Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff

RULERS—BEFUDDLED, MAD, AND DRUG-ADDLED

HISTORY IS RIDDLED with rulers who have different rules from the rest of us. Here are several examples, including one about whom it was said, “Do not turn your back on the king. This is not just a matter of protocol.” 

King Henry VIII—Serial Husband. Henry VIII’s marital extravagances are well known. He didn’t just pay off his wives, he had three marriages annulled (Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn two days before her beheading, and Anne of Cleves), another wife beheaded sans annulment (Catherine Howard), and one dying after childbirth (Jane Seymour). His sixth wife (Catherine Parr) even outlived him.

Henry VIII, 1491–1547, English king, reigned 1509–1547. Portrait after Hans Holbein the Younger.

The line about “Do not turn your back” comes from Hilary Mantel’s marvelous book, The Mirror & the Light.

King George III—Logorrhea? Porphyria? Just Liked Trees? According to BBC News, “George III is well known in children’s book for being ‘the mad king who lost America.’ ” This makes me wonder which came first, the madness or the loss.

George III, George William Frederick, 1738–1820, English king, reigned 1760–1820. Portrait by Allan Ramsay.

BBC News noted, “… it has become fashionable among historians to put his ‘madness’ down to the physical, genetic blood disorder called porphyria…. However, a new research project based at St. George’s, University of London, has concluded that George III did actually suffer from mental illness after all.”

Porphyria, by the way, might have been caused by arsenic in the blood, acquired possibly from antimony medications. 

It’s also possible the arsenic accumulated over years of environmental malfeasance. (A Doc Martin episode identified copper arsenate in old wallpaper as a culprit.)   

Researchers suggest that George III suffered from logorrhea, a mental illness typified by speaking excessively long sentences. 

Before you think of Addled Uncle Fred’s rambling holiday chatter, be aware that logorrhea is the real deal: Researchers identified a single George III utterance having 400 words and eight verbs.

George III shaking hands… er, limbs with an oak tree is easily explained: His Majesty thought the tree was the King of Prussia. 

Warren G. Harding—Scandal-Ridden, Gamy No. 29. The administration of President Warren G. Harding was replete with scandals: The Teapot Dome involved Wyoming oil reserves. His administration’s Veterans’ Bureau construction projects were rife with insider graft. His Attorney General, Ohio Gang Harry M. Daugherty, makes Trump’s Bill Barr look like a two-bit toady.

Warren Gamaliel Harding, 1865-1923, 29th POTUS, in office 1921-1923.

Say one thing for Gamy Gamaliel: His extramarital affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips lasted 15 years. By contrast, according to Wikipedia, “The allegations of Harding’s other known mistress, Nan Britton, long remained uncertain.” 

My favorite Harding lore comes from no less than his father: “It was a good thing Warren wasn’t a woman or he would always be in the family way.” 

Donald J. Trump—Dexamethasone-Fueled? For factual information on the coronavirus, its Covid-19 disease, and medical responses, I’ve been monitoring the Member Community Digest of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Trump’s treatment raises questions among specialists on the AAAS forum. 

Many of these questions involve Trump’s reportedly being given a combination of three advanced treatments: an experimental antibody cocktail, a five-day course of remdesivir, and a 10-day program of the steroid dexamethasone.   

WebMD writes that the steroid dexamethansone can help patients with severe forms of Covid-19. Dexamethasone is six times more potent than prednisone and 25 times stronger than (over-the-counter) hydrocortisone, the latter two familiar in countering inflammation.

However, among its known side effects, dexamethasone can cause psychosis, mania, and grandiose delusions. Informally, this is known as “roid rage.” 

Trump returning to the White House, October 5, 2020, still infectious? Image from http://www.post-gazette.com.

In the thread asking “Does anyone have personal experience with steroid-induced mania/psychosis,” one specialist responded, tongue in cheek, “But with Trump, how can you tell?”

On a serious note, another AAAS forum contributor wrote, “Yes, I consider it necessary to remind people that the most powerful person on the planet, the person who could initiate a nuclear war in five minutes, is under the influence of a very powerful drug which is known to induce a feeling of euphoria in some patients and depression in others.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2020

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