Re: ICR's ACTS & FACTS for May, 2005

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Wed Apr 27 2005 - 17:34:09 EDT

> In IMPACT 367 Bergman wrote on "Was C Darwin psychotic?" He gave a crude
> version of D's illness as psychosomatic though Ralph Colp in the forthcoming
> 2ed of his book To be an Invalid will change his earlier argument and argue
> that Darwin's illness was physical (and will use the researches of a certain
> M Roberts to support this - I have walked every recorded walk Darwin did in
> Wales and Shropshire and it is clear that after the age of 30 his physique
> collapsed as before 30 he could walk 12-15 miles a day for a week in the
> hills as he did in Glen Roy in 1838 by 1842 he could only walk 3-4 miles
> with little climbing)

From the description of the physical symptoms in Berman's article, it
looks to me as though Darwin might have suffered from a form of
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). There is some controversy as to how
much CFS can be regarded as psychosomatic, or how much of it is
physical, as the physical causes are not well understood. I have a
friend who suffers from severe depression and chronic fatigue syndrome
and she experiences many of the symptoms described in the article
(panic attacks, severe anxiety, fainting, tinnitus etc). All these
symptoms are greatly exacerbated by stress. I don't know much about
Darwin's life (though I'd read that he had a bad stomach). Michael,
would you have said that he suffered badly from stress (possibly as a
result of the controversial nature of his theory at the time)? This
would seem to me a more reasoned picture than saying it was guilt over
"the slaying of his heavenly father" as stated in the article.

I noted that Berman moves from "psychosomatic" to "psychotic" without
any supporting quotes or evidence. Also the observations about
obsessive behaviour do little to discredit Darwin. Many of the
greatest geniuses exhibited obsessive behaviour, such as the composers
Mozart and Shostakovich. Also many of the most brilliant people
suffered from depression. A huge list of such people can be found at:

Typical examples are:

Gustav Mahler - Composer
Winston Churchill - British Prime Minister
Martin Luther - Protestant leader
Michaelangelo - Italian artist
John Milton - Poet
Leo Tolstoy - Writer

Darwin also appears on the list

Among famous scientists who committed suicide are Ludwig Boltzmann and
Alan Turing.

So if the charge of depression somehow invalidates Darwin's theories,
then it appears that none of the above worthies produced anything

If D. did indeed suffer from depression, then it should be regarded
with compassion, not as ammunition for a hatchet job, and therefore,
whatever one thinks of the theory of evolution, the ICR article has to
be regarded as being in pretty poor taste. In my work with the
Samaritans organization, I naturally get to speak to a lot of people
who suffer from depression, and a common thing they say is that they
would not wish it on their worst enemies.

Received on Wed, 27 Apr 2005 22:34:09 +0100

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