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 A depressed King? 
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Post Re: A depressed King?
Yes depression is often triggered by an overload of pressure and he had lost two children, had had people from his close family turn and plot against him and probably realized that his wife loved another man....quite a lot to handle especially as he saw the attitude of his people as a personal betrayal.

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Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:16 pm
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Post Re: A depressed King?
I'm miles away from being an expert, but I don't think it's clinically depression if in fact you have reason to be unhappy. (Having a whole country act like they hate you would, objectively, be a good reason.) The question would be more, when things were going objectively well, was he able to acknowledge that, or was he down even then?

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Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:07 pm
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Post Re: A depressed King?
I do not think that Louis XVI was "depressed" in the sense that we think of today. He was situationally sad - we all are sad when someone close dies,
his brother, father, mother, all in his childhood - then two of his own children. Any human being with a heart is sad during these times. Feeling betrayed by a whole nation would be another reason to be really disappointed and sad..imprisonment and all the ill treatment would do it too.
Other than being indecisive, he seems to have functioned fine when things were going alright. His sadness and melancholy appear to mostly have reasons relating to the situation he was experiencing at the time.


Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:54 pm
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Post Re: A depressed King?
jimcheval wrote:
I'm miles away from being an expert, but I don't think it's clinically depression if in fact you have reason to be unhappy. (Having a whole country act like they hate you would, objectively, be a good reason.) The question would be more, when things were going objectively well, was he able to acknowledge that, or was he down even then?


It's true, depression doesn't come only from sad circumastance, but these can help it getting worst. One has to present a sort of disposition to it, but usually situations of great difficulty and loss can be the beginning of a deeper crisis. So I think it possible that Louis had some kind of pre-disposition of this kind, and that, in the imminence in the Revolution, he got a break-down. This could explain, maybe, why, though not being a weak person (just think about the courage he showed in the last days of his life), he often showed sings of what is usually interpreted as indecisiveness.
Obviously, it's just a hypothesis (we will never know what was actually going on in him!), but it seems possible to me.

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Sat Sep 19, 2009 10:40 am
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Post Re: A depressed King?
The thing is, if you're using "depression" in any kind of clinical sense, we may not know what was going on in his head, but, just as doctors can speculate exactly what mental condition Van Gogh had or postulate that jefferson had Asperger's, one can look for specific symptoms of a specific disorder. One might just postulate a mild depression from the King's escape into hunting and a certain "go along to get along" attitude, but I don't think there's anything like the outward evidence to be using the word in any meaningful sense.

Hell, you could postulate that MA's over-spending in response to her husband's sexual disinterest was a form of mania, as far as that goes. That probably would make even more sense. But I don't think it's true.

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Sat Sep 19, 2009 5:35 pm
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Post Re: A depressed King?
I'm speaking not only about his nature, but about his break-down in 1789, and how he was apparently uncapable of making choices, so that Marie Antoinette herself had, for a while, to be the "strong one" in the family. This has nothing to be compared with MA's love for expenditures.
I just want to recall you on the fact that "depression" is a broad term, even in the clinical sense, and there are very different kinds of it. One usually thinks about the extreme cases, like people committing suicide or getting REALLY down, but there is a full range of morale-disturbances (and again, I don't know if this is the right word in English, but I trust most people with understand what I mean) that can be classified into "depression". This can simply mean, e.g., that in certain periods of the year you feel constantly weak and apathetic, or that you have a sort of "social phobia", which can also be very slight, but nonetheless can affect you quite deeply. These are just examples, only to say "depression" is a borader issue than most people think.

Now, I'm not a medic, but I assure you I'm speaking after experience, because I've had cases of depression in my inner circle, and I've had many a conversion with doctors about this kind of things. The way Louis acted is similar to the apparent akwardness, frailty of nerves, apathia etc. one can find among people suffering of disturbances of this kind, so I don0t think it is at all ill-founded to think he could (and I stress: could) suffer from depression as well.
Of course I wouldn't write this in an academic journal on this base, which comes largely from personal experience, but here we are on a forum, so, in a way, we feel more free to expose our thoughts about the historical characters we are interested in,and this is probably what I like more about this talks we have...So, yes, I think it perfectly possible that he was depressed.

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Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:05 pm
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Post Re: A depressed King?
For me,after the first Assemblée des Notables failure Louis XVI became depressed.


Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:43 am
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Post Re: A depressed King?
Which coincided with the illness and death of the Dauphin.

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Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:28 pm
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Post Re: A depressed King?
Good observation, Baron. I think several things happened at once: the death of the Dauphin, the political instability, heavy pressure on him...All those things can have a great effect , especially on someone who has frail nerves.

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Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:26 pm
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Post Re:
Therese wrote:
I think both the queen and the king took turns having nervous breakdowns.


I agree with you i thnk they both had their times when they could'nt deal with things anymore i think esp. When louis joseph died that was when M.A. fell apart as any mother would feel after losing a child imagine how she felt when the country did not mourn her painful loss? I think louis was more depressed when his subjects turned on him. I think he should have been more ruthless to the french people something like henry viii was to his people i could never see his people turning on him the way the french did to louis xvi. Sometimes people need fear to be loyal to their king and queen. Im sorry if that is to much :angel9:

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Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:54 am
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Post Re: A depressed King?
I don't agree with you that MA had a nervous breakdown. Indeed this is one of the extraordinary factors about her, her resilience until the very end. Even at her trial, ill and with her back to the wall, she kept fighting.

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Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:45 am
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Post Re: A depressed King?
The closest MA came to losing it was when Louis Charles was taken from her by force. But she didn't. She really showed her strength under the worst of circumstances. But a nervous breakdown? No way.


Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:15 pm
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Post Re: A depressed King?
Lilly wrote:
The closest MA came to losing it was when Louis Charles was taken from her by force. But she didn't. She really showed her strength under the worst of circumstances. But a nervous breakdown? No way.


I concur with that statement. Especially if you compare Louis and Antoinette's attitudes during their trials. Chauveau Lagarde insisted that MA remained hopeful until the very end, and was amazed when she heard the death sentence. It is true however that there was far less ground to condemn her, since she was a foreign princess with no obvious involvement in politics.

Petitfils also writes that actually, Louis XVI was depressive because of his son's death. He assumes that his total non-violence stance at the end of his reign stems from this : depression and fatalism. I am not sure I can agree on that, this is only an assumption. But it does seems that the queen remained more resilient and proved able to overcome her grief. I also agree that she deeply resented the French for their lack of compassion during this ordeal.

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Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:55 am
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Post Re: headaches?
doritmi wrote:
I'm currently reading Ruth Scurr's biography of Robespierre. first, I recommend it - it's very detailed and not at all biased, and gives interesting facts about the king and queen's role in the revolution. among other things, since she's looking at Robespierre, she draws heavily on the papers of the national assembly, which many biographers of the king or queen - at least those I've read - ignore. For example, she notes that after the attempt to leave for Saint Cloud the king went to the assembly and addressed them as follows:
"Gentlemen, you are informed of the opposition expressed yesterday to my departure for St Cloud. I was unwilling to overcome it by force, because I feared to occasion acts of severity against a misguided multitude - but it is of importance to the nation to prove that I am free. Nothing is so essential to the authority of the sanction I have given to your decrees. Governed by this powerful motive, I persist in my plan of going to St Cloud, and the National Assembly must perceive the necessity of it". (p. 143). didn't help, of course, but it showed dignity and courage and again expresses his reluctance to use force against the people.

the reason I'm quoting this is to ask a question: Scurr refers to debilitating headaches that the king was having at this time. anyone know anything about those?



Really i have that book but i have not gotten around to reading it yet. Since i have it, it may be the next book i start reading. I was not sure if i would get into it but i will take your advice and get around to reading it. Thanks for the recommend.

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Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:15 am
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Post Re: A depressed King?
As her letters to fersen show....she is at that time full of anger against a certain part of the French populace.

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Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:17 am
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