Karl Brendel was born in 1871 in a Thuringian town, the son of a freight transporter who had eight other children, three sons and five daughters. Both parents lived beyond the age of 70 and seem to have been healthy. Nothing is known of any “nervous suffering” in the family. In 1906, at the beginning of his illness, Brendel reported the following facts about his own life. He had learned to walk and talk early and had shown no noticeable disturbances or pathological symptoms during his childhood. He grew up in the parental home and attended primary school between the ages of six and 14, making good progress because he learned quickly and had a good memory. He believes that he was a lively and affectionate child. After his schooling he learned bricklaying and was employed in various places, among them Westphalia and Lorraine. Recently he insists on having practiced different occupations: he had not only been a bricklayer but also a plasterer and a moulder in an iron foundry. In 1895 he married a widow with three children. From this marriage came two children of his own who in 1906 were described as physically and mentally sound. The marriage is said to have been good, but it ended in 1902 because of a prison term Brendel had to serve. After 1892 Brendel came into conflict with the law repeatedly and was sentenced 12 times for assault and battery, resisting arrest, libel, procuring, and property damage. In 1900 his left leg was crushed accidentally. Subsequently (whether in direct connection with the injury is doubtful) he had to submit to several operations on his leg in 1902, apparently because of abscess formation following boils. Finally most of the leg had to be amputated. He later had lengthy disagreements with the state workmen’s compensation agency about his pension, during which he fought stubbornly for his interests. Otherwise he seems never to have been ill or suffered from venereal disease.
KeywordsDust Depression Dementia Influenza Morphine
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