Author: Claudie Kalb
APA Style Citation
Kalb, C. (2016). Andy Warhol was a hoarder: Inside the minds of history’s greatest personalities. Washington D.C., National Geographic.
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Celebrities are often idolized, through their lives on the screen and in social media celebrities portray lives of beauty and perfection, but Claudia Kalb, shares that many well-known individuals. These celebrities experienced diagnoseable disorders in some cases these disorders interfered with relationships such as the purported borderline personality disorder which Marilyn Monroe experienced. In other cases, like that of musician George Gershwin, his ADHD caused him to get into trouble as a young boy, but also likely contributed to his single-minded focus on his music once he found his passion.
The book features twelve case studies that include some well-known individuals like Abraham Lincoln (depression) or Charles Darwin (anxiety) as well as those who are less well-known for the disorders they experienced, such as Frank Lloyd Wright (narcissism)or Betty Ford (alcoholism). Each chapter is organized by first explaining the individual’s early life, then explaining how their disorder impacted their life, and finally explaining the featured disorder by providing other examples and the general characteristics associated with the disorder. Kalb ends each chapter with different techniques to treat the disorder described in the chapter.
Kalb shares the details of Marilyn Monroe’s traumatic childhood, from her movement through the foster care system to her complicated relationship with her mother. These traumatic events in Monroe’s early life may have advanced or even triggered what Kalb describes as Monroe’s volatile relationship with her husbands, and the dramatic onset behavior during the filming of her films. Monroe was diagnosed with schizophrenia but Kalb contends that this diagnosis was incorrect. Monroe displayed the manipulation and cutting of her arms and wrists in a cry for attention, she abused drugs and alcohol, which Kalb proposes was about soothing her erratic emotions. Better ways in which to deal with these emotions are to engage in deep breathing activities, relying on friends for support or engaging on cognitive behavioral therapies. The title of the book depicts Andy Warhol’s hoarding tendencies, keeping everything from food to underwear in an endless number of boxes which are now housed in the Andy Warhol Museum in Pennsylvania. Warhol considered these time capsules. He lived in apartments nearly too cluttered to live and could not discard even the most useless of belongings. The other case studies go on to detail the impact of these disorders on the lives of these well-known individuals.
This book is one that would make a good student book club read because of the ability of students to choose particular case studies that align with their interests. It is important to note that in many cases these individuals were not officially diagnosed with the illnesses Kalb has associated, but this is still a useful exercise in learning about the disorders described.
Other Related Resources
C-Span interview with Claudia Kalb
NPR review of Andy Warhol was a Hoarder
Psychological Concepts and Figures
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Borderline personality disorder
Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
Substance use disorder