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Did Ernest Hemingway’s Multiple Concussions Lead to His Violent Demise?

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Did Ernest Hemingway Kill Himself Because He Had CTE?
Ernest Hemingway sits at his typewriter and reads his writings during his World War II work as a war correspondent. (© Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)


The world has come to know Ernest Hemingway not only for his brilliance on the page, but his hard-living off of it.

Hemingway was notorious for drinking more than the average man—and he got injured quite often throughout his life, most notably after surviving two plane crashes in the ’50s.

Between 1954, when he won the Nobel Prize for literature, and 1961, the author was in bad shape, hardly able to write, per Smithsonian magazine. In July of ’61, the For Whom the Bell Tolls committed suicide.

In a new book, Hemingway’s Brain, psychiatrist Andrew Farah argues that those two plane crashes—along with other injuries and head traumas the author sustained throughout his life—led him to suffer from CTE (the same brain malady making headlines in the NFL). “These repeated concussive blows did cumulative damage, so that by the time he was 50 his very brain cells were irreparably changed and their premature decline now programmed into his genetics,” notes Farah in the book.

Watch a rare interview with Hemingway below, where he explains why he wasn’t able to be there to accept his Nobel Prize for literature.