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Thursday, 1 December 2011

50 Famous Bipolar People

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I recently posted about feeling somewhat depressed again, cycling downwards.  An anonymous commentor asked if I was seeing a therapist as well, and suggested that my problems may be the result of faulty thought patterns.

Now, I have no way of knowing whether this was a well meaning message or not, but it struck me as somewhat insulting.   I don't think mine is a faulty thought pattern.  It is only different from others.  As we have seen time and time again throughout history, different isn't faulty, it just scares people.

I might be acting over-sensitive, but it brought me to this subject I'd been thinking of for a while.

I found this list of famous people that are thought to have struggled with bipolar disorder at, their list is much longer, but I've narrowed it down to 50 famous people I have actually heard of.  One notable omission is Albert Einstein, who is also thought to have been manic-depressive.

When looking at this list of names, I see some of the most creative artists in history.  Some of the best actors of Hollywood past and present.  Some of the most forward thinkers of their times.   I see a long list of people who have somehow changed or contributed to the world.
  1. Buzz Aldrin, astronaut 
  2. Hans Christian Andersen 
  3. Robert Boorstin, assistant to Pres. Clinton, 
  4. William Blake (1757-1827), poet 
  5. Napoleon Bonaparte 
  6. Tim Burton, movie director 
  7. Drew Carey, actor
  8. Jim Carrey, actor
  9. Dick Cavett
  10. Agatha Christie 
  11. Winston Churchill
  12. Francis Ford Coppola 
  13. Emily Dickinson 
  14. T S Eliot
  15. Carrie Fisher
  16. Robert Frost 
  17. F Scott Fitzgerald
  18. Larry Flynt 
  19. Sigmund Freud, physician
  20. Cary Grant, actor  
  21. Linda Hamilton, actor 
  22. Kristin Hersh, musician 
  23. Victor Hugo, Poet
  24. Jack London, author
  25. Robert Lowell, poet 
  26. Marilyn Monroe, actress 
  27. Mozart, composer 
  28. Kevin McDonald, comedian, actor  
  29. Robert Munsch, writer 
  30. Isaac Newton, scientist 
  31. J C Penney 
  32. Plato, philosopher, according to Aristotle 
  33. Edgar Allen Poe, author 
  34. Peter Gregg, team owner, race car driver 
  35. Abbie Hoffman, writer, political activist 
  36. Alonzo Spellman, athlete (football) 
  37. Muffin Spencer-Devlin, athlete (pro golf) 
  38. Gordon Sumner (Sting), musician, composer 
  39. Britney Spears, Singer 
  40. Robert Louis Stevenson 
  41. Liz Taylor, actor 
  42. Mark Twain, author 
  43. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, poet
  44. Ted Turner, entrepreneur, media giant 
  45. Jean-Claude Van Damme, athlete, actor 
  46. Vincent van Gogh 
  47. Robert Downy JR, Actor, Singer 
  48. Walt Whitman, poet 
  49. Tennessee Williams, author  
  50. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), US President 
Would you have told them that their problem was faulty thought patterns?

Struggling with Bipolar Disorder does not mean that you are less than.  It means that you are different from.  Embrace those differences, and don't let others steal your light.  It was given to you for a reason.



  1. I hope the person who made that comment to you did have good intentions, and was suggesting that challenging thoughts might be helpful for helping prevent you spiral downward further - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy does have good results with depression (not sure of the results with Bipolar though???).

    However, if the person does mean that your thoughts are responsible for everything that you are struggling with (which is what it sounds like that might mean to me) then it is incredibly insulting!!

    CBT doesn't actually take that perspective at all which is a common misconception, and dependent upon the commentors knowledge of CBT, they might have fallen prey to that.

    I apologise if I am repeating information you already know!

  2. Hi Felicia,

    I have heard this argument as well (faulty thought process) even from professional. What many seem to forget is that the same symptoms that describe bipolar are those that describe giftedness. This article discusses how being gifted has an emotional side, which is exactly why many gifted artistic persons are thought to be bipolar, makes sense huh? I believe our thinking process is not faulty but potentially more advanced and maybe misunderstood.
    I feel like plugging my own blog here but I won't. Anyway, keep up with the good work.

  3. I'm sorry you were hurt/insulted by the comment I left.

    As thebipolarproject said: "that challenging thoughts might be helpful for helping prevent you spiral downward further - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy does have good results with depression."

    This is what I was referring to.

    Hope you're feeling better this week.

  4. It not faulty thought patterns, it the way this family fonction and I mean both side of this family. That is why I cannot explain why when I look at a spreadsheet I can see what need to be done to make it balance. My thought process is not always logical to others, but at the end they are always amaze by the result and then see the that I had the right way... Momanonymous XXX Love you so much

  5. Great list. Far longer than what I had already known.

  6. Thanks for your comments everyone, and for your apology @anonymous. I figured it was well meaning, but hey - it inspired a whole post - so great. LOL @momanonymous - LOL! Love to all xx

  7. Felicia, I agree this is only a difference in thinking. Possibly a higher degree of thinking. Also born a child prodigy it scared me as I kept coming up on top of almost any subject. But the depressions have finally halted many of my dreams. The mania scares me as I don't know how high I can go without accidentally killing myself. Either way it brings a certain fear of dying and dying by one's own hand. The gift is so high and the low is so painful it's hardly worth it. I'd love to feel the same 'normal' everyday. My brain does not know how to rest or focus on something long enough to do anything about it. Gain and lose interest so quickly, makes me tired thinking about it. Good post and interesting to know so many bipolar's are geniuses. Small comfort, but it is some. Keep posting I need a place to talk.

  8. Dear Anonymous,

    Your words touch me, and I feel your pain. The bipolar life, while it may have some perks, is not an easy one. I have often said that having such a hightened understanding of human behavior can be a real hinderance, and that ignorance truly must be bliss. It is comforting to me to know that while this disease sometimes threatens to devour all that I am, on good days, I have the power to change the world... And so do you. Keep talking, I like to listen.