A large number of people in the world suffer from mental illness and people can become unwell without much warning. Some mental health conditions such as Schizophrenia are debilitating and they can have dramatic effects on the lives of the sufferer and the people close to them.
We detail 10 famous people who have lived and continue to live with Schizophrenia.
Peter Green was the founder and guitarist of the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac.
He has been admired by artists such as B.B King, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page for his guitar skills and he ranked as the 38th greatest guitarist of all time out of 100 other musicians in Rolling Stone Magazine.
In the mid 1970s Green was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and he was treated with electroconvulsive treatment in psychiatric hospitals during this time. In 2004 Green stated that the medication he was taking to treat his psychological problems was making it hard for him to concentrate and sapped his desire to play guitar. In recent years he has been touring the world with his band ‘Peter Green and Friends’.
John Nash is an American mathematician and Nobel Memorial Prize winner. The 2001 Hollywood Movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ was loosely based on his life and the film depicts his career as a mathematician and his struggle with Paranoid Schizophrenia.
He talks honestly about his illness recounting the ‘delusional thinking’ and mental disturbances that he suffered during the early months of his wife’s pregnancy in 1959. Despite his mental illness Nash has achieved much in his professional life. He has earned several awards for his work and has provided insights into economics, computing, military theory and more.
Eduard Einstein was the son of famous theoretical Physicist Albert Einstein and his first wife Mileva MariÃ„’¡.
Eduard was reported to have been a good student who had started studying to become a psychiatrist but by the age of twenty he began to suffer from Schizophrenia. Many people claimed that he was harmed by drugs and ‘cures’ that he was subjected to during treatment in Psychiatric clinics. His brother Hans Albert Einstein believed that his electric shock treatments were the reason for his deterioration. Eduard Einstein died at the age of 55 from a Stroke which he suffered in a psychiatric clinic in Zurich.
Roky Erickson is an American Singer-Songwriter, guitarist and founding member of the rock band ’13th Floor Elevators’. He is also credited as being a pioneer of the ‘Psychedelic Rock’ musical genre
He was raised in Texas and had an interest in music from a young age playing piano and guitar by the age of 10. He reportedly began to speak gibberish whilst performing at a fair in Texas in 1968 and he was diagnosed as a Schizophrenic soon after at a Psychiatric hospital in Houston. In 1969 he was found to be in possession of a marijuana joint in Austin, he pleaded insanity to avoid a jail sentence and went on to stay in Psychiatric hospitals undergoing treatments and electroconvulsive therapy for a number of years. In recent years he has toured New Zealand and Australia headlining festivals and playing shows to his fans there.
Will Elliott is a Horror fiction writer who lives in Queensland, Australia.
He found critical acclaim and notoriety when his debut novel ‘The Pilo Family Circus’ was released. The book won several awards and many readers wondered if the novel was based on his own life because Elliott is a Schizophrenic and the book deals with a young man’s struggle with mental illness although Elliott denies this claim. His Memoir ‘Strange Places’ was released in 2009 and details his experiences in living with Schizophrenia and follows his fledgling writing career.
Tom Harrell is a well known American Jazz trumpeter, arranger and composer. He has had an exciting and vibrant career which has seen him tour the world with a number of bands and he has featured on over 260 albums. Tom has suffered with severe paranoid schizophrenia since his early twenties and his illness means that he sometimes finds social interactions and daily life difficult. However his illness doesn’t seem to have held this award winning musician back in his career.
Meera Popkin was a Broadway star who appeared on stage in ‘Cats’ and ‘Miss Saigon’ in London’s West End. Her struggles with Schizophrenia brought on by a stressful time in her life led to her withdrawal from her stage career, she began working for the American fast food giant ‘Wendy’s’ instead. In recent years she has been living with her husband and children in Indiana and she continues to move forward with her life. She feels that she has a wonderful support system but says that she is still haunted by her illness.
Vaslav Nijinsky was a highly skilled Russian danseur and choreographer during the early 1900’s. He was renowned for performing gravity defying leaps and other difficult manoeuvres during his performances. He was androgynous in his appearance and was reported to have changed his audience’s perspectives of a male dancer. Vaslav suffered with Schizophrenia and his condition was exacerbated by the stresses of his work and he spent much of his later life undergoing treatment in Psychiatric hospitals and asylums.
Louis Wain was an English artist who is best known for his personified drawings and representations of cats in the early 20th Century. He gave his subjects humanistic physical traits and many of his illustrations of cats were featured in popular children’s books and magazines of the time.
He was involved with several animal charities in his life and he hoped that he had helped to change the negative attitude that people had towards cats in England. In his later years he suffered from Schizophrenia and his mental health deteriorated significantly, some Psychologists claim that evidence of this can be seen in his works.
Lionel Aldridge was an American professional football player who had an 11 year NFL career. He retired from American Football in 1973 and worked for Packer’s radio and MBC until he developed Schizophrenia in the late 1970s. He claims that he began with his symptoms when he was about 33 becoming homeless for 2 years in the early 1980s. He eventually returned home to Milwaukee and sought treatment, his condition improved and he began speaking about his battle with Schizophrenia, helping to raise awareness about this mental illness. He died in 1998 at the age of 56 from natural causes.