List of people widely considered eccentric - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Eccentricity is necessarily defined relatively. For the purposes of this article, an eccentric is someone whose behaviour, beliefs and/or hobbies deviate in a significant way from the accepted norms of their society, but otherwise can function largely as normal in society. He or she may be regarded as strange, odd or at least unconventional, irregular and erratic. Other people may regard the eccentric with apprehension but also with amusement.
People behave in "eccentric" ways for many reasons. Sometimes, particular patterns of "eccentric" behavior can be a sign of mental illness. For example, many experts believe Howard Hughes suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and/or the neurological effects of late-stage syphilis.
Sometimes eccentricity is clearly intentional. Some comedians behave in eccentric ways even off-stage for professional reasons—to maintain their funny public image. Some entertainers and artists like Salvador Dalí use eccentric lifestyle to draw attention to themselves and exploit the common perception that creativity and madness are closely related. Athletes may behave in aggressive ways because it is part of their image as "tough guys" and as a way to intimidate their opponents.
There are historical cases where an eccentric may have taken the mantle intentionally for religious reasons (Russian Yurodivy, for example) or used it as an unusual way to make a semblance of a living. Some of their contemporaries may have regarded them with religious devotion.
Other so-called "eccentrics" behave the way they do simply because they care little about societal pressures against their behavior. What other people think often does not matter to them.
Further insight in the complex relations between madness, eccentricity and the perception of deviant behavior by mainstream society can be found in A social history of madness by Roy Porter (1987 - ISBN 0297795716). This book also treats several examples of "famous" people ending up in asylums, as a result of their eccentric behavior, e.g. Robert Schumann.List of people widely considered eccentric - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia