Hunter S. Thompson - bipolar, maybe?

Was Hunter S. Thompson bipolar?


It could be i'm just projecting. Ever since Fear and Loathing
in Las Vegas blew the top of my head off as an impressionable adolescent, i've admired his spirit, curiousity, courage and ability to articulate the distemper of the times we were living in,
or trying to live thru...

Long before i was diagnosed, his manic spells and the darkness
of depression as well as his abiding interest in self-medicating
were more than clear- they were splattered across the pages
of everything he wrote, as though it was all written in blood,
cut with tears of rage and sorrow.

Whenever i'd find myself among people trashing America,
he would be something i'd throw back at them, as in
   "What? You don't like barbeque? You don't like jazz?
    You don't like Hunter S.?"

As time went on, there was more and more darkness in
what he saw, and his decision to end his life could also
be one more sign that there were more bad chemicals
than good ones in his synapses, in that bipolar way.

In the end, a diagnosis one way or the other of the good
doctor doesn't much matter nearly as much as the passion
and insight he brought to his life and his work.

Forty years later, he still inspires me to keep going
and as Bruce Cockburn sang,
       "to kick at the darkness til it bleeds daylight".

in his own words...

"We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear—
fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy,
fear of getting evicted for bad debts or suddenly getting
locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges
of being a Terrorist sympathizer."

       —"Extreme Behavior in Aspen," February 3, 2003

       "What is the desired effect?"


"We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled the 60's. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip.
He crashed around America selling "consciousness expansion"
without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook
realities that were lying in wait for all the people
who took him seriously...

“I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work.
I suspect it’s a bit like fucking, which is only fun for amateurs.
Old whores don’t do much giggling.”


"There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about
a generation that has been taught that rain is poison
and sex is death?

If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze
on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into
a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there
is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation.

It's a strange world. Some people get rich and others
eat shit and die."

       —Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame
          and Degradation in the '80s

     "Just sick enough to be totally confident"


"In a closed society where everybody's guilty,
the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves,
the only final sin is stupidity."

“I have in recent months come to have a certain feeling
for Joe Hill and the Wobbly* crowd who, if nothing else,
had the right idea. But not the rights mechanics.
I believe the IWW was probably the last human concept
in American politics”.

* the International Workers of the World

 "It would be easy to say that we owe it all to the Bush family
from Texas, but that would be too simplistic. They are only
errand boys for the vengeful, bloodthirsty cartel of raving
Jesus-freaks and super-rich money mongers who have ruled
for at least the last 20 years, and arguably the last 200 years.
They take orders well, and they don't ask too many questions.

The real power in America is held by a fast-emerging new Oligarchy
of pimps and preachers who see no need for Democracy or fairness
or even trees, except maybe the ones in their own yards,
and they don't mind admitting it.

They worship money and power and death. Their ideal solution
to all the nation's problems would be another 100 Year War.

Coming of age in a fascist police state will not be a barrel
of fun for anybody, much less for people like me, who are
not inclined to suffer Nazis gladly and feel only contempt
for the cowardly flag-suckers who would gladly give up
their outdated freedom to live for the mess of pottage
they have been conned into believing will be freedom
from fear. Ho ho ho.

Let's not get carried away here. Freedom was yesterday
in this country. Its value has been discontinued. The only
freedom we truly crave today is freedom from Dumbness.
Nothing else matters."

         "buy the ticket...take the ride"

and his final words...

 "No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking.
No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50.
17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring.
I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67.
You are getting Greedy. Act your old age.
Relax -- This won't hurt."

   Hunter Stockton Thompson
            July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005
             American journalist and author

learn more about his life at this exceptional site:
Hunter S. Thompson

what did this champion have for breakfast?
Hunter S. Thompson's Very Gonzo Breakfast Habits



  1. Thompson has influenced the past few generations with his invention of Gonzo Journalism. The Good Doctor broke the mold on writing and changed the world and the voice of counter-culture. His work and antics will live on to influence even more generations to come. I paid tribute to Hunter S Thompson and his work with my portrait and article on my artist's blog at

  2. amen!
    i checked out your post and enjoyed the words and the images- i think Mr. Steadman would too....

  3. I have never seen evidence to suggest bipolar, however he fits the profile for adult ADHD extremely well- with his remarkable tangential jokes, his capacity to hyperfocus on a story till it was done. His decision to suicide need not be taken as a sign of mental illness.

  4. Yeah, I'm almost certain he was bipolar based on his brilliant, voluminous writings and dark view of the world. Not to mention his ultimate suicide. Abbie Hoffman was a bipolar '60s freedom fighter who committed suicide, and Hunter Thompson makes him look like a choir boy!

    Thompson's own son referred to him as a "basket case" at home. I say that not to malign bipolar people, but it's worth noting that he could never hold a typical job and was often verbally abusive to his wife and child. And very, very often intoxicated. If those aren't bipolar behaviors, I don't know what would be. Mood disorders run heavily in my family so I've seen enough BD to know what it looks like :)