The correlation between creativity/artistic temperaments and manic depression remains a controversial topic for some. There’s definitely a long and varied list of great minds with bipolar disorder. Today, contemporary writers, actors, and artists acknowledge the challenge of living with bipolar disorder and help the fight against stigma. Here are nine samples, past and present.
#1 Vincent Van Gogh
The painter struggled between episodes of high energy and stunning depression, especially during the last two years of his life. He committed suicide in 1890, at the age of 37, leaving behind a body of artwork that speaks to his broad mental swings.
#2 Rosemary Clooney
The singer’s career was disrupted by bouts of mania and depression. Clooney, a gifted singer with a mellow voice from the big band era, wrote her 1977 autobiography, This for Remembrance, that included descriptions of her disorder, long before her contemporaries were addressing it.
#3 Rapper DMX (Dark Man X)
Born Earl Simmons, is a well-known hip-hop singer and actor, a celebrity since the late 1990s. In his musical lyrics, DMX has written about the pain of bipolar disorder especially on his album, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot.
#4 Virginia Woolf
The title of Peter Dally’s, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Manic Depression The Best Parts of Bipolar Disorderand the Life of Virginia Woolf, describes how the writer struggled. “Virginia’s need to write was… to make sense out of mental chaos and gain control of madness,” says Dally.
#5 Dick Cavett
Author, actor, and talk show host Dick Cavett has had a long struggle with bipolar. He underwent therapy for the disorder and was among the first celebrities who were willing to discuss the issues of mental illness openly and frankly.
#6 Johann Goether
The writer and poet is considered Germany’s greatest literary mind. The 18th-century thinker was the originator of the movement, “Sturm und Drang,” which spoke to the “unease” of man in contemporary society and was characterized by language of great intensity and emotion.
#7 Carrie Fisher
Stigma-buster Carrie Fisher is one of Hollywood’s best-known creative minds, and one who has written extensively about her bipolar disorder. She is among those who use their celebrity to further awareness about bipolar.
#8 Richard Dreyfuss
The award-winning actor is vocal in how he relishes the “creative beauty” in turning his manic depression to mastery and bad situations to good. He says he wishes others could see the “diamond in the soil” of bipolar disorder and refers to his manic state as an “incandescent ecstasy of creation.”
#9 George (Lord) Byron
Author Kay Redfield Jamison writes in Touched With Fire: “Byron represents the fine edge of the fine madness—the often imperceptible line between poetic temperament and psychiatric illness. His terrible struggles with melancholy and his “savage moods.”
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