Depiction Of Mental Ilness In Don Quixote
An identity crisis is defined as a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society. These periods can range from mental illnesses such as, schizophrenia where a person is deprived of owning his or her actions, or Alzheimer's disease where one’s memory is destroyed along with other mental functions, to even in healthy young adults everywhere who depend so much on their role or their ability to produce in society they become “lost” when it is no longer needed or clear that it is their true purpose.
In the popular novel, “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes, the main character - Don Quixote - is observed performing bizarre acts of chivalry in a time that is not quite appropriate. He genuinely believes he is a knight and he must battle giants, and save maidens and even win over the heart of Dulcinea whom the reader never actually meets throughout the entirety of the story. Don Quixote lives his whole life up until his last dying moments in an identity crisis. He realizes his confusion only right before he is laid to rest. Although the story is fiction there are qualities in Don Quixote that are easily connected with modern day lifestyles. There is a Don Quixote to every situation and even in everyone. Don Quixote’s delusions are a symptom of one mental illness recognized as schizophrenia. This mental disorder results in combinations of hallucinations, delusions, abnormal motor behavior and lack of ability to function. People diagnosed with this disorder are incapable of controlling their actions and often live unaware of their difficulties.
Similarly, Don Quixote was not aware of his delusions and never felt the need to confront his madness. Modern treatments for patients with schizophrenia include a psychiatrist, a social worker and possibly a case manager alongside medications and psychosocial interventions. It is still baffling exactly what made Don Quixote “snap out of it” because he certainly did not have the modern techniques of today, but he did have the support of his friends to help him at least be comfortable while he went through his identity crisis. On the more extreme side of an identity crisis, Alzheimer's disease is the irreversible loss of memory and even mental functions needed to survive. This disease disrupts the ability to think and even alters one’s personality altogether. There is no cure for Alzheimer's and this disease is unfortunately terminal. People diagnosed more often than not die not remembering who they are, or who they were. Don Quixote was more fortunate to not only remember his life as a “knight” but also realize his madness and come to peace with it.
Identity plays such an important role in today’s culture. Society is raised on the idea that its only purpose is to produce and if people cannot provide they are deemed a burden. This idea of always producing or “staying on the grind” puts so much stress on young people and their involvement with their purpose. This is why identity crises are especially common in adolescents who have not yet found their reason to produce. Don Quixote’s are found everywhere in high schools, colleges, the unemployed and even the people who have found more than one purpose. There is a Don Quixote within the soul of everyone who has ever felt lost or questioned their existence trying to find their purpose to live.