposedly 'responsible' people making statement that she was a 'nut-case'.Can they be named ? Where specifically in print did you gain this fact, and at what year were these facts offered anywhere ?

Thank you in advance for any answers you can provide with and as fact.

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Offline elfwine

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2005, 08:24:38 PM »
Quote
    Alix - a nutter? No, but I do guess - from what second hand information is available- that she was very emotionally unstable.
     Today therapy and medication might have offered her some small comfort.... but given her shyness, her health (sciatica/ being a carrier of haemophilia, and numerous unnamed emotional/physical conditions) and her aloof remote personality - she seems a very unsympathetic person.
This can affect our 21st century way of judging her.



This works for me.
Alix appears to have not possessed an outgoing personality, which would have been essential as a Tsarina.
She was very shy, sensitive and was rather a defensive person, who seemed to have been looking for the negative things around her.
I think - having read some of her letters and private communications - that she was paranoid and rather emotionally unstable.  

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Offline stacey

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2005, 02:45:57 AM »
I absolutely do not believe that Alexandra had any kind of "psychotic" tendencies--that would be the technical form of the term "nutcase". ;)Neurotic though? Probably. "Hysteria" is a difficult term too, it's so loaded with Victorian/Freudian overtones (betcha never thought you'd see Victoria and Freud juxtaposed like that now did you?! ;D). Yes, she did show occasional "meltdowns" but I think they were understandable, considering all the strain under which she lived--her position in society, her son's poor health, the constant threat of assassination/revolution, her own unpopularity even within the Romanov family, her truly pathological shyness (yes, meds probably could have helped her there), and yes, her own instability. But I don't think that "instability" really went beyond the boundaries of some pretty "neurotic" behavior. To me the most disturbing trait she showed would be her "paranoia" as the poster above just mentioned. She did seem to be very defensive and suspicious of anyone who was not in complete agreement with her own view of how the Empire should be run. Exactly where and when and how that suspiciousness arose I'm not too clear about. But I do think it had a lot to do with her fears for her son's future, and that possibly could be traced back to those awful first weeks when she first realized she had borne a son with a deadly disease, which came from her. If anything truly "unhinged" poor unhappy Alix, I think that was it--Alexei's hemophilia and her own guilt at having passed it on to him.
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Offline imperial angel

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2005, 10:25:56 AM »
She was emotional, something she passed on to her her eldest daughter Olga. But she was never unstable or the classic definition of nutcase. Alexei's hemophilia had a big impact on her life, and could well have been the source for much of her behaviour.Emotional people always run the risk of being accused of being unstable, much like Princess Diana, who was often accused of having a meltdown, being finally off the hook, or whatever. She was showed up to give a speech joking to the audience that, given the recent tabloid speculation about her, she shoudn't be there, she should be in a getting help for being unstable, and that how could she be there-she was loony? She was making a joke out of it, but I doubt Alexandra could ever have laughed at such accusations.

Princess Diana and Tsarina Alexandra were both emotional people, but neither was a nutcase. I thought that was a interesting comparison,just my thoughts. Both women had alot against them, in difficult situations.With Empress Alexandra, this was her son,  his illness, the fact that no one in the country understood her, and the complex Russian politics.With Princess Diana, it was her marriage, divorce, the media, and her eating disorder.Further back, this kind of behaviour could be observed in Queen Victoria after the Prince Consort's death.She was a emotional person, too,even if she is not popularly regarded as such.
Thanks for contributing to the boards,Stacey, I like your opinions. You know what you are discussing and that shows.
I love reading your posts. ;)

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2005, 11:10:19 PM »
Alexandra a nutcase?

What a broad question to pose. Maybe when did Aleksandra become unstable would be better. I have always been of the opinion the Aleksandra did not have the proper training, education, lifestyle and personal traits to be a successful Empress of all the Russias. A savvy princess of the Royal House of Bourbon-Orléans would have had a much better chance at success in Russia. Aleksandra would have been much more comfortable married to a minor German or Austrian prince such as a Reuss, Schwartzenburg, Saxe-Meiningen, Lippe or Esterházy. Such a marriage would be less stressful and would not push her faults be they physical, social or emotional to the forefront.

What is unfortunate is that Aleksander III and Maria Feodorovna did not push Nikolai Aleksandrovich to marry a more appropriate and suitable princess.

I do beleive that as the pressures of being the Empress of all the Russias built one upon another, starting with the death of Aleksander III and the disaster of Khodinka Field, Aleksandra Feodorovna slowly slipped away into a world of her own, socially paralyzed by her pre-existing phobias, obsessions and religious superstitions. Was she unstable? In the end of course she was unstable but was this mental condition inevitable or was it brought about by envoronmental stress? I believe that Aleksandra with her pre-existing mental defects could have had a fully functional life in a different, less stressful environment. Aleksandra Feodorovna, with her psyche, was driven to the edge of madness by the demanding postion of Empress of all the Russias.

David
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by David_Pritchard »