Re:Possible explanations

Manuel Vazquez Caruncho, Radiologist,

Other Contributors:

March 25, 2011

We thank Dr. Ntanda for his interesting remarks, but we disagree with them. We think temporal lobe epilepsy is the most plausible diagnosis because Chopin had paroxysmal crisis as he was disconnected from reality. Sand and Mme Streicher narrated it quite precisely. To the best of our knowledge he had neither alteration in his mental status, nor problems in orientation, nor cognition deficit, thus a confusional state seems not a good option. On the other hand, synaesthesia is a quite simple process in wich a sensory stimulus produces a normal sensation in the stimulated sensory pathway and the stimulation of other sensory pathway. The synaesthetic sensation appears automatically, like a reflex, and it is always the same within each synaesthete. Chopin had complex visual hallucinations, not the perception of colours when he was playing; moreover, he had other symptoms consistent with epilepsy during the crisis such as piloerection, fear, paleness, and sweating. A lot of gifted artits were synesthetes: Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Scriabin. Rimsky-Korsakov, Messiaen, Kandinsky, to quote a few.(1) (2) Chopin was not one of them. It is true that synaesthesia could be secondary to temporal lobe epilepsy, but we do not know of any account of Chopin complanining about it throughout his whole life.

(1) Marti i Villalta JL. Musica y neurologia. Barcelona: Lunwerg. 2010. (2) Mulvenna CM. Synaesthesia, the arts and creativity: a neurological condition. In Bogousslavsky J, Hennerici MG (ed): Neurological disorders in famous artists. Part 2. Basilea: Karger. 2007.

Conflict of Interest:

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Conflict of Interest

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