Darwin’s illness revisited

Diagnosing Darwin

In the British Medical Journal:

“Darwin’s illness revisited”

John A Hayman, associate professor

It is 200 years since the naturalist Charles Darwin was born. It is therefore an appropriate time to establish the nature of the illness that he endured throughout adulthood and to refute the many fanciful proffered diagnoses, both physical and psychological, or psychoanalytical.


Darwin’s symptoms may be explained by the diagnosis of cyclical vomiting syndrome, with secondary complications such as atopic dermatitis with staphylococcal infections, dental decay, oesophageal tears, and skin pigmentation. He had a severe form of this illness with periods of coalescence of episodes. His was a well defined but not well known inbornillness; he did not primarily have hypochondriasis, neurasthenia, agoraphobia, or any of the strange psychoanalytically derived maladies that have been proposed.

Read everything in between here. Hat-tip to Greg Bole.

Thoughts about this diagnosis at Why Evolution Is True.

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