The Compulsion

Arthur Inman wrote 17 million words. He wrote about a life that wasn’t a life. This eloquent, bigoted, demented American diarist put himself under hotel arrest for decades – he suffered from extreme hypochondria – and, like a literal Yankee cousin to Proust, wrote about America and everything that did and didn’t happen behind the drawn curtains of his room. Inman was thought to suffer from Hypergraphia or Midnight Disease, and perplexed by the myriad physical ailments that afflicted him at any given time, he sometimes  fell victim to quackery.

Hypergraphia: The driving compulsion to write; the overwhelming urge to write. Hypergraphia may compel someone to keep a voluminous journal, to jot off frequent letters to the editor, to write on toilet paper if nothing else is available, and perhaps even to compile a dictionary. Hypergraphia is the opposite of writer’s block. Temporal lobe epilepsy is associated with hypergraphia. This association has been known at least as early as 1974.  It is thought that some of the great writers suffered from it, including Byron, Dante, Dostoevsky, Moliere, Petrarch, Poe and Tennyson.

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