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Tara Pittman
AP Language and Composition
10 Feb 2015
The Great Gatsby: A Compilation of Mental Patients
The lifestyles of Jay Gatsby and others have been glamorized throughout the years.
Living with a mental illness should not be considered glamorous. People do not realize that they
envy an unstable life when they romanticize The Great Gatsby.
Many critics believe that Fitzgerald may have incorporated the motif of mental illness in
The Great Gatsby due to the condition of his wife Zelda. Though he directly addresses his wifes
illness in his letters to Dr. Slocum, Fitzgerald indirectly addresses it in The Great Gatsby. It was
argued that Zelda had schizophrenia, but was more likely to have multiple personality disorder.
Fitzgerald turned all of these personalities into characters in the book, along with characters
reflecting him.
Jay Gatsby is quite obviously a narcissist. Giles Mitchell says, The themes of perfection
and omnipotence in Gatsbys character are classic symptoms of narcissism, in which the egoideal has become inflated and destructive. Gatsbys grandiose lies, poor sense of reality, sense
of entitlement, and exploitive treatment of othersparticularly womenoffer further evidence
for this theory. (Mitchell n.p.) Gatsby believes that even though Daisy is married with a child,
that he can still have her. This shows a sense of entitlement that he simply cannot have in reality.
He feels entitled to have the woman that moved on 5 years before. He always wants to be the
center of attention, another sign of narcissism. In his meeting with Daisy after 5 years of not
seeing each other, Gatsby wears a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie,

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(Fitzgerald 84). Gatsbys lavish parties are also a great sign of being a narcissist. He always feels
like he needs to be the center of attention, especially to the people in his town. To do this, he
throws glamorous parties at his mansion. In chapter 3, Nick describes what he sees going into
Gatsbys house before a party as At least a fortnight a corps of caterers came down with several
hundred feet of canvas and enough colored lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsbys enormous
garden. (Fitzgerald 40) The sole fact that Gatsby goes by that name instead of his birth name,
James Jimmy Gatz, also shows that he is arrogant enough to change his name to a more
extravagant name. Gatsby also shows symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD),
leaning more towards the obsessive aspect. The Mayo Clinic defines obsessive compulsive
disorder as characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do
repetitive behaviors (compulsions). His obsession over Daisy is the most prevalent sign that he
has OCD. In Chapter 5, Gatsby plans to have tea with Daisy at Nicks home. With all of his
anxiety, he obsesses over every aspect in Nicks home, including the delivery of dozens of
arrangements of flowers. Nick says, the flowers were unnecessary, for at two oclock a
greenhouse arrived from Gatsbys, with innumerable receptacles to contain it. (Fitzgerald 84)
Not only is this a sign of Gatsbys obsessions, it also shows his narcissism by being the center of
attention and making everything over the top.
Daisy may be portrayed as the innocent woman with no other problems than an obsessed
ex boyfriend and a cheating husband. In truth, Daisy has a great amount of personal problems.
Dependent personality disorder is the most obvious problem that Daisy has. People with this are
emotionally dependent on other people and try hard to please others (WebMD n.p.) Daisy knows
that her husband Tom is cheating on her. She stays with him because she feels as if she always
has to have someone, and wants to please him by not leaving. WebMD also says that Avoidance

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of adult responsibilities by acting passive and helpless. Dependence on a spouse or friend to

make decisions like where to work and live. is a symptom. Daisy is so dependent on her
husband that she left Chicago and spent a year in in France with Tom, most likely because of
one of his discretions. As a woman, she couldve left her husband after such a controversial
issue, but her dependent personality led her to follow him wherever he chose to go. This could
also have something to do with the fact that Tom was an extremely wealthy national figure.
Women also were very dependent on their husbands in the 1920s, and would be frowned upon if
they left them. This dependent personality disorder may also lead to depression. When Daisy
does not get enough attention, it may cause her to be depressed. Toms infidelity is an indefinite
cause of a lack of attention. He also does not care about his own daughter, which may make
Daisy feel alone and depressed with a toddler. Shes asleep. Shes three years old. Havent you
ever seen her? Never. Well, you ought to see her. Shes--- Tom Buchanan, who had been
hovering restlessly about the room, stopped and rested his hand on my shoulder. (Fitzgerald 10)
This interruption of Daisy belittles her and makes her feel likes she means little to nothing to her
own husband. Another cause of Daisys depression is her knowledge of Tom having an affair. It
is made clear that she knows about the affair because of the constant tie of phone calls and Tom
leaving the room at the time of them. Her body language and reaction is a sign that she knows
about him cheating The telephone rang inside, startlingly, and as Daisy shook her head
decisively at Tom the subject of the stables, in fact all subjects, vanished into air. (Fitzgerald 15)
Daisy shaking her head shows that she knows what is going and is disappointed. Daisys
infidelity with Gatsby may be a sign of a multiple personality disorder. Sometimes she may want
to be with Gatsby, but at other times she wants to be with Tom. The definition of multiple
personality disorder is a condition in which two or more distinct identities, or personality states,

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are present inand alternately take control ofan individual. (Psychology Today n.p.) Daisy
goes through different personalities, which causes her to have bipolar tendencies about her love
life. Fitzgerald giving Daisy this personality disorder may be a reflection of his wife Zelda, since
she has schizophrenia.
Tom Buchanan lives a lifestyle of wealth and old money. With everything being handed
to him, a quality of pretentiousness may appear in him. The diagnosis of narcissism is present in
Mr. Buchanan. Individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder grow up feeling superior and
needing to be admired. They have a longstanding pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior),
need for admiration, and lack of empathy. (Mental Health n.p.) This disorder is usually seen in
adolescents. Since Tom grew up with old money, his narcissistic personality may have been
present since he was a child. As it grew into his adult years, he now feels as if he is above anyone
else and their feelings. Toms infidelity dealing with Myrtle is a sign that he is a narcissist,
especially since he is married to Daisy. Tom has the invincible mindset, especially when he
cheats on his wife in front of her own cousin, Nick. Nick says So Tom Buchanan and his girl
and I went up together to New York--or not quite together, for Mrs. Wilson sat discreetly in
another car. Tom deferred that much to the sensibilities of those East Eggers who might be on the
train. (Fitzgerald 26). This is evidence that Tom is arrogant to cheat, even in front of his wifes
cousin. He believes there will be no consequence to his actions. Another point where Tom shows
narcissistic behavior is when he interrupts Daisy while she is bragging about their child, Pam.
Daisy says Well you ought to see her. Shes-- when Tom interrupts Tom Buchanan, who
had been hovering restlessly about the room, stopped and rested his hand on my shoulder. What
are you doing, Nick? (Fitzgerald 10) Tom thinks so highly of himself that he doesnt even care
to hear about his own daughter. His narcissism leads him to have no respect for his wife. A

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secondary mental illness that comes from Toms narcissism is his racism. This may also come
from the time period and the way that Tom grew up, considering he came from old money. Tom
says to Nick it's up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have
control of things (Fitzgerald 17). This shows that Tom is an ethnocentric racist. He believes that
the white race is superior to all other races. Racism shows a heartless trait in Tom. He always
finds a way to incorporate a racist remark. When he found out that Daisy was having an affair
with Gatsby, he saysI suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere
make love to your wife. Well, if thats the idea you can count me out...Nowadays people begin by
sneering at family life and family institutions, and next theyll throw everything overboard and
have intermarriage between black and white. (Fitzgerald 130). It is evident that Toms racism
coincides with his narcissism. Including a character with racism may be a reflection of Fitzgerald
himself, considering he grew up in the south and may have had racial tendencies as well.
Nick Carraway is a pathological liar all to his benefit. To make himself seem like an
innocent bystander throughout the course of events in The Great Gatsby, Nick alters the story. To
cover up how he lies, he sometimes says that the events happened so long ago and he just cannot
remember them correctly. He says Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal
virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known. (Fitzgerald
59). It seems odd that Nick had to prove that he was honest, it was not necessary for him to say
that unless he had something to hide. Not only does Nick lie to the reader as he narrates, he lies
to his peers. He was a witness to all the events that happened. He knew that his cousin Daisys
husband was cheating on her with Myrtle, and even accompanied him on one of his visits to her.
There is always a halt there of at least a minute, and it was because of this that I first met Tom
Buchanans mistress. Though I was curious to see her, I had no desire to meet her--but I did.

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(Fitzgerald 24). Nick knows that he is witnessing a situation that is wrong, but is so intrigued by
drama that he goes through with it anyways. He never says a word to Daisy about it. Nick also
witnesses Gatsby and Daisys affair, even providing a place for it to take place. When Gatsby
wanted to meet Daisy, Nick invited them both to have tea at his house. Knowing that his cousin
is a married woman, he still lets these plans go through. Jordan tells him Shes not to know
about it. Gatsby doesnt want her to know. Youre supposed to invite her to tea. (Fitzgerald 79).
A warning like this clearly indicates to Nick that this is a very secretive and sneaky plan. Another
very harmful lie that Nick tells, or rather doesnt tell, is that he doesnt reveal to Tom that Daisy
was driving the car that accidently hit and killed his mistress, Myrtle. Nick had full knowledge
that Daisy was driving the car, but stands silently even when the police are investigating on the
scene. This doesnt necessarily mean that Nick lied, but it does reveal that he keeps information
all to himself. Without Nick being a pathological liar, the chain of events may have turned out
differently. It is quite possible that Gatsby would not have been killed by Wilson, or relationships
between the two cheating couples may have had a totally different outcome.
The Great Gatsby is not a book of glamorous affairs in the roaring 20s, it is a strong
depiction of mental illnesses. The lifestyles of each character are not perfect in any way possible.
The disorders in each character may be the death of them, quite literally for Jay Gatsby.