Yellow Wallpaper portrays that the protagonist in the story, Jane is mentally disturbed. Due to various factors and social pressures, Jane is affected with a mental condition that causes her to lose her mind and be out of touch with reality. The diagnoses that can be made about Jane from The Yellow Wallpaper are of Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type and Bipolar Disorder Type I.
Schizophrenia- Paranoid Type
As defined in the DSM-IV (APA, 2000), the Paranoid Type schizophrenia consists majorly of delusions and hallucinations. Other symptoms suggestive of Paranoid Type schizophrenia are disorganized speech, behavior and inappropriate effects. (APA, 2000) As the name suggest, this form of schizophrenia is linked to excess feel of anxiety and confusion. The patient feels as if everything and everyone is going against them and wants to harm them in one way or another. Just as is characteristic of any schizophrenic patient, Jane has an amalgamation of thoughts. She cannot focus on just one thing and flows from one thing to another. "It is getting to be a great effort for me to think straight" (Gilman, 1973) She talks about the room then the garden then wallpaper. Shifting form one thought to another shows how there are so many different things going on in her head all at the same time.
Paranoia is quite visible in the way she feels about Jennie and especially the wall paper. "There comes John's sister…I must not let her find me writing" (Gilman, 1973) Even though writing is quite an innocent act, Jane feels as if she will get in trouble. There is also mention about not trusting people too much. This again is indicative towards paranoid type of schizophrenia. Jane's husband and her sister in law are merely trying to help her out and take care of her. The fact that she thinks of them as a danger shows how paranoid she really is. For instance, there is a part where Jane wishes that her husband would sleep in another room. She starts to get irritated of the limitations that have been placed on her and tries to fight against them.
As the book reaches its climax, Jane starts showing more characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia. These symptoms include hallucinations and delusions. The first hallucination that she gets is of olfactory origin and feels as if she smells something burning throughout the whole house. Throughout the book, the yellow wallpaper is the source of discomfort for her and therefore, she gets a really bad smell from the wallpaper. The most serious delusion that comes forward is way Jane perceives the woman in the wall paper. This delusion basically goes on to show that Jane has in fact lost in touch with reality.
She goes on to describe the woman as a real person who is kidnapped in the wallpaper and is trapped behind bars. She talks about the woman in real terms and states that she sees her creeping around in the house and on the walls. Since Jane thinks that the wallpaper and the lady in it can cause her harm, she goes on to rip the entire wall paper off. Her delusional state is the most prominent in this part as she states how hard it was for her to pull the lady out the wall paper. (Gilman, 1973) "I've got out at last…in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!" (Gilman, 1973) This is what Jane says to John as the story ends and it clearly shows that Jane is suffering from some sort of paranoid mental illness and has lost in touch with reality. The DSM-IV code states that the patient will be occupied with one or more delusion. Therefore, it seems that the yellow wallpaper was the delusion that she was the most preoccupied with and that the woman would cause her harm.
Bipolar I Disorder
As defined by the DSM-IV (APA, 2000), Bipolar I disorder is when there is one or more manic episode or mixed episodes. Furthermore, the mood symptoms of the patient cause them problems in their occupational, social and other areas of functioning. (APA, 2000) Furthermore, the symptoms of major depressive episode are that the patient is in a depressed mood and has decreased interest in most of the activities. There is feeling of guilt, and agitation. Furthermore, the patient is not able to think straight, has thoughts related to death and is not able to sleep well either. On the other hand, a manic episode consists of increased feeling of grandiosity, excessively irritable or elevated mood and distractibility. (APA. 2000)We will see how all these criterion apply to Jane in the discussion below.
We see that in course of the story, Jane describes herself as being depressed and tired. It has been shown that she is a fan of writing and that's what she uses to jot down her thoughts. In her writing we see that she is experiencing delusions, anxiety and paranoia. Along with these odd moments and being depressed, she also has odd eating patterns. In addition to that, her sleeping and activity patterns are also very irregular as well. "Half the time now I am awfully lazy, and lie down ever so much" (Gilman, 1973) Loss of motivation which is indicative of major depression is also a symptom Jane exhibits.
In the beginning of the book, Jane displays feeling of guilt and as if she is a burden for John and Jenny. She herself knows that her condition is too much of a problem for her husband and their new child. For instance, Jane says things like she feels ungrateful and as if she is a "comparative burden" (Gilman, 1973) This guilt that is shown here basically depicts the depressive phase that she going through. Because Jaen is guilty and feels bad for her husband, she spontaneously becomes more obedient and obeying in the front of him. In the beginning of the story, Jane also states that she gets upset and irritable over the smallest things with her husband. A major source of irritability is the wall paper that is present on the wall. We will see that this wall paper is by far the reason of many more things and behaviors that Jane goes to show later in the story.
Another symptom of depressive phase is that odd sleeping and eating habits. "John knows I don't sleep very well at night…" (Gilman, 1973) Either she will sleep throughout the whole day or she lies in the bed staying up the whole night. The fact that Jane lies in bed and just keeps thinking is indicative of a sleeping problem. Furthermore, we see that after the fourth of July weekend, John states that her appetite is better and that she is gaining flesh. (Gilman, 1973) Just the fact that John mentioned her appetite and increased physical appearance indicates that she must be suffering from some sort of eating problem before.
Another thing that indicates Jane is going through depression is easy fatigability. "There is nothing to hinder my writing...save lack of strength" (Gilman, 1973) This shows that even though she loves writing, she is too tired to write. "Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little I am able -- to dress and entertain, and order things" (Gilman, 1973) This part shows that she herself realizes those everyday chores like dressing up or even talking to other people takes a lot of effort from her side. She realizes that she is different from others and that she cannot do those things very easily now. This retaliation also shows that she realizes that she is dependent on Jennie and her husband.
A major thing that hints towards the depressive phase of Bipolar disorder is that she talks about suicide. This can be seen as an odd attempt by her to talk about ending her life or just letting go off all the odd thoughts and perceptions that are controlling her thoughts. Bipolar I was reached as a diagnosis due to the rapid change in mood that is shown by Jane's maniac phase. This phase basically consists of hallucinations and inability to concentrate. There is also a part in the book where Jane exhibits a feeling of grandeur that is characteristic of the manic phase. She states that she knows the most about the wallpaper and no one can ever really figure out what is happening with it (Gilman, 1973) These signs can also be contributed to schizophrenia as mentioned above; however, the feeling of grandeur is characteristic of Bipolar disorder. Jane's attitude and the way she writes also shows that her mood is changing. She uses more exclamation marks and her language is not as eloquent as it was when the story starts. She appears more excited and jittery just from the way she talks.
There are a lot of factors that could have precipitated Jane's condition and actually caused it to…