Mental illness is defined as any characteristics of impairment of an individual’s normal behavioral, emotional, or cognitive functioning. Mental illnesses include one or more of various disorders, such as anxiety disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, or narcissistic personality disorder, and many others. According to WHO, about one third of the human population meets the mental illness diagnosis criteria, at one or the other stage of life. Mental illnesses were identified in ancient civilizations and it is unfortunate that for many centuries the mentally ill have been treated like criminals. Hitler killed more than 200,000 mentally ill from 1939 to 1945 under the infamous T-4 euthanasia programs. The operation was headquartered in Tiergartenstrasse 4, Berlin, where the code name of the program was taken from.
1. Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born to Jack Regan and Nelle Regan on February 6, 1911in Tampico, Illinois, USA. He died at the age of 93 years on June 5, 2004 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for ten years. Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States and his presidential term started on January 20, 1981 and ended on January 20, 1989. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in August 1994 at the age of 83 years. It is an incurable neurological disorder. Reagan, through a hand-written open letter, informed the nation, ‘I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease’¦ I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead. Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you’. He was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2006.
2. Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was born to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Lincoln on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky, U.S. and died on April 15, 1865 at the age of 56 years at Petersen House, Washington D.C., U.S. He was the 16th President of the United States of America and served from March 4, 1861 to April 15, 1865. Occasionally, he suffered from severe depression. Following a horse kick to the head, he fell unconscious for twenty-four hours. On account of many traumas in his life, he suffered from melancholy. To overcome this condition, he used Blue Mass pills, which invariably contained the toxic elemental mercury. Many family members, both from his mother and father’s side, showed similar symptoms.
3. Winston Churchill
Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, more often known as Sir Winston Churchill, was born to John Spencer Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, and Lady Randolph Churchill. He referred to his depression as a black dog, and said, ‘I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.’ He perhaps, suffered from some phobia.
4. Richard Milhous Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was born to Francis A. Nixon and Hannah Nixon on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California, U.S. and died on April 22, 1994 at the age of 81 years in New York City, New York, U.S. He was the 37th President of the United States of America and served from 1969 to 1974. He was the only U.S.President to resign to avoid otherwise certain impeachment on account of the Watergate Scandal. According to the biographer Summer, ‘Concern for Nixon’s mental state was so great that Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger ordered the military not to react to orders from the White House unless they were cleared by him or the secretary of state.’
5. AndrÃƒ© Strauss-Kahn
Dominique Gaston AndrÃƒ© Strauss-Kahn, often called DSK, was born on April 25, 1949 in Nuilly-sur-Seine, France. Supported by President Nicolas Sarkozy, he became the Managing Director of IMF on September 28, 2007 and served until his resignation on May 18, 2011. A 32 years old maid, Nafissatou Diallo, who worked at Sofitel New York Hotel, alleged on May 14, 2011 that Strauss-Kahn had sexually assaulted her. Kahn was indicted on May 18, 2011 and was granted US $1 million bail with a US $5 million bond. He was confined to a guarded apartment in New York. Michel Rocard, a member of the French socialist party, said during an interview on television, ‘This man quite obviously has a mental illness that makes it difficult for him to control his urges’.
6. Ernest Miller Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 and died on July 2, 1961. He is known for his writing style. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1952. In 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his novel, The Old Man and the Sea. Many of his works like A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Sun Also Rises are considered American classics. He was badly injured during two successive plane crashes in Africa. He wrote his article The Dangerous Summer for Life when he was in Spain, and it was there that his mental condition started deteriorating. In 1959, he committed suicide in his home in Ketchum, Idaho, U.S.
7. Mike Tyson
Michael Gerard Tyson, better known as Mike Tyson, was born on June 30, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S. He was on top of ESPN list of the hardest hitters in heavyweight history. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. He had a really bad temperament and in 2005, commented on his mental condition, saying, ‘I’ll never be happy. I believe I’ll die alone. I would want it that way. I’ve been a loner all my life with my secrets and my pain. I’m really lost, but I’m trying to find myself. I’m really a sad, pathetic case.’ The undisputed heavyweight world champion had to struggle against depression caused by his early childhood memories.
8. Adolph Hitler
Adolph Hitler was born to Alois Hitler and Klara Polzl on April 20, 1889 at Braunau-am Inn, Austria, Hungry. He was the dictator of Germany and the infamous main person behind the World War II in Europe, and the Holocaust. He believed in the superiority of the Germans, and more than 5 million Jews considered racial inferior by him were murdered in the Holocaust. His mental state was reflected in his obsessive-compulsive behavior, which might have been caused by the excessive use of amphetamine. His temporary blindness, stated to have been caused by the British mustard gas, was considered hysterical blindness by the psychologists. During his last days of his life he married his long time partner Eva Braun and both committed suicide to avoid capture by red army. Their bodies were burnt at the exit of their bunker.
9. Ivan IV Vasilyevich
Ivan IV Vasilyevich was born to Vasili III and Elena Glinskaya on August 25, 1530 in Kolomenskoye, Russia and died on March 28, 1584 at the age of 53 years. Also known as Ivan the Terrible, he was crowned Russia’s first tsar at the age of seventeen years. Although he started well, he ended as a cruel tyrant. He was an extremist who drank too much, laughed too loudly, hated too immensely and retaliated very callously. Being highly angered over some trifle, he murdered his son, the successor to his throne in 1581.
10. Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson was born to Ethel and James Herbert Wilson on March 11, 1916 at Huddersfield, West Riding of Yorkshire, U.K. and died on May 24, 1995 at the age of 79 years in London, U.K. He served in two non-consecutive terms as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, from 1964 to 1970 and from 1974 to 1976. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1976 and his sharp memory and other mental capabilities began to fail. He gave the nation a surprise by resigning on March 16, 1976. James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE was next only to Sir Winston Churchill, to be honored by Queen Elizabeth II, who came to dine at 10 Downing Street to mark his resignation.
Hitler, who murdered thousands of people in order to improve the human race genetically, was not alone. Many other countries too have had people with similar intentions and practices. From 1907 to 1939, more than 30,000 people in twenty-nine states of America were sterilized, mostly against their free will. The sterilizing operations were conducted in institutions like prisons or the institutions for mentally ill. In the current period of advanced genetic engineering, euthanasia or mercy killing is advocated and is being practiced under modified names like physician-assisted suicide.