At some point in that semester, I started to see a pattern in the lives of these great men. They all suffered from a bit of madness! And that made me feel wonderful! Because, just maybe, my quirks and depressive tendencies did not mean I was doomed to fail in this world. Maybe, just maybe, it meant I was among great company.
If you are thinking I can't do great things because I had to change my major. or I was fired from a job, or I had to take Organic Chemistry twice, or I have this skeleton in my closet look to these great men who came before us. Know that madness may just be a part of your personal genius. Know that our skeletons, failures and weaknesses are part of what makes us great. Don't put these momentary stumbles out of your mind, embrace them as part of who you are today. Learn from your past shortfalls, and use them to do great things in the present and future!
Tesla: Most of us are familiar with the stories of his battles with Edison. And maybe you know he had an unusual relationship with pigeons in his later years. But did you also know he had a gambling addiction in college. He lost his scholarship, dropped out and many of his friends thought he drowned. He never graduated.
Newton: In 1690 Newton suffered what is described as a mental breakdown. He sent wild accusatory letters to his friends quickly followed by letters of apology. He argued with many contemporary physicists and mathematicians often accusing them or plagiarism.
Michael Faraday: Faraday's contributions are mostly in the area of electromagnetism. Einstein called him "one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time." He too is described as suffering from a nervous breakdown.
Georg Cantor: Perhaps most well know for inventing set theory, Cantor suffered multiple bouts of depression. His madness was so severe that he was hospitalized many times and died in a sanatorium.
Kurt Godel: Godel is known for his two incompleteness theorems and made contributions to proof theory. He was also paranoid. He was so convinced that he was being poisoned that he refused to eat and starved to death.
Carl Gauss: He is often called the greatest mathematician since antiquity and described as a child prodigy. Wikipedia has a page dedicated to things named after him! He also refused to share how he derived his formulas, hated having students and was reluctant to publish his findings. He suffered a great depression at the death of his wife, never fully recovering.
Erwin Schrodinger: Schrodinger is most well know for his cats, but he also developed a wave equation that had a huge impact on quantum theory. He had a comfortable position at Oxford and a Nobel Prize. But was fired for his unconventional living arrangements. His wife and mistress both lived with him and had children by him. Maybe not true madness, but certainly eccentric. He is believe to have fathered children with at least two other women before his death.
I hope you enjoyed this dose of Madness! Click here to read more about about my experiences with depression.