The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.

~Chinese Proverb~

Mental health and women in history: Mary Todd Lincoln

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2012—March is Women’s History Month, and Mary Todd Lincoln is a remarkable character in history. She is primarily remembered as being the wife of a famous man who was as undemonstrative and she was demonstrative, and for having mental and emotional issues that intensified over time. It has been suggested by at least one biographer that Mary Lincoln suffered from bipolar disorder; maybe she did.

She was a person of emotional extremes her entire life. Young Mary Todd was witty, charming, and frequently treated people to her sunny disposition. Other qualities she was known for were petulance and excitability, and there are reports Mary was spoiled and selfish. She was a “middle” child who enjoyed being the center of attention.  

It is impossible to know how much influence ancestry and education had on Mary Lincoln’s temperament. The five foot two blue-eyed young lady with reddish brown hair was of Irish, Scottish, and English descent. She was more educated than most women of the early nineteenth century, studying a wide range of subjects from the age of eight through her early twenties.

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