Does Arthur Shelby have bipolar? (+7 Signs & symptoms)

The current blogpost will be answering if Arthur Shelby has bipolar. We will also be discussing the different signs and symptoms of Arthur Shelby’s mental issues and conditions. Finally, we will be checking out a few factors that could have caused these problems in Arthur Shelby.

Does Arthur Shelby have bipolar?

No, Arthur Shelby does not have bipolar. He suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. This is mainly as a result of his experiences during the war. Just like Arthur Shelby, even his brother suffers from PTSD.

While most people agree that Arthur Shelby indeed suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, there are other experts on the show, Peaky Blinders, who say that he might be suffering from mental instability as well. However, this cannot be clinically diagnosed as an illness.

Arthur Shelby is also shown to be dealing with major anger issues and finds it hard to control his emotions when he is frustrated. He often takes the anger out on people and can be seen brawling and fighting with others.

Signs of Arthur Shelby’s mental health issues

Arthur Shelby portrays many mental health issues throughout the episodes of Peaky Blinders. In this section of the post, we will be checking out a few signs and symptoms of the various mental problems that Arthur Shelby suffers from, including his PTSD.

He often gets into fights

Getting into fights is what Arthur Shelby is best known for. Throughout the series, Arthur Shelby is almost always seen fighting with someone or the other, even if it is someone from his own family.

The fights are not just verbal disputes and disagreements but full on ‘mano a mano’ attacks with others. The body language depicted by Arthur Shelby during these fights clearly show that he is not fighting just to settle the argument, but to clearly cause harm to the other person.

Getting into physical disagreements and fights might not be always depicted by someone who has bipolar, but is definitely seen in the manic phase of this mental illness. It can also be a depiction of the mental instability that Arthur Shelby is going through.

He is an alcoholic

Arthur Shelby is also often seen consuming alcohol in the series. It is not just a single glass of whiskey, but he is seen to be drinking to the dregs until he is completely inebriated. Despite knowing the trouble that alcohol gets him into, Arthur Shelby continues to drink heavily.

Other than consuming a lot of alcohol, Arthur Shelby is also seen to be smoking opium often. His consumption of opium consistently increases, and towards the end of the series, Shelby is seen to be a complete addict to opium.

Many viewers who have deeply studied the character arcs in Peaky Blinders have also remarked that Arthur Shelby’s addiction is not shown as a simple upward graph. The character actually goes through several clean spells.

The reasons for his attempts at staying away from alcohol and drugs include his devotion to his wife and even religion. However, none of the attempts are successful, and with failure, Shelby’s addiction to alcohol and opium only increases with intensity.

He quarrels with Thomas Shelby often

Another sign of the bipolar disorder and other mental issues that Arthur Shelby is seen to be struggling with is portrayed in his relationship with his own brother, Thomas Shelby. In the series, there is often a sub-conscious sibling conflict between the two.

The main reason is that, being the eldest of the siblings, Arthur Shelby should have the run of the empire. However, his alcoholism and mental instabilities allow Thomas Shelby to easily replace him as the grandmaster.

While Arthur Shelby seems to have accepted his fate and his position as second-in-command, this definitely does not stop the many fights and arguments between the two siblings. Often due to clashes in ego, Arthur can be arguing desperately with Thomas Shelby.

He shows suicidal tendencies

Bipolar disorder causes plenty of mental instability in a person and this can often lead to suicidal tendencies. This is also shown in the life of Arthur Shelby, where the character decides to kill himself and even attempts to do so.

In the first season of Peaky Blinders, Arthur Shelby is seen to attempt suicide through hanging. However, the rope breaks and this causes Arthur to reevaluate his choices. While he is not shown to attempt suicide again in the series, he still takes on many self-destructive behaviors.

He does not show guilt or remorse

Another factor in Arthur Shelby’s personality that shows his suffering from bipolar disorder or some other mental health issue is that he does not show any guilt or remorse for his actions. From the very first season, Arthur takes part in many immoral activities and clearly enjoys it.

When he meets Linda and starts a relationship with her, he continues to cheat on her and has many affairs on the side. However, despite cheating the woman he truly loved, Arthur Shelby does not show any remorse for this.

Another portrayal of Arthur Shelby’s lack of remorse is when he kills a young man in the boxing ring. The scene is definitely violent, with Arthur killing the young man with his own bare hands by punching him repeatedly.

After the young man dies, Arthur Shelby does not feel guilty about it, even after coming face to face with the young man’s mother. Lack of remorse after physically violent behaviors is very common during the manic phase of bipolar disorder.

He is prone to lying

Arthur Shelby is also very prone to lying and cheating and makes this a permanent part of his personality. He even lies to those whom he truly loves, such as his wife Linda, whom he cheats on constantly throughout the entirety of their relationship.

He tries hard to please his father

Mental issues such as bipolar disorder can also cause a person to seek the approval and acceptance of important figures. In this case, this can be seen in Arthur Shelby trying his best to please Arthur Shelby Jr. despite the patriarch cheating and trying to destroy the family.

Causes for Arthur Shelby’s bipolar

Arthur Shelby’s bipolar among other mental health issues are caused due to several factors. These have been explored in the points below.

  • His experiences with the war: The main reason behind Arthur Shelby’s mental instability and other mental health issues is due to his PTSD. Along with Thomas Shelby, Arthur Shelby fights in the war which causes him to be shell-shocked.

While the show does not depict Arthur Shelby having nightmares and hallucinations like his brother, Thomas Shelby, the effects of the war are definitely disastrous on the character, causing him to develop anger issues and addiction issues.

  • His relationship with his father: Another important reason behind Arthur Shelby’s bipolar and other mental issues is the toxic relationship that he shares with his father. The rest of the Shelby children have clearly understood that their father is not to be trusted.

But, Arthur Shelby develops an interest to create a casino business with his father, when Arthur Shelby Sr. suddenly returns. This is mainly to create an identity for himself in the Shelby family and also gain his father’s approval.

However, this does not turn out well for Arthur Shelby since his father lied in order to make money. Upon realizing that his father has indeed cheated him and that he allowed him to do so, Arthur Shelby attempts suicide by hanging, which fails.


The current blogpost has answered if Arthur Shelby has bipolar. We have also discussed the different signs and symptoms of Arthur Shelby’s mental issues and conditions. Finally, we have checked out a few factors that could have caused these problems in Arthur Shelby.

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