Mental Illness in Fiction

I enjoyed this article on mental illness in literature. I loved Don Quixote and my favorite is Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I am a new author/blogger, if you are interested check me out at

Dave Astor on Literature

There’s a lot of mental illness in the world, and there’s a lot of mental illness in literature.

And why not? Fiction frequently reflects real life (albeit often in a heightened way) and many readers have suffered from depression, bipolar disorder, etc. — or have family members, friends, and coworkers with various such conditions.

Mental illness — which of course ranges from mild to severe — can also help give literature the important elements of drama, heartbreak, curiosity-evoking content, cliffhanger situations, etc. Will characters with mental illness harm themselves or others? Can they function well in society, perhaps with the help of medication and/or therapy? How much does income level determine how people with mental illness are treated? Do the characters live at home or in a facility? Are some of them misdiagnosed? Do characters who know characters with mental illness act resentfully, compassionately, or both ways in their interactions?…

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