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Thread: Did Kafka suffer from BDD?

  1. #1
    Executioner, protect me Kyriakos's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
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    Did Kafka suffer from BDD?

    BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) is a mental illness that causes one to see either entirely imagined uglyness in his form, or exagerate real flaws, to the point where it becomes difficult for him to function socially.

    A few notes in Kafka's diary seem to point to the direction that he might have had some variant of this illness. Also in at least one of his letters to Felice he claims that he is ugly, but that this might be just imaginary, and that she might even think he is beautiful.

    BDD could explain some of his tragic life, since it is associated with depression and even suicidal ideation.

  2. #2
    Registered User ForrestJG's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    One mental illness that is palpable, and which is generally agreed, that Kafka had, was social anxiety disorder. This is why Kafka remained reticent in social settings and was timid and would have to be dragged to school in his unbearable early years. This also explains why Kafka had but few friends. I know Max Brod was a close friend, but his only close friend. It often leads to depression and when in social settings, one feels one is being judged by others which leads to the scrutiny of oneself and ones appearance. This could explain why Kafka may have viewed himself as ugly. Kafka truly led a troubled existence. And I think this is why Kafka didn't wish his tales published, out of fear of judgement. Thank goodness Max Brod went against his demands!
    ''The meaning of life is that it ends'' - Franz Kafka

  3. #3
    Kafka's friend, Max Brod, said Kafka found humour in his dark works - especially "The Trial", which he thought a hoot, laughing so hard while reading the first chapter aloud, that he repeatedly had to stop to collect himself. Kafka also wrote to Felice Bauer: "I can laugh, Felice, don't doubt that. I'm even known for my propensity to laugh."

    So he was not always depressed, that is a myth.
    There is hope, but not for us.

  4. #4
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Saarburg, Germany
    I know he had low self-confidence, I think which he rather put down to his father (Brief an den Vater - Letter to Father which was never published), but I don't think he was depressed at all, not judging by The Castle anyway.

    He was a lawyer, employed in insurance and I think in charge of looking for reasons not to pay people out. He was later diagnosed with tuberculosis and put on early retirement. So, first he was ruining people's lives with legalese they did not understand - reminiscent of The Trial - and then he is completely useless. He had an extremely domineering father who forced him to do law instead of promoting his writing skills. He actually had to be convinced by his sisters that his writings were worthy of publishing. Initially he wrote to relieve his feelings. Kafka was never really introduced to Jewish religion apart from on holidays and Kafka felt (I imagine) that to be something like pretending. He at least found it slightly emptying as he said about his Bar Mitswah that it was the most useless day in his life (or something similar). So the whole of his work draws on domineering characters, useless living and systems and religion as a point of ridicule.

    I don't think he was socially bad, rather very very self-aware because he was always looking for approval of his father who was a tirant (and which he never got despite being such a great mind). He was engaged three times and found love in the end, but, as in his writings, he was very long-winded in his letters to his fiancées. He could go on and on and on about his feelings and his problems to bind with a woman (possiby down to the bad image he had of family and possibly being afraid of becoming like his father).

    Depressed permanently, no; socially dysfunctional, no, rather extremely able (more able than most people I would say).
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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