For Whom the Bell Tolls: A psychological autopsy

The Independent has an excellent article on the life and death of writer Ernest Hemingway based on an academic article that attempted a ‘psychological autopsy’ to understand the reasons for his suicide.

Hemingway’s suicide has remained a sticking point for many of his biographers as it seemed incongruous with his adventurous, hard drinking and robustly out-going character.

In 2006, psychiatrist Christopher Martin published an examination of Hemingway’s death in the form of a ‘psychological autopsy‘ to better understand his final decision.

The method aims to get a picture of the dead person’s mental state, health, personality, and social situation to understand what motivated them to take their own life.

The Independent is a careful examination, based on Martin’s academic analysis, that looks at Hemingway’s personality and how the myth of the man had overshadowed many of his personal difficulties for many years.

It’s an in-depth and compelling read that gives a stark look at the darker side of the great writer’s mental life.

Link to Independent article on Hemingway (via @brainpicker)
Link to DOI entry and locked academic article.

4 thoughts on “For Whom the Bell Tolls: A psychological autopsy”

  1. Has anyone ever talked with Hemmingway’s doctor? I have long thought that Hemmingway was diagnosed with a terminal illness and that he decided to end his life to avoid the suffering that could have been his fate. There is also the more remote possibility of a conflict between Hemmingway and Fidel Castro and that his death was not a suicide at all. It seemed to me at the time of his death that it made no sense based on his ideals.

  2. Aren’t the suicide of a close relative and heavy drinking risk factors for suicide without getting fancier about it?

    And I wouldn’t do a psychological analysis of him using his head as a battering ram unless there was some other way out of the airplane.

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