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Read about these famous people and their experience with Mental Illness:

Abraham Lincoln Beethoven Robert Schumann
Edgar Allen Poe Vincent Van Gogh Issac Newton
Ernest Hemingway Michelangelo Winston Churchill
Charles Dickens    

 


Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865 The sixteenth president of the United States, known for his "invariable fairness and utter honesty", in addition to his great strides in civil rights. He received about the equivalent of one year of formal education when he decided to learn on his own. He taught himself law and became one of the most successful and recognized attorneys of his day. Mr. Lincoln fell into "terrible depression and despondency" over his broken engagement to Mary Todd. His mother's death in 1818 also had the same effect on him. Encyclopedia Britannica, vol.23, pp. 42-48. Lincoln suffered from depression. -Abraham Lincoln 6 volumes written by Carl Sandburg.

 

Beethoven 1770-1827. "A universal genius widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived." Major works include: The Five Piano Concertos and Symphonies 1 through 9. He believed in "the power of music to convey a philosophy of life without the aid of a spoken text". His personal life was marked by his desperate struggle to fight off his encroaching deafness. Losing the battle, he became withdrawn. Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 27, pp. 219-220. "Like many of his appreciates, this man suffered from the disease of dual personality. -Beethoven by Schauffler.

 

Robert Schumann 1810-1856. A German composer who was best known for his romantic piano music, songs, and orchestral music. He also possessed an inclination for writing plays and poems. He suffered despair over his broken engagement to Clara Wieck. In 1844, he "suffered a serious nervous collapse". He was in recover-" until 1850. In 1845, during his recovery he spent 10 months writing a symphony. In February of 1854, he "complained of a very strong and painful attack of the ear malady " that had troubled him before; this was followed by aural illusions; such as the dictation by angels of a theme on which he proceeded to write some variations for piano". Two weeks later he "asked to be taken to a lunatic asylum and the next day attempted suicide by drowning. He had contemplated suicide on at least three occasions during the '30's". Two weeks later, he was "removed to a private asylum… where he lived for nearly two and a half years until his death". -Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 10 pp. 343-346. He suffered from psychotic depression. "Bipolar Affective Disorder and Creativity: Implications and Clinical Management" by Nancy Andreason and Ira Click in Comprehensive Psychiatry, May/June 1988.

 

Edgar Allen Poe 1809-1849. An American poet, critic, and writer of short stories. He was known for his development of mystery and the macabre in fiction writing as evidenced in The Raven. "Drinking was . . . to be the bane of his life." According to medical testimony he had a "brain lesion". "The outstanding fact in Poe's character is a strange duality. The wide divergence of contemporary judgements on the man seems almost to point to the co-existence of two persons in him. "-Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 9, pp. 540-541.

 

Vincent Van Gogh 1853-1890. Generally considered the second greatest Dutch painter in history after Rembrandt. He "powerfully influenced the current of Expressionism in modern art". Major works include: Self Portrait (numerous), Starry Night, 1889. "His work, all of it produced during a period of only 10 years, hauntingly conveys through its striking color, coarse brushwork, and contoured forms the anguish of a mental illness that eventually resulted in suicide." "When he arrived he was in full possession of his senses and he himself explained his case to the director," (at Saint-Remy) "describing what had happened at Aries and telling of what he believed to be hereditary aspects of the disease in his family." "He lost his mind and suffered from the effects of the attack for several weeks. This was followed by a period of extreme depression and despair; he again picked up but only to succumb again at the moment when he least expected it." -Catalogue, Van Gogh: Paintings and Drawings 1949-50, Theodore Rousseau, Jr., Curator of Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Isaac Newton 1643-1727. An English physicist and mathematician best known for his advances in: laws of motion, universal gravitation, science of light, infinitesimal calculus, and physical optics. He had an, "acute sense of insecurity that rendered him obsessively anxious when his work was published and irrationally violent when he defended it [which] accompanied [him] throughout his life and can plausibly be traced to his early years". "For nine years, Isaac was separated from his mother, and his pronounced psychotic tendencies have been ascribed to this traumatic event [which he blamed directly on his stepfather]." When his dearest friend became ill, Newton suffered what was believed to have been at least his second nervous breakdown. He eventually recovered his stability, but ceased his scientific efforts. Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 24, pp. 892-895. He suffered from psychotic depression. -"Bipolar Active Disorder and Creativity: Implications and Clinical Management" by Nancy Andreason and Ira Click in Comprehensive Psychiatry, May/June 1988.

 

Ernest Hemingway 1899-1961. One of the foremost American novelists and short story writers. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. "He was noted both for the intense masculinity of his writing and for his adventurous and widely publicized life." Major works include: The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea. After a life of travels and excitement, in 1960, Hemingway tried to settle down and lead a quiet life in Idaho. For some time he was able to continue his writing as before, but after a while he became "anxiety-ridden and depressed, he was twice hospitalized, where he received Electro-shock treatments. Two days after his return to his home, he took his life." -Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 5, pp. 82~825. He suffered from psychotic depression. -"Bipolar Affective Disorder and Creativity: Implications and Clinical Management" by Nancy Andreason and Ira Click in Comprehensive Psychiatry, May/June 1988.

 

Michelangelo 1475-1564. Michelangelo Buonarroti is regarded as one of the greatest sculptors of all time. He has received unequalled recognition during the Renaissance for his paintings, architecture, and drawings. He has been credited by some for the existence of the Renaissance, Reformation and Baroque Periods. – Encyclopedia Britannica vol. 24 pp. 55-59 "Yet this universally recognized .....remained, as his sonnets demonstrate,   forever the prey of depression and self-denigration." -The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

 

Winston Churchill 1874-1965. Author, orator, and statesman - led Great Britain from the brink of defeat to victory as wartime prime minister from 1940-l945. –Encyclopedia Britannica vol. 16, pp. 394-399. "He suffered from prolonged and recurrent fits of depression.   His own name for depression was 'Black Dog': and the fact that he had a nickname for it argues that it was all too familiar a companion. For great sections of his life, Churchill was successful in conquering his depression"-The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

 

Charles Dickens 1812-1870 Generally regarded as the greatest English novelist. Dickens had received greater recognition than any author had received in his / her lifetime. Major works: David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Pickwick Papers, and A Christmas Carol. In 1855, Dickens sunk into personal unhappiness after living a very happy public and private life - Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 17, pp. 267-272. "But of course he was not always in such control of himself. He had strange fits of depression from time to time', says Henry Felding Dickens." -The Man Charles Dickens by Edward Wagenkencht, 1929, George Elliot and Charles Dickens began their novels in states of depression that lifted as the books progressed. Dickens became manic upon finishing his books but Elliot apparently did not." - The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life, p. 34, by D. Jablow Hershman and Julia Lieb, MD; Promestheus Books, 1988.

 

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