Friday, July 8, 2016
Bipolar Mary Lincoln
I am always bemused when someone gets their two minute fame by deciding a famous person or epidemic is something different.
The latest: Mary Todd Lincoln, whose bouts of mania (hyperspending) and depression suggest a classic case of bipolar illness, instead is supposed to have suffered from B12 deficiency.
Uh no. B12 deficiency causes dementia, not mania.. and it was fatal back then, which is why they called it "pernicious anemia".
The article also says she had syphilis, a more common diagnosis that can cause mania, and would explain her walking difficulties at the end of her life.
However, her mood swings predated her marriage to Lincoln, which is more consistent with bipolar disease... or maybe a hysterical narcissitic personality. Maybe both: Her bouts of severe depression are well documented, but her buying sprees were what led to her son putting her in an asylum. She was released after a year, and lived several more years.
this would not happen with B12 deficiency
As for syphilis: It was a common diagnosis in those days since young men frequented the friendly ladies of the evening before marriage.
And Mary Lincoln might indeed have had tabes dorsalis.