- Swift, Jonathan
- (1667-1745)An Irish poet, writer, and political satirist who is probably best remembered for his book Gulliver's Travels. The description of the miniature and giant figures in this book, referred to as Lilliputians and Gulliverians, as well as the behavioural changes to which the Luggnag-gians fall prey, have been a source of interest to neurologists ever since the book's publication. The same holds true for Swift's own health problems. It is known that he suffered lifelong symptoms which included intermittent dizziness, nausea, and hearing loss. These symptoms are reminiscent of Meniere's disease and also of migraine-associated dizziness. During the last 3 years of his life Swift suffered from cognitive changes, memory impairment, personality alterations, a language disorder, and facial paralysis. Retrospectively, his final illness has been variously identified as Pick's disease, Alzheimer's disease, primary progressive aphasia, neurosyphilis, hydrocephalus, post-stroke depression, 'mental illness', and a variety of other disorders, all in keeping with contemporary biomedical insights. It has been speculated that the miniature and giant figures in Gulliver's Travels were inspired by *visual (i.e. *lilliputian and * gulliverian) hallucinations which Swift may have experienced himself. However, despite 250 years of retrospective diagnostics, the nature of his various illnesses is still uncertain.ReferencesLorch, M. (2006). Language and memory disorder in the case of Jonathan Swift: Considerations on retrospective diagnosis. Brain, 129, 3127-3137.Swift, J. (1726). Gulliver's travels. London: Motte.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.