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29 February 2008

HYPERGRAPHIA: driving compulsion to write!

Did you know that there is a disorder called HYPERGRAPHIA? It means the driving compulsion to write or the overwhelming urge to write. Actually, it is not itself a disorder, but can be associated with temporal lobe changes in epilepsy or mania.

Hypergraphia was one of the central issues in the mysterious story of Virginia_Ridley, a woman who also suffered from agoraphobia and epilepsy and remained secluded in her home for twenty-seven years. When her husband, Alvin Ridley, was accused of holding his wife in the home for almost three decades and killing her, her ten thousand-plus page hypergraphic journal was central at the 1999 trial and in the ultimate acquittal of Mr. Ridley. Her writings literally answered every question raised about the mysterious woman in the small town of Ringgold, Georgia, when prosecutors had assumed that she had been held against her will and murdered.

Both Vincent van Gogh and Fyodor Dostoevsky are reported to have been affected by Hypergraphia. The fearsomely prolific American composer Alan Hovhaness may have been affected by hypergraphia. He claimed to have thrown over 1,000 of his early compositions into the fireplace in the 1940s whilst still a young man, and even at the time of his death, in 2000, had penned at least 400 more, of which at least 300 are published.

Lewis Carroll, the esteemed author of "Alice in Wonderland" is said to have had hypergraphia; in his lifetime he wrote over 98,000 letters varying in format. The letters were written backwards, in rebus, and in different patterns, such as the "Mouse Tail" in the former book.

The Reverend Robert Shields maintained a diary chronicling every 5 minutes of his life from 1972 until a stroke disabled him in 1997. The resulting work filled 94 boxes and contained approximately 37.5 million words.


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