Thursday, June 30, 2005

"People with Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives"

"People with Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives"


Information about famous people throughout history who have had a serious mental illness.

Abraham Lincoln
The revered sixteenth President of the United States suffered from severe and incapacitating depressions that occasionally led to thoughts of suicide, as documented in numerous biographies by Carl Sandburg.

Virginia Woolf
The British novelist who wrote To the Lighthouse and Orlando experienced the mood swings of bipolar disorder characterized by feverish periods of writing and weeks immersed in gloom. Her story is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Lionel Aldridge
A defensive end for Vince Lombardi's legendary Green Bay Packers of the 1960's, Aldridge played in two Super Bowls. In the 1970's, he suffered from schizophrenia and was homeless for two and a half years. Until his death in 1998, he gave inspirational talks on his battle against paranoid schizophrenia. His story is the story of numerous newspaper articles.

Eugene O'Neill
The famous playwright, author of Long Day's Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness!, suffered from clinical depression, as documented in Eugene O'Neill by Olivia E. Coolidge.

Ludwig van Beethoven
The brilliant composer experienced bipolar disorder, as documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.

Gaetano Donizetti
The famous opera singer suffered from bipolar disorder, as 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
The "inspired poet of human suffering" experienced bipolar disorder, as discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Leo Tolstoy
Author of War and Peace, Tolstoy revealed the extent of his own mental illness in the memoir Confession. His experiences is also 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
The dancer's battle with schizophrenia is documented in his autobiography, The Diary of Vaslov Nijinksy.

John Keats
The renowned poet's mental illness is documented in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Broken Brain: The biological Revolution in Psychiatry by Nancy Andreasen, M.D.

Tennessee Williams
The playwright gave a personal account of his struggle with clinical depression in his own Memoirs. His experience is also documented in 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
The celebrated artist's bipolar disorder is discussed in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb and Dear Theo, The Autobiography of Van Gogh.

Isaac Newton
The scientist's 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
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist's suicidal depression is examined in the True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Ernest Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him by Denis Brian.

Sylvia Plath
The poet and novelist ended her lifelong struggle with clinical depresion by taking own life, as reported in A Closer Look at Ariel: A Memory of Sylvia Plath by Nancy Hunter-Steiner.

The mental illness of one of the world's greatest artistic geniuses is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Winston Churchill
"Had he been a stable and equable man, he could never have inspired the nation. In 1940, when all the odds were against Britain, a leader of sober judgment might well have concluded that we were finished," wrote Anthony Storr about Churchill's bipolar disorder in Churchill's Black Dog, Kafka's Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind.

Vivien Leigh
The Gone with the Wind star suffered from mental illness, as documented in Vivien Leigh: A Biography by Ann Edwards.

Jimmy Piersall
The baseball player for the Boston Red Sox who suffered from bipolar disorder detailed his experience in The Truth Hurts.

Patty Duke
The Academy Award-winning actress told of her bipolar disorder in her autobiography and made-for-TV move Call Me Anna and A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness, co-authored by Gloria Hochman.

Charles Dickens
One of the greatest authors in the English language suffered from clinical depression, as 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.


Carmel said...

wow! I had no idea on any except Beethoven. Mental illness is so common, and for those effected certainly very difficult im sure. Cool blog too, I found it on blog explosion.

4HisChurch said...

I think mental illness is more prevalent than many people realize. For some, it is difficult to know when "personality" ends and mental illness begins. But, I do thank God that my family and I live in these times when so much can be done about it.

Thanks for the compliment. I like your blog too!

Penetrate into My Mind said...

Hi ...

It reminds me of the day when i watched the movie A Beautiful Mind and i was just crying continuously until two days after that.

4HisChurch said...

That's an incredible story, isn't it? The human mind never ceases to amaze me.

Saint Peter's helpers said...

Just last week, on Fr. Benedict Groeschel's show in EWTN, he mentioned that he was named after St. Benedict Joseph Labre, a very holy man who suffered from mental illness. This brought me to reflect that mental illness is a cross that when directly or indirectly united with the sufferings of Our Lord Jesus can truly be a road to sanctity. This reflection prompted me to do some google search which led me to some of these sites. I hope they are of some help to you. God bless.

4HisChurch said...

I totally agree about the importance of uniting suffering with the Lord's. It is important to realize that mental illness *is* legitimate suffering.

Thanks for the info on St. Benedict Joseph Labre. I'll have to read up on him now.

Jay Y said...

Just wanted to share a couple of postcards with you which we, NAMI NEW JERSEY, produced in the theme of "People with Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives." See the cards at

These cards have been populat with people all around our state, and we give away thousands per year (25-35 thou) at events. Many people share that they use them as insporation to help dispel self-stigma.

Jay Y said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
synjones said...

I have gone through the above article its interesting.I feel that like this people need help from us by taking take of them they can lead they normal life.


Clinical Depression

Classy said...


I'm no stranger to manic depressive illness or to musicianship because I'm a very well known (but anonymous) classical musician who is bipolar too. However, while I believe that mental illness does contribute enormously to the human condition, the state that some of us live in (isolation, fear, poverty etc) is unacceptable. For living, breathing musicians and other artistic people, the scourge of mental illness is particularly hard to bear because our lives are often very insecure - doubly so when one considers the prejudice and ignorance regarding bipolar disorder. I have set up a website that explains some of the complexities that face musicians with bipolar disorder (which extends to other mental illnesses of course). I did this because I recognised that there is no place online for musicians to talk (without fear of exposure) of the very real plight they face from mental illness. You can visit the site on



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