In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both show signs of what would today be diagnosed as symptoms of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is defined as “long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation”. There are three major symptoms of this disorder: not knowing the difference between reality and fantasy, jumbled conversations, and withdrawal physically and emotionally. The most common and most well known symptom of schizophrenics is when they can’t make out what is real and what isn’t. Schizophrenics suffer from delusions and hallucinations. A delusion is ‘belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder’. A hallucination is seeing or hearing something is isn’t really there. Some people diagnosed as schizophrenic speak with rambling conversations. They often burst out with vague statements. Lastly, some schizophrenics withdraw emotionally, for example, their outlook on life is dead and show little care for the world. They withdraw physically, for example, their movements become robot like and really jerky.
What causes people to become schizophrenic? One possibility, in Macbeth and Lady macbeth’s case is guilt. Macbeth, in trying to become king, kills some people he he was so loyal to.He really didn’t want to kill anyone but he knew that in order to become king he had to. He said to his wife, “We will proceed no futher in this business: He hath honored me of late.” (Act 1, Scene 7, Lines 31-32). Lady Macbeth feels guilty too. For example, after she smeared the king’s blood on one of the drunken attendants to frame him, she says, “ My hands are of your color, but I shame to wear a heart...
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