[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
September 1971

The Psychology of Physical Illness as Portrayed in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain

Author Affiliations

Nashville, Tenn

From the Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.

Arch Intern Med. 1971;128(3):466-468. doi:10.1001/archinte.1971.00310210142020

Although several of Thomas Mann's works deal with physical illness carcinoma of the uterus in The Black Swan, cholera in Death in Venice, and even organ transplantation in The Transposed Heads), none do so as intimately and intricately as his monumental novel The Magic Mountain1 written in 1924. In this novel Mann uses the vehicle of a young man's reaction to tuberculosis and sanatorium life (prior to antituberculosis medication) for his profound exposition of life, death, and the meaning of man's existence. As it would be presumptuous to cover any or all of these areas, I have limited this essay to the psychology of physical illness as portrayed in the hero's adaptation to tuberculosis, and its application to our understanding of patient response to chronic illness. The commentary, along with my review of Solzhenitzyn's The Cancer Ward,2 substantiates my conviction that great novelists have made significant but

First Page Preview View Large
First page PDF preview
First page PDF preview