DL Fowler's Blog

Lincoln suffered from PTSD?

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.

Book Trailer

Posted in Assassination, Kindle, Lincoln, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Psychology, My Books, Nook, Plots by DLFowler on May 5, 2011

I’ve added video to the blog. Here’s a book trailer I created on my iPhone.  You’ll see more, including interviews with readers while I’m on my book signing tour later this month. I may even read excerpts from the book and post them here. What do you think?

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Lincoln Trivia Question #19

Posted in Assassination, Lincoln Trivia, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Psychology, Plots, PTSD, Research by DLFowler on April 14, 2011

Yes, I know I’m skipping around. If you’re keeping score this is the third trivia question I’ve posted.  The complete list of 20 is on my website.  Okay, here it is:

Q: What deadly act did Lincoln offer to perform for his cabinet?

A: He offered to hang himself.

A pretty fitting question for the 146th anniversary of his assassination, don’t you think?

Well, there are a variety of explanations, but who knows what was actually going on in Lincoln’s head.  It’s true that he suffered from acute bouts of depression during most of his adult life. It’s also possible he was being melodramatic; it wouldn’t have been the first time.

Something else is worth considering. Have you ever dealt with someone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Lincoln probably suffered from that, possibly a variation called Acute Traumatic Stress. He suffered sympthoms common to both disorders, including catalepsy. In those episodes, he would slip into a kind of catatonic state. His law partner William Herndon witnessed more than one such episode.

When PTSD sufferers commit suicide, it’s rarely out of despondency. More often it’s an attempt on their part to take control of a situation that seems out of hand. In that vein, Lincoln might have seriously consided martyring himself to turn public and political opinion in favor of his Reconstruction Plan which was on the cusp of failure. 

Of course that’s something we’ll never know. Not unless he confessed it in a diary that’s not turned up in the last 140+ years.

Just sayin.

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.

Did Lincoln Plan His Own Assassination?

The better question is what would possess him to do so?  

Now this is not my question. Joshua Shenk prompted me to think about this possibility through his book, Lincoln’s Melancholy.  But everything that followed is a product of my fertile (some would call it compost pile) imagination.

In Lincoln’s Diary – a novel, Sarah Sue Morgan wants the truth. But when the truth includes an unpublished Lincoln diary that may prove the sixteenth President arranged his own assassination, the truth could kill.

Lincoln had motivation, opportunity and means.  Means you ask – consider that Booth was his favorite actor (Lincoln loved the theater). Lincoln would have welcomed him into the presidential box – he didn’t have to jimmy the lock. Booth was at the White House days before the assassination.  Lincoln’s bodyguard was in the vicinity of the Surrat boarding house while Booth met with co-conspirators. Conspiracy theorists have long argued that Booth had inside help.  Could Lincoln have been his co-conspirator?

Well, he knew he was losing his battle for a conciliatory plan of Reconstruction.  Would it have crossed his mind that martyrdom might push his plan forward?  I mean, after he threatened to hang himself during a cabinet meeting. Twice he was on suicide watch during his early adult life.

Okay, so at this point you’re still thinking – no way.  But then again, you haven’t seen everything that’s in Lincoln’s Diary – a novel. Oh yes, it’s fiction. But isn’t life supposed to be stranger than fiction?