Virginia Woolf's Illnesses

by Douglass W. Orr, M.D.
edited by Wayne K. Chapman

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About the Book

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."

See also

Douglass W. Orr's brief monograph, Psychoanalysis and the Bloomsbury Group.



  1. The Stephen Family
  2. Virginia's Childhood
  3. Traumatic Early Adolescence
  4. The Second Major Breakdown
  5. The 1910 Illness
  6. Engagement and Marriage
  7. Madness Again: 1913
  8. Madness Once More: 1915
  9. Books and Illnesses: I
  10. Books and Illnesses: II
  11. Books and Illnesses: III
  12. Books and Illnesses: IV
  13. Virginia's Account of Her Final Years
  14. Virginia's Suicide and the Aftermath
  15. Notes on Diagnosis