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Dickens, Charles - Hershman and Lieb



Type of Spiritual Experience

Invisible input - inspiration

Number of hallucinations: 1


Dickens Dream by Robert William Buss, 1875

A description of the experience

Manic Depression and Creativity – D Jablow Hershman and Dr Julian Lieb

One consequence of needing intense mania in order to write was that Dickens often wrote, literally, in a state of transport.  Therefore, previous calculations would go out of the window and he would not follow his own plan in writing a story.  Hidden need and the force of strong emotions took over, as they do in mania.  Dickens attests that when 'I sit down to my book, some beneficent power shows it all to me and tempts me to be interested and I don't invent it – really do not – but see it and write it down'.

His working highs were so strong that they could anaesthetise him to all discomfort.  'It is only when it all fades away and is gone, that I begin to suspect that its momentary relief has cost me something'.

There was something hallucinatory about Dicken's state of being when he was deep in a story.  He would swear that his characters followed him around after working hours.  He complained especially about Fagin, Tiny Tim and Little Nell. 

He would become quite devoted to his characters by the time he finished a story.  'It makes  me very melancholy'  he once said 'to think that all of these people are lost to me forever, and I feel as if I never could become attached to any new set of characters'.  There was no membrane separating Dicken's life from his art.

The source of the experience

Dickens, Charles

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Extreme emotion


Being left handed