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In Indiscrete Thoughts, Gian-Carlo Rota claims that:

It cannot be a complete coincidence that several outstanding logicians of the twentieth century found shelter in asylums at some point in their lives: Cantor, Zermelo, Gödel and Post are some.

Elsewhere, he hints that the rate of mental illness among logicians is much higher than the general population.

Do logicians suffer from mental illness at significantly higher rates than the population at large (or other similar groups, such as academics)? If so, is there an accepted explanation for this association?

  • 2
    Do we have any more context for the claim? For it seems to me, it is not just a "coincidence" but expected that in a large group of candidates, four had mental health issues at some stage of their life. – Oddthinking Apr 4 '15 at 1:57
  • The graphic novel Logicomix explores this a lot. Part of the theme of the novel is that many famous logicians went or were crazy in various ways. I'd be interested to see how true it is. I actually suspect it is true, particularly if you restrict to groundbreaking logicians. – 6005 Apr 4 '15 at 2:16
  • Please remember to be nice in the comments. – Oddthinking Apr 5 '15 at 0:19
  • @Oddthinking - there may be SOME causal relationship if you include autism spectrum disorders in "mental illness" umbrella – user5341 Apr 7 '15 at 17:27

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