Ludwig van Beethoven is considered as one of the most popular composers of classical music. According to Cooper (2008), he began his musical career at a very tender age working with his father who was a singer. Since his father was an alcoholic, there came a time when he could not sing any more. He took this chance to exploit Beethoven at a very young age. His father’s mishandling is believed to have contributed to Beethoven’s withdrawing and brusque personality.
In his twenties, Beethoven became a piano teacher and a solo pianist. He was temperamental in nature. Unfortunately, his career was affected adversely when he became deaf. Fortunately, he had already made a name for himself and was able to survive with the sales of his compositions and concerts. His personality was very powerful and awed everyone. He was only 5.4 ft with a broad face, a small nose, protruding teeth, and lots of hair. He also had a very bad habit of spitting regularly (Cooper, 2008). Additionally, he was sullen and suspicious; clumsy; forgetful; and touchy. In spite of being a bachelor, he did not have any servants because he was messy and difficult to deal with.
In 1802, the information that his deafness could not be cured caused a vicious change in his behavior. He suddenly turned to a mature artist and his productivity slowed down. When he became totally deaf, his health deteriorated and he became withdrawn from everything else. When his brother Cooper died, he took over as the guardian of his nephew Karl (Cooper, 2008). At one point Karl attempted suicide on claims that he was tired of Beethoven’s alternately easy going and strict moods.
Judging from his personality, Beethoven must have suffered from bipolar disorder. The DSM IV indicates that a patient with bipolar disorder shows episodes of mixed-manic character in their lifetime (Dziegielewski, S2010). Karl complained that Beethoven showed alternating strict and easy going moods. Some patients also have depressive episode. As stated above, Beethoven demonstrated depressive episodes especially when he became totally deaf. Because of his abusive relationship with his father, he also acquired the abusive character and oppressed his nephew to an extent that Karl opted for suicide.
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Dziegielewski (2010) affirms that bipolar disorder is also characterized by depression where the patient’s mood becomes irritable and depressed. As a result, the patient might come to loathe everyone around them. This symptom is evident in Beethoven’s personality. He was temperamental and strict on Karl.
According to Cody (2006), behaviorism is a theoretical perspective that could best explain the bipolar disorder. This perspective indicates that feelings and thinking are behaviors in both animals and human beings. Radical behaviorism therefore asserts that an individual’s behavior is highly influenced by the environment he is brought up in. One characteristic of bipolar disorder is depression and withdrawal. If a child is brought up in a family where the parents do not show him the love he deserves, he might grow up thinking that was how the world is. This is evident in Beethoven’s scenario. His father was an alcoholic and forced Beethoven to practice throughout the day so that he could make him rich. It is because of such a poor upbringing that he was temperamental and depressed.
Behaviorism is an outcome of the experiences an individual goes through and the ideas he develops (Cody, 2006). The onset of depression in bipolar disorder is around the early twenties just like it was demonstrated in Beethoven’s case. This is basically the time when the individual matures up and begins to find answers to his personality. In this stage, he can remember his childhood and all the experiences he went through leading to a vicious change in character.
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