Famous Bipolar People


Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American poet, writer and philosopher. Born on May 25 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts, his philosophies and teachings had an impact on the growing movement of New Thoughts in the mid 18th century. He championed the cause of the individual and criticized the pressures from the society. He formed the Transcendentalism philosophy at the time and expressed it in his essays. Emerson pulled crowds wherever he had to speak, being considered the best orator at the time.

Emerson began formal education at the Boston Latin School at the age of 9. He proceeded to Harvard where he was appointed the messenger to the president as a freshman. He began keeping record of the books he had read in a series of notebooks. He worked odd jobs to cater for his expenses. He was chosen the Class Poet of his batch at Harvard and on the Class Day, presented an original poem. Emerson established a school in Massachusetts but assisted his brother in running his school for young women, located in their mother’s house. Emerson later went to Harvard Divinity School. He served as Junior Pastor and was ordained at Boston’s Second Church after his completion.


Emerson was believed to have suffered bipolar disorder in his life. He suffered depression when his wife died. He exhibited the depression in the form of many disagreements with the beliefs and policies of the Boston’s Second Church. He had a morbid outward look and lost hope. He sometimes collapsed into severe depression and recover after days. His life lost hope and meaning. He suffered another bout of depression in 1972 when his house caught fire. His friends, to relieve his depression contributed to send him abroad while they raised funds to rebuild his home.

Emerson, the father of Transcendentalism formed the Transcendental club for people who shared the same ideas as him. They met together to discuss issues concerning the society they lived in. Emerson continued to develop his oratory skills and then later delivered his famous Phi Beta Kappa address . He also continued to write to deliver his message of transcendentalism to the public. The transcendental group, under the leadership of Emerson began to publish its flagship journal, The Dial. He also published essays, a second book and the all famous Self-Reliance essay. This essay generated a lot of public review but earned him world-wide fame.


Emerson’s writings and speeches generated controversies at the time, and are still generating more today. His aunt described his Self-Reliance essay as a “strange medley of atheism and false independence”. Also Emerson’s claim that Jesus was not God and that it was Christianity that was exalting Jesus as a demi-god outraged the Christian community. Some people called him a traitor, having served as a pastor before and now denying the very belief for which he was a leader. The leadership of the Protestant community declared him an atheist and a poison to the mind of young people.


Emerson married Ellen Louisa Tucker in concord, but she died two years later. He later married Lydia Jackson, who had four children for him. Emerson died of Pneumonia.