What Mental Illness Does The Mad Hatter Have?

In this article, we will explore and discuss what kind of mental health disorders The Mad Hatter has in Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. We will also look at the character’s behaviour based on the movie Alice in Wonderland (2010), played by Johnny Depp. 

What Mental Illness does the Mad Hatter have?

The Mad Hatter shows signs of the following mental health disorders:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Depression


Here are a few of the symptoms that the Mad Hatter exhibits:

Borderline Personality Disorder

The character of the Mad Hatter displays signs of eccentric behaviours and difficulty in managing interpersonal relationships which is consistent with Borderline Personality Disorder. 

He is also impulsive and moody. He constantly risks himself for Alice but at the same time, he also gets mad at her. His spontaneity proves to be dangerous in many parts of the story/movie. 

The Mad Hatter constantly displays dissociative behaviour. At times he seems disengaged and disconnected but then displays sudden bursts of adoration. He has abandonment issues and struggles with self-image issues as well. 

He has poor judgement and often shows impulsivity in his decisions. He does everything in his power to protect Alice from the Queen of Hearts without caring about the consequences of his actions. 

The Mad Hatter identifies himself by his profession, “the Hatter”, and the fact that he was termed “Mad” after the fall of the White Queen. This implies that he has poor self-image and sense of self. 

The Mad Hatter is extremely volatile and displays rapid mood changes. One minute he is rude and mad at Mally and the Hare but the next minute he thinks that they have the greatest idea.

He also seems sensitive and tends to get upset quite frequently. The Mad Hatter exhibits chronic feelings of despair which is seen throughout the movie when he thinks about what the Queen of Hearts has done. He shows signs of emptiness and hopelessness.

The Mad Hatter constantly displays sudden bursts of anger every now and then. He is generally happy and in a good mood until he is reminded of the past and the devastation he has faced. 

Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

The character of The Mad Hatter exhibits inattentive behaviour and tends to shift his focus from one thing to another quite frequently. He is also unable to sit in one place for too long and keeps moving around constantly. 

These symptoms are consistent with ADHD. For instance, at the mad tea party, the Mad Hatter walks across the table, spilling food and breaking things on his way to welcome Alice and then upon taking her hand, walks back the same way across the table. 

He is not concerned by the consequences of his action, like the fact that he was spilling food and tea on his friends while he walked on the table. He also rapidly keeps changing the topic of one conversation to another.

The Mad Hatter is unable to sit on the same chair for too long and feels the need to keep changing his position, which is a sign of his hyperactivity. He gets mad at Alice for asking too many questions and causing his story-telling to take a longer time which proves that he is attention-deficit. 

The Mad Hatter also shouts and argues with everyone regularly at his tea party and keeps on jumping from one conversation to the next. 


After the fall of the White Queen, the Mad Hatter goes “mad” and also goes into depression. He keeps going into flashbacks of how he was happy when he was with the White Queen and dreamt that he would be by her side again. 

The Queen of Hearts destroyed most of the White Queen’s property, including the Mad Hatter’s home. He felt that his world came crumbling down after the downfall of the White Queen. This tremendous loss caused the Mad Hatter to feel depressed and mentally deranged.  


Borderline Personality Disorder is one of the most challenging mental health disorders to treat. So far the best evidence based treatment is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy stems from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) where the client is taught to live in the here and now (present). The therapist helps the client to build more positive ways to cope with stress, deal with emotions and improve their interpersonal relationships. 

DBT can be used to treat depression, ADHD as well as several other mental health disorders. It has two components – Individual and Group Therapy. The therapist first deals with the client’s suicidal or self-harm behaviour.

After the therapist deals with the client’s harmful type behaviours, he/she then carefully pushes the client to experience their painful emotions. It is important to address their present life problems. 

In group therapy, the therapist works on improving the client’s behavioural skills. The therapist also works on improving the client’s interpersonal skills, with the support of the group, by gently pushing them to engage and open up.

Brief History 

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term “mad as a hatter” was coined because it was an occupational hazard for hat makers in the industry. 

Back then, mercury nitrate was used for processing pelts of small animals like rabbits, to make felts for hats. Long exposure to the chemical fumes of mercury nitrate caused ‘mercury poisoning’ to all hatters.

Due to this long exposure, many hatters faced damages to their nervous systems. In those days, there was very little protection for work safety, due to which this hazardous exposure went unnoticed for many years. 

Mercury poisoning also caused many symptoms like hallucinations, erratic mood swings, speech disorders, psychosis and even tremors known as “hatter’s shakes”. Later on, mercury nitrate was removed from the process of hat production. 


In this article, we discussed in depth three different mental health illnesses that the Mad Hatter had. We also discussed about the possible treatment for these mental illnesses. Lastly, we talked about the history behind why hatters were considered ‘mad’. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What Mental Illness Does Mad Hatter Have?

What mental disorder does Alice in Wonderland have?

Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland suffers from hallucinations as well as eating disorders. She binge eats food and grows bigger in size which portrays how she feels about her body. 

She is unsatisfied with her size and relies on food and drinks to regulate her body size. All of these bodily changes and binge eating behaviours happen in her dreams which means subconsciously she is very insecure about her body. 

What was wrong with the Mad Hatter?

The Mad Hatter had lost his mind after the Queen of Hearts defeated the White Queen and took her throne. He was extremely loyal to the White Queen and was devastated after the Queen of Hearts destroyed most of her property. 

The Mad Hatter also displayed symptoms of various Mental Health Illnesses such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Depression. 

He was extremely erratic and had rapid mood swings. He was also very restless and kept moving around every few minutes. He exhibits eccentric behaviours and had sudden bursts of anger. 

What mental disorder does Joker have?

The fictional character “Joker” from Batman, exhibits symptoms of Pseudobulbar affect and several personality disorders such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Antisocial Personality Disorder.

The Joker even shows some symptoms of Depression andHallucinations. He is often seen hysterically laughing and crying which indicate he also may have mood disorders. 

Does the Mad Hatter have bipolar?

The Mad Hatter mainly shows symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. He struggles with abandonment issues, self-image issues, unstable interpersonal relationships, sudden bursts of anger, depression, mood swings and feelings of emptiness.


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