All women are a little crazy and can you blame us? We’re dealing with kids that don’t listen, husbands that don’t hear, equality in the workplace, and bodies that are hormonal amusement parks.
“Crazy women” are most likely:
d. all of the above
Today with a better understanding of mental health and psychology, a person with erratic or uncharacteristic behaviors might be diagnosed as bipolar or depressed. But decades ago they were considered downright crazy.
Meet these five fascinating women in history that were deemed insane and see what you really think.
5 “Crazy” Women in History
1. Zelda Fitzgerald
Who was she? Zelda Fitzgerald was the wife of famous American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gastby) who once coined her as the “first American flapper.” Born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1900 as Zelda Sayer, Zelda was vibrant, exciting and the epitome of a 1920s flapper girl. Her life and marriage, however, were rocky and heavily laden with alcoholism. It is known that Fitzgerald used Zelda’s own writing, her journal, and her stories to make up key elements in his own works. There is no F. Scott Fitzgerald without Zelda.
By the late 1920s, Zelda started to show signs of serious disturbance. In a letter to Dr. Slocum Fitzgerald suggests that his wife Zelda was schizophrenic.
What was really going on? (1)Heavy alcohol abuse: Both Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were known to consume heavy amounts of toxic industrial alcohol during prohibition. (2) Infidelity: In 1927, Scott had a public affair with Lois Moran, a young actress whom he based his character Rosemary on in “Tender is the Night.” There were many affairs before and after Moran. (3) A tempestuous social life: Scott and Zelda were the “It” couple in the public eye, attending parties at eccentric hours.
Some historians suggest that Zelda likely experienced depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Zelda was ultimately committed to Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina where she died in a facility fire eight years after her husband’s death.
2. Sylvia Plath
Who was she? Sylvia Plath was an American poet and author of the novel The Bell Jar which was closely based on her struggle with mental illness. She is the first person to win a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.
What was really going on? Severe depression and insomnia-plagued Plath for years and led her to attempt suicide several times. On February 11, 1963, a year after her husband Ted Hughes left her for another woman, and at the age of 30 and with small children, Sylvia Plath stuck her head in the oven, turned on the gas, and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
3. Mary Todd Lincoln
Who was she? First lady and wife of President Abraham Lincoln. Mary Todd Lincoln was a smart, outgoing woman from a wealthy background. Her Lexington, Kentucky family disapproved of her match to Abraham Lincoln because he had little formal education and came from a poor background. On April 14, 1865, Mary Todd Lincoln was sitting next to her husband at Ford’s Theater when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth.
What was really going on? Mary Todd Lincoln never recovered from her husband’s assassination and she sank into a deep depression. Six years later her youngest son Thomas died and her only surviving son Robert took her to court on charges of insanity. The court sided with Robert and committed Mary to an insane asylum near Chicago. Although she was released several months later, the public now saw here as a crazy woman.
4. Joan of Arc
Who was she? A French teenage girl with tremendous valor who dressed as a male and helped lead the French army to benchmark victories during the Hundred Years’ War. Joan claimed that at the age of 13 she saw visions of angels and saints who told her to drive out the English. History reports that Joan was a woman with “courage in her heart and voices in her head.”
What was really going on? Modern scholars explain the voices and visions by asserting that Joan of Arc possibly had schizophrenia, epilepsy, or a neurological disorder that triggered hallucinations. The strangest theory of all predicts that Joan contracted bovine tuberculosis from drinking unpasteurized milk as a kid. Because a woman who sees angles is crazy.
Who was she? Rosemary Kennedy was the third of Joseph and Rose Kennedy’s nine children and President John F. Kennedy’s sister. Rosemary was born with a mental impairment in a time when having a child with special needs was considered shameful. Rosemary was the Kennedy that no one talked about.
What was really going on? At 18, Rosemary was functioning at a 4th-grade level. She would run away in the middle of the night and be found in bars. When she was 23, Rosemary’s father scheduled her for a lobotomy without telling his wife. Slicing into her brain left Rosemary unable to walk or talk. She lived the last 60 years of her life in an institution where her father never visited again.
We all have our Britney Spears moments. But if Britney can come out on top after a shaved head, partying without panties, and attacking paparazzi with an umbrella, then maybe it’s not so crazy to have a breakdown or two. Besides, history is even more full of men who are off their rocker. But that’s another story for another time.
Image sources: Featured image: Unsplash.com, (1) Zelda Fitzgerald: Wikimedia Commons public domain, (2) Sylvia Plath: Wikimedia Commons public domain, (3) Mary Todd Lincoln: By not listed – Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (neg. no. LC USZ 62 15325), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=970791, (4) Joan of Arc: Wikimedia Commons public domain.
And to read about some ladies who really rocked at life, check these out: