Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Film Footage of Nietzsche's Sister Caring for Him?

A commenter on an earlier post left this link to a fascinating site which, if you scroll down, has a link to what looks like a film of Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche caring for her brother. Is this for real?


Anonymous said...

These comments seem relevant:



Charlie H said...

I'm still not sure the film isn't genuine. The comments on the YouTube video don't really apply to this clip: there is no zooming, and the images aren't simply manipulations of the ones on the site mentioned by the YouTube commentator. (Maybe they're manipulations of other ones I haven't seen yet.) The kicker is seeing (what seems to be) his sister putting a blanket on his shoulders. But I guess that can get added into a picture.

Rob said...

Orth, M., and M. R. Trimble. "Friedrich Nietzsche's mental illness – general paralysis of the insane vs. frontotemporal dementia." Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 114.6 (Dec. 2006): 439-444.

"In conclusion, we suggest that it is unlikely that Nietzsche’s final illness could have been related to a syphylitic infection, and opine that a hereditary form of a FTD [frontotemporal dementiais] a good alternative explanation for the symptomatology and progress of his
disorder as outlined by his contemporaries."

Rob said...

Owen, Schaller, and Binder. "The madness of dionysus: A neurosurgical perspective on friedrich nietzsche." Neurosurgery Online 61:3 (September 2007): 626 -631.

"Although many authors have assumed that Nietzsche’s neurological and psychiatric deterioration was largely or entirely the result of neurosyphilis, it is clear that the diagnosis itself is in doubt and alternative possibilities should be considered. A large, slow-growing, frontal cranial base tumor such as a meningioma could explain Nietzsche’s documented signs and symptoms… […] This hypothesis is also unique among other attempts to explain Nietzsche’s pathology in that it is conceivably testable.
Ameningioma large enough to account for Nietzsche’s presentation and progression should have left an enduring mark upon his relic. Radiographic studies could reveal hyperostosis, erosions, or calcifications along the base of Nietzsche’s cranium."

Full text available here:


Anonymous said...

the original link presents the clip as a "gestellte Szene," meaning that it is staged, no?

Brian Leiter said...

Maybe, it seems to me ambiguous: it could just mean that Nietzsche and his sister were posed for this particular film to be shot. Still, I suspect your reading of it is right.

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

MIRANDA C, Marcelo and NAVARRETE T, Luz. "What could be the etiology of Friedrich Nietzsche's dementia?" Rev. méd. Chile. Oct. 2007, vol.135, no.10, p.1355-1357.

Full text (in Spanish) available here:


Anonymous said...

I propose the high possibility that the woman in the film caring for Nietzsche was not his sister, but rather Alwine—the housekeeper of the "Villa Silberbeck" (which is today the Nietzsche Archiv).
While the possibility may exist that the footage is a rare moment of Elizabeth visiting her brother and taking a moment to care for him, that still does not make her the primary day-to-day caretaker. "Fritz" would remain under the care of Alwine until his death.

I hope this sheds some more light on the subject. I also hope Brian Leiter will visit my blog: