Mental Illness In William Shakespeare's Works

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The true beginning of Shakespeare's creative genius came after the tragic death of his own son, Hamnet. Shortly after the death of his only son, Shakespeare began to write with a darker, more gloomy fashion than before. Luckily for Shakespeare, the tragedies he was able to coin after his son's death actually appealed to a larger audience, thus making him ever more sought after as a playwright. In 1596, just a year after Shakespeare's son was laid to rest, one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies debuted. “King John” depicted a mother so distraught over the death of her son she faces thoughts of suicide, giving historians reason to believe the play was a way for Shakespeare to vent his own emotions through writing. This paired with the fact …show more content…

In many of Shakespeare’s plays, Shakespeare created characters in which exhibited various signs of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression. In fact, it is through the reading of some of Shakespeare’s most famous works that medical professionals believe the human understanding of many mental illnesses stretches back further than previously thought. Historian and medical professional Eric Altschuler highlighted the way in which Shakespeare implemented his knowledge of the illness in his work with the statement,” Shakespeare's King Lear , Edgar, in his guise as Poor Tom, had chronic schizophrenia. He had long standing delusions, hallucinations, and disorganised speech and thought; his socioeconomic status had deteriorated; and he did not have a mood disorder, substance abuse or dependence, or an adverse general medical condition. Thus schizophrenia was in existence around 1600 and known to Shakespeare…”(520). It is the way in which Shakespeare described characters such as Edgar that leaves medical professionals such as Altschuler with the notion illnesses such as

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