Many of Shakespeare's characters suffer from the myriad of medical and surgical ailments that afflict mankind. Although many of these diseases serve merely to enhance the subtle shading of character in Shakespearean drama, certain disorders seem to provide a vital focus for the basic theme and plot development of the plays. No group of disorders is more implicated by the behavior and thought patterns of Shakespeare's characters than neuropsychiatric disease. Othello, the Moor of Venice stands out as a striking example of a tragedy
in which the main character suffers grievous consequences from a disease that affects his behavior and thereby directs the course and outcome of the play.
In this essay, I will attempt to correlate the history, signs, and symptoms of
Othello's disease with recognized neurological conditions, specifically partial
psychomotor seizure disorders. I will cite many bits of evidence, although none
are conclusive without a physical examination and diagnostic electroencephalogram.
I will also make an argument in favor of Shakespeare's medical as well as
literary expertise .
Cohen, MD, Alan J.
"The Neuropsychiatric Syndrome of a Psychomotor Seizure Disorder in Shakespeare's Othello, The Moor of Venice,"
Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry:
1, Article 8.
Available at: http://jdc.jefferson.edu/jeffjpsychiatry/vol4/iss1/8