No, Einstein was not schizophrenic. But his son, Eduard was. And Mileva’s sister. I have media-inspired notions of schizophrenia, such as from the movie A Beautiful Mind, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but wasn’t sure how a visual medium like film might have necessarily distorted what it really is. L. Fuller Torrey’s book, Surviving Schizophrenia, makes for interesting bedtime reading.
I like this book for its clear explanations and its use of literature (stories by Poe and Chekov) and fine art (paintings by Henri Rousseau and Edvard Munch) to render the experience of life from inside the mind of a person beset with a schizophrenic episode. Schizophrenia is typified by a heightening of the senses and a malfunction of the brain’s limbic system to adequately screen out the irrelevant input. Think of the heightened sense of hearing in Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Other senses may also be overstimulated simultaneously, which, with no filtering, is an overwhelming experience. For this reason, schizophrenics cannot follow television–a misnomer presented by the media where we often see patients in a ward staring at the television. Heightened and non-discerning sensory input seems to be the one distinguishing characteristic of the disease and the one most frequently experienced at onset–typically in late adolescence.
If you’re looking for a fictional narrative that’s compelling, read Maryanne Stahl’s “Forgive the Moon,” which is about living with a schizophrenic mother.
Thank you, McKenna! I was looking for a compelling one.
James W. Hall offers a wonderfully loving character, Gracey, in his fine, fine novel FORESTS OF THE NIGHT.
Thanks, Judy. I’ll look into that. It happens that Eduard Einstein was violent when he was hearing voices. He suffered extreme earaches as a child which seemed to have been the genesis of the illness, according to the medicine of the day. Eduard was born in 1910, so these symptoms developed in the 1920’s.