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Van Gogh

  1. Sep 30, 2005 #1


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  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2005 #2


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    People with mental illness enrich our lives, some famous people that suffered
    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.

    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 Dots

    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.

    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.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2005
  4. Sep 30, 2005 #3


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  5. Sep 30, 2005 #4


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  6. Sep 30, 2005 #5


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    The Sylvia Plath story.


    Plath studied hard but her life in England was also sexual. As her writing showed, she was angry about double-standard behavior, and claimed for herself the right to as much sexual experience as men had. She believed combining the erotic and the intellectual possible, and when she met Ted Hughes, a Cambridge poet, she felt that life with him would be ideal. The two were married in London on 16 June 1956, accompanied by Sylvia's mother.
  7. Sep 30, 2005 #6


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    does any one have info of others in list ?
  8. Sep 30, 2005 #7
    It has been said that if you are not depressed, then you aren't paying attention.

    All of these people suffered from genius. We are the ones that benefitted.

    For reasons unknown to me, I randomly chose to read everything that Tennessee Williams had written, by the mid sixites. His work was of an astonishing potency I realized he had changed me profoundly, and all in all it added to the mystery of being me, but not the joy of being me.
  9. Sep 30, 2005 #8
    From Wolrams..Eccentric artists and mad scientists link

    Observing an incredible outpouring of uncensored mental activity by his manic friend Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott said: "The wheels of a machine to play rapidly must not fit with the utmost exactness else the attrition diminish the Impetus." (8). But the sheer volume or density of ideas spewing from a manic person's mind increases the likelihood that at least some of those ideas will be creative ones.

    I just love that! I have a close friend who always has the "sheer volume" of ideas pouring fourth. While it gets on my nerves at times, in the back of my head I think, someday it will pay off. And yes they also do suffer with depression.
  10. Sep 30, 2005 #9


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    I do not have an artistic bone in my body , but all these stories are so------
    i do not have the words, the pain, joy, it needs some one with heart to describe it.
  11. Dec 7, 2006 #10
    Some more to add to your list I can think of on the top of my head:

    Ludwig Wittgenstein the great logician, was always on the verge of suicide.

    William James, suffered from crippling depression.

    The mathematician Ramanujan who saw visions of the goddess Kali, ultimately ended his life followed by the mathematician Hardy who recongized Ramanujan's talent and also ended his life.

    The composer Tchaikovsky was also a great melancholiac and ended his life.

    Kleist I think also ended his life.

    Who else?

    The nobel laureate novelist Herman Hesse often had to interrupt work due to severe depression.

    The great Physicist Boltzmann was depressed and shot himself.

    One has to listen to the music of Beethoven to see his great sadness turned into art.

    Robert Louis Stevenson.



    Kurt Godel thought people were trying to poison him at the end of his life.

    Mathematician Turing ended his life.

    Who cannot like the half mad French poet Baudelaire?

    Tolstoy suffered from depression and wrote about it in his Confessions.

    The great melancholy Dane Kierkegaard who said "My sorrow is my baronial castle" etc., etc.

    I guess the moral is that great minds are often depressed, but being depressed does not by itself translate to a great mind.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2006
  12. Dec 7, 2006 #11
    John Nash
    Bobby Fischer
    Paul Morphy
  13. Dec 7, 2006 #12


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    Howard Hughes
    Nikola Tesla
  14. Dec 7, 2006 #13
    Blaise Pascal, a deeply religious man, was also a melancholiac.
  15. Dec 7, 2006 #14
    What is the significance of this list and the fact that some of them may have to some degree depression?
  16. Dec 7, 2006 #15
    Vincent Van Gogh was a good friend of Paul Gauguin who told his wife he was going to the store for a pack of smokes. He never returned. He boarded a ship to Tahiti in 1891 where his painting began to shape the movement known as the Fauvists (animal colours), a post impressionist ideal. His colours and style were somewhat influenced by the imagery of the islanders in Tahiti and their environment.

    Gauguin loved his models or his models were lovers and he was driven insane by syphilis which probably stemmed from the crew of the Bounty who invaded Tahiti years before in a state of mental unrest and abuse from one famous but ruthless Captain Bligh.

    Perhaps it was some sort of neurosis that drove Gauguin away from his many children and wife, perhaps it was a learned behavior derived from his father.

    Blatent disregard for others, including your children, seems to be a mental disorder. There's a pill marketed today for anti-social behavior. There's a pill for anxiety, depression and so on. Whether a behavior is evoked by genetics or a learned and unmodified trait this may or may not determine if its a mental disorder. I would suggest that all mental disorders have their start in trauma and family traditions that have been in the family for thousands of years.

    Van Gogh survived the potato famine in Ireland and was forced to eat tulips in Holland. Perhaps malnutrition played a part in his rather erratic behavior and his very different (for the time) way of perceiving reality.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2006
  17. Dec 8, 2006 #16
    Well I think the purpose of Wolram's post was to pay reverence to some of these people for having enriched our lives. Many of them suffered a great deal for the truly creative genius entails a capacity for suffering.
    An excessive enquiry into the biographies of great men, I find serves no puropse. I think it was Hegel who said no man is a hero to his valet de chambre. Imagine the caretaker of Alexander-he takes off Alexander's boots, knows what wine Alexander likes and all his stupid peculiarities, Alexander will just be another man to him, he will not see him as Alexander. Prying too much into the details of the lives of great men-it is as if any school teacher were to say, I do not makes such mistakes, hence, I am just as great. No! Regardless of what faults they might have had, they were great people nonetheless and having acheived greatness and enriched our lives, are worthy of awe and reverence.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2006
  18. Dec 8, 2006 #17
    I completely disagree. The topic concerns the mental state of many of the influential people in our societies over the centuries. Arriving at a diagnosis such as a perceived state of mental illness in any person is a subjective process that is carried out by observing their exhibited behaviors and traits. Simply accepting an unsolicited opinion concerning the mental state of a famous figure without personally learning about their actions, the time period, the economic social and political factors contributing to their mental state is an inaccurate way of gathering and understanding or assessing the figure in question. Knowing many of the nuaunces and influences in the life of an influential figure can only lead to a better understanding of the mechanism of genius and perseverence. Whereas accepting an anonymous diagnosis about an heroic figure is, in itself, an unbalanced kind of behavior.
  19. Dec 8, 2006 #18
    All Wolram was saying was that these people suffered a lot, and having enriched our lives are worthy of awe. Going into the nitty gritty details of why they suffered is a waste of time-genius means an ability to suffer. If one wants to understand them, one has to read what they wrote or created and what they wrote about themselves. So seeing that they were somehow beyond the normal, and suffered a lot, for many would not have killed themselves if they did not, trying to pry into their minds trying to find a reason for their peculiarities is a waste of time. At least for me. You can disagree. Each to his own.
    So let us pay respects to the tremendous suffering geniuses go through to enrich our lives, which I think was the purpose of Wolram's post.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2006
  20. Dec 8, 2006 #19
    I agree here without the gender bias - "to each their own".

    Let's take the colloquial term "Napoleon complex". The "diagnosis" in this case is based on the physical stature and behaviors of the famous Supreme Ruler of France, Napoleon Bonaparte who masterminded the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s.

    Ever since Napoleon's reign the "Napoleon Complex" was used to describe people in positions of power who were also vertically challenged (short) and who weilded their influence like a dictator. I believe Hitler was described as having the Napoleon Complex.

    This term, or diagnosis if you will, cannot be used as a description without a full knowledge of the physical condition, behaviors and mannerisms of the military genius Napoleon Bonapart. And the only thing Napoleon suffered was defeat as is bound to happen to someone with so many ambitions.
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