The disease of Chopin: a comprehensive study of his lifelong suffering by Dr. Victoria Wapf

The disease of Chopin: a comprehensive study of his lifelong suffering

byDr. Victoria Wapf

Kobo ebook | March 25, 2016

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The life of the Polish-French pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) was, to a great extent, influenced by his disease. Nevertheless, the diagnosis and differential diagnoses of his suffering remain a matter of debates in numerous biographical studies on the composer’s life. This study shall conduct a systematization and overview of Chopin’s medical history, in an effort to outline pathways to his most probable diagnosis.

In this paper, the medical literature on Chopin’s disease was examined to weigh up the existing evidence in the light of today’s medical knowledge and to define possible ways to extend such evidence with modern diagnostic methods. The literature search included three steps. First, a thorough search for available publications was conducted to identify and acquire all medical documents describing F. Chopin’s status and disease(s). The second step involved sifting of the reference lists in the articles retrieved from the first step. The third step was aimed at the retrieval of complementary documents of interest (for example, biographic, demographic or historical documents authored by specialists other than medical professionals) that may help to understand Chopin’s disease in its historical, cultural and social context.

Based on the existing data, it was found that the diagnosis of tuberculosis still outweighs the cystic fibrosis version in Chopin’s case. However, various noxious factors during his life may have shaped the course and severity of the disease. Fully inadequate - by today’s standards - and often potentially harmful treatment (including bloodletting, herbal remedies or other potentially toxic substances) as well as a prolonged exposure to tobacco smoke (passive smoking) could have played a crucial role in Chopin’s pathology, bringing the pianist and composer closer to his death.

The total body of evidence gathered from the current and historical literature allows for a strong presumption of tuberculosis as Chopin’s diagnosis. However, other primary diagnoses, comorbidities, as well as consequences of an iatrogenic exposure should still be regarded and may not be fully discounted.

 An analysis of existing tissue specimens could yield additional valuable information and help to resolve the decades-long discussion about Chopin’s diagnosis.



Title:The disease of Chopin: a comprehensive study of his lifelong sufferingFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:March 25, 2016Publisher:VWLanguage:English

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