Winchester speculates that Minor suffered from schizophrenia, which, today, would be substantially relieved by drugs and other therapies. Since like many troubled geniuses, Minor was obsessive about his creative work, we're left to wonder about the extent to which the advance of civilization -- not just the creation of great dictionaries -- depends on untreated or rampant pathologies:
One must feel a sense of strange gratitude, then, that [Minor's] treatment was never good enough to divert him from his work. The agonies that he must have suffered in those terrible asylum nights have granted us all a benefit for all time. He was mad, and for that, we have reason to be glad. A truly savage irony, on which it is discomfiting to dwell.