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Diary Of A Madman: A Vivid Example Of Delusions Of Greatness - Crazy Characters
Diary Of A Madman: A Vivid Example Of Delusions Of Greatness - Crazy Characters

Video: Diary Of A Madman: A Vivid Example Of Delusions Of Greatness - Crazy Characters

Video: Diary Of A Madman: A Vivid Example Of Delusions Of Greatness - Crazy Characters
Video: Victoria Price & Shock 2023, June

Where else to look for a hero suffering from a mental illness, if not in Nikolai Gogol's story "Diary of a Madman"? Do you want to know what are the signs of delusions of grandeur, how to recognize it? An unforgettable example from the work of a great writer in front of you

The story was written in 1834. The author himself, who had suffered from a serious mental disorder all his life, was hardly in a state of peace of mind at this time.

In 1833, at the age of 24, Gogol began to complain of "chilliness" in his body, saying: "Legs are like cold ice." But, having begged the doctor I. Ye. Dyadkovsky for a prescription, he did not dare to take the medicine, fearing: "Suddenly there is a mistake in the prescription or they will give poison instead of the medicine."

Then the paranoid syndrome was replaced by a manic state. In a letter to the writer MP Pogodin, Gogol writes: “Wow, brother! How many thoughts come to me now! What big ones! Full, fresh! It seems to me that I will do something uncommon in world history. " Later, during the year, the writer's heightened mood was periodically replaced by states of depression.

It can be assumed that during the period of such a transition from mania to depression, the story was written with a comedy-farcical beginning and a "depressive" ending that aroused sympathy for the hero

There is no need to talk about any specific diagnosis of the titular counselor Poprishchyn. At that time the science of psychiatry did not yet exist, so Gogol had to use only the material that gave him life (he portrayed the excellent result of such an observation in the image of Plyushkin in Dead Souls).

"Houses of the insane" began to appear in Russia from the end of the 18th century, but the first description of mental disorders, close to a real clinic, appeared only in the book of P. P. Malinovsky in 1847. The classification of diseases shone with brevity: limited insanity, mania (general insanity), dementia, idiocy. Therefore, we can confidently assume that Gogol did not intend to portray a certain type of mental disorder.

The development of the hero's illness is easier to imagine using the dates from his diary. Mental disorder did not appear in Poprishchina immediately, but developed, as often happens in such cases. This is confirmed by the entries in the diary.

"October 3". "I confess that recently I sometimes begin to hear and see things that no one has ever seen or heard." Further, Gogol describes the "conversation" of two dogs, whose "speech" Poprishchin unexpectedly understands.

What does this mean?

These facts testify to the emerging disturbances of thinking, visual and auditory hallucinations.

"October 4". Poprishchin falls in love with the daughter of the director of the department and dreams of her, no longer realizing that she does not reciprocate and they, of course, cannot be a couple in any way.

"November 6". He was "infuriated by the head of the department," as Poprishchyn's courtship of the director's daughter acquired the character of inadequate obsession. The boss scolds the subordinate, but without much result.

What does this mean?

The hero's criticism of his behavior has already disappeared.

The following days of November are filled with developing erotic delirium: Poprishchin dreams of looking into the bedroom of his beloved girl to see “how a white as snow stocking is put on this leg”. And he comes to the idea of intercepting the "correspondence" of talking among themselves pet dogs in order to learn more about the "subject of their passion." It takes the whole month to read the dog's "letters", which make our hero worry a lot. And delusional experiences gradually take on a different direction.

"December 5". “I have been reading the newspapers all morning today. Strange things are happening in Spain. They write that the throne has been abolished and that the ranks are in a difficult situation regarding the election of an heir …"

There is no time for service, not for papers in some department and not for love flirting! "I couldn't get out of my head about Spanish affairs … For the most part I lay on the bed and talked about the affairs of Spain."

What does this mean?

Soon, disturbances in thinking lead Poprishchina to a delusional "enlightenment", which is confirmed by the date of the next entry.

"Year 2000 April 43". “Today is the day of the greatest celebration! There is a king in Spain. He was found. This king is me."

The following dates are as ridiculous as the behavior of the hero himself, so there is no point in giving them. It is curious that Poprishchyn is so confident in his monarchical election that he does not even consider it necessary to bring this news to the attention of those around him. Appearing "for a joke" in his department, Poprishchin "in the most important place where the director of the department signed, he wrote: Ferdinand VIII."

What does this mean?

The systematized delirium of greatness has reached its climax.

The hero tries to cut a royal robe out of his new uniform and is surprised that "there is still no deputation from Spain."

Finally the "deputies" appeared and took him to "Spain". But the latter did not like their attitude to Poprishchin at all: they would hit him on the back with a stick, then they would tie him up and drip cold water onto his shaved head.

Delirium (plus the ongoing "treatment") acts on his intellect in a depressing way, gradually turning Poprishchina into a weak-minded patient. He cannot understand why they are so mocked at him, suggesting that instead of the royal palace he fell into the hands of the Inquisition.

"Why are they torturing me?" - exclaims the hero. It does not occur to him that he is being treated quite officially and in full accordance with the available methods for "general insanity" in the insane asylum.

Exhausted by the ongoing "therapy", he exclaims like a crucified Christ: "Mother, save your poor son!.. Mother, have pity on your sick child."

Nikolai Gogol described the symptoms of various mental disorders: hallucinatory-delusional syndrome with the subsequent development of delusions of grandeur and an increase in dementia. Having slightly changed the words of the great writer, one can say: "Yes, it is sad to live in this world, gentlemen!"


  • Ageeva Z. M. Gogol's mental illness: pathography. M.: Algorithm, 2017.
  • Gogol N. V. Notes of a Madman // Collected Works in 4 volumes. M.: Pravda, 1952. T. 2. S. 131–150.
  • Gogol N. V. Selected Letters // Collected Works in 4 volumes. M.: Pravda, 1952. Vol. 4.

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