Madness or Genius? Link Between Philosophers and Mental Health Disorders
If you were to create a list of philosophers, mathematicians, and alleged geniuses, you’d probably run out of paper pretty fast because of the major growth and shift in knowledge after discoveries from the beginning of time to this current day. History lessons put these extraordinary people on a pedestal, but throughout the process of voicing their ideas and proving their theories to be true, many people accused them of being insane. Although it could be argued that very smart people have a mental capacity unparalleled to the average person, could these monumental people truly have suffered from the extremity of mental health disorders?
Mental Health Disorders
“If you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss will stare back at you” was a statement made by famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Reading that statement, you might question whether he was extremely profound or if perhaps he was suffering from mental health disorders. His behavior was said to be rather odd and it is confirmed that he did indeed have a mental breakdown before his death in 1900, though he was said to have suffered from symptoms of depression and a mood disorder since his early childhood. This sounds accurate, even just basing the behavior of going from extreme euphoria to immediate frustration during the act of discovering that either their results don’t match up at all or are completely concise. Nietzche is a perfect example of a very bright person who battled a disease of the mind, which can absolutely be compared to addiction. This an excellent example of how a person can be struggling with a mental illness but still have the ability to impact society with their own unique idealizations. In correlation to addiction, a person can be addicted to a substance and still have good morale, which usually becomes most visible in their recovery when they are able to reverse their character defects and offer their own experiences, strengths, and hope to other addicts.
Then we have Albert Einstein, who created the definition of insanity himself as he stated, “We can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results; that’s insanity.” To be able to coin the term with such an appropriate and even recovery-oriented definition, it could be either an accurate belief or misconstrued fact that Einstein himself suffered from the disease of addiction, along with other speculated mental health disorders. With that debate aside, it has been brought up in today’s society that he might have had a mental illness. Because of all the unbelievable knowledge that Einstein has contributed to society, you might wonder how a person’s mind could think on such a different level. His lateral thinking supports the theory of an underlying mental illness, which would be extraordinary because of how far his ideas have brought mankind.
Socrates, a Greek philosopher, was blunt about how he felt when it came to perceptions of impracticalities, believing his ideas to have stemmed from a God. Perhaps an extremist in his spirituality, he was viewed as disturbed after revealing he heard voices on several occurrences. Regardless of the assumed mental illness he exhibited, Socrates impacted our world with his philosophical, paradoxical, biological, and physical findings.
Looking at some of the comments that these iconic people have made, it’s no wonder it is believed that many philosophers experienced or lived with mental health disorders. A person can suffer from an unseen disease but still remain teachable and leave an impact in the world. Some of the most intelligent people may have suffered from various mental health disorders and were still able to rise above the stigma to leave a legacy.Tags: Disease, mental health, mental illness