Bernhard von Gudden

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Bernhard von Gudden around 1871
Appointment as a member of the Upper Medical Committee 1877 (Source: Official Gazette of the K. State Ministry of the Interior 1877, p. 22)

Johann Bernhard Aloys Gudden , since 1875 Knight of Gudden (born June 7, 1824 in Kleve on the Lower Rhine ; † June 13, 1886 in Würmsee, today's Starnberger See near Berg Castle in Berg ), was a German psychiatrist .


Bernhard Gudden is the third son of a Rhenish landowner and brewery owner and studied in Bonn from 1843, first theology for one semester and then medicine. There he became a member of the Fridericia fraternity, but resigned on December 11, 1845 and founded the Frankonia fraternity with eleven like-minded people , of which he became the first spokesman. He passed his doctorate in Halle in 1848 . Then he completed his studies in Berlin . In Siegburg he was trained as a psychiatrist as assistant to Maximilian Jacobi from 1848 to 1851 . From 1852 to 1855 he worked as an assistant doctor and assistant to Christian FW Roller in the Illenau lunatic asylum near Achern in Baden .

Mentally ill patients were more likely to be kept and imprisoned than treated until the late 19th century. Brute force, coercion, and degrading punishment were the means of sedating patients. In addition, the staff of the "insane asylums" at the time were not qualified; There was no nursing training for dealing with mentally ill patients. The guards employed in the lunatic asylums were mostly conspicuous for their rawness and brutality. In contrast, from the start of his professional activity, Gudden strongly advocated decent accommodation and a treatment of the doctors and nursing staff that respected the personality of the patient, taking into account the "no-restraint principle" from English psychiatry . for example: "Waiver of coercive measures") John Connollys a. In April 1855 he was appointed head of the royal Bavarian insane asylum in Werneck in Lower Franconia , where the establishment of the newly opened asylum in Werneck Castle was his first task. In contrast to the previous method of recruiting for insane asylums, Gudden hired soldiers previously used as paramedics as nursing staff. These nurses, who were not adhered to the previous "treatment traditions", observed the new accommodation and care principles according to the no-restraint system, which Gudden had called for, from the start.

In 1869 Gudden became the first director of the Burghölzli psychiatric clinic, which opened in 1870, to Zurich, where he also received a chair in psychiatry. Also since 1869, Gudden, succeeding Wilhelm Griesinger and Carl Westphal, was the editor of the Archive for Psychiatry and Nervous Diseases . During this time (1871) he also became a member of the casual society in Munich , and from 1885 until his death he was the company's managing director. In 1873 Gudden became a full professor at the University of Munich and director of the Upper Bavarian District Insane Asylum in Munich. Gudden was a prominent pre- Freud psychiatrist . In the homes headed by him, there were relatively many deaths, in Munich because of a fever - epidemic in Werneck for a Sickergrubenunglücks. He conducted animal experiments but did not publish anything; "What has been published by him has been published posthumously by his son-in-law, who succeeded him in the post because he had co-signed the courtesy report (ie the report on King Ludwig II.)."

In 1875 he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown and, based on the statutes of the order, raised to the personal nobility . Gudden was also the Royal Senior Medical Officer .

Von Gudden played an essential role in the deposition of King Ludwig II of Bavaria . Together with three other psychiatrists, he wrote an opinion that is still controversial today, which formed the official justification for the king's incapacitation. This was only done on the basis of the evaluation of the treatment files. The doctor did not personally assess the patient because Ludwig II refused to be available for it. Von Gudden had only seen the king once before, when he was ennobled eleven years earlier. In 2004, Heinz Häfner said that after studying the sources it could be proven beyond doubt that Ludwig II had no signs of mental weakness or paranoid psychosis. More recent assessments consider von Gudden's diagnosis to be correct and emphasize that the report is seen as correct in the context of the psychiatry of the time.

Von Gudden survived an assassination attempt on him in 1883 unharmed. The former Munich institutionalized patient who shot Bernhard von Gudden from a short distance in the presence of his family doctor, who was grazed in the process, was admitted to the clinic by the doctor and writer Oskar Panizza .

Von Gudden died in Lake Starnberg around the same time and in the same place as King Ludwig II. The details of the circumstances are still controversially discussed today. Based on injuries and traces on clothing and in the seabed, it was concluded at the time that a fight must have taken place between the two men. Wolfgang Gudden describes the circumstances as follows (in accordance with Panizza's statements in Der König und seine Fennmeister ): “King Ludwig, who had very probably already left the castle with suicidal intent, surprised Gudden completely when he rushed to the lakeshore 15 meters away. It comes to the decisive physical argument with Gudden, in the course of which the king Gudden seriously injured in the forehead and in the face, hit him hard on the head and on the top hat in order to stop Gudden's attempts to prevent him from suicide. Gudden was presumably strangled and submerged, where he passed out and drowned. Dragging the dead a little further along, the king strove towards the open water and 'committed suicide by drowning'. "

Gudden's grave has been preserved to this day (as of 2011) in Munich's Ostfriedhof (grave wall left No. 5).

Bernhard von Gudden was with Clarissa Voigt (* October 4, 1832 - March 10, 1894), daughter of Carl Wilhelm Theodor Voigt (1804-1838), pastor in Siegburg and Thorn, and the Theodora Anna Rebekka Jacobi (1807– 1890), married. She was the granddaughter of the psychiatrist Maximilian Jacobi, whose assistant doctor Gudden had been in Siegburg. Bernhard's mother-in-law was Anna Frederike Petrina Claudius, a daughter of the poet Mathias Claudius . Gudden's nine children include the student Ernst Gudden (1856–1875), the painter Max Gudden (1859–1893), neurologist Clemens Gudden (1861–1931), the painter Rudolf Gudden (1865–1935), the psychiatrist Hans Gudden (1866) –1940), Emma Ritter née Gudden (1865–1931), the wife of the painter Paul Ritter , and Anna Gudden (1857–1915), wife of the Nuremberg psychiatrist and university professor Hubert von Grashey (1839–1914) and mother of the radiologist Rudolf Grashey (1876-1950).


"So first anatomy and then physiology, but if physiology first, then not without anatomy."

- Bernhard von Gudden : Collected and bequeathed treatises, Vol. XXXI, On the question of the localization of the functions of the cerebral cortex


Publications (selection)

  • Contributions to the teaching of skin diseases caused by parasites. Ebner & Seubert, Stuttgart 1855 ( digitized in the Google book search).
  • Contribution to the teaching of the scabies. In: Würzburg medical journal. Vol. 2 (1861) pp. 301-319; second increased edition: Stahel, Würzburg 1863 ( digitized version ).
  • Experimental studies on skull growth. Oldenbourg, Munich 1874 ( digitized version ).
  • About a new microtome. In: Archives for Psychiatry and Nervous Diseases . Vol. 5 (1875), pp. 229-234 ( digitized version ).


Angela Steidele portrays Gudden in her letter novel Rosenstengel as a key figure in an intrigue surrounding Ludwig II.


Web links

Commons : Bernhard von Gudden  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Matthias M. Weber: Gudden, Bernhard von. 2005, p. 514.
  2. Casual society: A hundred and fifty years Casual society Munich from 1837 to 1987. University printing and publishing house Dr. C. Wolf and Son KG, Munich 1987, 159 pages.
  3. a b c Angela Steidele in an interview with Sabine Reithmaier: One psychiatrist, two split selves. Ludwig II in madness and a woman in trousers won Angela Steidele the Bavarian Book Prize. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung, No. 279, December 3, 2015, p. R22.
  4. Doctors newspaper: Bavaria's King Ludwig II was not mentally ill. In: June 28, 2004, accessed December 26, 2015 .
  5. ^ R. Steinberg: Gudden's diagnosis of Ludwig II from a contemporary and today's psychiatric perspective. In: The neurologist. No. 1, 2019, pp. 62-68.
  6. Jürgen Müller: Oskar Panizza - attempt at an immanent interpretation. Medical dissertation Würzburg (1990) 1991, p. 78 f.
  7. ^ Wolfgang Gudden: Bernhard von Gudden. Life and work. Medical dissertation Munich 1987, p. 207 f.
  8. Jürgen Müller: Oskar Panizza - attempt at an immanent interpretation. Medical dissertation Würzburg (1990) 1991, p. 78 f. and 82 f. (quoted).