Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s timeless plays. It is one of the most frequently quoted books in the world. Some historians argue that it is the second most quoted book in the world, right after the Bible.
The exploration of mental disorders and how a mental disorder affected a person, as well as those around him, is precisely what made Hamlet so quotable. Written in the 1600’s, the humanistic story delved into an array of mental disorders, projected through the strong and relatable human characters. Consequently, leaving every reader wondering, “Was Hamlet actually mad?”
Mad or crazy, whichever of these interchangeable words you choose to call him, there was no denying that something was not quite right about Hamlet. But did his actions render him mad? If Hamlet walked into a psychologist’s office today, would he be diagnosed with a disorder? Or was it all a façade for him to attain his personal goals?
To be diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder, an individual must present a single episode of mania during the course of their life.
Throughout the play Hamlet displays:
- elevated mood,
- unusual talkativeness,
- flights of ideas, and
- excessive involvement in activities that are likely to have undesirable consequences.
All of these things qualify Hamlet for Bipolar I.
It can also be argued that Hamlet also had Schizophrenia, as he kept on seeing and talking to his father’s ghost. However, as this was the only Schizophrenic symptom, we cannot diagnose him with the disorder. Moreover, we can not be certain if Hamlet actually hallucinated and saw the ghost, or if he only pretended to act insane in front of the King to escape liability for his string of questionable actions.
Either way, Hamlet, the prince of Denmark was a very troubled soul with contentious actions and the answer to the time old question of whether or not he was actually mad is still inconclusive.