Wednesday, June 8, 2011

7 Historical Figures Who Needed Rehab


Throughout history there have been brilliant men and women who seemed incapable of balancing the demands of their personal lives with their contributions to history. Today, we are able to recognize that many of history’s most fascinating figures were in fact in need of professional help.
Many of these historical figures self-medicated themselves in order to fight their personal demons. Some chose drugs or alcohol, while others engaged in dangerous behavior that put their health at risk. If they were alive today, they would definitely need to spend some time in treatment to overcome their issues. Here are seven of the most fascinating people in history and their chosen vices.

1. Vincent Van Gogh
VICE: Absinthe
DISORDER: Epilepsy & Bipolar Disorder
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to speak into my good ear. It’s in my pocket”

Few people know that Vincent Van Gogh, tortured artist and earless legend, suffered from a case of the crazies. Years later, it would be revealed that “the crazies” was actually a misdiagnosis of epilepsy, which he aggravated through absinthe abuse.
Van Gogh used absinthe as a way to manage his condition. Thujone, the toxin in absinthe, made his epilepsy and manic depression far worse than if he hadn’t medicated at all. While it is unclear as to which came first, the epilepsy or the absinthe, Vincent Van Gogh definitely could have benefited from at least a brief stint at a rehab center.

2. Ulysses S. Grant
VICE: Alcohol
DISORDER: Hypocrisy
Grant, posing for an old-timey baseball card

The biggest alcoholic to ever be put on money (except maybe the guy on the Wyoming quarter), U.S. Grant had been drinking long before he made it to the White House.
What is ironic about Grant is the fact that he was, in fact, a “Son of Temperance.” Actively fighting the fight against alcohol abuse, U.S. Grant did what he could to abstain from the bottle. That is until he quit the Sons of Temperance, and resumed drinking like a fish. While history will remember him as a man who helped win the Civil War, his friends will remember him as a mean-ass drunk.

3. Adolf Hitler
VICES: Methamphetamines & Cocaine
DISORDER: Little Man Syndrome, Anti-Semitism
The mustache hides the coke bump…

Let’s table the obvious sensitivity training needed by Hitler, as most people are generally aware of it. What fewer people are aware of is the fact that he also abused methamphetamines and cocaine while running Nazi Germany.
While it is amazing to think that a leader hopped-up on amphetamines and coke could have the presence of mind and charisma needed to lead an entire country to war, Hitler was able to do it. Granted, he lost that war and is generally regarded as the worst human being ever to walk the face of the planet, but it’s still quite the historical legacy for a man who was high for much of his time in power.

4. Princess Diana
VICE: Bulimia
DISORDER: Borderline Personality Disorder
The crown adds 10 pounds…

Princess Diana was bulimic for almost four years before she sought treatment. Once she made her condition public, the number of bulimia cases rose dramatically.
At first this was written off as copycatting, since throwing up seemed to be the only thing Princess Diana did that normal women could do just as well. However, it was later revealed that these cases were long-standing, and that Diana’s admission made women comfortable seeking treatment.

5. Edgar Allan Poe
VICE: Alcohol
DISORDER: Bi-polar Disorder & Schizophrenia
Quoth the Raven: I’ll have one more.

Edgar Allan Poe, a master Gothic literature, was also a bit of a drunk. Had he gotten that problem taken care of, perhaps he could have thought of an additional line for that stupid raven to say.
While it is up for debate as to whether or not his boozing influenced his writing, most people seem to agree that Poe was rather fond of the bottle. Since most of his literature was written from the point of view of a first person narrator, and since most of Poe’s first person narrators ate opium and drank, he is often misunderstood to be far worse off than he was. Nevertheless, he was pretty bad, and a short stint at Betty Ford would have served him well.

6. Emperor Nero of Rome
DISORDER: Megalomania
The fiddling fool, himself.

The Roman emperor Nero, famous for playing music while Rome burned, was a complex man. Though he was the greatest emperor of a generation, he also appeared to be a bit of a sex addict.
In fairness, it would be hard to not be a sex fiend back on those days, particularly if the statues bear any resemblance to real life. Not only are you the emperor of Rome, but everyone around you is hot and covered by only the smallest of leaves. Ancient Rome, for the wealthy classes, was a city of sexual excess, and it’s not hard to understand why Nero was so frequently tempted.

7. F. Scott Fitzgerald
VICE: Absinthe
Drunk as a skunk

When your drinking problems are so bad that developing a case of TB is actually an improvement to your health, you know you are in rough shape. Although the creator of The Great Gatsby will always be remembered as a terrific writer, his death at age 44 could have been prevented had he lived a life of moderation.

Although rock stars and Hollywood actors tend to be who we think of when we hear the word “rehab,” the reality is some of the greatest and most influential figures in history could have used some as well. Although they are primarily remembered for other reasons, many of their legacies will forever be tarnished with memories of abuse.

7 Historical Figures Who Needed Rehab Rehab International

1 comment:

  1. I think you confuse cause and effect. In most cases the effect, mental illness, results in self medication which appears as a vice: alcoholism, drug abuse. In my readings, I would say that most historical figures who attained greatness had to one degree or another bi-polar disorder. In their early days they all exhibited the ability to focus prodigious mental energies on a subject or objective, then lapsed into periods of irritability and depression: Hypomania, Manic, Diasphoric and Depressive phases respectively) Grant may have had a touch of BPD. In reading many biographies the key symptoms are always mentioned, but the authors are loath to draw the correlation. People just do not sink into days or weeks of dark depression for no good reason. Its like historians just like Hollywood writers, want to gloss over the obvious. Having lived the bi-polar nightmare for 5 years with a brilliant wife suffering from it, it is all too clear that a lot of high achievers and creative types suffer from this. Look at the number of Hollywood luminaries who have it. It is not difficult to see how many historical figures of note could have suffered with the then unknown mental illness and it was just attributed to erratic or excentric behavior. Alexander the Great? Caligula (sexual promiscuity and perversion are symtoms, I can speak to that based on my wife's behavior). The list is long. I agree that "Rehab" is a smoke screen for treatment of a symptom, not the underlying illness. We do not like the word mental illness. Vivien Leigh of "Scarlet Ohare" fame from Gone with the Wind, was committed by her husband Lawrence Olivier for her erratic behavior and promiscuity related to her BPD. Mel Gibson, and other notables who periodically struggle with self medication. Anne Heche, her sexual identity swings, and meltdowns, Lindsey Lohan would be another I would put money on. History is replete with them.