Who suffers from mental illness?
It's easy to believe that people who suffer from mental illness are
different from you and me -- or that they are unable to cope in life. In
fact, people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression
etc. have the same range of abilities as people without these diagnoses.
Some people have problems coping, some do very well. Some may even find
their professional growth assisted by their mental health problems.
Goodwin & Jamison (1990), for example, found that 20% of renowned poets in
one sample were diagnosed with either major depression or bipolar disorder.
Here's a list of people who have "outted" themselves and
admitted to significant mental illness -- and are also very successful.
(Historical figures have been identified by current writers and
researchers. There is significant disagreement about some diagnoses.)
Don't sell yourself or the people you work with short!
This list does not pretend to be an exhaustive one. If you know someone
who would like to be added to this list, let me know. If you are on this
list and would like to be removed, please contact me.
- Mike Wallace, CBS anchor and newsman
- Rod Steiger, Academy Award winning actor
- William Styron, author
- Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher
- John Stuart Mill, philosopher, economist
- Thomas Wolfe, author
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The great Gatsby
- Louisa May Alcott, author of Little women
- Marilyn Monroe, actress
- Art Buchwald, political satirist
- Dick Cavett, talk show host
- Buzz Aldrin, astronaut
- Honore de Balzac, author
- Frederic Chopin, composer
- Clara Barton, philanthropist, founder of Red Cross
- Alma Powell, wife of Colin Powell -- the latter briefly a presidential
hopeful in 1996
Schizophrenia and other disorders with significant psychotic
- Vincent Van Gogh, Impressionist painter
- John Nash, 1994 Nobel Laureate in Economics
- Vaslav Nijinsky, dancer
- George III, king of England
- Naomi Judd, singer
- Earl Campbell, football player and Heisman trophy winner
- Vince Van Patten, actor and star of "Baywatch"
- Willard Scott, weatherman on NBC's "Today"
- Abraham Lincoln, 16th United States president (1861 - 1865)
- Teddy Roosevelt, 26th United States president (1901 - 1909)
- Winston Churchill, British prime minister (1940 - 1945, 1951 - 1955)
- Ted Turner, owner of Turner Broadcasting
- Sen. Thomas Eagleton, Democratic presidential hopeful in 1972
- Saul, king of Israel (11th c. Israel)
- Virginia Woolf, author of A room of one's own
- Bob Boorstin, former Clinton staffer, currently at State Department
- Kay Jamison, psychologist, expert on bipolar disorder, and author of
An unquiet mind, her memoir about her own mental illness
- Sylvia Plath, poet and author of The Bell Jar, perhaps also
suffering from borderline personality disorder
- George Frederick Handel, composer
- Robert Schumann, composer
- Freddie Prinze, comedian
- James Joyce, author of Ulysses
- Ernest Hemingway, author of For whom the bell tolls
- Patty Duke, actress. Her memoir is entitled Brilliant madness
- Kitty Dukakis, wife of 1988 presidential hopeful
- Margot Kidder, actress, "Lois" in the "Superman" movies
- Mark Vonnegut, author of Eden express, his description of his
struggles with "schizophrenia." He has been more recently
diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Vonnegut is the son of author Kurt
- Patricia Cornwell, author of the Kay Scarpetta series of mysteries --
one of my favorites
- Joy Ikelman's list of people with affective disorders is more extensive than mine and
a good place to go for more information.
- Lena Arvola's page on bipolar disorder gives a very personal view
of what it is like to live with bipolar disorder.
- Howard Stern, radio personality
- Roseanne, actress
- Marc Summers, host of "Double Dare" on Nickelodeon. Remember
the kid's show where the host was frequently slimed or gotten wet in the
course of the episode?
- Vivien Leigh, actress
- Howard Hughes, inventor, entrepreneur
- Karen Carpenter, singer, died from the sequelae of anorexia
- Elizabeth I, queen of England
- Tracey Gold, actress, struggling with anorexia
- Emme, top plus size model, host of Fashion Emergency
- Princess Diana, diagnosed with bulimia and depression
- Paula Abdul, singer, dancer, winner of a Grammy for her music video,
reports problems with bulimia
- John Madden, sports announcer, former professional football coach,
suffers from fear of flying
Not significant mental illness, but also in the DSM-IV and with
negative consequences and connotations
- Harry Belafonte, actor, singer and producer. "When I began to read
literature, what always satisfied me was the literature of these great
social writers -- Steinbeck, Hemingway, Mark Twain. . . . Richard Wright. .
." (Newsweek, August 26, 1996, p. 63)
- Nelson Rockefeller, governor of New York, vice president of the United
States (1974 - 1977)
- Rita Hayworth, actress
- Ronald Reagan,
40th United States president (1981 - 1989)
Gender identity disorder
- Renee Richards, tennis player
The National Alliance for the Mentally
Ill advocates for the mentally ill as well as offers support and
educational services. Their page has received an award for excellence from
Mental Health Net.
Page by Jeanne M. Slattery (email@example.com)