This article summarizes previous attempts to diagnose the mental illness of King Lear, featuring, among others, such entities as mania, senile dementia, delirium, depression, and brief reactive psychosis, and offers a new diagnosis according to the modern diagnostic criteria, namely, bipolar I disorder, most recent episode manic, severe with psychotic features.
Colman (7) established for Lear a diagnosis of brief reactive psychosis with a background of organic mental disorder, perhaps of a vascular origin, exemplified by the king's visual hallucinations and an intimation of a stroke just before Lear's death, since "he asks for help to undo one of his buttons.
If one undertakes such a task just on the basis of a general recollection of the tragedy's plot from one's childhood readings, the psychotic episode itself towers over the prodromal symptoms and, presenting itself out of context, probably dictates the diagnosis of brief reactive psychosis, with marked stressors.
Schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder, delusional disorders, acute psychosis or mania with psychotic mood, brief reactive psychosis
, atypical psychosis, Tourette's syndrome, schizophreniform disorder, Huntington's chlorea, short-term need of symptomatic treatment of nausea, vomiting, hiccups or itching, or dementia associated with psychotic or violent features that represent a danger to the patient or others.