Graphomania (from Ancient Greek: γρᾰ́φειν, gráphein, lit. 'to write'; and μᾰνῐ́ᾱ, maníā, lit. 'madness, frenzy'), also known as scribomania, is an obsessive impulse to write. When used in a specific psychiatric context, it labels a morbid mental condition which results in writing rambling and confused statements, often degenerating into a meaningless succession of words or even nonsense then called graphorrhea (see hypergraphia). The term "graphomania" was used in the early 19th century by Esquirol and later by Eugen Bleuler, becoming more or less common. Graphomania is related to typomania, which is obsessiveness with seeing one's name in publication or with writing for being published, excessive symbolism or typology.
Outside the psychiatric definitions of graphomania and related conditions, the word is used more broadly to label the urge and need to write excessively, professionally or not. Max Nordau, in his attack of what he saw as degenerate art, frequently used the term "graphomania" to label the production of the artists he condemned (most notably Richard Wagner or the French symbolist poets).
Graphomania inevitably takes on epidemic proportions when a society develops to the point of creating three basic conditions:
- An elevated level of general well-being, which allows people to devote themselves to useless activities;
- A high degree of social atomization and, as a consequence, a general isolation of individuals;
- The absence of dramatic social changes in the nation's internal life. (From this point of view, it seems to me symptomatic that in France, where practically nothing happens, the percentage of writers is twenty-one times higher than in Israel).
Czesław Miłosz—winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980—used the term "graphomania" in a context much different than Kundera's. In The Captive Mind (1951), Miłosz wrote that the typical writer in the Eastern Bloc who accepted socialist realism "believes that the by-ways of 'philosophizing' lead to a greater or lesser degree of graphomania. Anyone gripped in the claws of dialectics [the philosophy of dialectical materialism] is forced to admit that the thinking of private philosophers, unsupported by citations [failing to regurgigate Stalinist propaganda], is sheer nonsense."
In popular culture
- In American author Mark Z. Danielewski's 2000 novel House of Leaves, the character Zampanò suffers from graphomania.
Entopic graphomania is a surrealist drawing exercise designed to highlight patterns and meaning in pieces of paper, including newspapers, blank pieces of copy paper, and pages of a book. The process consists of closely examining a page for distinguishing features (folds, creases, blank spaces) and marking them with a writing utensil. These marks are then connected by any type of line (squiggly, straight, dotted, etc).
- Logorrhea (psychology) – Communication disorder that causes excessive wordiness and repetitiveness
- Verbosity – Speech or writing that uses more words than necessary
- Hypergraphia – Psychological condition wherein a person is compelled to write or draw
- Harper, Douglas. "graphomania (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 11 July 2018. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
- Harper, Douglas. "mania (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 11 July 2018. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
- Graphomania. Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine Medicine world.
- Scribomania, Everything 2, 2007-04-21.
- Drever J., (1954), A Dictionary of Psychology, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
- "The habit of excessive writing, of explaining, amplifying, and reiterating, of letter making and pamphleteering, forms a morbid symptom of known as 'graphomania'. Some men may overload their natural tendency to write, but a certain class of lunatics use nearly all their mental activities in this occupation, to the endless annoyance of their friends, relatives and physicians." "Bryan's Mental Condition:" One Psychiatrist’s View. Source: New York Times, 27 September 1896.
- Typomania, definition.
- Nordau M., Degeneration: "We will take a closer view of the graphomaniac Wagner... He displays in the general constitution of his mind ... all the signs of graphomania, namely, incoherence, fugitive ideation, and a tendency to idiotic punning." p. 171–172; London: Heinemann. 1895.
- Miłosz, Czesław (1953) . The Captive Mind [Zniewolony umysł]. Translated by Zielonko, Jane. New York: Random House. p. 12. ISBN 0-679-72856-2.
- Chambers, Brooks (2016-05-09). "What is Entopic Graphomania? Weekly Project #3 with Brooks Chambers". CreativeLive Blog. Retrieved 2023-11-14.