Author Topic: Alexandra and her Health Part 1  (Read 233956 times)

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Alixz

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #420 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.

lexi4

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #421 on: August 28, 2005, 10:40:15 PM »
First dumb question:
Who's diagnosis is it that the FA posted?   ???

Offline ChristineM

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #422 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

Offline RichC

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #423 on: August 29, 2005, 08:44:12 AM »
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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.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by RichC »

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #424 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.

Offline RichC

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #425 on: August 29, 2005, 09:33:44 AM »
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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.

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #426 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.

lexi4

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #427 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.

Offline ChristineM

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #428 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

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

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #429 on: August 29, 2005, 12:41:43 PM »
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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.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Louis_Charles »
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #430 on: August 29, 2005, 06:27:33 PM »
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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.




lexi4

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #431 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."

Alixz

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #432 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.

Offline RichC

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #433 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.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by RichC »

lexi4

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Re: Alexandra and her Health
« Reply #434 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