Saturday, May 21, 2011

Famous Neurotics

Many of the great authors, poets, artists, philosophers, entertainers and other prominent figures of the centuries have reflected some neurosis in their work, or in their thinking. From Salvador Dali, to Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Dostoevsky, and Sigmund Freud, the reflections of neurotic people have fascinated and informed us about ourselves. There are countless examples of people who enriched the world simply by expressing their neuroses in creative ways. 
Neurosis can be channeled to positive expression. For instance, an artist can plumb the depth of their unconscious, exposing elements of the human condition most people don't confront. A poet can throw insight into our deepest emotions; an author's description of personal suffering can resonate deeply with our own experiences, and thus be therapeutic. These are all examples of socially constructive expressions of neurosis. 

Τhe bottom line is that there is a difference between the outer persona and the private lives of individuals. The artist and poet may be leading lonely, sad and tragic lives. They may be driven and tormented by personal demons (fears), imps (impulses), ogres (obsessions), and things that go bump in the night (nightmares). These people lead unsatisfying lives, because despite their talent and fame, they still obsess about how no one appreciates them; or perhaps they are lonely, depressed or constantly inebriated. 
We admire rock musicians, painters, sports personalities, or successful executives, because we only get to see their public faces. The private faces of people can be very different. Sometimes their neurosis becomes a matter of public scrutiny, and we enjoy gossiping about them, because we think they lead more interesting lives. The tabloids are certainly rife with stories about the alleged eccentricities of character of the rich and famous. The epically neurotic struggles of entertainer Michael Jackson are a good example. 
Many famous artists who lived in the past strongly displayed symptoms of depression, with some of the more well known of these cases being Vincent van Gogh and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. There are many other artists that that were depressives, including: Edgar Allen Poe, Lord Byron, William Blake, John Keats, TS Elliot, Mark Twain, Noel Coward, George Frederic Handel, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. In terms of politicians, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are known to have been depressives.

Among the best-known obsessive-compulsive personalities were Michelangelo, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Howard Hughes and Stanley Kubrick. More contemporary personalities with obsessive-compulsive tendencies include Woody Allen, Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, Cameron Diaz, Kathy Lee Gifford, Fred Durst, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Martin Scorsese, and Billy Bob Thornton.

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