List of famous people with schizophrenia, loosely ranked by fame and popularity. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that is diagnosed based on observed behaviors. Symptoms of the illness include delusions, visual and auditory hallucinations, and lack of emotional intelligence. Genetics and environmental factors can be causes of schizophrenia.
Who is the most famous person with schizophrenia? Brian Wilson tops our list. The Beach Boys mastermind has hallucinations in which he hears voices. The “God Only Knows” singer says that he began experiencing the hallucinations when he started taking psychedelic drugs in the 60s. Other famous musicians with schizophrenia include Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett, Derek and the Dominos drummer Jim Gordon, and singer-songwriter Roky Erickson.
Some famous women also suffer from schizophrenia. Silent film actress Clara Bow was diagnosed with schizophrenia and underwent over 25 shock therapy treatments. Her hallucinations presented themselves as severe abdominal pains that actually didn’t exist. Bow also tried to commit suicide in 1944, claiming that she preferred death to a public life. She retired from acting in 1933. Other famous women with schizophrenia include Veronica Lake, Gene Tierney, and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Beach Boys front man Brian Wilson has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Wilson has hallucinations in which he hears voices.
“Saturday Night Live” cast member Darrell Hammond was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Actress Veronica Lake was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child.
On the Road author Jack Kerouac’s military records revealed that he was diagnosed with dementia praecox, today known as schizophrenia.
Vincent van Gogh
Although he was never diagnosed, many historians believe that Vincent van Gogh suffered from schizophrenia.
Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett was thought to have had schizophrenia by medical experts and people close to him. Pink Floyd member Roger Waters wrote “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” as a tribute to Barrett.
Novelist and wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1930.
Musician Daniel Johnston is diagnosed with schizophrenia and manic depression.
Silent film actress Clara Bow was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1949.
John Hinckley, Jr.
Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin suffered from schizophrenia.
Mary Todd Lincoln
Former first lady Mary Todd Lincoln was thought to have schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder.
Actress Gene Tierney was diagnosed with schizophrenia and underwent over 25 shock therapy treatments.
Producer and songwriter Joe Meek was an undiagnosed schizophrenic. The illness is thought to be a factor in Meek’s murder of his landlady and his own suicide.
NFL player Lionel Aldridge developed paranoid schizophrenia in the late 70s.
In 1907, jazz musician Buddy Bolden was diagnosed with dementia praecox, today known as schizophrenia.
Albert Einstein’s son Eduard was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1930. He was hospitalized several times throughout his life.
Musician and artist Wesley Willis was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he began to hear “demons.”
In the late 60s, singer-songwriter Skip Spence became delusional after taking too much acid. He marched around his hotel room with an axe, bashing down doors and claiming he was the anti-Christ. He was taken to Bellvue where he was diagnosed as schizophrenic.
Singer Roky Erickson was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1968.
Derek and the Dominos drummer Jim Gordon had acute schizophrenia. In 1983, he attacked his mother and stabbed her to death.
Jazz musician Tom Harrel is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.