Jules Verne had a nephew named Gaston Verne, this young man was mentally ill. The boy suffered from an extreme case of paranoia, which led to him being constantly anxious. Paranoia tends to cloud a person’s judgment. Due to too much fear, a person begins to run from non-existent threats. To a paranoid person, everybody is out to get you, this leads to a deep insecurity about people and their intention. When a person is paranoid, it is hard to trust anybody. In a state of extreme paranoia, a victim is likely to lash out wildly in an effort to protect himself from a perceived threat.
Despite Gaston’s condition, the family felt he was better cared for by people he was familiar with to avoid him lashing out on strangers. Due to sentimentality, the family refused to commit the boy to a mental institution. Jules Verne had so much faith in the boy that he is described as more of a father figure than an uncle to the boy. Verne’s faith in family made him misjudge just how deep the boy’s paranoia ran. This error in judgment led to a disastrous accident that almost crippled the author.
During a visit to Paris, Jules Verne experienced first-hand the wrath of Gaston’s mental affliction. Verne’s nephew ran into the house with a heightened sense of fear, fear had got the better of him making him think somebody was hot in pursuit. Verne tried to talk the younger Verne out of his paranoia and ended up being perceived as a threat. In a dazed state, Gaston grabbed a pistol and shot at Verne. The first bullet missed the author, the second bullet struck him in the leg. After hospitalization, Jules never fully recovered from this injury. Jules Verne walked with a limb until his death.
After observing how violent the boy could be, a decision was made to have the boy admitted to a mental asylum. Although the decision was difficult, it was necessary because Gaston posed a threat to himself and everybody around him. Gaston would remain admitted at the asylum until his death, a terrible fate that the family had tried to avoid. Although Jules Verne had been shot by Gaston, he did not have any feeling of hate towards the boy. Jules felt it was unfortunate what had happened but did not place blame on his nephew. With a limp to show for this accident, Jules Verne tried to put the incident behind him.