I just finished reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. In it, the main character, Rodion Rommanovich Raskolnikov, commits a double murder, and through the narrator we are given access to all his thoughts and feelings leading up to, continuing through, and following the murders. In some ways, this is an excellent (though fictional) case study of an intensely conflicted and unstable mind. Rodion is sometimes called “mad,” but no diagnosis is ever given. All we are given are the “facts” of the case in greater detail than any court or mental health provider will ever experience.
So my questions to any readers who happen by here are as follows:
1. Is Rodion Rommanovich Raskolnikov mentally ill? How can we know?
2. If you somehow knew what was going on, would you have involuntarily hospitalized him? How would you approach the decision?
3. In the book, Rodion is found guilty of the murder but was given a reduced sentence because of his mental state. Was justice done?
I hope that these questions will generate some productive discussion and lead some to enjoy this fascinating book.