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  • The disease forced Kierkegaard to uncontrolled writing. “He always wrote – about everything.”

    According to Encyclopaedia Britannica the Danish philosopher, theologian, and cultural critic Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), also was a major influence on existentialism and Protestant theology in the 20th century. He attacked the literary, philosophical, and ecclesiastical establishments of his day for misrepresenting the highest task of human existence—namely, becoming oneself in an ethical and religious sense—as something so easy that it could seem already accomplished even when it had not even been undertaken. Positively, the heart of his work lay in the infinite requirement and strenuous difficulty of religious existence in general and Christian faith in particular.

    In an article in Swedish Läkartidningen 43/2014 Docent Per Lagerkvist, Umea University refers to Kirkegaard’s biographer Joakim Garff  who has the hypothesis that Kierkegaard suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy with hypergraphia, the urge to write. He always wrote, and he wrote about everything from philosophy to banalities. 

        Like so many other hypothesis about the health of since long dead geniuses, also the temporal lobe epilepsy one has later been questioned.

     

    Kierkegaard’s literary production is enormous. His collected works are published in 55 volumes. He also had his diaries between 1838-1855, published in 43 separate publications.

        Towards the end of his short life Kierkegaard began to get numbness in his limbs. Today it is believed that he died from Guillain-Barrés disease.

        No post mortem was made. He had expressed his wish not to have his body “chopped into pieces”.

     

    Sources: Encyclopaedia Britannica and Läkartidningen (Swedish Weekly Medical Journal) nr 43/2014.

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