- Nijinsky, Vaslav
- (1889-1950)A Russian dancer, who at the height of his career was the most celebrated dancer in the Western world. In 1919, at the age of 29, Nijinsky gradually became psychotic. In his diary, which constitutes a unique day-to-day record of the emerging *psychosis, Nijinsky describes *verbal auditory hallucinations which he attributes to God, and which instruct him to carry out trivial as well as highly unusual assignments. Obeying these * command hallucinations, Nijinsky eats meat against his will, decides to gamble all his savings on the stock market, wanders about through the snow in search of a murder victim, and lies down in the snow for hours for no other reason than that it appears to be the will of God. He developed many other psychotic symptoms and was diagnosed as suffering from * schizophrenia by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939), who had coined the term in 1908. Bleuler, who had been informed of Nijinsky's condition by a former pupil of his and by Nijinsky's wife, was hesitant about making a psychiatric diagnosis. However, he reportedly needed no more than 10 min in Nijinsky's presence to diagnose the latter as "a confused schizophrenic with mild manic excitement." The import of Nijin-sky's work for hallucinations research lies in the combination of his first-hand acquaintance with hallucinatory phenomena, and his exceptional talent for verbalizing and analyzing them. This combination places him in a league with other hallucinating intellectuals, such as Victor Kandinsky (1849-1889), Daniel Paul Schreber (1842-1911), John Thomas Perceval (1803-1876), Christoph Friedrich Nicolai (1733-1811), Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893), Fjodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), and Ludwig Staudenmaier (1865-1933).ReferencesAcocella, J., ed. (2006). The diary of Vaslav Nijinsky. Unexpurgated edition. Translated by Fitzlyon, K. Chicago, IL: UniversityofIllinois Press.Ostwald, P. (1991). Vaslav Nijinsky: A leap into madness. New York, NY: Carol Publishing.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.