Bipolar Disorder in Hamlet

879 words 4 pages
Sara Koziol
Ms. Samsa
AP Literature and Composition
9 May 2016

Bipolar Disorder in Hamlet There are several reasons why one would suspect Prince Hamlet to have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder has five classifications, including: bipolar I, bipolar II, rapid cycling, mixed bipolar, and cyclothymia. It causes mood swings, severe depression, extreme feelings, and/or confusion. Hamlet, said to be about twenty years old, has been through so much more than the typical twenty year old has. In the play, Hamlet’s father had been recently murdered by his uncle, whom his mother has also recently married. These are the main reasons why Hamlet has also shown serious signs of major depressive disorder as well, which can often go hand-in-hand
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Not only can Hamlet be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but he could also be diagnosed with being suicidal in general. His famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy perpetuates the notion that Hamlet is in an existential, nihilistic crisis. He is pondering whether he should continue to live or simply end his life. This is during his first bout of depression, soon after his father died and his mother incestuously married his uncle. Hamlet is so distraught from losing his father that he feels as if there is no reason to continue living, and believes being in heaven with his father would be much more enjoyable than living in Denmark with the newlyweds. Hamlet has experienced extreme life changes in a span of only a few months. This is very abnormal for any person of any age, and would be naturally difficult to adapt to, and cope with. He lost a parent, gained a stepfather, was forbidden from school, and left at home while his friends moved on with their lives and education. Hamlet is ranked very low on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; he has no sense of belonging anymore, and feels like he has been abandoned by his mother especially. Based on the given background information, Prince Hamlet’s bipolar diagnosis, without a doubt, can be confirmed. His outbursts of severe anger and happiness have occurred multiple times within a span of a few months. He has been suicidal, depressed, confused, and has set


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