Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 26 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6495
  1. Andrew Sommerlad, core trainee year 2 psychiatry, Chase Farm Hospital, Enfield EN2 8JL, UK
  1. a.sommerlad{at}

During early 1919, overwhelmed by turmoil about the end of his career, devastation at the recent war, and deep mental distress fostered throughout his life, the virtuoso ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky became consumed by psychosis. He documented this experience in his remarkable diary, written over a frantic six weeks. Nijinsky’s private exploration of his dreams, anguish, and paranoia is an enlightening read, the more so because his subsequent story tells us much about the development of psychiatric treatment.

For a man who found global fame with the Ballet Russes during the early 20th century, …

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