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!

Note! 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.

Major depression

Schizophrenia and other disorders with significant psychotic symptoms

Panic disorder

Bipolar disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Eating Disorders


Not significant mental illness, but also in the DSM-IV and with negative consequences and connotations


Alzheimer's disease

Gender identity disorder

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 (jslattery@mail.clarion.edu)
URL= http://psy1.clarion.edu/jms/menillness.html

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