Letters – Issue 93

Mulgan and malaria-induced depression

In relation to Martin Edmond’s review of the new edition of John Mulgan’s Report on Experience (NZB, Summer 2010), one might suggest that the causes for Mulgan’s suicide in Cairo on 25 April 1945 could have included malaria-induced depression. William Jordan in Conquest without Victory (Hodder & Stoughton, 1969), writing about his WWII experiences with the partisans in occupied Greece, where he was, like Mulgan, a New Zealander attached to a British unit, writes in Chapter 17 of the tragic death of a normally cheerful English colleague named only as “Busty”, who shot himself at Rigani. He was suffering from an attack of the particular kind of malaria endemic to the Valtos region of Greece, which was notoriously vicious and often left its victims in a state of serious depression, and, evidently, vulnerable to acute mood swings. Mulgan was operating not too far away.

Doubtless, the “kind of exhaustion … one that we might call emotional, imaginative and spiritual”, of which Edmond writes, played its part; but there could have been this other factor as well.


John C Ross
Palmerston North

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