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Scrooge 'was a victim of brain disease'
The Sunday Times ^ | December 24, 2006 | John Harlow

Posted on 12/23/2006 7:22:49 PM PST by MadIvan

IT WAS the night before Christmas and Ebenezer Scrooge was facing a succession of supernatural terrors; or, as the latest medical thinking would have it, he was succumbing to a brain disease so obscure that doctors would not give it a name for another 150 years.

A pair of medico-literary sleuths claimed last week to have tracked down the illness that haunted Scrooge. They concluded that Charles Dickens brilliantly observed the symptoms in A Christmas Carol.

Robert Chance Algar, a Californian neurologist, and his aunt Lisa Saunders, a medical writer and physician, believe that the affliction that made Scrooge a byword for miserliness and redemption was Lewy body dementia (LBD), a disease so complex that doctors did not include it in the medical lexicon until 1996.

A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, presents readers with a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner” who dismisses the festivities as humbug until he is visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. The spirits open his eyes and transform him into a philanthropist.

Scrooge himself appears to blame food poisoning for his experiences, telling Jacob Marley’s ghost that he is merely “an undigested bit of beef . . . there is more of gravy than the grave about you”. But that is before the ghosts of Christmas enter his cold bedroom.

Algar thought at first that Scrooge was in the grip of depression or a bipolar disorder, yet neither would explain his ghostly visitors. “All the events described in the story fit a person suffering from the early stages of LBD,” he said.

LBD is similar to both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. “Dickens says, ‘The cold within him froze his old features and stiffened his gait’, and he also suffers from tremors. But for me the most telling symptom is the ghosts,” said Algar.

“In the early stage of the illness, people undergo vivid hallucinations, often involving old friends or family members. And such experiences can cause a dramatic shift in perspectives.”

John Fowler, a Dickens scholar, said: “Behind his grotesque exaggerations, Dickens sharply observed social trends and foibles. But I didn’t appreciate how sharp-eyed he was on sickness as well.”


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: christmas; dickens; disease; ericaltschuler; grinchstolechristmas; pseudoscience; samson; scrooge; shrink; witchdoctor
Bah, humbug.

Regards, Ivan

1 posted on 12/23/2006 7:22:50 PM PST by MadIvan
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To: Mrs Ivan; odds; DCPatriot; Texican; Watery Tart; Deetes; Barset; fanfan; LadyofShalott; Tolik; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 12/23/2006 7:23:18 PM PST by MadIvan (I aim to misbehave.)
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To: MadIvan

OMG are you kidding Sunday UK times LOL!

I thought Scooge was just bastard


3 posted on 12/23/2006 7:23:56 PM PST by SevenofNine ("Step aside Jefe"=Det Lennie Briscoe)
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To: MadIvan

It was a brilliant Christmas story that has endured the years. Anyone reading anything more into it are nuts themselves.


4 posted on 12/23/2006 7:26:07 PM PST by tioga ( Merry Christmas)
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To: SevenofNine

I just watched the "Blackadder Christmas Carol".

I like that one much better. Nice guys finish last.


5 posted on 12/23/2006 7:26:32 PM PST by donmeaker (If the sky don't say "Surrender Dorothy!" then my ex wife is out of town.)
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To: MadIvan

I thought he was dropping acid.


6 posted on 12/23/2006 7:27:47 PM PST by Nachoman (Just because you're a kook doesn't mean there isn't a conspiracy.)
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To: MadIvan

And all these years I just thought it was a fictional book.


7 posted on 12/23/2006 7:28:13 PM PST by CzarNicky (The problem with bad ideas is that they seemed like good ideas at the time.)
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To: donmeaker

On Friday night I watching Chrismas episode Are you being served LOL


8 posted on 12/23/2006 7:28:46 PM PST by SevenofNine ("Step aside Jefe"=Det Lennie Briscoe)
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To: MadIvan

Memo to Dr. Robert Chance Algar: put a sock in it, you arrogant publicity seeker... you are dead wrong. Lewy body dementia has symptoms of drowsiness, lethargy, lengthy periods of time spent staring into space, and disorganized speech... none of which were shown by Scrooge.


9 posted on 12/23/2006 7:28:59 PM PST by FormerACLUmember
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To: MadIvan
fiction
10 posted on 12/23/2006 7:30:59 PM PST by SteveMcKing
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To: FormerACLUmember

Scrooge did show signs of mental illness after his "visions".


11 posted on 12/23/2006 7:36:35 PM PST by donmeaker (If the sky don't say "Surrender Dorothy!" then my ex wife is out of town.)
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To: MadIvan

This reminds me of some hacks from UCSD who "diagnosed"
Samson with antisocial personality disorder a few years back.


12 posted on 12/23/2006 7:39:48 PM PST by happinesswithoutpeace (You are receiving this broadcast as a dream)
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To: MadIvan

Since when is Charles Dickens a Psychiatric clinician? He wrote a story about a man who had turned cold toward humanity because of past experiences, and recovered from the error of his ways.


13 posted on 12/23/2006 7:39:51 PM PST by jmcenanly (Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy. -- Robert A. Heinlein)
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To: MadIvan

Why is it so hard for some to accept that people can have supernatural (i.e. spiritual) experinces and be completely healthy. Why must some constantly replace the spiritual with the secular and attempt to explain the miraculous with the mundane. Dickens wasn't describing a medical condition, he was depicting a change of heart.


14 posted on 12/23/2006 7:39:57 PM PST by Galena Nevada
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To: MadIvan

Ives, I wish Drs. Algar and Saunders a visit from their own personal Jacob Marley(s) for Christmas.


15 posted on 12/23/2006 7:42:32 PM PST by RichInOC ("I see stupid people. They're everywhere....They don't even know that they're dumb.")
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To: MadIvan

Well, at least they aren't "debunking" the Christian religion. If they want to play the "the miracle was really a mental illness/illusion/legend/result of two sparrows flying from Africa with a coconut" game with a fictional character instead of my Lord, they're welcome to it.


16 posted on 12/23/2006 7:49:49 PM PST by Mr. Silverback (The people walking in darkness have seen a great light...Merry Christmas!)
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To: CzarNicky
"And all these years I just thought it was a fictional book."

Well just dang!! Do you mean that you didn't know that fictional characters can have illnesses? I didn't relize that either, so now we are both better educated.

17 posted on 12/23/2006 8:01:50 PM PST by davisfh
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To: MadIvan

"I dont know, it must have been the doses..."


18 posted on 12/23/2006 8:14:53 PM PST by cardinal4
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To: MadIvan
Algar thought at first that Scrooge was in the grip of depression or a bipolar disorder, yet neither would explain his ghostly visitors. “All the events described in the story fit a person suffering from the early stages of LBD,” he said

You've got to be kidding me

These people really need to get a life

19 posted on 12/23/2006 8:15:27 PM PST by Mo1 (Thank You Mr & Mrs "I'm gonna teach you a lesson" Voter ... you just screwed us on so many levels)
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To: jmcenanly
Since when is Charles Dickens a Psychiatric clinician? He wrote a story about a man who had turned cold toward humanity because of past experiences, and recovered from the error of his ways.

Well according to this dude .. Scourge was just a victim of circumstances beyond his control

I'm still rolling my eyes at this article

20 posted on 12/23/2006 8:19:26 PM PST by Mo1 (Thank You Mr & Mrs "I'm gonna teach you a lesson" Voter ... you just screwed us on so many levels)
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To: MadIvan

Well, that's a fun article... is it supposed to be? Do these people want others to disregard their profession, or what?


21 posted on 12/23/2006 9:02:38 PM PST by kc8ukw
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To: MadIvan

Are these the same people who recently determined that Mad Man Mohammed's "visions" were the result of brain disease as well?


22 posted on 12/23/2006 9:03:52 PM PST by weegee
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To: SevenofNine

Next they will claim that ALL capitalists have brain disease.


23 posted on 12/23/2006 9:04:58 PM PST by weegee
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To: CzarNicky
A lot you may find in scientific journals these days is fiction too, it would seem.

I liked it better when they had covers that looked like this:


24 posted on 12/23/2006 9:07:50 PM PST by weegee
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To: MadIvan

He had low self-esteem and an eating disorder, too. LOL!


25 posted on 12/23/2006 9:33:59 PM PST by Nea Wood (Is cheap, illegal labor worth one life?)
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To: MadIvan

now Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener, there's a true case study.


26 posted on 12/24/2006 1:27:09 AM PST by gusopol3
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To: MadIvan

Scrooge was a liberal?


27 posted on 12/24/2006 1:39:54 AM PST by pax_et_bonum (I will always love you, Flyer.)
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To: Mo1; MadIvan
This has got to be a parody?

Too funny... I had a bit of undigested beef once, but didn't get any visits from the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future.

Although I did see the musical performed a month ago. If the ghost of Christmas past looked anything like the woman who appeared on stage, and visited me in my bed chambers, I would gladly go with her anywhere! ; )

28 posted on 12/24/2006 3:40:16 AM PST by Northern Yankee ( Stay The Course!)
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