Was Raskolnikov Bipolar?

Crime and Punishment is often described as one of the earliest psychological novels. I found the descriptions of Raskolnikov’s state of body and mind interesting in light of recent increased awareness of depression disorders.

Symptoms are from the Mayo Clinic site, on Bipolar Disorder. Quotations from Crime and Punishment are from the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation; I’ve included a few examples from the text. There are many more.

Signs and symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:

* Euphoria
* Extreme optimism
* Inflated self-esteem
* Poor judgment
* Rapid speech
* Racing thoughts
* Aggressive behavior
* Agitation
* Increased physical activity
* Risky behavior
* Spending sprees
* Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
* Increased sexual drive
* Decreased need for sleep
* Tendency to be easily distracted
* Inability to concentrate
* Drug abuse

He had been walking for about six hours (p. 115)

It was as if he were not himself. He was unable to stay still even for a minute, unable to focus his attention on any one subjet; his thoughts leaped over each other; his speech wandered; his hands were trembling slightly. (p. 522)

Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder may include:

* Sadness
* Hopelessness
* Suicidal thoughts or behavior
* Anxiety
* Guilt
* Sleep problems
* Appetite problems
* Fatigue
* Loss of interest in daily activities
* Problems concentrating
* Irritability
* Chronic pain without a known cause

A strange time came for Raskolnikov: it was as if fog suddenly fell around him and confined hm in a hopeless and heavy solitude. Recalling this time later, long afterwards, he suspected that his consciousness had sometimes grown dim. (p. 439)

Severe episodes of either mania or depression may result in psychosis, or a detachment from reality. Symptoms of psychosis may include hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations) and false but strongly held beliefs (delusions).

In the dark of evening he was jolted back to consciousness by terrible shouting. God, what shouting it was! Never before had he seen or heard such unnatural noises, such howling, screaming, snarling, tears, blows and curses…And then, to his great amazement, he suddenly made out his landlady’s voice…

“No one was beating the landlady,” [Natasya later] said…”No one was here.” (pp. 115-7)

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