The Hamlet Syndrome


Wilson, Jeffrey R., and Henry F. Fradella. “The Hamlet Syndrome”. Law, Culture, and the Humanities (2016). Web.


Bringing together legal, literary, and cultural studies, this article builds from a close reading of madness in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet to some psycho-social theories of malingering and the insanity defense in the modern United States. The basis of these theories is the notion that feigned madness – whether purposeful malingering or a failed insanity defense – often signifies actual madness of a lesser sort. When someone is found to be “faking it,” however, that discovery can result in a widespread assumption of mental health in the person on trial, an assumption that often turns out to be wrong.

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Last updated on 08/13/2019