Karl Marx suffered from a skin disease that can cause severe psychological effects

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The father of communism’s life and attitudes were shaped by hidradenitis suppurativa, said Sam Shuster in the British Journal of Dermatology. One of its symptoms is alienation — a concept that Marx, a martyr to boils and carbuncles, put into words as he wrote Das Kapital.

The condition was described as early as 1839 by a French physician, Alfred Velpeau. But, Shuster says, ideas crossed the Channel less readily than wine and Marx’s true condition was never diagnosed.

The illness also contributed to Marx’s poverty, Shuster says.

“This new diagnosis is not just important in terms of historical accuracy,” he said. “The skin is an organ of communication, which is why its disorders produce so much psychological distress, with depression of self-image, mood and well-being, and with self-loathing and disgust.”

© (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

Source: Skin disease alienated Marx


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