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Historical Figures Who Were Mentally Ill

Antonia R.Antonia R.

For more than 2 centuries, experts have been focusing their attentions on the psychological health of the people. In the past, there was no shortage of influential persons who suffered from serious psychological problems that were not treated correctly.

The reason was that up until the 18th century, psychologically ill people were thought to be possessed by the devil and diagnoses such as depression were treated in brutal and terrible ways.

Medics from the past used to pour ice cold water over people showing an abnormal mental state. More violent patients were wrapped in chains, while some of them were tied to special beds that spun at 100 rpm, until the patient became completely helpless.

The first person bold enough to claim that mentally ill people deserved normal treatment was the French physician Philippe Pinel. After the French Revolution, he removed the chains from his patients at the hospital he worked in. After this change, the state of many of them improved.

The German philosopher and writer Frederich Nietzsche, known for his copious works that had to do with human behavior, suffered from serious psychological problems.

According to one of the diagnoses, Nietzsche suffered from bipolar disorder, but this is debated and it is believed that he suffered from periodic psychosis, which is often accompanied by vascular dementia.


During one of his treatments in a psychiatric clinic, Nietzsche began drinking his urine using one of his boots and thought the guard was Otto von Bismarck.

The Russian writer Nikolai Gogol was also recorded as having psychological illnesses. Gogol and suffered from schizophrenia and severe depression.

The author of "Dead Souls" was convinced that his organs were positioned in an unusual way and that his stomach was turned upside down. The writer often had hallucinations, which led him to burn his works.

The German composer and pianist Robert Schumann, one of the most prominent representatives of the Romantic era, believed that he was being chased by talking chairs. The lack of mental stability made the parents of his wife, Clara Schumann, be opposed to their marriage.