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5 Authors Whose Works Were Inspired by Mental Illnesses

Many great works of art and scientific discoveries were made by people who cannot be called mentally healthy and happy. Paradoxically, complexes and mental problems not only interfered, but also stimulated creative impulses and insights. The question of whether they need to be treated in this case is still open. The important thing is that their legacy remains for centuries. We tell you which famous writers suffered from mental disorders.


Nikolai Gogol – schizophrenia, claustrophobia and psychosis

A frame from the movie “Gogol”. “Terrible revenge”

The devil stealing the moon, the flight of a dead beauty in a coffin, a gloomy sorceress in chains – all these frightening images were invented by Nikolai Gogol, who greatly influenced the genre of mysticism and horror. It is clear that the author has not only a good imagination, but also the ability to see what others cannot see. The author of the book “Viy” suffered all his life from schizophrenia and psychosis, aggravated by auditory and visual hallucinations. And of course, it’s no coincidence that there are so many nightmarish deaths in his works. After all, in addition to everything, Gogol still fell into a lethargic sleep, so he was very afraid of being buried alive. He avoided closed spaces. He began refusing to eat for fear of contracting an incurable disease, and nearly exhausted himself due to malaria. Meanwhile, there is still debate about whether Gogol was buried alive or not. It is known that the author of his will wanted to be buried only when the first signs of decomposition were seen. Therefore, caution was exercised. The legend itself arose when the writer’s body was discovered in a strange location after he had been reburied. Some also believe that Gogol’s skull was stolen. Whatever the truth, the legends about the author are quite consistent with the spirit of his works.


Edgar Allan Poe – persecution frenzy and hallucinations

A still from the series “The Fall of the House of Usher”

Edgar Allan Poe, author of “The Murder in the Rue Morgue” and “The Crow”, suffered from a number of mental disorders. The writer was afraid of the dark, suffered from memory loss, hallucinations and delusions of persecution. He suppressed his condition with alcohol and mind-altering substances, which further worsened his well-being. Because of this, Poe fell into a state of insanity. By the way, these malfunctions frightened potential girlfriends and interfered with the construction of personal life. His already unstable psyche was especially shaken by the death of his wife, his cousin Virginia, from tuberculosis. Attempts to remarry after this were unsuccessful. He was afraid of death all his life and put his fear on paper. Unfortunately, his worst nightmare came true: Edgar Allan Poe died alone during terrible hallucinations in the mental institution where he had been hospitalized after having another seizure in a cheap tavern. As sad as it is to admit, if it were not for his special mental state, it is unlikely that he would have written “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” which significantly influenced his development. Horror and detective genre.


Franz Kafka – bipolar disorder and hydrophobia

Anthony Perkins in the movie “The Trial”

Franz Kafka’s story The Metamorphosis begins as follows: “Gregor Samsa, waking up one morning after a restless sleep, discovered that he had turned into a terrible insect in his bed.” This alone shows that the Austrian writer has an extraordinary thought. Those who knew the writer personally assured that Franz Kafka was not always depressed, sometimes even overly active and sociable. The fact is that the author of the books “Castle” and “The Trial” was either in a manic phase accompanied by a good mood, or was depressed due to bipolar disorder. Many people also noted that Kafka was very afraid of water, because when he was five years old, he fell from a tree into a pond and almost drowned. He later made attempts to overcome his childhood phobia. One way or another, traces of anxiety and obsession can be traced in all his works, which are full of paranoia and nonsense.


Virginia Woolf – bipolar disorder, depression and hallucinations

Tilda Swinton in the movie Orlando

Many people know the film adaptations of the works of Virginia Woolf (real name Adeline Virginia Stephen) from the biopic “The Hours” and the film adaptation of “Orlando” starring Tidda Swinton. The British author was at the forefront of modernist literature and feminist ideas, creating incredibly poetic language. We can say that writing texts was like psychotherapy for him, allowing him to put his experiences on paper. Virginia Woolf has been experiencing mood swings since the age of 13, following the death of her mother; researchers now conclude that he had bipolar disorder. Judging by the entries he left in his diary, the family considered him crazy, although he had reasons for having “cockroaches in his head.” The author has repeatedly stated that she was sexually abused by her step-siblings and cousins ​​when she was 6 years old. For this reason, she had a disgust towards men and gender throughout her life. She also periodically thought about suicide. Despite this, she married Leonard Woolf, with whom she had a warm relationship. The man knew how to calm his wife during periods of depression, but he could not save her from suicide. On March 28, 1941, he put on his coat, filled his pockets with stones, and threw himself into the river.


Ernst Hemingway – suicidality and depression

Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman in Hemingway and Gellhorn

The philosophical parable “The Old Man and the Sea” as well as “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “A Farewell to Arms!” Ernst Hemingway, who also wrote novels such as, describes the culture of machismo and “For Whom the Bell Tolls!” “lost generation” was transferred to literature. Who would have thought that a strong and brave man who went through the First World War suffered from severe depression and self-doubt? Hemingway was a favorite with women and drank heavily, but he often contemplated suicide. To get rid of these “weaknesses”, he voluntarily accepted treatment at a psychiatric clinic, where he underwent 20 sessions of electroshock therapy. A few days after his discharge, he shot himself in the head with his favorite double-barreled shotgun, which had previously loaded both barrels. Meanwhile, the famous granddaughter of writer, actress and model Margot Hemingway also fell into depression and committed suicide.

We have previously written about which children’s authors do not like children and are bad parents, and we also told you which books will brighten your free time if you do not have enough time to read.

Source: People Talk

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