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Hypergraphia is an overwhelming urge to write. It is not itself a disorder, but can be associated with temporal lobe changes in epilepsy and mania. Neurologist Alice Weaver Flaherty, in her book The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain, describes its relationship to writer's block and to compulsive reading or hyperlexia.
Hypergraphia was one of the central issues in the mysterious story of Virginia Ridley, a Georgia woman who also suffered from agoraphobia and epilepsy and remained secluded in her home for twenty-seven years. When her husband, Alvin Ridley, was accused of holding his wife in the home for almost three decades and killing her, her ten thousand-plus page hypergraphic journal was central at the 1999 trial and in the ultimate acquittal of Mr. Ridley. Her writings literally answered every question raised about the mysterious woman in the small town of Ringgold, Georgia, when prosecutors had assumed that she had been held against her will and murdered.
Causes of Hypergraphia
Several different regions of the brain govern the act of writing. The physical movement of the hand is controlled by the cerebral cortex which comprises part of the outer layer of the brain. The drive to write, on the other hand, is controlled by the limbic system, a ring-shaped cluster of cells deeply buried in the cortex which governs emotion, affiliated instincts and inspiration and is said to regulate the human being's need for communication. Words and ideas are cognized and understood by the temporal lobes behind the ears, and these temporal lobes are connected to the limbic system. Ideas are organized and edited in the frontal lobe of the brain. Temporal lobe lesions cause temporal lobe epilepsy, however it is also known to run in families. Hypergraphia is not a frequent manifestation of temporal lobe epilepsy.
As of current, hypergraphia is understood to be triggered by changes in brainwave activity in the temporal lobe.
It is also associated with manic and bipolar disorder. Manic and depressive episodes have been reported to intensify hypergraphia symptoms. Additionally schizophrenics and people with frontotemporal dementia also experience a compulsive drive to write.
References & Bibliography
Writing as a Symptom of Mental Illness by an obsessive-compulsive with hypergrafia
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