Saturday, February 26, 2011

Historical Figures with Mental Illness

Not too long ago there was a discussion on this Blog on stigmatizing stereotypes that plague the mentally ill.

However, what may be to many's surprise is that many famous and respected people were believed to suffer from mental illnesses according to he National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI

Abraham Lincoln: Sixteenth President of USA. Suffered from severe depression which lead to thoughts of suicide as documented by Carl Sandburg in numerous biographies.

Virginia Woolf:
British Novelist, written works such as To The Lighthouse and Orlando. Experienced Bipolar moodswings which lead to periods of writing and gloom. Anthony Storr's The Dynamics of Creation documents Woolf's story of bipolar disorder.

Eugene O'Neil: Playwright, written plays Long Days Journey into Night and Ah, Wilderness!. Suffered from depression. Eugene O'Neil by Olivia E. Coolidge documents his experiences.

Ludwig Van Beethoven: Composer. Suffered from Bipolar disorder. Bipolar experiences are documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.

Gaetano Donizetti: Opera Singer. Suffered from Bipolar Disorder. Experiences are documented in Donizetti and the World Opera in Italy, Paris and Vienna in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century by Herbert Weinstock.

Robert Schumann: "Inspired poet of human suffering". Bipolar disorder. Discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Leo Tolstoy: Author of War and Peace. Tolstoy wrote of his mental illness in the memoir Confession. His experience is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Inner World of Mental Illness: A Series of First Person Accounts of What It Was Like by Bert Kaplan.

Vaslov Nijinsky: Dancer. Suffered schizophrenis. Documented in his autobiography The Diary of Vaslov Nijinsky.

John Keats: Poet. Mental illness experiences are documented in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Broken Brain: The Biological Revolution in Psychiatry by Nancy Andreasen, MD.

Tennessee Williams: Playwright. Clinical depression. Documented in his Memoirs and Five O'Clock Angel: Letters of Tennessee Williams to Maria St. Just, 1948-1982; The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams by Donald Spoto, and Tennessee: Cry of the Heart by Dotson.

Vincent Van Gogh: Artist. Bipolar disorder. Discussed in his autobiography The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh and The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb and Dear Theo.

Isaac Newton: Scientist. Mental illness is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.

Ernest Hemingway: Novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner. Suicidal depression. Discussed in True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Ernest Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him by Denis Brian.

Sylvia Plath: Poet and Novelist. Suffered clinical depression and commited suicide. Discussed in A Closer Look at Ariel: A Memory of Sylvia Plath by Nancy Hunter-Steiner.

Michelangelo: Artist. Mental illness is discussed in  The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Winston Churchill: British Politician and Statesman. Bipolar Disorder. Discussed in Churchill's Black Dog, Kafka's Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind by Anthony Storr.

Vivien Leigh: Actress, star of  Gone with the Wind. Suffered from mental illness. Documented in Vivien Leigh: A Biography by Ann Edwards.

Jimmy Piersall: Baseball player for the Boston Red Sox. Bipolar disorder. Documented his experience in The Truth Hurts.

Patty Duke: Actress. Bipolar Disorder. Documented her experience in her autobiography and made-for-TV movie Call Me Anna and A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness, co-authored by Gloria Hochman.

Charles Dickens: Author. Clinical depression. Experiences documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb, and Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph by Edgar Johnson.

1 comment:

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