Virginia woolf and mental illness
On Being Ill by Virginia WoolfIn this poignant and humorous work, Virginia Woolf observes that though illness is part of every human being’s experience, it has never been the subject of literature—like the more acceptable subjects of war and love. We cannot quote Shakespeare to describe a headache. We must, Woolf says, invent language to describe pain. And though illness enhances our perceptions, she observes that it reduces self-consciousness; it is the great confessional. Woolf discusses the cultural taboos associated with illness and explores how illness changes the way we read. Poems clarify and astonish, Shakespeare exudes new brilliance, and so does melodramatic fiction!
On Being Ill was published as an individual volume by Hogarth Press in 1930. While other Woolf essays, such as A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas, were first published by Hogarth as individual volumes and have since been widely available, On Being Ill has been overlooked. The Paris Press edition features original cover art by Woolf’s sister, the painter Vanessa Bell. Hermione Lee’s Introduction discusses this extraordinary work, and explores Woolf’s revelations about poetry, language, and illness.
Virginia Woolf and Mrs. Dalloway (1987)
[Virginia Woolf as an example of a mental disorder and artistic creativity].
Manuela V. Ives C. Family history and traumatic experiences are factors linked to bipolar disorder. It is also known that patients with early childhood trauma present earlier onset of bipolar disorder, increased number of manic episodes, and more suicide attempts. We have recently reported that childhood trauma partly mediates the effect of family history on bipolar disorder diagnosis. In light of these findings from the scientific literature, we reviewed the work of British writer Virginia Woolf, who allegedly suffered from bipolar disorder.
Virginia Woolf was no stranger to suffering from various ailments. For example, in her popular novel, Mrs. Dalloway , she explores the psyche of a returning World War I soldier with post-traumatic stress, which leads to hallucinations and eventually a far more tragic fate. Eliot, for the British literary magazine The Criterion , Woolf wrote the piece shortly after suffering a nervous breakdown. Being ill was, at that time, no doubt top of mind.
Here is where the artist Adeline Virginia Stephen was born. She lived in this house, at 22 Hyde Park Gate, in west London, for the first twenty-two years of her life. She was accompanied, I imagine, by her seventy-year-old father, the noted man of letters Sir Leslie Stephen. I picture them moving side by side: she in the white summer dress worn in the portrait, and he in one of the dark suits he was often cased in, his long, unkempt beard hiding the knot of his black silk necktie. Then left on to Princes Consort Road, crossing Exhibition Road, continuing to Princes Gardens, before needling through the quiet back mews till they reach Brompton Road. It was no doubt an anxious time for Beresford. This was an unexpected turn in his career.
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The dignitaries were given the red carpet treatment and the visit went off without a hitch, except for the fact that the real Emperor happened to be back in Addis Ababa. One of the "Abyssinians", decked out in flowing robes and dark greasepaint, turned out to be a youthful Virginia Woolf. The media and political storm that broke out in the wake of the hoax did little for Virginia's mental equilibrium. She had already experienced one breakdown and was well on her way toward another. One cold day in - her body wasting from neglect, her thoughts racing, and hearing voices - she wrote:. I feel certain now that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times.