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Home: Bipolar Information: Famous: Family

Famous People with a Family History Suggesting Bipolar Disorders

Here are a couple of more paragraphs, from pages 236 - 237 of "Touched With Fire; Manic-Depressive Ilness and the Artistic Temperament."

[she writes about the family trees of afflicted people] "All these pedigrees demonstrate the wide range of expression of a genetic illness, from its milder forms, which can appear as temperaments, to the more psychotic and suicidal forms that appear as full-blown manic depressive insanity.

"Obviously, many other writers, artists, and composers had family members who suffered from manic-depressive illness or severe recurrent depressions, were declared insane and committed to asylums or hospitals, or committed suicide. Those with at least ONE SERIOUSLY AFFECTED FIRST-DEGREE RELATIVE (often there were several include):

  • Hans Christian Andersen
  • Konstantin Batyushkov
  • Arthur and E.F. Benson
  • Elizabeth Bishop
  • Aleksandr Blok
  • Charlotte and Emily Bronte
  • Anton Bruckner
  • Thomas Campbell
  • Thomas Chatterton
  • Samuel Clemens
  • John Sell Cotman
  • Gustave Courbet
  • Richard Dadd
  • Isak Dinesen
  • Ernest Dowson
  • Thomas Eakins
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Edward FitzGerald
  • Robert Frost
  • Thomas Gainsborough
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe
  • Nikolai Gogol
  • Kenneth Graham
  • Thomas Gray
  • Hermann Hesse
  • Charles Lamb
  • Louis MacNeice
  • John Martin
  • Marianne Moore
  • Edvard Munch
  • Francis Parkman
  • Walker Percy
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Jackson Pollock
  • Cole Porter
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  • Giocchino Rossini
  • John Rishkin
  • Alexander Scriabin
  • Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Peter Tchaikovsky
  • J.M.W. Turner
  • Walt Whitman - more...
  • Emile Zola

"These findings are consistent with those of Dr.S Andreasen, McNeil, Richards, and Karlsson (chapter 3) showing that mental illness and creativity tend to aggregate in certain families and not in others. The high rates of mood disorders and suicide in the literary and artistic families portrayed in this chapter are also consistent with studies showing greatly increased rates of manic depressive and depressive illness in the first degree relatives of individuals who have manic depressive illness.

"It is important to emphasize, however, that many writers and artists have no family history of these illnesses, nor do they themselves suffer from depression or manic depressive illness. This point is critical. The basic argument of this book is not that all writers and artists are depressed, suicidal, or manic. It is, rather, that a greatly disproportionate number of them are; that the manic depressive and artistic temperaments are causally related to one another. The genetic basis of manic depressive illness provides not only one part of this argument, but also the constitutional core of a determining temperament, one providing in part the sealed orders with which so many sail."

Modified August 6, 2004

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