The mysterious death of “Mad King” Ludwig

This is an interesting snippet about the mysterious 1886 death of “Mad King” Ludwig II of Bavaria and his psychiatrist found in the final part of a Lancet article on the equally mysterious Ganser syndrome.

Born in Dresden in 1853, Sigbert Josef Maria Ganser emerged from the colourful Munich circle of neurologists and psychiatrists that included Jung, Bleuler, and Alzheimer. He trained as a psychiatrist in Wurzburg, then completed his thesis in Munich under Johan Von Gudden, editor of the Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten.

Von Gudden was also the supervisor of Emil Kraepelin, and physician to the “Mad King” Ludwig II of Bavaria, last of the German feudal princes [picture on right]. Both Von Gudden and the king were to die in mysterious circumstances three days after Von Gudden certified Ludwig insane.

Their drowned bodies were found in Lake Starnberg, and it is believed that King Ludwig took his own life, as well as that of his physician who wrestled in vain to prevent him from leaping into the lake.

According to the Wikipedia page for “Mad King” Ludwig, the death by drowning is only one version of the story and (unsurprisingly) there are various conspiracy theories about what killed the monarch.

Link to Lancet article on Ganser’s Syndrome.
Link to PubMed entry for same.

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