Edgar Allen Poe
“Eyes were tortured by even a faint light,” as written in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, shows a heightened sense of sight to the light. This is known as hypersensitivity. Hypersensitivity is a state of altered reactivity in which the body reacts with an exaggerated immune response to what is perceived as a foreign substance. In simpler terms it (hypersensitivity) is an exaggerated response by the body dealing with the senses. Poe used many hypersensitive lines in his work. His personas are often distracted by sound or other stimuli. So why does poe write in such a manner?
It is believed that Poe suffered from MUSES syndrome. MUSES syndrome is caused due to carbon monoxide poisoning and characterized by multiple chemical sensitivity and acute hypersensitivity to stimuli (sensory defensiveness). Sharon heller states, “Poe was likely poisoned by exposure from gas lighting in 1829, while rooming for a few months with his cousin Edward Mosher in Beltzhoover's Hotel in downtown Baltimore.” Due to his heightened senses, Poe suffered from hypersensitivity. This is probably why he used it (hypersensitivity) in his poems and short stories.
Poe is thought to be a drunkard, drug addict, or the incarnation of one of his own personas by the popular mind. Many think poe was a heavy drinker, but it is thought that poe had alcohol dehydrogenase deficiency; a rare enzyme disorder. When poe drank his hypersensitive personality was badly affected. Alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down a majority of the alcohol that enters the body. Due to a deficiency in this enzyme Poe would be affected by the smallest amount of alcohol. It had a terrible effect on him, but as his position in life became more and more miserable, he drank to escape reality.
Poe’s short story Hop Frog involves a sensitivity to alcohol. Hop Frog gets drunk fairly easily due to the fact he was a dwarf. He despised drinking, but was forced to for the kings own...
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