Many people in the world today are suffering from a crippling long-term condition that affected even some of the greatest minds in recent history, such as Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Emily Dickinson, Nikola Tesla, and Vincent van Gogh. It is nothing more and nothing less than anxiety; and it is here to stay.
Darwin battled anxiety most of his life, being prisoner to a multitude of symptoms including chronic fatigue, nervousness, vomiting, hysterical crying, severe stomach pain, spasmodic flatulence, insomnia, dying sensations, rashes and boils. We all know about Darwin’s epic journey on board of HMS Beagle, but very few people know that the great scientist spent much of his trip feeling very sick.
During the years he wrote his masterpiece book On the Origin of Species, Darwin was mostly housebound, spending a great deal of his day either in bed or vomiting. From reading his journals it is obvious that he was frustrated to no end with doctors who couldn’t cure him, especially with his father, Dr Robert Waring Darwin. Some of his friends have suggested he tried Dr James Gully’s water therapy at Malvern in Worcestershire, which temporarily improved his mental health without actually curing him. Another doctor from the Victorian era, John Chapman, tried to treat Darwin with the application of ice to the spinal cord, but needless to say the treatment was utterly fruitless.
Darwin’s terrible symptoms have been a source of debate for the past century and a half and they have been attributed to a long list of conditions such as lactose intolerance, gout, peptic ulcer, duodenal ulcer, amoebic infection, Chagas’ disease, chronic brucellosis, and many others, but anxiety is the most logical explanation for Charles Darwin’s poor health because whenever he would stop working and go walking or riding, his health would immediately be restored.
After all let’s not forget that Darwin lived in a society where the belief that God made the Earth and all its creatures was the norm, including his beloved wife, who was a devout Christian, therefore publishing his controversial theory of evolution by natural selection in 1859 imposed a great deal of stress on him. He suffered from an early age from social stress, but ultimately it is the undeniable need to tell the world about his discovery that led to the worsening of his anxiety, thus showing his complete fact-based belief in the truth behind his revolutionary idea.