DL Fowler's Blog

Lincoln suffered from PTSD?

Posted in Lincoln, Lincoln Raw, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Psychology, My Books, Psychology, PTSD, Themes by DLFowler on September 2, 2010

Abe Lincoln was anything but normal in many ways, including behavior that demonstrated hyper-vigilance, suicidal thoughts, exposing himself to mortal dangers, extreme emotional swings, unexpected eruptions, etc.

After almost drowning in a creek at 7 years old, his mother died when he was 9. He sat on her grave during a storm to be sure her body didn’t float up out of the ground. He had a similar reaction a dozen years later when Ann Hathaway, his first (maybe only) true love died.

During the Civil War he sometimes ventured to the front lines and was nearly wounded. Once he stood on the ramparts of a fort, wearing a top hat, giving Rebel soldiers a 7 foot target to shoot at. He even talked about suicide during Cabinet meetings.

Twice as a young man he was on suicide watch. Once he subjected himself to torturous medical treatments that were the equivalent of self mutilation.

All of these behaviors could be symptomatic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Lincoln Raw-a biographical novel explores the possibility. Read it and decide for yourself.

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2 Responses

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  1. kateshrewsday said, on January 1, 2011 at 6:56 AM

    I guess we’re none of us normal and he had more trauma in his life than most. Whether or not we accord a label to his state of mind, the adversity he endured left an indelible imprint on who he was.
    Food for thought. Thank you.

    Like

  2. DLFowler said, on January 1, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    I agree. And the way he managed the imprint of those traumas could provide clues for the rest of us on how to manage our lives. Psychologists are just beginning to examine Lincoln’s life as a pattern for treating mental illness.

    Like


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