Famous People and Schizophrenia

There are relatively few famous people with schizophrenia because schizophrenia is a brain disease that typically strikes people when they are quite young - age 17 to 28. People this age typically are too young to be famous, they are just starting out their professional lives after finishing off school or college.

A recent Nobel Laureate in Economics, John Forbes Nash Jr., has a lifetime history of Schizophrenia but is now doing very well, as has been well documented in the book "A Beautiful Mind" and the academy award-winning movie of the same name.

Many "historical diagnoses" are frequently not entirely certain -- a "good guess" for schizophrenia includes Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln. Following is a list of famous people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, or are highly suspected of suffering (or have suffered) from schizophrenia.

Alexander "Skip" Spence, Bob Mosley - both members of the 1960's rock group Moby Grape (and Jefferson Airplane for Skip Spence). As a article mentioned in 1998 "Moby Grape's two most innovative songwriters, Spence and BobMosley, had descended into schizophrenia. Spence is still under residential care, unable to perform, while Mosley was homeless in the mid-1990s. But he rejoined the band for its previous New York show in August 1997." See Article

Roger Kynard "Roky" Erickson, of the Austin-based 1960's group TheThirteenth Floor Elevators. Around 1967 Erickson was arrested for drug possession, and locked in a psychiatric hospital for schizophrenia.

When Erickson came out of the psychiatric hospital (1972), he published a book of poetry. Despite his mental instability, he hit the scene again during the rush of psychedelic revival and punk-rock, with dark humor and a taste for the supernatural that carried him away from his origins, towards a macabre rhythm and blues, with lyrics filled with alarming monsters.

Joe Meek - 1960's British record producer ("Telstar"). From 1960 until his premature death six years later, Joe Meek released 245 singles, 45 of which made the Top 50.

James Beck Gordon (Jim Gordon) - James Beck Gordon had been, quite simply, one of the greatest drummers of his time. In the Sixties and Seventies he had played with John Lennon, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, the Everly Brothers, the Beach Boys, Judy Collins, Joe Cocker, Frank Zappa, Duane Allman, Carly Simon, Jackson Browne and Joan Baez. But the music came to and end as he developed schizophrenia.

Jim Gordon on tour with Jackson Browne, 1978

An Overview of Jim Gordon's Life


Charles "Buddy" Bolden - Schizophrenia at the Root of Jazz


Antoin Artaud - Dramatist, Artist (may have had schizophrenia)


Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln (past-President of the United States)


Vaclav Nijinsky, Famous Russian Dancer

  • Nijinsky Film
  • Nijinsky Ballet Created - "Germany's Hamburg Ballet is recreating the life of one of the dance world's superstars in a spectacular work by John Neumeier titled "Nijinsky," currently on a national tour.

    The two-act, full evening work covers the legendary career of Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky from his engagement by impresario Serge Diaghilev for his Ballets Russes in 1909 to his final public performance in 1919, which was followed by years moving in and out of mental sanitariums until his death in 1950. There have been other ballets about Nijinsky, but none is as biographically thorough as Neumeier's." from UPI Story on this new ballet - Nijinsky Ballet


Here is another list that someone has developed - the NAMI list of famous people with mental illness.



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