Asylum records confirm Klaus Kinski's madness

Asylum records confirm Klaus Kinski's madness
Kinski loses it in the new documentary 'Jesus Christ Savior.' Photo: DPA

A Berlin psychiatry clinic has released medical records for one of Germany's most recognizable film stars, Klaus Kinski, confirming suspicions that the notoriously temperamental star did indeed suffer from mental illness.


The Karl Bonhoeffer Nerve Clinic in the city's Reinickendorf district, once known as the "State Insane and Idiot Asylum of Dalldorf," released some 100,000 old patient records this week, according the Berlin daily Berliner Morgenpost on Tuesday.

Kinski's records stem from a time when the clinic was called the Wittenauer Heilstätten, and have been in the clinic archive since September 5, 1950 under the name Klaus Nakschinski, Kinski's birthname. According to German daily Bild, the first page of the file reads "Preliminary diagnosis: Schizophrenia. Conclusion: Psychopathy."

The actor was 26-years-old and in love with a doctor 24 years his senior when police brought him to the clinic for treatment. The woman had been financing his artist's life, but was engaged to another man and had only motherly feelings toward the actor.

According to Bild the file states: "According to his account, they love each other deeply. She has long since forbidden his visits, but he has not turned away. Instead he sleeps on her balcony and hides himself in her apartment without her knowledge."

The file goes on to say that Kinski attempted suicide with three morphine tablets, survived, and made a second attempt a few days later with 10 sleeping tablets. He then showed up at the doctor's apartment, destroyed her kitchen, called her a "whore" and tried to strangle her. Kinski then called police to come pick her up, but they left with him instead.

One doctor at the clinic classified Kinski as "a danger to the public" and another said he showed "signs of severe mental illness."

The first doctor wrote: "His speech is violent. In this, his self-centred and incorrigible personality is evident as one that can't blend in civil circumstances. He remains consistent to his egocentric world view and declares all others prejudiced [...] The patient hasn't had a job in one year, but still speaks confidently of the new film in which he will star."

The file goes on to say that Kinski believed he was unjustly brought to the clinic. He was given insulin treatments and was released three days later according to his wishes. At the time, such insulin treatments was usually given to schizophrenic or manic depressive patients, and resulted in a coma-like state due to reduced blood sugar.

"That was a very risky and menacing treatment method," Professor Peter Bräunig, chief doctor for the psychiatry clinic at the Vivantes Humboldt Clinic in Berlin told the Berliner Morgenpost of the treatment.

Kinski's file, along with 100,000 other interesting cases, can be viewed in the Berlin state archives. He died of a heart attack in 1991 at age 65.

The actor, famous for his on- and off-screen intensity worked on more than 130 films and is most famous for his collaboration with German director Werner Herzog in films such as "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" (1972), "Woyzeck" (1978), "Nosferatu the Vampyre" (1978), "Fitzcarraldo" (1982), and "Cobra Verde" (1987).



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