Fechner

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In addition to be noted as a scientist, Fechner is noted as having had some peculiar mental health issues. See the note in context here:
Encyclopedia Note about Fechner

I copied text from that web-site and pasted it here for convenience:

It would serve a useful purpose if somebody attempted to collect the scattered data that are available on this subject. Until such a work is achieved, the most satisfactory example we have been able to find of a creative illness proves to be the life of a philosopher, that of Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801-1887). We know that Fechner first studied medicine, then physics and chemistry, all with success, while writing textbooks and encyclopedias in order to make a living. In 1833, at the age of thirty-two, Fechner finally was appointed Professor of Physics at the University of Leipzig, but from then on he began to suffer from exhaustion, which was attributed to continuous overwork. In 1840, at the age of thirty-nine, his health broke down and he was forced to cease all activity during a period of three years. The strange illness he went through then is known to us from an autobiographical report which he wrote later, and which was used by his biographer, Kuntze.

In modern psychiatric terminology, this illness would be diagnosed as a serious neurotic depression with hypochondriacal preoccupation, rendered more complicated, perhaps, by the effects of a lesion of the right retina as a result of dangerous experiences. (Fechner had looked straight at the sun in order to study visual post-sensorial images.) During most of the time of his illness, Fechner lived in complete isolation, in a dark room surrounded by black walls, wearing a mask or an occlusive apparatus over his eyes; he could hardly take any food, and people worried about his physical condition.

It then happened that a lady—a friend of the family—dreamt that she was preparing a dish of spiced ham, cooked in Rhine wine and lemon juice. Being impressed by this dream, the lady made the dish, and took it to Fechner, begging him to try it. Fechner did so with some hesitation, but felt fine afterward. From that day on, he ate a small quantity of it every day, and his physical strength improved. But his mental state remained the same. Fechner then undertook to force his mental faculties to function, an effort which exhausted him and which he compared to the attempt of a horseman to break in a rebellious mount. After one year, he saw in a dream the figure 77 and concluded that he would be cured on the 77th day, which, indeed, happened. But the three-year period of depression was followed by a period of intellectual excitement and of euphoria that lasted a few weeks. Fechner then had ideas of grandeur, feeling capable of solving all the enigmas of the world. This state of hypomania (in today's psychiatric language) disappeared also, but Fechner was convinced that he had discovered universal principles comparable in importance to Newton's principle of universal gravitation. He called it “the pleasure principle” (Lustprinzip).

We have here a typical example of logophania hypomanic euphoria was replaced by the appearance of a philosophical idea. Moreover, at the moment when Fechner for the first time after three years opened his eyes in his garden, he had been startled by the beauty of the flowers and realized that they had a soul. This gave the impetus to his book Nanna, or the Soul of the Plants, a curious piece of work which examines from all angles the problem of a

vegetal psychism. After his cure, Fechner remained in good health for the rest of his life, but he had gone through a strange metamorphosis: the physicist had become transformed into a philosopher, and, in fact, Fechner exchanged his chair of physics for that of philosophy; his first course was devoted to the pleasure principle, and some time later he had the opportunity to win fame by his research in psychophysics. Let us recall that it is from Fechner that Freud, by his own admission, borrowed not only the notion of the pleasure principle but also those of economy and repetition of the “topographical” aspects of mental life as well.

What must we think of this rather strange illness? Doubtless, one could ascribe it to overwork, the consequences of dangerous experiences, nervousness, but all this does not explain the sudden halt of the illness, the resulting metamorphosis in Fechner's personality and the sudden uprush of new ideas at the moment of recovery. One should note that during the entire illness, Fechner's mind had remained very active and that the last year was spent totally in a direct fight with his illness. Wundt was right in asserting that Fechner had brought about his cure himself by a process of autosuggestion. For all these reasons it seems appropriate to include Fechner's illness in the group of creative illnesses.

The influence of creative illness, in our opinion, is very probable in the case of Nietzsche. We do not have in mind, of course, the organic cerebral illness which was to incapacitate him and to cause his mind to give way entirely, but we think of the works he wrote during the years following his resignation from his professorship at Basel. It is to the credit of Lou Andreas-Salomé2 that she understood that the sufferings Nietzsche complained about almost continually during this period were part of a kind of cycle, including, each time, three phases: several months of suffering of a neurotic type, a period of creative activity, an intermediary period of relatively good health. This development is reflected in the titles of certain works: Morgenröte, i.e., Dawn, the dawn of illumination which followed a long period of mental darkness and suffering; Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, that is The Gay Science, joyous when one is in possession of oneself after having secured this by long months of depression.

It would be tempting to examine the life of Descartes and to ascertain whether the famous episode of his philosophic illumination, during which the principles of a universal science were revealed to Fechner then plunged into a long, serious neurotic illness which necessitated his resignation from his chair of physics in 1839. This began somatically with a partial blindness brought on by gazing at the sun through colored glasses in the experiments on colors and afterimages; it then deepened psychologically into an inability to take food, various psychotic symptoms, and a year of severe autistic thinking. Then on 5 October 1843, having lived for three years in the dark and despairing of ever seeing again, Fechner ventured into his garden, unwound the bandages he wore around his eyes, and found his vision not only regained but abnormally powerful, since he had semihallucinatory experiences of seeing the souls of flowers. His recovery was then slow and progressive.

This peak experience in the garden is reflected in his next work, Nanna oder über das Seelenleben der Pflanzen (“Nanna, or the Soul Life of Plants,” 1848). In this philosophically diffuse book as well as in his 1851 book, Zend-Avesta oder über die Dinge des Himmels und des Jenseits (“Zend-Avesta, or Concerning Matters of Heaven and the World to Come”), Fechner developed what has been called his panpsychism, a development of his Tagesansicht; since mind and matter were two aspects of the same thing, the entire universe could be looked at from the point of view of its mind.

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