Celebrities and historical figures with mental health disorders

Celebrities and historical figures with mental health disorders

By William Smith

I am sure this feature may be a little controversial, and whilst I am not in any way undermining or trivialising the awfulness of a mental illness, it has struck me often that many of the great and powerful today and in history have indeed been afflicted with different mental disorders. This, and the news piece written by my colleague Rebecca Coxon entitled 'Is there a positive side to depression?’ got me thinking.

On researching this article I read a feature on variety.com, the feature lists many famous people, world leaders, celebrities and high achievers who have all been documented as having some kind of psychiatric disorder.  So I ask can being ‘psychologically different’ be a positive thing? After all I am sure we have all heard the saying ‘there’s a fine line between genius and madness’.

A few weeks ago I read two reports that Barak Obama is a narcissist, whilst according to variety.com Winston Churchill had marginal bipolar disorder and suffered from alcoholism, Abraham Lincoln had manic depression and Mahatma Gandhi had a chronic personality disorder. The list just goes on and on.  John F. Kennedy had a well documented ‘hyper sexuality’ which almost became part of his charm, whilst reports of his appetite for amphetamines and anabolic steroids caused concern.

Is there something that drives these people to crave leadership? Many great names of the silver and TV screen have had a history of mental illness. We know that an extraordinary number of comedians have suffered from depression -Spike Milligan’s genius for comedy was matched by bouts of manic depression, David Walliams and Steven Fry also both openly discuss their afflictions.

Other stars had well documented mental health problems, these include Charlie Chaplin, Marlon Brando, Maralyn Monroe and Stanley Kubrick. Even the likes of Johnny Depp (anxiety disorders) and David Beckham (OCD) have spoken out about their issues.

So with all these people in mind, and in the certain knowledge that this list only touches the tip of the iceberg, I wonder if difficulty, struggle and a touch of ‘crazy’ can indeed lead to heightened creativity and a determination to succeed? Have your say here  

Your rating: None Average: 8.7 (6 votes)