Author Topic: Alexandra's mental health post abdication  (Read 11405 times)

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Offline Maria Sisi

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Alexandra's mental health post abdication
« on: August 21, 2014, 02:37:01 PM »
I have seen a lot of talk concerning Alexandra's mental health when under house arrest at the AP.

In "The Romanov Sisters" is says:
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Elizaveta Naryshkina found her conversation increasingly disjointed and incomprehensible. No doubt the constant headaches and dizzy spells as ever impinged on it, but Elizaveta had by now come to the conclusion that Alexandra's unbalanced mental state had become 'pathological'. 'It should serve to acquit her' should it come to the worst, she hoped, 'and perhaps will be her only salvation.' Dr. Botkin agreed with her: 'He how feels as I do when seeing the sate the Empress is in and berates himself for not having realized it sooner. P. 303

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....Kerensky ordered that the couple should be separated in order to prevent collusion between them, should any trial ensue. For the next three weeks they were allowed to meet only twice daily at meals, Nicholas appearing almost glad to escape his wife's draining presence for a while.... Kerensky had actually wanted to separate Alexandra from the children, confining them with their father, but Elizaveta Naryshkina had appealed saying this was too cruel: 'It would mean death to her. Her children are her life.' P. 307

There is also a quote, that I can't find, stating that Alexandra was becoming even more increasingly absorbed in thoughts of God and religion then before. And how she rarely if never joined the family outside and would stay inside her room for the majority of the day.

So how bad did Alexandra's mental health become? From what I have read it sounds like the people around her believed she alarmingly deteriorated quite a bit. And this was after when during the war I believe Dr. Bokin stated 'he could no longer find the Empress sane' or something to that effect. Just how bad was she, did she suffer from a nervous breakdown?

Offline DNAgenie

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Re: Alexandra's mental health post abdication
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 05:35:56 AM »
I believe that Alexandra was not mentally ill, but physically ill, and suffered from the inherited royal disease Variegate Porphyria. This is discussed in the book Royal Maladies: Inherited Diseases in the Royal Houses of Europe.2008. Alan R. Rushton, M. D. Ph. D. pp168-170.

If Alexandra did inherit porphyria, Rushton believes she represents the fifth successive affected generation reaching back to her great great grandfather, George III of Great Britain. The theory goes that the disease came down from Mary, Queen of Scots and it has been manifest (and confirmed) in the Prussian and British Royal families ever since.

Variegate Porphyria is a most unpleasant disease. In its acute phase sufferers are medically recognized to be dangerously ill, and they can die.  However one of the unfortunate characteristics is that in the non-acute phase, the symptoms can come and go. When symptoms are present it is very hard to diagnose and the victim is often stigmatized as suffering from hysterical symptoms, or as being an imaginary invalid. Another puzzling feature of its inheritance is that 90% of the ancestors and relatives who are carriers of the mutated disease gene never develop symptoms. The remaining 10% are usually diagnosed as suffering from a variety of unrelated diseases with some symptoms in common, ranging from acute appendicitis to schizophrenia.

Alexandra and her doctors knew that she was physically ill, but they did not know the cause, as the chemical imbalance that caused porphyria was not identified as an "inborn error of metabolism" until 1923. The various different types of porphyria were not recognized until the 1950s and the forms of the disease were rarely considered as a possible diagnosis before the 1980s.

Offline historyfan

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Re: Alexandra's mental health post abdication
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 07:57:46 AM »
I know there's a thread on Alexandra's health somewhere, but I don't know if it's along the same vein.

Whether she was actually mentally ill or not, she was in physical pain, and prolonged physical pain takes a toll on the mind. Add to that the pressures she was under every day, and it's little wonder she couldn't cope emotionally.

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Alexandra's mental health post abdication
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2014, 11:40:33 PM »
I don't know that becoming very religious means someone is unable to cope. More accurately, she had physical symptoms which could not be properly diagnosed. But had she been mentally unstable I'm sure one of her many captors would have mentioned it, and none did. She acted like a royal to the very end. But emotionally, her comfort increasingly came from her Orthodox faith. As a Christian, this tends to make me think more highly of her rather than less.

Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Alexandra's mental health post abdication
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2014, 01:08:28 PM »
To put it mildly Alexandra had a number of problems. First of all growing up with Queen Victoria didn't prepare her for being Empress of Russia. Which she had barely lived in the country a month before getting the job.
It did help her that her first 4 children were girls and after AN was born people were talking divorse. When she does have a son he has hemophilia. Taking care of a child with disease can really stress a parent out add to this these pregnancies wrecked her health. When WW I came along she did rise to the occation and did do some really good war relieve work. She just could not understand as the war went on why some people hated her so. She also thought that except for a few malcontents in Petrograd and Moscow the Russian people loved her and her family. She and Nicholas thought the army and the peasantry would remain loyal to them no matter how bad things got.
 Result when she heard that the reserve battalions of the Guards mutinied in Petrograd in February 1917 she was shocked. When Nicholas abdicated she was shocked again. She seems to have taken the fall from power the worst of all the family. She started losing weight and her hair got grayer

Offline TimM

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Re: Alexandra's mental health post abdication
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2014, 07:07:11 AM »
It hit her pretty hard.  I can't imagine how she must have felt in the end.
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Offline Romanov_Fan19

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Re: Alexandra's mental health post abdication
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2015, 02:34:05 PM »
I  Hate too be  morbid    but  if she had not been  killed  at 46   how long   could she  expect too live 

Offline TimM

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Re: Alexandra's mental health post abdication
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2015, 02:03:12 AM »
Hard to say.  Perhaps, if they had been sent into exile somewhere, her health might have improved.
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Offline Maria Sisi

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Re: Alexandra's mental health post abdication
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2015, 12:34:29 PM »
If they had been sent into safe exile within days/weeks of the abdication I'm sure her health mental/physical would have responded well. More calm surroundings in exile mixed with no pressures of duty would have improved her state of mind. Although Alexei was no longer the heir I'm sure his poor health would have continued to weigh on her and that would have prevented any full health recoveries.

I suppose one should next ask is if she would have peacefully accepted exile or not. I have no doubt Nicholas would. If she does then her health would improve but if she doesn't then it probably would continue to decline and only extend her life only a little longer no matter how peaceful the surroundings were. How they live while in exile would matter very much. Some say she still believed the people would revolt back and they would be put back into power. If they went into peaceful exile would she finally be willing to let go of regaining the throne or not? If she doesn't that could suppress any health improvements.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2015, 12:37:27 PM by Maria Sisi »