The controversy about Robert Schumann's mental illness has never been satis­factorily resolved. Möbius' diagnosis of dementia praecox has been severely criticised by Gruhle, who regarded Schumann as a manic‑depressive succumbing finally to an organic brain disease, probably dementia paralytica. Subsequent reviewers have more or less adopted either the one or the other of these diagnoses, schizophrenia finding more favour recently.

    The present authors have re‑examined the available evidence and consider the interpretation of Gruhle to be preferred. The terminal psychosis presents unambigu­ous organic features, and may well have been a dementia paralytica, with atypical prodromata, but typical course and outcome. When that is eliminated from the picture, no signs or symptoms of schizophrenia remain to be accounted for. The earlier illnesses, both depressive and hypomanic, are essentially affective in sympto­matology and all ended in complete recovery.


Abraham, G.: In: Grove's Dictionary of Music, 5th edition. Edited by E. Thorn. Vol. 7 (Macmillan, London 1954).

Alley, M. and Alley, J.: A passionate friendship: Clara Schumann and Brahms. Translated by M. Savill (Staples, London 1956).

Bosch, V.: A life of suffering (Tudor, New York 1931).

Braun, A.: Krankheit und Tod im Schicksal bedcutender Menschen (Enke, Stutt­gart 1940).

Brion, M.: Schumann and the romantic age (Collins, London 1956).

Chissell, J.: Schumann. Master Musicians Series (Dent, London 1918).

Feis, O.. Studien über die Genealogie und Psychologie der Musiker (Bergmann, Wiesbaden 1910).

Garrison, F. H.: “The medical history of Robert Schumann and his family”. Bull. N.Y-­Acad. Med. 10: 523 (1934).

Gruhle, W.: “Brief uber Robert Schumanns Krankheit an P. B. Möbius” Zbl. Nervern­heilk. 29: 805 (1906).

Juda, A.: Hochstbegabung: Ihre Erbverhältnisse sowie ihre Beziehungen zu psychischen Anomalien (Urban & Schwarzenberg, München 1953).

Lange‑Eichbaum, W.: Genie, Irrsinn und Ruhm, 4th edition (Reinhardt, Munchen 1956).

Litzmann, B.: Clara Schumann: Ein Künstlerleben, 5th edition (Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig 1918); Letters of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, 1853‑1896 (Arnold, London 1927).

MacMaster, H.: La folie de Robert Schumann; These (Paris 1928).

Möbius, P. J:  Über Robert Schumanns Krankheit (Marhold, Halle 1906).

Nussbaum, F.: Der Streit über Robert Schumanns Krankheit; Dissertation (Köln 1923).

Pascal: “Les maladies mentales de Robert Schumann”. J. Psychol. norm, path. 5: 98 (1918).

Reinhard, W.: “Die Krankheiten Mozarts und Schumanns”. Med. Mschr. 10: 320 (1956).

Schumann, A.: (ed.) Der junge Schumann: Dichtungen und Briefe (Insel‑Verlag, Leipzig 1917).

Stanford, C. V. and Forsyth, C.: A history of music (Macmillan, New York 1917).

Wasielewski, W. J. van: Robert Schumann, 4th edition (Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig 1906).

Wörner, K. H.: Robert Schumann: Ein letzter Zukunftsblick (Atlantis, Zürich 1949).

Young, P. M.: Tragic muse: the life and works of Robert Schumann (Hutchinson, London 1957).