Vincent van Gogh
Today he’s one of the world’s most celebrated painters, but van Gogh struggled with mental illness throughout his life. Different stories of his behavior make some scholars think he had schizophrenia. According to one account, van Gogh, during an argument with fellow painter Paul Gauguin, heard someone in his ear say, “Kill him.” Instead, he took a knife and cut part of his own ear off. Other psychiatrists think he might have had depression or bipolar disorder instead.
John Nash, Jr., PhD
Nash’s life was portrayed in the book and movie A Beautiful Mind. By age 30, he was known as one of the world’s best mathematicians. Then delusions and other schizophrenia symptoms took hold. He lived with them for 20 years before he slowly improved and went back to work at Princeton University. In 1994, he won the Nobel Prize in Economics. After Nash and his wife died in a car crash in 2015, New Jersey Sen. Richard Codey said, “He was very candid about his illness and we’re all better off for it.”
After a stellar football career in the 1960s, Aldridge made it into the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame, then covered the game as an analyst for NBC. But in his 30s, he became paranoid, had hallucinations, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. For a while he was homeless. But with the help of medications, he regained control. He spoke publicly about his condition for many years before his death in 1998. His message: “People can and do recover from mental illness.”
Green, a rock guitarist and founder of the group Fleetwood Mac, struggled with symptoms of schizophrenia. After he was admitted to a mental hospital, he began a slow recovery. Green now focuses on the basics in life: “I used to worry and make things very complicated. Now I keep it simple.”