The Brilliant and a Mental Illness

Oct 2010
There is a saying that the violent criminal and the law enforcer are two sides of the same coin. There is a saying that the mentally-ill person and the psychiatrist are two sides of the same coin. The mathematician John Nash once noted that he does not see a distinction between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I found several articles linking schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism:

For example, some people are very skeptical that James Holmes has a mental illness because of his high intelligence and functioning capacity. He was a camp counselor and possessed an undergraduate degree in cognitive neuroscience. A fellow classmate of him said, “"I always thought that he was a little strange. I could never put my finger on it, but something told me to not get too close to him, female instincts I guess," the female student told NBC News. "I had tons of classes with him and lived across from him in the Honors dorms. He was a very smart guy though. He was a little bit of a weird guy, but we were honors students, so weird people were kind of common."

There have been lots of brilliant people in history that were thought to have suffered from a mental illness. Abraham Lincoln, Van Gogh are a couple of examples. Some people even said Freud was crazy but I believe he was a genius.

So what exactly is a mental illness anyways? What constitutes it? Can very intelligent seemingly normal people have it?