The Search for Dostoyevsky in Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky who is known as a great novelist wrote timeless classics such as The Idiot, Crime and Punishment, and The Brothers Karamazov, was not only a novelist, but a good psychologist who uncovered the secret sides of the human beings in a very effective way. His novels also affected Freud, Nietzsche, and Joyce. However there is one point that is a mystery. Did Dostoyevsky really reflect his own feelings, especially his fears, into the characters of his novels?
Fyodor was born in Moscow on October 30 in 1821 in Hospital for the poor, the second of seven children. His mother Mme Marya Feodorovna and father Dr. M. Andrey Dostoyevsky whose surname comes from a small village, Dostoevo, came from the Lithuanian nobility. Dr. Dostoyevsky’s father was a priest in Ukrainia who wanted his son to be a priest like him. However, Andrey ran away from home to become a doctor when he was fifteen. He was accepted to the Imperial Medical-Surgical Academy in 1809, and continued his career in various hospitals. Fyodor’s only elder brother Mikhail was born in 1820, one year earlier than Fyodor (Troyat 37). They lived in a small apartment on the hospital grounds for a long time. When Fyodor reached the age of thirteen, Dr. Dostoyevsky became a nobleman, and moved to Darovoe where he bought a small land about 150 versts.
Dostoyevsky mentioned about his mother with a great love. According to him, she was a cheerful, warm and adorable person. He lost her mother in 1837 when he was about sixteen. His father, however, draws a contrast portrait with his mother. He suffered from headaches that affected his character deeply in a negative way. Although there was not enough information about his life, it is said that his headaches and nervousness come from epilepsy, which Fyodor also experienced later in his life (Frank, Seeds of Revolt 15).
One of the most important unanswered questions about Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s life is the following: Were there any symptoms of the epilepsy that he suffered in later life? Only words Dostoyevsky said about his epilepsy crisis that he was the victim of an auditory hallucination when he was ten (Frank, Seeds of Revolt 25). Freud was curious about Dostoyevsky’s life and he wanted to strengthen his psychoanalytic techniques by using this novelist’s life experiences and finding a connection between the characters of his novels and himself. So he published his famous article, “Dostoyevsky and Parricide”. According to Freud, Dostoyevsky’s epilepsy is related with his childhood and with a tragic event in their family life. Freud meant by “tragic event” that his father punished Dostoyevsky under very serious circumstances owing to which Freud reaclaims his theories that a severe punishment for a childhood sexual crime (possibly a punishment for masturbation leading to the formation of an acute castration complex).