# Insane physicists and mathematicians

If Newton wouldn't have been the way he was, he might not have developed all of his great ideas. I do understand that mental illness incapacitates people- so maybe Newton would have developed even more and better ideas, and maybe not.

Originally posted by NanoTech
One of the greatest intellectuals to walk this Earth would be defined as "mentally unstable" by the psychological definitions. Newton was known to be very anti-social and short-tempered to an extreme. e.g never leave his house,never socialize. Would you consider him to be "crazy" after all of the work of genious he developed? I believe there is a fine line between personality disorders and intellectually proficient behavior. What some people perceive as being antisocial, others perceive it as very concentrated on a subject of matter.

Newton may have had a variant of one of many personality disorders, which are different from full blown incapacitating psychiatric disorders that respond to medicines. Isn't there a theory that he was the way he was because he might have been gay? Not that there is anything wrong with that. It might explain the fact he never got married and there were some strangely passionate letters that still survive between him and a swiss mathmatician named Nicolas Fatio. (I think they lodged together on many trips etc.) But, alas, all speculation.

Interesting- I never knew that rumor about Newton, but it seems to be a reasonable speculation. I say it was his concentrated work ethic above all other things, but it could be any of a combination of these perspectives that made Newton what he was.

Newton may have had a variant of one of many personality disorders, which are different from full blown incapacitating psychiatric disorders that respond to medicines.
Schizoid, Schizotypal, Borderline, Histronic, Avoidant, and Dependent, don't fit Newton

Elements of Paranoid, Antisocial, Narcissistic and Obsessive-Compulsive do fit. At the bottom of the list is the Cover-your-shrink-butt catchall of " Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified."

Adrenaline, are you familiar with Geschwind's Sydrome?

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Schizoid, Schizotypal, Borderline, Histronic, Avoidant, and Dependent, don't fit Newton

Elements of Paranoid, Antisocial, Narcissistic and Obsessive-Compulsive do fit. At the bottom of the list is the Cover-your-shrink-butt catchall of " Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified."

Adrenaline, are you familiar with Geschwind's Sydrome?

Never seen one, but I know there is alot of controversy if this related to interictal (between periods of epilepsy) personality changes or not. I believe this diagnosis has also been found in those not suffering seizures, though, more often then not, it is found in those who have suffered seizures. I know it was one of the theorized disorders attributed to Van Goh.

Never seen one, but I know there is alot of controversy if this related to interictal (between periods of epilepsy) personality changes or not.
Eve La Plante goes into great detail about the syndrome and the controversy in her book Seized. It is not found in all people with epilepsy, only those with temporal lobe (or more accurately, temporolimbic) involvement.

Alot of people with Epilepsy just don't want to hear about it, regarding it as just another stigma to add to what they already have. The Epilepsy Foundation of America, and many neurologists deny it's existence out of loyalty to their patients for the same reason (according to La Plante).

It is being mentioned however in newer books more and more in a partially euphemized way: "You and your family members may notice changes in your personality after the onset of seizures..." that sort of thing.
I believe this diagnosis has also been found in those not suffering seizures...
If you recall where you read this I'd be interested in reading it. This is the first I've heard of that. You may be thinking of hypergraphia, one of the common elements of Geschwind's. Forms of hypergraphia have been noted in bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, Asperger's, and Basilar Migraine patients, that I know of. Geschwind's has alot more to it than just hypergraphia.

I mention Geschwind's because it will present as a "Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified" to shrinks who haven't heard about it, when the symptoms are on the extreme side.

One aspect of it is a meticulous attention to detail and preoccupation with clarity of thought. Something to consider in Newton's case for anyone into retroactive diagnosis of greats of the past.

The case of geshwinds unrelated to seizure was related to Lyme encephalopathy. It was a case presentation at a Grand rounds by a neuropsycologist. It involved a coach on Long Island. He had the deepened emotions, circumstantial thought, increasing concern with philosophical or religious beliefs, and a change in sexual behavior etc. along with the hypergraphia and some other criteria that was met.
I don't have the case study but here is a link to another piece that mentions it in relation to Lyme encephalopathy, as well.

It is becoming a more recognized entitity among the neurologists here but it may be because they work closely with neuropsycologists and use them heavily for neuropsych testing.

Here is a snippet on neuroanatomical changes that may be related to geschwind's that many neuroanatomists are looking at.
Epilepsy Behav 2003 Jun;4(3):291-7 (ISSN: 1525-5050)
van Elst LT; Krishnamoorthy ES; Baumer D; Selai C; von Gunten A; Gene-Cos N; Ebert D; Trimble MR
Institute of Neurology, University College, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK.
Bilateral symmetrical hippocampal atrophy (BHA) has been implicated as a possible causal element in various neuropsychiatric disorders, in particular depressive disorder and schizophrenia. To test the hypothesis that bilateral symmetrical severe volume loss of the hippocampi is of causal relevance to these psychiatric syndromes rather than an epiphenomenon we assessed the psychopathology in a group of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and very severe bilateral symmetrical hippocampal atrophy and compared it with that of a patient control group. Patients with TLE and hippocampal volumes smaller than three standard deviations below the mean of a control population were identified and compared with a matched patient population with normal hippocampal volumes. Psychopathology was assessed by blinded trained psychiatrists using the Present State Examination and Neurobehavioral Inventory. The prevalence of psychiatric syndromes was high in both patient groups; however, there was no significant difference between the two groups. With use of the more specific Neurobehavioral Inventory a psychopathological pattern reminiscent of the Geschwind syndrome emerged when patients with BHA were characterized by caregivers. While BHA does not result in an increased prevalence of specific psychiatric syndromes, specific symptoms that characterize the Geschwind syndrome like hypergraphia and hyposexuality might be pathogenically related to hippocampal atrophy.

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Do you trust the article at that link? The number of diseases he claims that Lymes Disease can mimic is just about not to be believed! Does this square with what you know about Lymes from mainstream sources? I mean it mimics everything, according to this site!

-Zooby

Originally posted by zoobyshoe

Do you trust the article at that link? The number of diseases he claims that Lymes Disease can mimic is just about not to be believed! Does this square with what you know about Lymes from mainstream sources? I mean it mimics everything, according to this site!

-Zooby

Not necessarily, but it's interesting another medical personell has connected the two. The case study was at a medical shcool grand rounds, so that's not public access . Lyme encephalopathy is tricky, which is why we do lumbar punctures on any strange or sudden changes in personalities so as to rule this and other entities out that can mimick psychiatric diseases. Lyme is called the great mimicker, much like syphillis used to be and now AIDS because of the vast presentation from cardiac arrytmias, joint problems to encephalopathies and psychiatric diseases much like syphillis used to and still does ( I STILL SEE tertiary syphillis as a cause of strokes and dementia in the elderly_)

So it sounds like you agree with what he says at the site. I'm not sure why you said you don't necessarily trust it.

I couldn't follow the reasoning in the study about hippocampal atrophy. They start by proposing it is a cause of schizophrenia and depressive disorders and to check this they suddenly switch to studying epileptics??? The epileptics are compared against a control group without hippocampal atrophy, but who rank high in "psychopathology". What does that mean? What was wrong with them? Why were they the control for epileptics in a study supposedly about schizophrenia and depressive illness?

The point that bilateral hippocampal atrophy may be the cause of Geschwind's is clear. The rest of it confused me.

At any rate, to the extent that the Lymes encephalopathy can mimic Geschwind's, but also be cured, it might be safe to start speculating that the encephalopathy incapacitates the hippocampi in the same way atrophy does, without causing the actual permanent damage of atrophy. I'm glad that can be cured, even after people have had it for years (the Lymes).

-Zooby

Teen suicide rates in perspective

let's not forget that teenagers have the highest rates of successful suicides

Code:
Suicides per 100,000 people:

5-14      0.8
15-24    11.1
25-34    13.8
35-44    15.4
45-54    14.8
55-64    13.1
65-74    14.1
75-84    19.7
85+      21.0

all ages 11.4

(Source: Microsoft Encarta 2002, quoting from the National Center for Health Statistics Deaths: Final Data for 1998.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/

-Chris

Speaking of suicide, Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906).
Made pioneering contributions in kinetic theory of gases and statistical mechanics. Extended Maxwell's distribution of gas velocities which became known as Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. Introduced the Boltzmann probability factor, formulated the Boltzmann Equation for dynamics, and proved the H Theorem of the increase of entropy. Also known for the derivation of the Stefan-Boltzmann law of blackk-body radiation. He also Committed suicide, because he couldn't find the connections between the physics fields!! Inscription on his grave S=klogW is well known. (Sounds insane to commit suicide over something like that, but hey, I'm not Boltzman either)...

Code:
Suicides per 100,000 people:

5-14      0.8
15-24    11.1
25-34    13.8
35-44    15.4
45-54    14.8
55-64    13.1
65-74    14.1
75-84    19.7
85+      21.0

all ages 11.4

(Source: Microsoft Encarta 2002, quoting from the National Center for Health Statistics Deaths: Final Data for 1998.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/

Considering its the third most common cause of death in teenagers, vs. say, the geriatricians, it still puts a priority on how we should not undertreat teengager's depression. I could not get the link but absolute deaths per population may be falsely erroneous due to the larger and growing population of geriatricians (now that the baby boomers are close to retiring) versus the shrinking younger, teenage population. Completion ratio/attempts versus strict prevalence. It does bring up a great point about how underrecognized and prevalent + depression and suicide is among the elderly.
http://namiwi.nami.org/helpline/teensuicide.html [Broken]

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I know lots and lots of stories about physicists acting/going crazy, but they aren't really famous physicists. Some are well-known in their particular area of expertise...A quick sampling of things some of them did: One guy always wore a tiara around the lab, and ladies' clothes. Another guy took off all his clothes (this is a popular behavior) and stuffed those OB tampons, remember them? up his nose and ran up and down the hall. Another guy, and this guy teaches at a big, big university overseas RIGHT NOW, likes to urinate on himself to get attention in public. Another guy (sorry, it's almost all guys) liked to dress up in a green zoot-suit sort of outfit and go try to impress the strippers at the local strip-joint by confiding how he'd like to kill all women and blow up the federal government (and yes, this was fine with his colleagues, this sort of talk). THIS IS NOT WHERE I LIVE NOW, WE HAVE A CLEAN-LIVING CITY. One female physicist I knew liked to hit dogs running alongside the roadway, thought that was funny. These are all PhDs...

I think the above is all pretty crazy.

DISCLAIMER: I'm just trying to share stories about people possibly driven crazy by their thoughts, or already nuts. I'm not *against* them. I do think they could use help, but many times, people get sidetracked about how "intelligent" someone is, as if that's all that matters, and these "intelligent" people neither control their behavior nor get help! People do this with sports stars, too...excuse behavior instead of trying to get the person help. Do they need help? Well, that's another question. Depends on the definition of positive versus destructive behavior, I would guess.

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Originally posted by holly
I know lots and lots of stories about physicists acting/going crazy, but they aren't really famous physicists. Some are well-known in their particular area of expertise...A quick sampling of things some of them did: One guy always wore a tiara around the lab, and ladies' clothes. Another guy took off all his clothes (this is a popular behavior) and stuffed those OB tampons, remember them? up his nose and ran up and down the hall. Another guy, and this guy teaches at a big, big university overseas RIGHT NOW, likes to urinate on himself to get attention in public. Another guy (sorry, it's almost all guys) liked to dress up in a green zoot-suit sort of outfit and go try to impress the strippers at the local strip-joint by confiding how he'd like to kill all women and blow up the federal government (and yes, this was fine with his colleagues, this sort of talk). THIS IS NOT WHERE I LIVE NOW, WE HAVE A CLEAN-LIVING CITY. One female physicist I knew liked to hit dogs running alongside the roadway, thought that was funny. These are all PhDs...

That's what happens when stress get to ya.

adrenaline, do you know anything about recent studies that relate chemical sensitivity to pathologies of the hippocampus?

Originally posted by rick1138
adrenaline, do you know anything about recent studies that relate chemical sensitivity to pathologies of the hippocampus?

I'm not sure what you mean by this. You mean like psychiatric diseases associated with hippocampal problems? Just form my internist perspective of what I deal with as part of my diferential these incude:

Temporal lobe epilepsy and interictal aggressive behavior or intermittent explosive disorder (IED) associated with hippocampal sclerosis.

Picks disease (a form of dementia)has more involvement of this area vs. Alzheimer's dementia that is more diffusse but also involves this area

Borna virus infection causing hippocampal sclerosis and is a differential when we see newly diagnsoed schizophrenia in people of Japanese ethnicity and from that area of the country (spinal tap to look for this infection)

I also know drug withdrawel reactions may be tied into to prior hypercoritsol stimulation and its effect on this area of the brain. (Don't know the specifics)

I believe they are starting to show that even bipolar disorders may be related to having a smaller hippocampal area on the left side vs. say a schizophrenic which has a larger one.
http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/what_causes_bipolar_disorder_000066_3.htm

Anxiety disorders may be tied into this area,........... I think everyone is jumping on the bandwagon studying this area since it is such a major crossroad in our brain.

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