Author Topic: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?  (Read 91826 times)

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rskkiya

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #135 on: October 03, 2005, 07:15:03 PM »
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Louis Charles -- I apologize to all and shall be brief because this is totally off topic, but I just saw "Grey Gardens" this weekend and, Lordy, talk about feral cats -- !!!  I actually was thinking about AA quite a bit as I watched it (very eccentric, obviously damaged but definitely NOT INSANE women).


Hello
   I too loved Grey Gardens but I do think that there was a good deal more to AA's instability than simply "eccentric" or "damaged" behaviour.
    Of course we will never be able to actually meet the woman, thus we are limited to the various private [and highly biased] opinions of others.

rskkiya

Offline LyliaM

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #136 on: October 03, 2005, 08:28:43 PM »
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Hello
    I too loved Grey Gardens but I do think that there was a good deal more to AA's instability than simply "eccentric" or "damaged" behaviour.
     Of course we will never be able to actually meet the woman, thus we are limited to the various private [and highly biased] opinions of others.


Oh, I absolutely agree that there was far more to AA's instability than eccentricity or damaged behavior and certainly didn't intend to imply via the "Grey Gardens" reference that I believe that to be the case.  (Really, in retrospect I made the post mostly  because of the feral cats!)  AA was a complex character who suffered through horrible mental and physical torment.  I find her survival quite remarkable in light of her life circumstances.
We only know in age what happened to us in youth.  -- Goethe

Offline Grand Duchess Marishka

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #137 on: October 04, 2005, 12:57:05 PM »
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Though we will never know for sure, I think it was a combination of her mental illness and her being used by other people who may have been con artists. I don't think she was a con artist herself, though she may have originally had dilusions of grandeur and thought it would be a way to a better life. She never mentioned being a GD until someone pointed out that she looked like Tatiana in a pic, then she changed to Anastasia when someone said she was too tall for Tatiana. After that, I believe she was used by people who thought they could get a payoff from her claim. It's interesting that when I suggest this I get jumped all over and accused of slandering people, while those on the other side constantly 'slander' everyone from Olga A. and Ernst of Hesse to Pierre Gillard to the scientists in the DNA case. Why is it so outrageous to believe she was used by someone who helped her? Does it only make AA supporters angry because it makes so much sense and it's the perfect explaination for all the 'memories'?

Well, anyway, I rant on. Back to your original question, I don't think Anna was any kind of con artist but was likely used by people. I also am convinced she came to believe she was Anastasia in her mind and was not a liar. I would not call her a victim since anything that happened to her was still a bit better than what would have become of plain old Franziska.



Good point, very good point! I quite agree. She obviously wasn't well to begin with, getting ready to jump off a bridge! Seemingly, perhaps going from rags to riches appealed? Maybe the idea of such a title would
make her feel more superior. Dunno, it's a thought.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #138 on: October 08, 2005, 01:23:53 PM »
Why so gentle with Ms. Anderson??? I attribute it to the lingering influence of Peter Kurth's outstanding and outstandingly sympathetic biography of the woman. But we should remember that not everyone felt that they were dealing with a very unbalanced, traumatized victim of circumstances (or the Bolsheviks). Not only did all of her doctors in Germany find her sane, but many other people, later, considered her extremely clever and manipulative, indeed, very much in control of what she was doing and saying (e.g., Gilliard, and the lawyer for the opposition in Germany featured in the Nova special - sorry I can't remember his name).

And surely this woman must also have had some enduring allure, some innate charisma, to attract as many followers and believers as she did during her lifetime. You don't get away with being a pretender by being disagreeable and insane all of the time. In other words, I don't think it's productive to view her entirely as a victim. I think she was not psychotic, but merely neurotic, and thus had some conception of what she was doing - not only to herself but (let's remember) to others as well. After all, she didn't present herself as the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna in a vacuum - other people were impacted by her actions - for the most part extremely negatively. Or am I the only one here who remembers the look of utter betrayal that crossed Peter Kurth's face when he was told the DNA of Anna Anderson did not match that of Anastasia but in fact that of a relative of Franziska Schanzkowska?    
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Rachael89

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #139 on: October 08, 2005, 04:59:43 PM »
People are gentle with AA because she had a deeply unhappy and troubled life. Whoever she was she must of been extremely unhappy to throw herself off a bridge to what she thought must of been to her death at the time.

What must of been going through her mind to make her do something like that?  We can never know but only know whatever it was if must of been something awful.

You are right that it did have a negative effect on certain people connected with the case, who knew Anastasia as a child and I do feel sorry for people like Olga A who must of been in a awful situation, when she had her hopes raised then dashed thinking she was going to see her niece again, although she knew it was extremely unlikely.

I've heard that nearly all of the visits that AA had,especially during the early years, where meetings were arranged for her I think she didn't have that much choice in the matter.


Overall I beleive that AA was a deeply unhappy person who was manipulated by variouis people throughout her life.

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Rachael

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rskkiya

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #140 on: October 08, 2005, 05:54:51 PM »
I was never convinced that AA was ever anyone but a sad senile old crank - but as I never met her - it's hard to actually make a personal judgement.

rs

Offline RealAnastasia

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #141 on: October 08, 2005, 07:56:18 PM »
Well. Perhaps some Russian emigrés wanted to have a survivor, but not a "real one". Most of them would think that one or some of the Tsar children had survived, but they wanted them as mytical survivors, not persons in flesh and bones. The proof is that few of them wanted to agree that this lady (AA) was Anastasia...They couldn't accept that she had given birth to a baby from a commoner and passed by all the hard experiences in the confussed and fragmentary AA's story.

The emigrés made a little like Maria Feodorovna: to think that there were survivors, but they liked rather...not to meet them.  ;D

The people who recognized Anastasia (except the Von Kleist) don't neeed her at all.

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Offline RealAnastasia

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #142 on: October 08, 2005, 08:35:39 PM »
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Why so gentle with Ms. Anderson??? I attribute it to the lingering influence of Peter Kurth's outstanding and outstandingly sympathetic biography of the woman. But we should remember that not everyone felt that they were dealing with a very unbalanced, traumatized victim of circumstances (or the Bolsheviks). Not only did all of her doctors in Germany find her sane, but many other people, later, considered her extremely clever and manipulative, indeed, very much in control of what she was doing and saying (e.g., Gilliard, and the lawyer for the opposition in Germany featured in the Nova special - sorry I can't remember his name).

And surely this woman must also have had some enduring allure, some innate charisma, to attract as many followers and believers as she did during her lifetime. You don't get away with being a pretender by being disagreeable and insane all of the time. In other words, I don't think it's productive to view her entirely as a victim. I think she was not psychotic, but merely neurotic, and thus had some conception of what she was doing - not only to herself but (let's remember) to others as well. After all, she didn't present herself as the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna in a vacuum - other people were impacted by her actions - for the most part extremely negatively. Or am I the only one here who remembers the look of utter betrayal that crossed Peter Kurth's face when he was told the DNA of Anna Anderson did not match that of Anastasia but in fact that of a relative of Franziska Schanzkowska?    



I'm not indulgent with AA, even if you all knows what is my own opinion in the matter. I'm convinced that she was Anastasia, but this doesn't made her "nice" for me. I suppose that if I would be around her, I would dislike her STRONGLY, since she was the opposite to my personnality.

Peter Kurth didn't influenced me, for one of the first books I read about AA was not his (I couldn't purchase it in my country. I didn't read it but lately, when a generous friend send it to me), but one wrote for the most fierce of her ennemies: Pierre Gilliard. "La Fausse Anastasie" is a book where AA is depicted as a wretched, manipulative woman, a con-artist a woman who really wanted to harm the Romanovs in purpose.  Then, you can't accuse me to be "biased" by Kurth's book. The other books I read after it, was the Alain Decaux one and the interesting article by André Castelot. They doesn't like Anna a bit and also said that she was "a con-artist", even if both of them had a certain pity for her. My pro-Anna books came all later, and I always have critics to them even if I agreed in the fact that their authors believed that AA was Anastasia.  And my more ferocious critic was  toward this strange-creepy novel written by Blair Lovell.

No; AA was not a woman who could have been my friend. She is not the kind of person I like (but Anastasia wasn't , either...She was never my favorite OTMA, but the intellectual, sensitive Olga), even if I can understan why she was this way...And some of her friends (excepting Gleb Botkin, her sister Tatiana and Dominique Auclères) were not precisely "nice people". Jack Manahan was just awful...

This not mean that I must think that she was FS. The fact that she is not agreeable for me, doesn't change my mind. I think there is a lot of misconceptions in AA's case. One of them are this one: If you believe  that AA was AN, you must like her as a person. Not a bit...Not a bit....

RealAnastasia

palatine

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #143 on: October 09, 2005, 07:59:18 AM »
I have to agree that Anna was not a saint, but a difficult woman to be around, which is understandable in light of her illnesses.  Kurth's book provides evidence that Anna was brain-damaged and that she suffered from unspecified mental illness(es).  She was also physically ill.   All of these factors affected her personality, judgment and behavior.  

It is true that some people who met her thought that she was sane, including the doctors at the sanatarium where she lived for the first years.  However, we have to remember that in the 1920's, psychiatry was still in its infancy and that there were no drugs to treat the mentally ill.  Anna, surrounded by unmedicated people who were suffering from schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses may well have looked sane in comparison to many of her fellow patients.  

However, the doctors' assessment of Anna made in the 1920's does not preclude the probability that Anna suffered from agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and so forth.  Many of these are modern illnesses that did not exist according to the diagnostic standards of the 1920's.  For example, it is my understanding that post-traumatic stress disorder was not even recognized as an illness until after the Vietnam War, although it can be certain that people suffered from it long before it was classified as an illness.

I believe it is a mistake to judge a woman who was brain-damaged as well as mentally ill by the same standards we would use for a person who is physically and mentally sound.  To label Anna simply as a scheming adventuress, without taking her brain damage and mental illness into account, not to mention the people in her life who took advantage of her, is a grave error, in my opinion.  

Just my humble opinion and your mileage may vary.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by palatine »

Offline RealAnastasia

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #144 on: October 09, 2005, 09:14:51 PM »
I agree, denise, but you must to admit that she was very difficult to be around her. She even made harm to people who supported her for years. Anyone could be more than a year aroun Anna Anderson without getting in trouble . I doesn't agree with Kurth that she was "normal", she must have had some minor psychiatric problem. Both experts I consulted (Psychiatric and Psychological ones) said me that she must have been psychologically perturbed.

I doesn't judge her. I only said that she was not a "nice" person to be around. I can understand her (certainly) , but I can't said that I like her... :-/ My interest in her is not related  with any "licking".

RealAnastasia.

rskkiya

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #145 on: October 09, 2005, 11:56:59 PM »
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I
  

  Many of these are modern illnesses that did not exist according to the diagnostic standards of the 1920's.  For example, it is my understanding that post-traumatic stress disorder was not even recognized as an illness until after the Vietnam War, although it can be certain that people suffered from it long before it was classified as an illness.


It was called SHELLL SHOCK

palatine

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #146 on: October 10, 2005, 08:26:24 AM »
Shell shock was indeed a problem recognized in some of the soldiers coming back from World War I; Adolf Hitler suffered from it.  However, in the 1920's, shell shock was not considered a formal disorder with established diagnostic criteria, but as a phenomenon that occurred in soldiers who returned from the front.

I am not convinced that the doctors at the sanatarium looked for shell shock in Anna.  The lack of formal diagnostic criteria might have been a factor; it must have been clear to the doctors that something traumatic had happened to her.   Whether she was FS or Anastasia, I think anyone who reads Kurth's book can agree that something extremely traumatic, both mentally and physically, happened to Anna before she attempted suicide and arrived at the sanatarium.  Whether the doctors would have considered that unknown traumatic event the equivalent of long military service in the trenches that left so many soldiers traumatized after the war ended is highly questionable.  

Post-traumatic stress disorder had appeared in people long before the 1920's.  Marie-Therese, the daughter of Marie Antoinette, almost certainly suffered from PTSD, yet it was not recognized as an illness in her time.  

All of this is just my opinion and your mileage may vary.

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

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #147 on: October 10, 2005, 09:05:44 AM »
Then PTSD could have accounted for the personality mood swings Andersen displayed? Has there been enough medical history of treatment for this disorder to understand what happens when it is not treated? I am fascinated by the example of Marie-Therese, who seems to have coped. Anna Andersen, it is clear from Kurth, could not have functioned successfully without a cadre of people looking after her. Is one behavior more typical than another?

And I assume that the disorder can be triggered by various levels of trauma? So that what might not do it for you could push me into it? I am thinking of a statement by Walter Lord about the survivors of Titanic he interviewed for A Night to Remember; he described them 45 years after the event as looking uniformly marvelous.

Simon
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Louis_Charles »
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palatine

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #148 on: October 10, 2005, 09:45:47 AM »
Simon, I am not a doctor, though I have taken quite a few psychology classes and I have done volunteer work with battered women.  I am not certain about what type of mental illness(es) Anna suffered from, but it is clear to me that she was mentally ill.  Her behavior throughout her life suggests to me that PTSD might have been something she suffered from.  I also suspect that she suffered from bipolar disorder, caused by the blow to her head, which might explain her mood swings and erratic behavior.  I don't know enough about bipolar disorder to say that she met all the criteria for it, but the mood swings certainly suggest that it was a possibility.

It is a shame that so many of the people who knew Anna best, and who lived with her, are not alive now to be interviewed by a psychiatrist, who might be able to make an accurate diagnosis based on their testimony as well as the incidents recorded in Kurth's book.

It is true that different people react in different ways to traumatic situations; some people are scarred for life, while others seem unaffected.  

For example:  Charles II was hunted throughout England (forced to hide in a tree at one point) after a failed attempt to regain his father's throne.  A price was put on his head and he heard soldiers threatening his life.  He spent ten years wandering the Continent in poverty and in fear of assassination attempts.  His young sister Elizabeth died in captivity in England; many believed that she was poisoned.

After his Restoration, Charles happily returned to the palace of Whitehall in London, where he lived for most of his reign.  His father had been beheaded on a scaffold erected just outside the Banqueting Hall of Whitehall.  Charles used the Banqueting Hall without any undue comment, and was friendly to all of his people, even those who had fought against his father during the Civil War.  He was merciless only to regicides.  He even permitted the sons of Oliver Cromwell to return to England and live on their estates in peace.

Marie-Therese returned to France after Napoleon's fall, but unlike the Merry Monarch, she made it clear that she could not forget the past.  Marie-Therese had a tendency to shut herself in her rooms to weep; unlike Charles, she was not hail-fellow-well-met.  When she left the palace, her carriage took circuitous routes throughout Paris because she refused to drive near squares where guillotines had been set up; she did not wish to see the sites where her parents and aunt had died.  She paid a single visit to the site where the Temple prison had stood, and paid to have a church erected on the property.  She also tried to avoid other landmarks.  

Marie-Therese was clearly frightened by the crowds in Paris, and could not bring herself to smile or wave to them.  She spent a great deal of her time praying, and treasured the bloody shirt that her father had worn on the scaffold as well as other relics of her lost family.  Marie-Therese could not forgive and forget; she quickly became very unpopular.  She was less than friendly to the new nobility created by Napoleon.  She grimly soldiered on through her life, but she was never a happy woman.  She was also tormented by men who came forward claiming to be her brother Louis XVII.

It must be added that neither Charles II nor Marie-Therese were physically assaulted in a traumatic event that left them brain-damaged.  Whoever she was, Anna did survive such a traumatic event.  

As for the Titanic survivors, I seem to remember reading that one survivor said that he could never attend a baseball game, since the roar of the crowd at the stadium reminded him of the screams of the people who were left to drown or freeze to death after the Titanic sank.  

Everyone has different ways of coping with tragedy.  I think Anna's coping skills were impaired by brain damage and mental illness.

All of this is just my opinion and your mileage may vary.



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

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: AA: Cunning - Mad - Con Artist or Victim?
« Reply #149 on: October 10, 2005, 10:02:45 AM »
Really interesting stuff. I have some experience with bipolar disorder with a close relative, and it has always seemed clear to me that Andersen had it.

Off to do some research; thanks for pointing in this direction.

Simon
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