June 13, 2005

Jack Kerouac, Author, Had Schizophrenia

Before he was On the Road, Kerouac was in the Navy

Jack Kerouac was an American novelist at the forefront of the Beat Generation. But, before he became an author, he was in the Navy. Recently, the details of his days in the Navy have become public. "Kerouac's military career was part of 1.2 million files that the National Archives in St. Louis, Mo., plans to declassify."

Kerouac's military records reveal a history of mental disorder. In fact, it seems that because Kerouac was diagnosed with "dementia praecox" (an archaic term for schizophrenia), he was considered "unsuitable" for the navy. As a result, his "enlistment was short, lasting only 10 months."

Kerouac left the military and began his career as a an American novelist, poet, and writer. Many consider him to be one of the most prominent members of the Beat Generation.

To read the full article: http://tinyurl.com/adekb


It is true that Kerouac was diagnosed as having "dementia praecox" by doctors in the US Navy. That diagnosis was changed when Kerouac got his discharge, and it was then noted that he might display some "schizoid tendancies." The Navy did not deem Kerouac Schizophrenic (nor was he schizophrenic). The Navy stated that Kerouac was unable to deal with military discipline. Kerouac then sailed on a few ships in the Merchant Marine, and of course wrote some of the greatest American novels. He was alcoholic (no doubt) and showed signs of serious depression, but there is no evidence to suggest he was schizophrenic. However it is easily shown that he did want out of the Navy very badly and that the Navy had no idea what to make of him.

Posted by: Robert Hayes at February 21, 2006 11:10 AM

According to Kerouac's books and some of his biographies, he faked mental illness so he could be discharged from the navy, on one occasion he stipped naked and ran across the parade ground shouting 'Geronimo'. It must be noted though that his close friend Allen Ginsberg's mother was hospitalised for most of her life with schozophrenia

Posted by: william flynn at May 15, 2007 03:42 AM

Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required