Download Full Text (713 KB)


Psychoanalyst Douglass Orr declares that his book about Virginia Woolf "is not a psychobiography." Instead, he offers a number of diagnostic possibilities in psychiatry based on extensive records that we have of Virginia Woolf's "life history, both in her own words and in the reminiscences of others." His general thesis is that, "however neurotic Virginia may have been, her usual, day-to-day self was within normal limits. The normal self was, even so, extremely vulnerable to traumata in the area of separations and losses, on the one hand, and, on the other, to direct blows to her self-esteem." Dr. Orr interprets Virginia's five or six experiences of "madness" to be "separate and distinct illnesses having quite different proximate causes. This view differs from the common assumption that Virginia had a single, life-long psychiatric disease, such as manic-depressive disorder, or manic depression.


Clemson University Digital Press

Publication Date



Copyright 2004, Clemson University

For more information on the Clemson University Digital Press, please visit:

Virginia Woolf's Illnesses