Was Poe a scitzophrenic?

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During Poe's later days in life did he have any symptoms that could link with mental incompetence?

-- Anonymous, February 27, 2000


Regretfully, I am unsure of specifically what you mean by later days in life. However, in the preceding days, prior to his trip to Baltimore, Poe had been rather busy with two significant projects. The first, his marriage to Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton, a widow with whom he had rekindled a boyhood romance. The wedding was scheduled for October 17, 1849 in Richmond, Virginia. He had also been busy writing for the Richmond Examiner and lecturing with some success on the Poetic Principle. The other project, and perhaps just as dear to his heart, was the establishment of his own magazine, The Stylus.

According to Authur H. Quinn in his introduction to Edgar Allan Poe, Complete Tales and Poems, Poe left Richmond for New York City on a boat bound for Baltimore at 4 a.m. September 27th in good condition. It was Poes intent, ultimately, to collect Mrs. Clemm from New York and return her to Richmond for the ceremony, but he indicated to her in a letter that he planned to stop in Philadelphia to see a poetess whose verses he was to edit.

Apparently, he arrived in Baltimore on the morning of September 28th and attempted to call on a friend, Dr. N. C. Brooks. The next known whereabouts of Poe was when his friend, Dr. J. P. Snodgrass, received a letter from a printer named Walker on October 3, 1849. Snodgrass and Poes uncle, Henry Herring, took Poe to Washington College Hospital on the afternoon of October 3rd. Poe died four days later at 5 a.m. Sunday, October 7th, 1849.

As to your question regarding schizophrenia, my understanding is that it is a severe mental disorder characterized by an erosion of the thinking processes, a disassociation with reality often accompanied by an attendant diminishing personality. While Poe certainly exhibited strange behavior during his stay in the hospital and there is some indication he was distracted prior to his return to Richmond in early July of 1949, I seriously doubt his behavior would support a diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, this is certainly not my area of expertise and it is a question begging for an appropriate forum. As for mental incompetence, this too begs another forum.

Interestingly, in 1996, a diagnosis was made of Poes final illness using the information provided during his treatment at the Washington College Hospital and the symptoms noted by the attending physician, Dr. Moran. Dr. Morans diagnosis was a lesion of the brain. I regret I do not recall the good doctors name but the 1996 conclusion based on the information available was that Poe likely died of rabies. I also maintain a cautionary position with this diagnosis but, again, I am grievously lacking in expertise here.

-- Anonymous, February 28, 2000

My apologies... that should read "July of 1849" and not 1949.

-- Anonymous, February 28, 2000



-- Anonymous, May 13, 2000



-- Anonymous, May 13, 2000

Edgar Allen Poe was not a schizophrenic. Schizophrenia is a very serious and incapacitating disease. People who are afflicted with this disease are unable to function in society without medication and intense therapy. I took the liberty of quoting a psychiatrist to prove my point, so if you have any questions about the disease, feel free to ask the doctor. "...patients continue to exhibit moderate levels of "positive symptoms" such as delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking and behaviour, and "negative symptoms" such as poverty of thought, volition and affect, and social and interpersonal withdrawal, and require long-term support and periodic admission to hospital." (Dr. Ashok K. Malla, Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, London Health Sciences Centre, 392 South St., WMCH Building, London ON N6A 4G5; akmalla@julian.uwo.ca )

-- Anonymous, June 21, 2000

thanks mark!:-) someone needed to clarify scitzophrenia...:-)

-- Anonymous, November 16, 2000

No Poe was not a scitzophrenic, he was an insane genius with literature.

-- Anonymous, January 29, 2001

i think that tinky winky is sexy. He is more scitzophrenic then poe. he has a hand bag which is a bit odd coz hes meant to be a guy. i also think asama bin laden raped my cat

-- Anonymous, April 11, 2002

I'm really beginning to wonder if someone meant to use D I D instead. As for the question, I doubt Poe was scitzophrenic. The mental incompitence can't really be proven, however throughout Poe's life he did tend to live in his dreams. I understand why he may have done this, seeing as how tormented his life was, but with the mental incompitence, I have found nothing to support that he did.

-- Anonymous, November 26, 2003

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