Famous Faces of Schizophrenia
Read the stories of celebrities with schizophrenia and mental illness.
Faces of Schizophrenia
It’s no secret that some of the most creative minds in history also dealt with mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and depression. Some great minds and talents like mathematician John Nash and legendary musicians Jim Gordon and Peter Green live with schizophrenia, a rare type of mental disorder where a person interprets reality abnormally.
Learn about some more well-known names who have dealt with schizophrenia and other mental complications.
Dr. John Forbes Nash Jr. is a Nobel Prize-winning mathematician known for his genius as well as his paranoid schizophrenia. The focus of his theories involved forces that govern chance, many of which are still used today to analyze arms races, currency trends, and cooperation.
Later in his career, Dr. Nash struggled with schizophrenic delusions of persecution from government agents. His struggle was depicted in the movie A Beautiful Mind.
(Photo courtesy of Elke Wetzig)
British guitarist Peter Green became famous for his signature sound and as a founding member of Fleetwood Mac, making nearly every list of the world’s best guitarists. In the 1970s, he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and underwent therapy. Following some violent episodes and time in psychiatric hospitals, he was a recluse for years while dealing with his illness. He still plays guitar for live performances today.
(Photo courtesy of Tony Hisgett)
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi rarely started rookies, but he took a chance with Lionel Aldridge in 1963. It paid off as Aldridge helped the Green Bay Packers win two Super Bowls. After ten years in the NFL, Aldridge retired before he developed schizophrenia in the late 1970s. For years, Aldridge was homeless in Milwaukee before reaching a balance with his condition. He later became an advocate for the homeless and mentally ill. He died in 1998.
Jim Gordon was THE drummer during rock ‘n’ roll’s golden years: the 1960s and 1970s. Nearly everyone from Muppet master Jim Henson to guitar god Eric Clapton wanted him performing percussion for their music. Gordon's musical influence stretched from the hard rock of Alice Cooper to the surfing sounds of the Beach Boys. In the late ‘70s, Gordon began hearing voices from paranoid schizophrenia, but doctors failed to give him a proper diagnosis. In 1983, Gordon killed his mother. He currently remains imprisoned.
As former leader of the Beach Boys, Grammy Award-winning singer Brian Wilson became one of Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest singers of all time. However, Wilson had numerous mental problems, including schizoaffective disorder that caused him to suffer from delusions similar to schizophrenia. There are many theories regarding the cause of his problems, including drug abuse and a stroke. Luckily, Wilson gained control over his problems and he continues to perform to this day.
Those Who Might Have Had It
Many people in history displayed behavior that could be confused as schizophrenia. Here are two people who are often included in lists of famous schizophrenics but were never officially diagnosed:
- Mary Todd Lincoln: The former First Lady suffered from outbursts and sporadic erratic behavior. It worsened after her husband, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated.
- Syd Barrett: As a founding member of Pink Floyd, the late Barrett left the band in 1968 among rumors of mental illness and drug use.
Learn More about Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a difficult disease to understand as it has many forms and isn’t always portrayed accurately in the media. Understanding schizophrenia and its symptoms is important for anyone with the disorder, and especially important for anyone who loves someone with it.
Getting factual, doctor-reviewed information is important to properly understanding the effects of schizophrenia.