Luther, Martin

Luther, Martin
   A German monk, theologist, and university professor, probably best known for his role as church reformer, and as the founder of Protestantism. Luther suffered from many diseases and ailments, including fainting fits, vertigo, and "tinnitus. Reportedly, his tinnitus was complicated on at least one occasion by "musical hallucinations (consisting of the sound of church bells). Legend has it that Luther also awoke to see the devil in a corner of his room in Wartburg and that he sought to defend himself by throwing an inkwell in its direction. Although it is well documented that as a child Luther felt haunted by the devil, as well as by demons and spirits, and again as an adult, it is unclear whether he had any "visual or "compound hallucinations. The French alienist Alexandre Jacques François Brierre de Boismont (1797-1881) maintains that "from a scientific point of view, Luther is proved to have had hallucinations". He supports his case with a quotation from Luther himself, in wtrich he appears to reveal his conviction that the devil was actually present in his bedroom, saying that "this explains to me how it sometimes happens that men are found dead in their beds - it is Satan who has strangled them." Others have refuted Brierre de Boismont's stance on this matter by arguing that Luther's reference to the devil in the bedroom may well have been allegorical. Another reason for scepticism is the fact that the scene apparently took place when Luther was awakened from his sleep. If it is true that Luther experienced a " sensory deception depicting the devil, this may well have been a " hypnopompic hallucination or a " false awakening rather than a " hallucination proper.
   Brierre de Boismont, A. (1859). On hallucinations. A history and explanation of apparitions, visions, dreams, ecstasy, magnetism, and somnambulism. Translated by Hulme, R.T. London: Henry Renshaw
   Morgenstern, L. (2005). The bells are ringing. Tinnitus in their own words. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 48, 396-407.

Dictionary of Hallucinations. . 2010.

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