The term ‘schizophrenia,’ coined by Eugen Bleuler, is derived from the Greek roots ‘skhizein,’ ‘to split’ and ‘phren,’ ‘mind,’ and the term implies the splitting of the mental functions. Schizophrenia is characterized by the presence or lack of certain characteristics. The characteristics whose presence is indicative of schizophrenia include: delusions, hallucinations, or hearing voices, unorganized speech wherein the loss of the train of thought is observed with a loose connection between sentences and their meanings. The incoherence of speech comprising irrelevant words and meanings is termed as ‘word salad.’ The condition is also indicated by extremely unacceptable and unsocial behaviors like improper dressing, frequent crying, and abnormal body language. Schizophrenics lack emotional response, speech, and motivation with increased tendencies to obesity, smoking, and suicidal trends. Schizophrenia is most prevalent either in the end stages of adolescence or at the onset of adulthood.
1. John Nash
John Nash was born to John Forbes, Sr. and Virginia on June 13, 1928 in Bluefield, Virginia. He is an American mathematician known for his great works in game theory and differential geometry. While serving as the senior research mathematician at Princeton University, he shared the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Reinhard Selten and John Harsanyi. The genius suffered from schizophrenia as reflected in his own words, ‘I later spent times of the order of five to eight months in hospitals in New Jersey, always on an involuntary basis, and always attempting a legal argument for release. And it did happen that when I had been long enough hospitalized that I would finally renounce delusional hypotheses and revert to thinking of myself as a human of more conventional circumstances and return to mathematical research. In these interludes of, as it were, enforced rationality, I did succeed in doing some respectable mathematical research.’
2. Eduard Einstein
Eduard Einstein was born to the world famous scientist Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric Einstein on July 28, 1910 in Zurich and died on October 25, 1965 at the age of 55 years in Zurich. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia for the first time at the age of 20 years and was institutionalized several times. According to his brother Hans Albert Einstein, ‘The thing that ruined him were the electric shock treatments.’ After his illness, he told his father that he hated him. Einstein never saw him afterwards though his mother kept on taking care of him. In June, 1918, Einstein wrote in a letter to Eduard, ‘Make a lot of walks to get healthy, and don’t read that much, but save yourself some until you’re grown up.”
3. Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was born to Minerva Buckner Machen and Anthony Dickinson Sayre on July 24, 1900 in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. and died on March 10, 1948 at the age of 47 years in Asheville, North Carolina, U.S. She was a feminine icon in 1920s America and was called ‘The First American Flapper’ by her famous, novelist husband F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1992. The couple was known as the 1920s legendary golden couple but was also known for their drinking, mental illness, disloyalty, and literary rivalry. Their common friend, Ring Lardner, remarked, ‘Mr. Fitzgerald is a novelist, and Mrs. Fitzgerald is a novelty.’ She drank, smoked, and was always after getting the attention of boys and did all that was unacceptable and against the then prevalent social norms.’
4. Vincent Willem van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh, better known as Van Gogh, was born to Theodorus van Gogh and Anna Cornelia Carbentus in Zundert, Netherlands on March 30, 1853 and died in Auvers-sur-Oise, France on July 29, 1890 at the age of 37 years. He was the most famous post-impressionist painter noted for the rough beauty, vibrant emotions, and bold colors of his works. He had produced more than 2,100 artworks including oil paintings, water colors, sketches, and prints. He had frequent attacks of mental disturbance and anxiety on account of schizophrenia. As is generally accepted, compared with others, the schizophrenics live a shorter life. Van Gogh died at an early age of 37 due to a gunshot which is generally considered as a self-inflicted injury.
5. Adele Hugo
Adele Hugo was the youngest child of the most famous writer of France, Victor Hugo, best known for his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She was born on August 24, 1830 and died in April, 1915. She is known for suffering from schizophrenia and her romantic obsession with a British military officer who rejected her. Symptoms of her mental illness were first noted prominently in 1856. Adele had been found wandering aimlessly in the streets, isolated from society, and talking to herself. She was ultimately left in medical care.
6. Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound, better known as Ezra Pound, was born on October 30, 1885 and died on November 1, 1972. He was an American poet and critic best known for his novels Ripostes and Hugh Selwyn Moberly. He was iconic to modernism and imagism in his time. In 1925, Ernest Hemingway wrote about his attitude towards his friends, “He defends when they are attacked, he gets them into magazines and out of jail…he advances them hospital expenses and dissuades them from suicide.’ He was arrested by American forces for treason against America and was kept in a 6×6 foot iron cage which made him schizophrenic. He was confined in
St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital for 12 years.
7. Elyn Saks
Elyn Saks is the Associate Dean and Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Gould Law School. She is best known for being a schizophrenic and fighting back with the mental disorder. She has expressed her first-rate experience for dissemination and the benefit of many others suffering from this disorder. In her words, ‘As a young woman, I was in psychiatric hospitals for three lengthy stays. Despite my diagnosis with schizophrenia and my ‘grave prognosis’ — that I would live in a board-and-care facility and work at a menial job at best — I am a chaired professor of law at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles’¦’
8. William Chester Minor
William Chester Minor was born in Ceylon in June, 1834 and died on March 26, 1920. He was an Army surgeon and, as such, served in the Battle of the Wilderness. He was assigned to punish an Irish soldier by branding him on the face with a ‘D’ for ‘deserter.’ The action made him schizophrenic. The state of his mental health deteriorated in 1868 to the extent that he was admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a lunatic asylum, in Washington, D.C. Since he did not show any signs of improvement after a six month’s stay, he was discharged and was allowed to resign his commission. He is best known for his biggest contribution of quotations to the Oxford Dictionary.
9. Mary Ann Lincoln
Mary Ann Lincoln was born to Robert Smith Todd and Elizabeth Parker Todd in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. on December 13, 1818 and died in Springfield, Illinois, U.S. on July 16, 1882 at the age of 63. She was the wife of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865. During her White House years, she suffered from migraines, and after an accident, she had frequent mood swings and a fierce temper. After the death of Lincoln, she developed a fear of poverty and walked around the city with $56,000 in government bonds sewn in her petticoats. After she attempted to jump out of a window to escape from an imaginary fire, her son institutionalized her in a private asylum in Batavia, Illinois. Only after three months she managed to escape from it and wrote letters to her lawyer and the Chicago Times to the great embarrassment of her brother.
10. Buddy Bolden
Charles Joseph Bolden, better known as Buddy Bolden, was born on September 6, 1877 and died on November 4, 1931 at the age of 54. He is considered to be the founder of jazz music. He was a chronic alcoholic, a schizophrenic, and suffered from dementia. He spent the last years of his life in the Louisiana State Insane Asylum at Jackson.
On account of the prevalence of schizophrenia in the most critical years of social and vocational development in young adults, it bears upon the social and economic makeup of the sufferers. Poverty, unemployment, and homelessness are more prevalent in schizophrenics, and they are also noted for increased suicidal trends by five percent. An earlier recognition of the causative factors, like genetics, environment, neurobiology, psychological or social factors, may help in going for the right treatment in the first instance. The average life expectancy, which is less than 12 to 15 percent in the people suffering from this disorder, reflects upon the need for extra care required for this group.