Throughout history there have been an inconceivable number of people who have suffered from mental disorders. Unfortunately, because of their disorders, most were cast aside and dismissed by societies that assumed them to be completely useless and unable to effectively contribute. Many poor souls ended up in prisons or committed to warehouse asylums and were given no quality of life and little (if any) real treatment. Fortunately, many famous and historical figures that suffered from mental disorders were not treated as such. Artists and historical figures like Beethoven, Thomas Jefferson, T.S. Eliot, Einstein, Van Gogh, Mark Twain, Andy Warhol, Edgar Allen Poe and Michelangelo, are all known or suspected to have suffered from some form of mental disorder. However, despite their suspected abnormal mental conditions, they all made amazing and innovative contributions to the world. Because their disorders were not recognized, they were given the chance to excel and develop their talents, and they gave the world art, music, literature and freedoms that might have been otherwise missed.

It is sad to think of the potential gain the world might have enjoyed if someone had just paid attention to and appreciated.the things that' crazy' people have had to contribute. Fortunately, a doctor named Walter Morgenthaler at the Waldau Mental Asylum in Berne, Switzerland saw in one of his patients the potential to make amazing contributions to society. Dr. Morgenthaler saw beyond Adolf Wolfli 's schizophrenia, and saw in him a truly gifted artist. Without his doctor's support, Wolfli's innovative, original and amazing art would never have been seen by anyone outside of the Asylum, and would have been lost forever. Wolfti's disease and his art had a complex, interwoven relationship, and only by thoroughly understanding his disease, his life, and his art, can we truly understand the promise and talent that Dr. Morgenthaler saw in his most famous patient.

Document Type


Student Type


Department, Program, or Center

Psychology (CLA)


RIT – Main Campus

Publication Date



Twenty-Sixth Kearse Distinguished Lecture Award Recipient (2006)

Award in Psychology

Faculty Sponsor: David Kaiser

Class: Abnormal Psychology

Professor: David Kaiser

The Kearse awards recognize students who have written the most outstanding research papers or projects in areas of study in the College of Liberal Arts. There is one faculty-nominated awardee from each COLA department. Henry J. and Mary Geirin Kearse, lifelong advocates of education, endowed the award.

Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2013.