Syd Barrett, Founder of Pink Floyd band, Sufferer of Schizophrenia, Passed Away this Week
Syd Barrett, a founding member of the band "Pink Floyd" and one of the most legendary rock stars to develop a mental illness - most likely schizophrenia (triggered, it is said, by significant drug use as well as the stress and pressure of his career), died Friday from complications related to diabetes. He had been living in a cottage in Cambridge, England, where he had lived a quiet life for the past three decades. He was 60 years old.
While there has been some confusion in the public's mind about the mental illness Syd Barret suffered from, most of his band members and close associates have identified his mental illness as schizophrenia, and the mental health professionals that we've talked to also believe that he suffered from schizophrenia.
He seems to have had the genetic predisposition to schizophrenia, and and also experienced some of the noted environmental factors that have been linked in research to increased risk of developing schizophrenia. Comments by Roger Waters and others suggest that Syd always had "odd thoughts" - a factor that has been linked to a biological predisposition for schizophrenia. He also suffered from a highly stressful childhood (his father died suddenly when Syd was a child), and by his early-twenties he was in a high stress career and he was using a wide array of street drugs - especially cannabis and LSD. Syd was also highly creative - and psychological studies indicate that highly creative people share an elevated risk of serious mental illness (see this story on Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, another sufferer of schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder).
In his late teens and early twenties, when schizophrenia usually starts in men, Syd began to show the progression of symptoms that typically define the brain disorder - including increasingly odd thoughts, and odd behavior, and then later psychosis, (delusions and "visions"), bizarre actions, paranoia, disorganized thinking, catatonia and social withdrawl. These symptoms that Syd's band members and friends describe him going through are all key symptoms of schizophrenia. Later in life Syd also developed diabetes - another common problem for people who have schizophrenia, frequently accelerated by the sedentary life style that is common for people who have schizophrenia, and by some of the antipsychotic medications.
Unfortunately, much of the public and Press do not recognize the typical symptoms of schizophrenia and have mis-labeled his disorder as a "psychedelic drug-induced breakdown" or "nervous breakdown" - terms that have long since been replaced by well-defined medical terms like schizophrenia. (It seems that public mental health education has a long way to go). Most of the world's news writers seems to have "glamorised" Syd Barrett's mental illness, or completely glossed over something that ended his career just as it was getting going.
A Pink Floyd band member who recognized and spoke about Syd's mental illness was Roger Waters. Pink Floyd's bassist Roger Waters said Barrett's use of LSD compounded an existing condition [though schizophrenia researchers now say that people have a biological predisposition to schizophrenia, and that it is triggered by environmental factors and stresses]. Waters told VH-1's Legends in 2002: "There is no doubt those [street drugs] are very bad for schizophrenics ... and there is no doubt that Syd was a schizophrenic."
For more information, see the very good VH-1 Pink Floyd/Syd Barret documentary videos that are frequently available on Internet video sites. In these videos the band members describe Syd's behavior and if you compare it to the defining symptoms of schizophrenia, you can easily see the correlation, as Roger Waters has so accurately identified.
Interestingly, in the VH1 video interviews the band members talked about how Syd Barrett's personality and social skills changed as the disorder progressed (for example many of his band members talk about how Syd seemed to stare a lot, or "look right through them"). Coincidentally, a few months ago a researcher focused on schizophrenia (Demian Rose, PHD MD - of the University of California, San Francisco Medical School) gave a talk about these changes seen in people who develop schizophrenia - and used Syd Barrett as an example of this change(the section on Syd Barrett is about a few minutes into the video, after a short introduction on Social Cognition) - click on the arrow directly below the video window below.
Syd Barrett's musical career lasted barely seven years - from 1965 to early '72. But Barrett will go down in history as one of the most uniquely inspired creative talents to have sprung up from the pop revolution that gripped Britain in the late 20th century. Newspaper stories have called him "the golden boy of the mind-melting late-60s psychedelic era, its brightest star and ultimately its most tragic victim."
Born Roger Keith Barrett in 1946, the musician adopted the name Syd at age 15. He started the band that would become Pink Floyd in 1965, taking the name from two American bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, and, in typically whimsical fashion, titling the group's first album after a chapter from his favorite book, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, released at the height of the Summer of Love and driven by Mr. Barrett's songwriting, singing and otherworldly guitar solos, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" (1967) influenced generations of musicians who followed in its wake; among the many who covered his songs were David Bowie, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, the Smashing Pumpkins, Phish, Widespread Panic and Robyn Hitchcock. With its sonic invention and surreal lyrics, the album surpassed even "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" as an aural evocation of the psychedelic experience, and in England, Mr. Barrett became a superstar who personified the Swinging '60s.
Biographers of the band revel in the stories, some probably false, some true. At a concert at the Winterland, in San Francisco, he opted to detune his guitar during Interstellar Overdrive until the strings fell off. Other nights he simply stood on stage in a catatonic stupor staring straight ahead. A music magazine reported that Barrett once stood on stage and played the same note—middle C—for the entire duration of a concert, which lasted a couple of hours long.
With regard to taking drugs, Gilmour would later say: "Syd didn't need encouraging. If drugs were going, he'd take them by the shovelful.'
By the beginning of 1967, LSD had come to rival cannabis as Barrett's drug of choice at Earlham Street. Lindsay Korner, girlfriend of Syd's at the time has said that also in 1967 "it got a bit crazed. [By Christmas] Syd had started to act a little bonkers, schizophrenia had set in."
The Observer reports that "By the autumn of 68, he was homeless. Periodically he returned to Cambridge, where his mother Win fretted, urged him to see a doctor, and blindly hoped for the best. In London, he crashed on friends' floors - and began the midnight ramblings which would continue for two years."
Gilmour, a childhood friend from Cambridge, was invited to join Pink Floyd in 1968 to back up Barrett on guitar, but the founder's deterioration continued and within months Gilmour replaced him in the band. After two haunting solo albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, which show the last flickering light of his genius, Barrett was gone. He withdrew from public view entirely in 1974. He was 28 years old.
After brief stay (though some reports say he spent upwards of 8 years) in a psychiatric hospital, Mr. Barrett was cared for by his mother (and then later his sister Rosemary), and he rarely left home (all of which are common situations where a person has schizophrenia).
Pink Floyd would pay tribute to Mr. Barrett (and include mental illness as an ongoing theme) on its best and most successful albums, pondering the causes of mental collapse on "The Dark Side of the Moon" (1973) and "The Wall" (1979) and speaking to him directly in the songs "Wish You Were Here" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," which featured Waters' lyrics urging, "Come on you raver, you seer of visions/Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner and shine!"
Without overtly admitting it, Waters wrote of Barrett: “Now there’s a look in your eye/ Like black holes in the sky.” It echoed the sentiment of famed Brit folk producer Joe Boyd in June 1967, who seeing Barrett for the first time in months noted a change. “He just looked at me,” said Boyd, who had produced Pink Floyd's "Arnold Layne" single. “I looked right in his eye and there was no twinkle, no glint. You know, nobody home.”
Syd Barrett's absence only fueled fans' fascination, however, and over the years, he became the subject of numerous books, fanzines and Web sites. As is common for people with schizophrenia - Barrett shunned social contact.
Newspaper reports say that Mr. Barrett's former bandmates were haunted by the question of whether they could have helped their friend if they'd only been more attuned to his mental problems and drug abuse. Sadly, Roger Waters says that they tried to get Syd to see a therapist but were unsuccessful (as is very common with schizophrenia). Given the knowledge of early treatment benefits we have today - there is much that could be done now.
"Could we have saved the day? Could we have prevented Syd from going off the rail? I suppose this is the issue exercising me the most," Mason said in 1995. "But we are not really talking about four lovable moptops here -- we are talking about a bunch of poised individuals who were so busy pursuing their own ends that they weren't even capable of looking after each other."
Jody Rosen, of Slate, had this positive approach to the legend of Syd Barrett:
Barrett spent his final years in his mother's house in Cambridge, England, living comfortably off the royalties that his former bandmates made sure he collected. Reportedly, his pastimes were painting and gardening, and he was often seen by neighbors on his bicycle. It sounds like a pretty nice life, actually...
Few bands are as well-experienced as Pink Floyd in the impact that mental illness has on people - and we hope that they use that knowledge to help the millions of people who, like Syd Barrett, suffer from schizophrenia. Pink Floyd band members are in a unique position to educate a a vast number of people, to help raise a money for schizophrenia research and help others live the full life that Syd Barrett could not because of his illness.
We hope Syd Barrett's family, and the Pink Floyd band members (and other people he has inspired) will donate or help fund raise, to help other people with schizophrenia and fund schizophrenia research that works towards a cure. Ultimately, this type of funding could help guarantee that the many "crazy diamonds" around the world who share the disorder that Syd Barrett had, can live free of schizophrenia and contribute even more to society.
Instead of just reminiscing about Syd Barrett's best days - we'd like to see the many musicians who benefited from Syd's work hold a fund-raising concert to support schizophrenia research that might allow the many other diamonds in the rough to shine as Syd Barrett did, while at the same time reducing the stigma of mental illness. We encourage advocacy groups to work to make this happen. With the renewed interest in Syd Barret - now is the time. Why don't we have "Live Aid" concerts for schizophrenia? We see world famous musicians fund raising for poor people 8,000 miles away - but neglecting the mentally ill (and frequently poor) people that live 8 miles away. We think that helping both groups of people are equally valid.
If you agree with this idea - please try to forward the idea to Roger Waters (if you know a way to reach him) and the Pink Floyd band members. If they get enough messages, maybe they will do something positive in Syd's memory for others who suffer from schizophrenia, instead of just remembering the genius of Syd.
Another way to honor Syd's genius might to do a documentary or movie on his life - with an indepth look at his mental illness from the points of view of his band members, his family, friends and others - to get a true picture of the brillance and tragedy of Syd Barrett's life. Donate the proceeds from the film to a charity that does schizophrenia reasearch, or helps the mentally ill (most are not so lucky as to get royalty checks from popular bands on a regular basis).
Syd Barrett of the band Pink Floyd - background reading
The Madcap Gets the Last Laugh: A Remembrance of Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett (1946-2006)
You shone like the sun - The Observer (Long Story on Syd Barrett)
Trubute to Syd Barrett (video done to "Wish you were here")
The Dark Side Of Pink Floyd
Learn more about the Causes of Schizophrenia
Wish You Were Here
So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change? And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl,
year after year,
running over the same old ground. What have we found?
The same old fears,
wish you were here.
Some Quotes about Syd Barrett from people who knew him well:
David Gilmour: Syd was a strange guy even back in Cambridge.
Peter Jenner, the Floyd's first manager on Syd Barrett:"He'd sit around with copious amounts of hash and grass and write these incredible songs"
Peter Jenner: ... The acid brought out his latent madness. I'm sure it was his latent madness which gave him his creativity. The acid brought out the creativity, but more importantly, it brought out the madness. The creativity was there - dope was enough to get it going. He wrote all his songs, including the ones on his solo LP's, in a eighteen month period.
David Gilmour: I remember I really started to get worried when I went along to the session for 'See Emily Play'. Syd was still functioning, but he definitely wasn't the person I knew. He looked through you. He wasn't quite there. He was strange even then. That stare, you know?
Peter Jenner: Even at that point, Syd actually knew what was happening to him. 'Jugband Blues' is a really sad song, the portrait of a nervous breakdown. 'Jugband Blues' is the ultimate self-diagnosis on a state of schizophrenia.
JUGBAND BLUES (from 'Saucerful of Secrets')
It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear
That I'm not here.
And what exactly is a dream?
And what exactly is a joke?
Nick Mason: Syd went mad on that first American tour in the autumn of 1967. He didn't know where he was most of the time. I remember he detuned his guitar onstage in Venice, LA, and he just stood there rattling the strings which was a bit weird, even for us.
John Marsh: On their first American tour the Floyd were being taken by some A&R man around Hollywood. They were taken for the classic tour of the stars' homes and so on. And they ended up on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. The band are looking around : 'Hey, made it, Hollywood,' and the A&R man's saying, 'Yes, here we are, the centre of it all, Hollywood and Vine,' and Syd's wandering around the place, wide-eyed, reckless and legged. 'Gee,' he says, 'it's great to be in Las Vegas.'
Lindsay Korner: (During the fall of 1967) it got a bit crazed. (By Christmas) Syd had started to act a little bonkers, schizophrenia had set in.
Duggie Fields: Oh, he went more than slightly bonkers, it must have been very difficult for him. I think the pressures on Syd before that time must have upset him very much, the kind of pressure where it takes off very fast, which Pink Floyd did - certainly in terms of the way people behaved towards them.
Peter Jenner: We tried to stop him going crazy. I put all my textbook sociology, all the stuff I'd read about psychology in action; we took him to R.D. Laing. Laing didn't say much. We tried to take what he said literally, we tried to use the inner meaning of what he was saying, we tried to change the objective situations. We moved him out of Cromwell Road but ... it was too late.
David Gilmour: He functions on a totally different plain of logic, and some people will claim, 'Well yeah man he's on a higher cosmic level' - but basically there's something drastically wrong. It wasn't just the drugs - we'd both done acid before the whole Floyd thing - it's just a mental foible which grew out of all proportion. I remember all sorts of strange things happening - at one point he was wearing lipstick, dressing in high heels, and believing he had homosexual tendencies. We all felt he should have gone to see a psychiatrist, though someone in fact played an interview he did to R.D. Laing, and Laing claimed he was incurable. What can you do, you know?
Peter Barnes: (on interviewing Syd) It was fairly ludicrous on the surface. I mean, you just had to go along with it all. Syd would say something completely incongruous one minute like 'It's getting heavy, isn't it?' and you'd just have to say, 'Yeah, Syd, it's getting heavy,' and the conversation would dwell on *that* for five minutes. Actually, listening to the tape afterwards you could work out that there was some kind of logic there - except that Syd would suddenly be answering a question you'd asked him ten minutes ago while you were off on a different topic completely!
Jerry Shirley: Sometimes he does it just to put everybody on, sometimes he does it because he's genuinely paranoid about what's happening around him. He's like the weather, he changes. For every 10 things he says that are off-the-wall and odd, he'll say one thing that's completely coherent and right on the ball. He'll seem out of touch with what's gone on just before, then he'll suddenly turn around and say, 'Jerry, remember the day we went to get a burger down at the Earl's Court Road?' - complete recall of something that happened a long time ago. Just coming and going [between reality and fantasy], all the time.
Jenny Fabian: Years later I found him again living up the road from Earls Court in a flat where he had room. Again he didn't speak much. He was sitting in the corner on a matress and he'd painted every other floorboard alternate colours, red and green . He boiled an egg in a kettle and ate it. And he listened over and over again to Beach Boys tapes, which I found distressing.
Roger Waters: (1992) I haven't seen Syd for 10 years...more than years probably. I don't know what went wrong with Syd because I am not an expert on schizophrenia. Syd was extraordinarily charming and attractive and alive and talented but whatever happened to him, happened to him.
Source of Quotes: Barrett Quotes
Posted by szadmin at July 12, 2006 09:55 AM
More Information on Schizophrenia Personal Story
Thank you for the interesting article on Syd Barrett, I always find it amazing that so many of these very talented people cannot cope with the everyday demands of life..it is so very sad.
Posted by: Linda at July 12, 2006 12:59 PM
don't understand, linda. syd had a disease, he didn't have trouble because he was talented, he was a talented person who had an illness. he tried his best to cope with it. he was in many ways a very courageous person. many of his songs were about his perceptions of the world thru the lens of his illness.
Posted by: slc2 at July 12, 2006 03:09 PM
1965-1969 were quite a time,
and then the seventies.
landed on the moon.
quite a space race. rest
content having graduated
Posted by: jeanlafittepirate at July 12, 2006 09:37 PM
As a mental health practitioner and a Pink Floyd fan, I have been touched by the life and death of Roger Keith Barrett. I believe in the power of individuals to influence our world and wish we as fans could do something to honor his memory. If a substantially large group of fans were to make a significant gesture in Syd's memory, you are more likely to generate the interest and cooperation of Pink Floyd and their management than by asking them directly and putting pressure.
A wise friend of mine once said, "...a millionaire making a substantial contribution is all well and good, but if lots of people made a small contribution, it would be the same."
Working for a not-for-profit myself, I understand the subtleties of lobbying. I believe a less direct approach (like the one I suggested) sometimes works best and could send a more powerful message if done right.
Just a suggestion....
Posted by: Angelo Ortiz at July 13, 2006 06:08 AM
There are a number of people that don't think syd had Schizophrenia but Asperger Syndrome
Either way it's sad that not much could be done back then.
Posted by: Swanlee at July 13, 2006 04:49 PM
The problem with the "Asperger" theory would seem to be that that its a much more rare disorder than schizophrenia (so statistically its less likely to be AS), and Asperger's syndrome generally starts in childhood and stays consistent throughout life.
The arc of Syd Barrett's life is much more characteristic of schizophrenia; minor oddities while younger, then relatively quick onset of the disorder with full-blown psychotic episodes, cognitive decline, and reclusion/social withdrawl - in the late teens and early twenties. These are all the classic symptoms and path of schizophrenia.
I don't see any literature that on Aspergers that would explain the sudden deterioration, psychosis, paranoia, and increase in cognitive dysfunction of Syd Barrett in his early 20's. Aspergers - a type of Autism - is typically described as a childhood development disorder that doesn't doesn't impact cognitive abilities much and doesn't change dramatically throughout life. There isn't any research that I could find that indicates environmental triggers for Aspergers - such as drug use - as has been found in schizophrenia.
The only diagnosis that closely matches Syd Barrett's life and relatively progressive onset of full-blown psychosis, delusions (e.g of homosexuality), onset of serious cognitive difficulties (of which there are many examples), and increasing social withdrawl and disappering social skills (the "staring" frequently commented on is a classic example) - are all strongly suggestive of some varriant of schizophrenia - including schizoaffective disorder.
The consensus view within the people closest to Syd Barrett is of schizophrenia, as you can tell by reading their quotes by them - where they consistently describe him as going "mad", "crazed", "paranoid" . This is also consistent with the mental health professionals we've talked with.
Either way - you are right - its sad that nothing could be done. Its also sad that there isn't yet a cure and that research into a cure is not funded at the level comparable to other major diseases and disorders.
Posted by: Sz Administrator at July 13, 2006 05:19 PM
I relate to what heppend to Syd Because it happend to me too much LSD. See you on the dark side of the moon Syd. R.I.P.
And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking and racing around to come up behind you again. The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older shoter of breath and one day closer to death.
Posted by: josh at July 13, 2006 10:57 PM
A guy takes several thousand hits of LSD and uses other drugs "by the shovel full" and its Sz that caused his problems? Horeshit.I,for one, dont care to be put in the same category as a notorius hard drug abuser..I didnt ask for what happened to me and I didnt spend my life trying to cause it.
There is mild experimention that can cause an underlying condition to come out but I think this case is just a whole different animal.
I'll see you on the dark side of the MRI.
Posted by: symptomatic at July 14, 2006 09:51 PM
''A guy takes several thousand hits of LSD and uses other drugs "by the shovel full" and its Sz that caused his problems? Horeshit.I,for one, dont care to be put in the same category as a notorius hard drug abuser..I didnt ask for what happened to me and I didnt spend my life trying to cause it.''
Could have been self medicating (not uncommon in sz and bipolar prior to and after being dxed).I doubt he was trying consciously to cause himself to be ill
but his mental health problems made him susceptible to abusing drugs.
Also one has to consider social attitudes of the time amongst young men and women also the industry he was working in.
Does anyone know if mental illness ran in his family?
Posted by: Tim at July 15, 2006 06:16 AM
i agree (referring back to my earlier comment-)that Syd showed some classic symtoms of Schizophrenia-or perhaps some kind of Reactive psychosis-- but unless we see his medical records -we will never know what he was diagnosed with. he was put thru alot of stress and exhaustion before -during and after the american tour .
but i alwyas thought it odd -that he managed to live alone and still DID go out and about his own area... and managed to take SOME kind of daily care of himself and his home...i can'rt imagine he would have been allowed to staalone if he had been diagnosed with a debilitating illness....
Posted by: Sherry Salzman at July 15, 2006 11:08 PM
Syd Barrett lived with his Mother (in her basement) until she passed away in the 1990s (I believe). He also has many family members living in the same area (he was the youngest of 7 or 8 children).
Many people who have schizophrenia are able to live alone. Schizophrenia also has been reported to become less severe with age for some portion of the population diagnosed.
Posted by: Sz Administrator at July 15, 2006 11:19 PM
thank you for replying to me comment... i am one of the peopel who has been deeply affected by syd's death... and also.. as one of the many who clung to what we THOUGHT was the "Fact" of syd never really been diagnosed with Schizophrenia... i suppose like many others even with our own-- there is still the underlying stigma, which should not be.. i always had a feeling myself that even if Syd had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia-his family SEEMED to be in denial of it... and there wzs some part of us-his fans and well-wishers that alwyas did the same.. i admit to that now.. but sadly-the eveidence HAs always been there.. last night-- i read and re-read many things pertainf to the comments made over the years about Syd and reamrks made about his behaviors..(there is a ctully quite a lot out there if you dig for it) and also the some of the actual medical info on this site(thank you) but this came as a very sad realiztion to me ... becuase i suppose we had always deluded ourselves into thinking Syd HAD gotten "better".. none of us who cared about him wanted to feel he was a sad, tortured person...there are some accounts of solitary efforst that he made occasionally to reach out to others... only to scurry back quickly to his safe haven ...many of us feel very sad for him that he never married. or had children-something he HAD suggested early to friends he wanted to do. his sister rosemary -did interviews back in the late eighties- and some of her remarks only served to make us feel very sad for Syd. Saying that he expressed to her that he was lonely but felt no woman could ever understand him.
in closing-i suppose what grieves us most about
Syd are these questions ... do those of you qualified to answer-
1. Is it probable that Syd did not take any meds for his "condition' (as his sister called it)? this is the position taken in almost all articles on the subject- 2. Could his life quality have been improved by some form of better treatment-or was he left a lone to deal with it too long?
3. Was his life as a Schizophrenic entirely devoid of any joy- was it not possible for him to feel or take and pleasure in his simple puruits of later years?
i sincerely hope that now that syd is gone- perhaps his famliy will try and comeout with more info- They will certainly reap the benefits of his music sales exploding-they already have)Syd will not benefit- but perhaps in his untimely death- he can help someone younger who is in early stages .. the young syd- who was more aware and loved his friends and life would've wanted that-and it is true that there really has not been ANYONE poetically and musically documented what he was feeling...remember he said "please lift a hand"... and "you feel me-away far too empty-oh so alone" and inside me i feel- alone and unreal".. please let's not let this happen to anyone else with out help. i have learned from-and perhaos had to realize my own unconscious predjudices.. and denials... but it's time for it to stop now... One Syd was enough... lets get some help out there before one more perosn has to endure this without help.
Posted by: Sherry salzman at July 16, 2006 02:09 PM
UK Times article "My lovable ordinary brother Syd":
"The ‘crazy diamond’ founder of Pink Floyd was no acid casualty or recluse. He loved art and DIY, his sister Rosemary tells his biographer Tim Willis in her first interview for 30 years."
Posted by: Laurie at July 17, 2006 03:16 AM
Thanks for posting that link Laurie.
After reading that article - I can't help but think that Rosemary's interpretation of her brother's illness is vastly different than what most good psychiatrists and psychologists would say about it.
From what she is saying - Syd Barrett just became an ordinary guy after he dropped out of Pink Floyd. This is a wild contradiction to what everyone else around him has described.
For example - in the interview it states "She described him as a loving man who “simply couldn’t understand” the continued interest in his distant Pink Floyd years and was too absorbed in his own thoughts to spare time for fans. "
If he was an ordinary "loving man" you would expect him to have some female relationships between the age of 25 and 60 - yet there is no record of this. At the same time - for 35 years he was "absorbed in his thoughts" and lived at home by himself. She seems to suggest that this is normal (perhaps in her family it is?).
The story also says "Because he was so interested in his own thoughts, his sister said, he often forgot about the mundane chores essential to comfort. To keep an eye on him, she would visit or phone every day and sometimes accompany him on expeditions into town."
But if you watch the video on Social Cognition and schizophrenia (linked to above in the main article) some of the classic symptoms of schizophrenia are thinking that is "internally preoccupied", as well as blunted emotions, apathy (reduction in motivation)... which seems to describe Syd very well even from her own descriptions.
The story also notes "Earlier this year an old friend saw the pair in Robert Sayles, the Cambridge department store, and went up to renew their acquaintance. “Hello, Syd,” he said. “Do you remember me?”
“Yup,” replied Barrett. But Rosemary cut in with “Roger is only interested in buying some ties today”, and led her brother away. Now she admits she might have been over-protective."
I may be wrong here - but I get the feeling that Rosemary is still being "over-protective" - or may simply lack the the understanding of mental illness that most professionals have (which, of course, is not uncommon or unreasonable - but when someone is ill, you need to get expert advice). All the symptoms Rosemary conveyed still seem to suggest schizophrenia - despite her simplistic assertions that he was a "ordinary, lovable guy".
Tim brings up a good question in an earlier message - which is whether there is a history of mental illness in the family - this would be an interesting point of research.
There may be more to this story than is being told - it would be interesting to get the perspectives from psychiatrists that actually talked with him and did more in-depth analyses.
Posted by: szadmin at July 17, 2006 09:26 AM
Syd definitely had schizophrenia. Believe me, I know this illness all too well now, being the mother of a 20 year old son whose onset of this debilitating illness was at 13. So I've been on this journey for 7 years, to say the least. As for Rosemary, Syd's sister, she is either over-protective or in denial of her brother's descent into insanity, which is normal. What people need to do is get educated about mental illness. It doesn't help the mentally ill and/or their family members when the stigma continues to discriminate them. People are afraid of hearing the word "schizophrenia," so they shun it and pretend it's not there, until it touches someone they know or love. Education is the key to really knowing the deterioration of schizophrenia and helping combat the stigma that surrounds it. Someday (hopefully in my son's lifetime), "schizophrenia" will be just another word like "cancer," just like any other illness that gets the attention it deserves to fund the research as a top priority that's needed for better medications and eventually a cure. I know about drug-induced schizophrenia but don't feel that this happened to Syd. I think that he was already predisposed to schizophrenia (had the schizophrenia gene). I also know that stress is a BIG factor in schizophrenia and can bring on the symptoms very quickly. Unless treated at its early stages, schizophrenia becomes toxic to the brain, progresses, and becomes harder to treat. I think Syd took drugs to self-medicate. This is common with mental illness, thus "dual diagnosis" (mental illness + drugs). It's too bad that we didn't know then what we know now about the the brain and the affects of schizophrenia.
Posted by: Daisy (mother of a schizophrenic son) at July 17, 2006 05:50 PM
Glad to see the article by Syd's sister being commented on.. i feel sad for his family and more so for his sister who obviously has deep love for him-but there are so many glaring contradictions-from withing the article itself and from past interviews she had done.. and as a person who comes from a famliy of diabetics -to say that it seemd to make no difference when he missed his meds-after saying he died from diabetes complication?!?
I wish her peace. but it is a shame that there is still such a stigma-- and that this sad ocurrence could not be turned into something good for others who are suffering.
Posted by: Sherry salzman at July 17, 2006 09:11 PM
You know you are absolutely right regarding the diabetes. For Syd's sister (a nurse) to say that it didn't seem to make any difference that Syd didn't take his diabetes medication (likely to be Metformin to help regulate blood sugar levels) is also a huge sign that this woman is entirely clueless about a lot of medical conditions. Most doctors will say that without proper blood sugar level maintenance the results are very predictable - blindness, loss of limbs due to poor circulation, organ damage and premature death. To have her say this when her brother has died of diabetes complications really defies belief. It really seems like perhaps Sister Rosemary suffered from some mental health issues herself.
I'm also suprised at the interviewer's lack of critical thinking in his write-up of that piece for the Times of London - to not recognize these issues. This guy has written a book on Syd Barrett already - and while I haven't read the book, I have to believe he's heard many of the stories about Syd from reputable sources. If he updates the book - once hopes he puts a little more thought into his critical analysis and talks to some good psychiatrists about Syd Barrett and his behavior.
Posted by: Sz Administrator at July 18, 2006 01:57 PM
The news of his death brought tears to my eyes. I`m a BIG fan of floyd and syd barrett ofcourse. I am myself suffering from severe schizophrenia and i can feel what he felt. He was a true genuine and pure guy. This world could`v changed to peace if we had another syd barrett ! Please tell as many people as you can to make a movie on his life.
GOD BLESS HIS SOUL AND HE MAY REST IN PEACE-
Posted by: Moin Yaqoob at July 19, 2006 05:25 PM
Just to let you know, when reference is made to Syd's "midnight ramblings" you link to a section on disorganised speech.
In Britain, rambling is walking or wandering, and this actually refers to Syd wandering around London at night, often ending in him visiting June Bolan who was paying his salary at the time, and who I believe is the source of the quote.
Posted by: Abdul at August 2, 2006 10:19 AM
Hummm Syd actualy saw a psychiatric but he was never diagnosed with schyzophrenia..and there was no prescription of any kind of medication either..I don't think a psychiatric would be in "denial" ...When his sister said that he was not ill...it wasn't just her opinion...that was actualy the specialist opinion. This whole Syd Barrett insane creture is all media buls..t! yes Syd showed some symptoms that can be compared to those of mental illness but it doesn't mean he was ill...it's all depends how you interpretate his behaviour...Syd often facked madness because that's how people wanted to see him! Please don't give me no Romantic fan label..i think it's more romantic to say he was craisy in the first place...Syd was a bit of a lonely guy...so what?! does that mean that every person who live by their own is mad? If my name was Syd Barrett and i had to face all kind of people that want to take a picture with me like i was a creature of the Circus...i wonder if i would like to show my face in public as often as Syd himself did?
“Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.”
R. D. Laing
Posted by: Albert Barrett at August 14, 2006 12:34 PM
Let Roger Keith Barreth sleep peacefully!!!!!!
Posted by: Ricky at August 18, 2006 02:33 PM
Syd Barrett was not schizophrenic- he just did what he wanted to with his life- if that's insanity, count me in.
He was saddled in a band with a bunch of dullards who didnt have a modicum of his creative vision, who didn't understand his 'weird music'. They took his band away from him and he sulked, like all nice middle-class boys who don't get their way. He took no more drugs than the rest of Pink Floyd, which is a good way short of the ridiculous 1000 trips a week myths. His choice to abandon a rock world treadmill which was destroying him, and return to painting has to be admired and respected.
Read the book 'Madcap' and you get another story from the hysterical 'original acid casualty' rubbish. And listen to his solo records, they are fantastic.
RIP, nuff respect.
Posted by: Roger at August 27, 2006 07:46 AM
I don't know if Syd Barrett had schizophrenia. I know his music though and I listen to his lyrics. And it scares me because I know what he is saying. Schizophrenia is in my family. And it didn't help that I did drugs. I'm beginning to feel the onset of schizophrenia. And I'm scared. I read this article trying to learn more about this man that makes so much sense to me. And this illness that could take me in the future. Thank you to all the people that are respectful of Syd Barrett. And to the illness of schizophrenia. It really is disabilitating sometimes, I have seen it in my uncle. and I hope, I hope so much that I'm wrong about myself. I have yet to see anyone who is qualified to say either I am or am not. I'm just a scared paranoid 16 year old girl. I have quit doing drugs. I was stupid for doing them in the first place I know. But I'm the only one out of my brothers and my cousins who is feeling paranoid and alone. Thanks to all who are posting links to more information about the illness. I'll be checking them out.
Rest In Peace Syd Barrett.
Posted by: kim at August 29, 2006 11:29 PM
Does anyone know if Richey Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers might have had schizophrenia? My brother had this illness and i see similarities between him and Richey. I've read lots about Richey but schizophrenia is never mentioned.
Posted by: veronica young at September 4, 2006 06:37 AM
ive always been somewhat of a pink floyd fan, but now that im old enough to delve deeper into their music & the background of it...i cant say enough good things. theyre mindblowingly talented, as was Syd Barrett. With that said i would also like to put out there that ive been reading these comments and i cant agree that Syd definatly had Schizophrenia. I wouldnt know personally but i think that he may just have used a larger percentage of his brain. as most people know manyyy geniuses in history were just plain crazy. when i say crazy i dont mean it in a negative light. some people welcome that insanity into their lives in order to get in touch with a more creative side of themselves. i actually wish i was capable of that. like i said i dont THINK he was schizophrenic, but im no doctor. unless you are a doctor and dealt with him personally i think you should just let him rest in peace. stop speculating. thanks, Alyssa Fasciano
Posted by: alyssa fasciano at September 14, 2006 10:24 AM
What evidence does the author provide that Barrett had a genetic predisposition towards schizophrenia? To my knowledge, there is no study that compares Barrett or his relatives' DNA to that of a schizophrenic control group. It's a bold assertion to make for a website that is considered balanced.
Posted by: Joseph Palaeros at September 19, 2006 01:54 PM
It would be great to see Syd's fellow musicians raise $$$ for the research for schizophrenia. There are many people who are suffering that will benefit from their talents in raising the funds. Now, if we can educate the public that schizophrenia is a real disease just like any other, only it attacks the brain. I hope in my lifetime that our society will change its thinking toward mental illnesses. Susan
Posted by: Susan at October 2, 2006 12:29 PM
There have been real geniuses diagnosed with schizophrenia and he was one. Just take a look at Einstein's son Eduard...I think that a film should be made out of his life (as with Nash) which will help decrease the stigma there is as well as funding money for investigation. I think that there should start to be more positive statements towards this illness and less "bad name" educating via TV, etc. which is where the mass learns from. Elena.
Posted by: elena at October 26, 2006 12:27 PM
You know the repetition of falsehoods harvested from the looney sites is kinda transparent here. You could do better.
First, English houses rarely have basements and certainly not the semi-detached we see in the photos.
Roger/Syd has been reported as the youngest and also second youngest of 5 siblings - dunno where the "7 or 8" came from but it is symptomatic of the untruths & fantasy which circulate and propagate like wildfire.
The fact that Roger Waters is used as a reference on the use of a medical term such as schizophrenia is not convincing.
Lots (most?) of us do things when young with a (wild?) passion, e.g. sports, arts, academics, which we later abandon for a more settled existence. In some cases we just lose the passion, in others we realize it was a youthful self-indulgence, in others we may be shunned by people we thought of as fellow participants in the endeavour. In many cases it's just a wake-up from "splendor in the grass" "syndrome".
I believe it's presumptious in the extreme to label Roger(Syd) as a definite schizophrenic based on the *reliable* evidence... as opposed to the gutter gossip.
In his own words, when praised by an admirer encountered casually at the supermarket, a few years ago: "Thanks, but I don't do that any longer".
My take: love the man for what he gave us, enjoy his legacy and let him RIP. Anything else is so much self-indulgence... and the notion of using him as leverage for donations is not in my book of scruples - sorry to be so umm, blunt.
Posted by: George at October 30, 2006 03:55 AM
Yes, Roger/Syd lived a normal life and just wanted to retire even though he couldn't hold down a job, finish a painting - something he loved to do, be in a relationship, and talked in fragments. All admitted too by the family themselves and yet some of his fans want to believe that he went out as a rebel who just rejected the trappings of fame. It's conforting to believe that and I understand why people get so upset. Roger/Syd was an ill man in his mind and body. Anybody who knows anything about schizophrenia will say that he was a classic case. And he lived a half life. It's a tragedy but at least he was able to live with some peace in spite of his illness. To glamourize his pain as some sort of rebel with a cause,is naive and self indulgent in the extreme. I also think that if Roger/Syd wasn't sick he would have LOVED to be able to help "loonies" as you so callously put it, had his family been less in denial he could have not only helped himself but many people. He was sick, George. Get over it.
Posted by: Kim at October 30, 2006 04:27 PM
Sorry Kim, but building strawmen does not improve your position. I was also not being "callous" though that misread is partly my responsibility - I was referring to the "Syd was a looney" sites which you seem to have read too literally - too much chafe I'm afraid.
Your contention that normality for Roger would have consisted of holding down a job is absurd - he had groupies/fans camping in the street for years... people knocking at the door every other day. Just what kind of job environment would you suggest?... which he didn't need to support himself anyway!
As for finishing a painting, how much do you know about the subject? Artists' studios, even museums are full of "unfinished paintings". "When is a painting finished?" is a question with no answer.
Within the spectrum of human behavior, functional vs. dysfunctional, Roger may have been on the wrong side of the bell-curve -- given his experiences it's hardly surprising -- but from what I see he has plenty of company... IOW not that far off center. His "judges", Waters, Gilmour et.al. are not exactly what I'd call "normal" either -- read their lyrics -- and certainly no authority to be believed on the subject.
The world is full of people who got a rough deal. To be cast out of a clique, of which one was a founding member, is a highly distressing experience; add in the potential that your replacement is a "friend" who's been sniffing around for your position and it's natural for the victim to withdraw into a comfortable cocoon. Roger/Syd was a wounded soul who was battered by people pretending to care for him... and all of this at the socially vulnerable age of 22!!
This remote-control diagnosis of schizophrenia based on 2nd hand info is just not convincing and quite self-serving of the people proposing it. I wish you'd all just quit picking at the bones.
Posted by: George at October 30, 2006 11:26 PM
"Your contention that normality for Roger would have consisted of holding down a job is absurd - he had groupies/fans camping in the street for years... people knocking at the door every other day. Just what kind of job environment would you suggest?... which he didn't need to support himself anyway!"
I'm not talking about holding down a job at the local pet shop. Any well rounded human being would want to be able to accomplish things in their lives. It seems Roger had trouble completing things.
"Within the spectrum of human behavior, functional vs. dysfunctional, Roger may have been on the wrong side of the bell-curve -- given his experiences it's hardly surprising -- but from what I see he has plenty of company... IOW not that far off center."
I'm actually taking what his family has said about him over the years. The interview with his nephew a few years back was most telling. In it he says that Roger couldn't cope at family holidays and hadn't been in a relationship or lived with anyone since his mother's death. His sister Rosemary has said she had to check up on a GROWN man everyday because he couldn't take care of the essentials. This isn't the actions of a person who is just dropping out. http://www.pink-floyd.org/barrett/ianintw.htm
"His "judges", Waters, Gilmour et.al. are not exactly what I'd call "normal" either -- read their lyrics -- and certainly no authority to be believed on the subject."
On that I couldn't agree more. I love how they've managed to take Roger's illness with them and capitalize on it over the years without actually really looking after him, nor could they be bothered with Syd at the time of his spiral which they have so eagerly rehashed.
"The world is full of people who got a rough deal. To be cast out of a clique, of which one was a founding member, is a highly distressing experience; add in the potential that your replacement is a "friend" who's been sniffing around for your position and it's natural for the victim to withdraw into a comfortable cocoon. Roger/Syd was a wounded soul who was battered by people pretending to care for him... and all of this at the socially vulnerable age of 22!!"
I agree and surviving that intake is something that a person with an untreated mental illness would have trouble doing. By ALL accounts Roger/Syd was a gregarious, vivacious man before the breakdown/backstabbing/stress began.
"This remote-control diagnosis of schizophrenia based on 2nd hand info is just not convincing and quite self-serving of the people proposing it. I wish you'd all just quit picking at the bones.
Fair enough but I still say had Roger been able to get affective treatment like Rory Erickson and Peter Green in his later years he would have died a happier man and possibly could have helped many people. I also understand the stigma of mental illness which makes many of his fans reluctant to label him with it. Cheers!
Posted by: Kim at October 31, 2006 10:47 AM
Hello to all. I happened upon this website whilst conducting a web-search on the late Mr. Barretts guitar playing style. After examining this website I must say I am deeply concerned with the majority of comments & opinions to be found here. Further, I find very it worrying that individuals who may have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or those wishing to simply study the subject may come across this site. Comments placed here are, on the whole, inaccurate & misinformed. Regarding the Barrett family, it is not in the public domain that Roger Barrett was, at any time, diagnosed with the condition known as schizophrenia. Individuals may & do assert that this is the case. Actually, it is NOT fact & as such, discussion remains pure speculation & nothing more. Comments made about certain other members of the barrett family range between sheer insult & libel. I wonder if the controllers of this particular website appreciate the legal situation this may lead to.
Again, the most worrying aspect is that individuals who may be looking for information on schizophrenia may be misinformed by the fasely held beliefs & untruths purported to be fact as mentioned on this site.
That individuals may be unecessarily worried by the comments placed here (& I must mention that many of these posts are placed by people who appear to have a very tenuous grip on how to spell!) is truly disturbing.
Posted by: simon at November 29, 2006 03:32 AM
First off- sorry for any typos-i CAN spell-just don't type well- and secondly-and more importantly-I loved syd barrett-and still feel a deep sense of loss over his passing -way too soon-it should not have been-but i have to acknowledge what is right there in front of us;painfully-sadly obvious---
no matter how much we romanticize Syd-no matter how many contradictions exist in his and his family's interviews(and i have read -and re-read them ALL-since any of them EVER was available)
his behavior surpasses that of a quirky artist-or "wounded by fame /pressure/betrayals sensitive soul" there is more to his life than that-and we know it- and we can't change it now-but there is an opportunity here for learning. no; it has never been admitted or announced or agreed to by anyone in print that Syd was DIAGNOSED schizophrenic; but read ALL the info out there- read those interviews- follow the sentences... read the EARLY interviews with his sister. and to speak of legalities- it was very recently announced -that Syd was judged unfit mentally to sign his own will-his brother Alan had to do it by court order- what does THAT tell you?!? if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
Posted by: SHERRY SALZMAN at December 3, 2006 10:58 PM
If I have offended you somehow, please allow me to apologise.
I did not at any point suggest you cannot spell, I referred to the majority of posts placed here. An accurate genralisation I feel, but if this is too hard to take then instead I can only assume that, generally, people who have posted here care so little about language that they cannot be bothered to rectify their mistakes.
What I did actually suggest is that any written work on any serious issue, (such as mental health) when strewn with spelling mistakes, is usually, I'm sure most people would agree, not to be taken too seriously.
This is one of the things I find worrying about this site (the whole site, not just this forum), there are comments on schizophrenia made here by people who are NOT experts on the subject & any individual, whether suffering from mental illness or simply doing research, may be mislead, misinformed or worse, needlessly worried by reading what is placed here. (this site states in bold letters;- "SYD BARRETT SUFFERER OF SCHIZOPHRENIA..." ! This is fact is it? NO).
To further my point;- my fiance is a nurse, her mother a ward manager in the general hospital that serves the area within which I live.
After drawing their attention to the "schizophrenia quick test" that is available here. I can safely say they were shocked & outraged that such a potentially scare-mongering device is available on the internet!
I agree with you, all reports of Syd Barretts behavavior do surpass that of a quirky artist etc.
But may I quote your message?
"but i have to acknowledge what is right there in front of us;painfully-sadly obvious"
Im afraid all that is obvious, (very painful & very sad though it is), though subsequently all that we therefore can acknowledge, is that it seems extremely likely that he suffered from A mental illness & yes, most probably seriously too but to take this as evidence to prove a definite case of schizophrenia?
No, Im sorry, it is simply not enough.
As I said before, we merely speculate. It remains pure speculation. Nothing more.
There are obviously many forms of mental illness, as Im sure you're aware, a variety of mental illness that can actually result in sufferers displaying very similar characteristics & tendencies as those of Syd Barrett, and without suffering from schizophrenia.
I also have a great love of Syd Barrett, I have done since my early teens, Im now in my thirties & feel just as passionate.
I also have always disapproved of the knee-jerk 'Syd the acid casualty' image the press & individuals have heaped upon the poor man over the years (remember the news of the world article in '88?).
I do hope that we are not changing from an over simplistic 'Syd the acid casualty', to an over simplistic 'Syd the schizophrenic'.
Yes, I have read the earlier interviews & yes, I am aware of the will situation.
So.. you are suggesting whenever an individual is deemed mentally unfit to sign their own will it must mean therefore that they are definitely suffering from schizophrenia..?
To answer your question;- it tells me there are many reasons as regards mental health why an individual may be deemed unfit to sign their own will. It does NOT suggest to me the individual must suffer from schizophrenia.
I genuinely (& I really mean this) hope that Syd is in a happier place, wherever that may be & glad that he is free from the years of over intensified examination of his life.
"walk like a duck and quacks like a duck.." ?
Like most metaphors;- over simplistic & does not bear close scrutiny.
Posted by: simon at December 4, 2006 06:01 PM
...It only serves to illustrate that there is such an ongoing stigma for any kind of mental illness-particularly Schizophrenia- that it seems so upsetting for many to think that Syd MAY have had the condition-it even permeates his family's views- why is it treated like something to be ashamed of?!?-
And certainly should not make anyone love him, his memory ,or his music any less. It may well have been partnered with his creativity and uncanny ability to see the world around him in a different light-and i have never understood why so many people still seem to recoil from any suggestion of Syd being Schizophrenic- my opinion only-Granted-but it also seems to coincide with the idea that he was mistreated by his band mates-when they had a very long while of even finding it difficult to communicate with him. Sorry- but i don't demonize Roger Waters...they were all quite young-and all dealing with the same issues- but Syd was the one who broke under the pressure.And everyone of a certain age and type in those days either took LSD-or knew someone who did- (VERY commonplace)and most did NOT show the symptoms Syd did...
ah yes -Many got very angry at Roger Waters when he said he thought Syd was Schizophrenic-but he was THERE-and he saw more than we will ever see. What he and others DID see- was plenty-and well documented.
Posted by: Sherry at December 4, 2006 11:25 PM
The Mail on Sunday just had a heartbreaking article with Roger's neighbor who's family lived next to him for 25 years. He tells a tale of a man who suffered from terrible fits of violent rages, screaming and wailing -frequently screaming Roger Water's name in fury, bonfires and Roger breaking windows which peaked in the mid 80's. All of which Rosemary talked about in the book Fish Out of Water by the way. At one point he was carried away in a straight jacket after he attacked his mother who moved out soon afterwards. Yes, a perfectly normal chap who just decided to drop out and paint... Folks, it may not have been schizophrenia, but it was defintely some form of mental illness. It breaks my heart how much torment he was in.
Posted by: Kim at December 5, 2006 10:45 AM
I totally agree, there is an ongoing stigma attached to schizophrenia in general.
I also agree, Syd MAY have had schizophrenia. Do I think that it is very probable? Yes, but I don't consider myself as recoiling at the suggestion.
Fair point though, I suppose many might.
It's just when people (who were not there & are not experts & from reading interviews & articles, which may be embellished & even possibly exaggerated by the author & the interviewee) spout off so much, y'know "oh yes he definitely had... oh yes definitely a case of.. etc. etc. you know the kind of thing.
It just reminds me of the bad old days when reports were coming out like;- "Syds neighbours say they hear him barking like a dog", (then finding out this nasty piece of so-called reportage came from an unscrupulous newspaper) Remember that one? I just hope syd (& family members) didn't hear the majority of nasty lies purported to be truth.
Yes, as I've said before, it seems that Syd did suffer from "a" mental illness, most likely to be schizophrenia but...
(with the best heart)
we.. all of us.. can not go round saying that he DEFINITELY did.
It's just poor form to do so.
When I studied at uni, for example, it certainly would not do for me to base my whole reasoning on;- "well, second/third hand embellished evidence suggests...".
Things have to be proven & documented correctly.
I realise how pedantic I must sound but this is the only way to get rid of the half truth, lies & scare-mongering tales that, unfortunately, have been going round about Syd for years & years.
The only way we would ever know is if a statement is made from the family alongside official medical diagnosis.
Posted by: simon at December 5, 2006 11:34 AM
Simon - read the quotes from the story above from his bandmates and girlfriends - there is no question Syd / Roger had schizophrenia - or something very close to it. Here is the article from this week on Syd - educate yourself about mental illness - you probably see people like Syd every day on the way to work or school - they are frequently the street people.
Mail on Sunday (London)
December 3, 2006 Sunday
THE GENIUS NEXT DOOR by DAVID SORE
Short Excerpt following, full article at the link below:
"For 25 years, David Sore lived next to one of the most enigmatic figures of British rock the late Pink Floyd star Syd Barrett. Here, in the week after Syd's family sold scores of his possessions at auction, David tells of his fear as a boy when his neighbour smashed windows or built huge bonfires and how he came to realise that Syd's suffering, induced by LSD, was far greater than any distress he caused ...His screaming could start at any time of night or day but it often seemed to begin just as I was going to bed. There would be thuds and crashes from next door as furniture was destroyed and an incessant howling, more animal-like than human.This could last for two hours and, as a young child, it terrified me. "
Full story at the following link:
THE GENIUS NEXT DOOR by David Sore
More information here: David Sore's Web Site
Posted by: Fred at December 5, 2006 12:25 PM
Syd Barrett's music and the strange events of his life with the Pink Floyd have made him an enduring legend. In many ways, this is a sad story but there remains scope for something approaching a happy ending. If those of us who were touched by Syd's music recognise that we owe a debt of gratitude to schizophrenia for the amazing creative force that burned in Syd, perhaps we can do something towards lifting the stigma which is still attached to this terrible disease. This Christmas, I plan to make a small donation to "Mind" as a tribute to my hero. I hope others will join me in this.
Posted by: martin at December 11, 2006 01:43 PM
Just to clarity. The diagnosis of Schizophrenia is a very wide diagnosis. There are hundreds of sub-types of shizophrenia and more are being regognised all of the time. There is a compelling argument that this results from an early distinction made in psychiatry between neurotic (amenable to treatment) and psychotic (problematic) mental illnesses. Psychotic illnesses were termed "dementia praecox" and seen as distinct from illnesses resulting from obvious trauma. Schizophrenia grew out of "dementia precox" and is more stigmatised than "soft" mental illnesses, such as "depression". As a person who has been cautioned that if my assessor deemed me to be a danger to myself or others, he was empowered to section me, I have solidarity with all fellow sufferers, whatever their diagnosis.
Posted by: martin at December 11, 2006 05:34 PM
It occurs to me that we are discussing two people here, Syd Barrett, the famous musician and self-styled Madcap and Roger Barrett, the private citizen.
Syd is public property but Roger isn't. Roger chose to live outside of the limelight and to keep his life private, to extent that he even destroyed his paintings to prevent himself ever becoming public property again. About Roger, there is nothing to say and the other contributors are correct in saying that any talk is speculation. We didn't know Roger and he didn't want us to know him.
Syd is a different matter. Even his early work is steeped in a kind of whimsical madness and his later stuff is often quite harrowing. The manner of his departure from Pink Floyd and his erratic behaviour at around that time are well documented. The least we can say of Syd at the end of his musical career is that he was unhappy and eccentric. The nature of the onset of this unhappy eccentricity and of the behaviour which accompanied it are very similar to what is termed schizophrenia making it likely that Syd suffered from this condition.
Posted by: martin at December 12, 2006 08:22 AM
If Mr. Sores story is TRUE it is, of course, very saddening. THE PROBLEM IS WE SIMOPLY DO NOT KNOW IF IT'S TRUE OR NOT.
There have been comments from other people who have lived near to Barrett & they disagree totally with Mr.Sores discription of what Barrett was like on day-to-day basis.
Another two points I think should be mentioned;-
1)The dubious ethics of accepting a large amount of money from the daily mail for the 'story'.
2)The insensitivity of choosing to tell the 'tale' so soon after Barrets passing.
(My God, the poor family, they have to live & work everyday in cambridge, this 'story' appeared in the national & international press, available to everyone).
Im sorry to bring my next point up again, but I really feel it is necessary;- no matter how somebody might act, look, appear, we simply cannot assume that they therefore must suffer from schizophrenia.
No matter how many references are made regarding Syd Barretts bizarre behaviour, no matter how many comments we read by other people in any publication, we cannot state categorically that Barrett suffered from schizophrenia.
Of course I cannot say I am an expert but I do feel it is fair of me to say that I do have quite a grounding in mental health issues, there are two nurses in my immiediate family who have worked in this field, my cousin is also & I also have a close friend who has suffered from a disorder for years, a disorder that is included in the catergory of 'depression', but to simply state my friend is 'depressed' is to over simplify. It would be inacurate & misleading.
The only way we will know is if the Barrett family release a statement confirming it & it is backed up by official medical diagnosis.
Posted by: simon at December 16, 2006 03:23 AM
In addition to my last post, I found other comments on Mr. Sore & how he appears to be nothing other than a complete & utter fraud. If anyones interested in reading them please check out;
Posted by: simon at December 16, 2006 03:40 AM
In the "Crazy Diamond" book near the end, it states that Syd had been receiving an "invalid's pension" ever since his breakdown. I doubt the U.K. is interested in handing invalid's pensions just because someone wants to be left alone. There had to have been some sort of diagnosis.
Posted by: Ella at February 2, 2007 10:44 AM
I have an M.S. in physics and have shown a great deal of creativity in my career as a scientist. I have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder depressive type for nine years. I self-medicated with street-drugs before I got clean and could be accurately diagnosed. In the nine years I have been clean and on proper medication I have learned a lot about my illness. In today's language someone who has an underlying mental illness as well as substance abuse issues is said to be suffering from a dual-illness. This puts us in a special class that makes questions of which illness came first of little concern. The priority is to stay clean and work on our recovery from our mental illness in a healthy and constructive way. As taught in Dual Recovery Anonymous (a 12-step approach to recovery from dual-illness) we help ourselves by helping others. My main concern for here is that we hear little about Syd's recovery. I would have loved to have been able to help him Shine On. Now more than ever ... Wish You Were Here.
Posted by: Mike Braski at February 5, 2007 10:17 AM
This Was Syd's true diagnosis check out the dictionary if u don't believe it. Anyways he was totally tallented and creative that is how alot of people that have schizophrenia are.
Posted by: LP at February 8, 2007 09:12 PM
Where in any dictionary does it say "syd barrett WAS diagnosed with schizophrenia" ???
That wont be in any dictionary or any other type of book, ever, because he wasnt diagnosed with it. In fact its documented that he was examined by doctors who diagnosed him as NOT suffering from schizophrenia.
Posted by: s at February 11, 2007 10:46 AM
From what I understand, there was a history of mental illness in Barrett's family; beginning with his father (who suffered from periodic bouts of mental illness), and one of his brothers apparently suffers from a mood disorder. I know it's difficult to draw a conclusion about his mental condition, but it may help to shed light on earlier factors as well. An over-indulgent mother, the effects of his father's death, and his steadily declining interest in religion, painting, and eventually music may have suggested Barrett's eventual outcome. As David Gilmour noted last year, "the drugs were a catalyst". Interestingly enough, during that same interview with DG, he noted that the in early Floyd shows, their use of strobe lights combined with SB's acid use may have caused seizures in Barrett, who may have been photo-epileptic (this seems possible given his later rash of physical ailments as well). Apparently, the combination of LSD and the lights can permanently damage the temporal lobes in the brain, causing epilepsy sufferers to intermittently act psychotic. Very interesting indeed!
Posted by: K at February 14, 2007 11:37 PM
WOW!!! WOW!! what an abomination i just red above!!
Who tha hell in the world you red that Syd's brother and father had mental illness??that's a huge lie!! that is not true at all!! please stop spreading such a lies! if i'm wrong can u please tell me what's your source? please don't say such a thing...if it was just a fool in the internet saying that as a rumor ...those are serious statements..be carefull what you saying...
Posted by: John L at February 17, 2007 07:19 PM
Totally with you on that john L.
Totally agree with you, I've never come across any sources for those comments.
Posted by: s at February 18, 2007 09:11 AM
That statement was not made out to be sensational! I have read those sources. And you're quite right, Barrett was never diagnosed with SZ, but it's possible that when he needed help in 1967-68, an authority like RD Laing couldn't spot it either.
Posted by: K at February 23, 2007 12:08 AM
So what are the sources please???
I qoute your post:-
"but it's possible that when he needed help in 1967-68, an authority like RD Laing couldn't spot it either."
But Barrett WAS examined by professionals who concluded he did not suffer from schizophrenia! Source:- his sister when interviewed by Italian author of "Fish out of water".
Posted by: s at February 23, 2007 08:40 PM
I can't help but notice you troll all the Syd sites I've visited in the last week screaming about what "Syd's sister said". Its very easy to spot you on each and every site. Are you in love with Syd or something? Have you thought about trying to find something else to do with your life? I'm sure Syd wouldn't have needed or wanted you defending him.
Posted by: E at February 23, 2007 09:18 PM
Okay, here you go:-
I apologise to you for annoying you.
Apart from this site there is only one other barrett related site I ever visit, I'm not even a member of any pink floyd group or forum.
As for, as you say, "trying to find something else to do with my life",
I hold down two jobs, have a daughter, I was out til one in the morning lastnite playing harmonica at a blues gig, I'm in the middle of moving house (& having work done to the property I'm moving into),& I'm hoping I can squeeze in another visit to the lake district before we go off on holiday to Turkey in august.
So I really do feel I have alot going on in my life thankyou, but again, sorry for annoying you.
Posted by: s at February 24, 2007 05:09 AM
I read a Fish Out of Water and there was nothing in there about schizophrenia from his sister. In fact, she said the most about his mental illness than any other book. She said "It's over for him" she also talked about Syd confirming some of the neighbor's story that you don't want to believe when she said he would scream Roger Water's name when upset, etc. I've seen you on other "Syd" boards trying to make out that Syd was perfectly normal and only retired to paint in his garden. My thought then is if he wasn't mentally ill, then he was a monumental jerk...unless you think it's perfectly normal to beat up your girlfriends and attack your mother. Syd may NOT have been a schizophrenic but he was not well unless you think violence towards women (you have a daughter?) is acceptable. Also let's look at what we DO know: He was declared mentally unfit by the Mental Health Act, he cut off ALL of his friends, he had no girlfriends after Gala, he was on an invalid's pension (not an artist's grant), his sister's comments that he was mad, etc. How are you able to ignore all of this? I love how a lot of people just don't want to face the fact that Syd had mental problems. I think he did GREAT for an untreated person but I'm not going to overlook what he did to other people and himself and call that "normal and healthy". It's not just a river in Eygpt...
Posted by: Kim at February 27, 2007 09:09 AM
i would never try and define the way someone else should live. he left a big inheritance to his loved ones
and enriched the lives of millions he also left behind some beautiful paintings.
at the end of the day, that is more than most of the people who try and label him schizophrenic (as to somehow try and simplify the personality of, or understand a man who was more intelligent than the dumb psychology graduates that came up with the term in the first place) have done or will do.
Posted by: philip at March 9, 2007 04:58 AM
"that is more than most of the people who try and label him schizophrenic (as to somehow try and simplify the personality of, or understand a man who was more intelligent than the dumb psychology graduates that came up with the term in the first place) have done or will do."
Hmmmm. Schizphrenia is not a "personality type". It is an illness. Is it the word "schizophrenia" that bothers you so much, or can you just not believe that a handsome young man who wrote some great songs could have possibly suffered from this tragic illness?
Because as we all know, schizophrenia only happens to the ugly, the unintelligent and the unimportant. That was sarcasm, by the way.
We can change the word "schizophrenia" to something else if it bothers you that much, but it's still the same illness with the same symptoms.
Quoting Syd here "let's be realistic"
Posted by: Brenda at March 10, 2007 02:36 PM
Maybe the dude did too much lsd or smoked pot which in turn candled his lifelong chronic torment of mental deterioration.
Posted by: nk at March 31, 2007 10:41 PM
There is still such a stigma attached to mental illness that it is no wonder so many deny and sidestep . i wouldn't be so quick to quote Fish Out Of Water there are lots of inaccuracies in that book and many conflicting statements by Syd`s sister= plus the translation was horrendous.
i would really like some idea where people got any info about Syds father = a respected Pathologist ) and his brother having mental issuers came from But for the record i DO believe syd had schizophrenia that was not treated very well due to the time and the family issues involved. I believe he found a kind of middle gray area to survive in but i don't believe he was ever the same. i think Pink
Floyd may have been the worst thing that ever happened to sensitive artistic Syd. I miss him. wish he would have had supervision to make sure he took better care of his health. He was not capable of being so alone without serious neglect of his health and i blame his family for that.
Posted by: LG at April 18, 2007 08:13 PM
Roger was a humanbeing, like each of us. We are all extraordinarily different, with tremendous varying degrees of genetically predisposed personality traits coupled with how both our minds and bodies mentally/physically react to our earthly conditions. Many professional footballers, due to the extent of the highly competitive nature of sport and the taxation it takes on the body, suffer from permenant physical (some servere)ailments. Obviously, drug use of varying degrees, as well, grants the potential for permenant damage. Regretably, i have just recently delved into the story of the pink floyd. I find, as many do in other people, similarities to my young self in the man then known as, Syd. I fronted a funk-rock/jazz-hop outfit in the reoccuring ectasy-craze of the late 90s. I finally succombed to its interest and did well over 100 pills within the first week. Without specifics, my behavior led to my subsequent departure, made, in fact, reality by my friends and cohorts with whom we created magic and laughter since our teens. I have been dedicating the rest of my life to making up for my previous behavior both personally and professionally. I respect the life, work, creativity, and time of Roger/Syd/Roger Barrett. It seems to me that despite the self-inflicted drug use that affected his mental state; he was afforded a rather comfortable life. My condolences to his family for their loss and may the spirit of Roger shine in peace.
Posted by: kenny at June 3, 2007 06:17 PM
My name is Tracey Heim. I have been diagnosed as a schitzophrenic, too. A lot of it, I believe myself was use of LSD and maybe my mind was twisted because I have a history of witchcraft. I became a Christian, but I dabbled in it since I was a little girl. I have a spiritual point of view about it, but I know there has to be a medical point of view. Because I had accepted Jesus and the demons that run in my head are not gone. I try to have a sound mind, but I can't. I also have disorganised thoughts thoughts that are totally evil. Even though I am a good person. Please try to help me straighten this out. Is this medical or is this spiritual?
Posted by: Tracey Heim at June 19, 2007 02:26 PM
Hi Tracey, my name is ross, I am schizophrenic as well,I read your post and feel for you and see your confusion, if you want to talk to me mabye I can help. :-) email me EH ?
Posted by: ross at June 24, 2007 02:42 PM
Posted by: ross at June 24, 2007 02:48 PM
I too am a diagnosed schizophrenic. In my case the disease runs in the family. This means I share the diagnosis with a family member. What must be remembered here is that the diagnosis of schizophrenia is completely objective. There is no clinical test. A diagnosis of schizophrenia is merely a doctors opinion. I love Syd for the gifts he has given us through his own musical talent. His inspiration will live on in the jewels we now enjoy in our Pink Floyd music collections. I am comfortable with "my" diagnosis. Perhaps if Syd were alive today and read this blog he would be comfortable with "his" diagnosis. Perhaps not. The point being that when a person is diagnosed with schizophrenia it is up to the individual to own it. Otherwise it's time for a second opinion. Here's to Syd... my favorite piper!
NAMI rules! So does Dual Recovery Anonymous!
Help stomp out the stigma associated with schizophrenia....kiss your nearest crazy diamond today!
Posted by: Mike Braski at June 30, 2007 08:15 AM
I believe syd did have schizophrenia. just the descriptions, the withdrawal, and most especially the look of 'no look' in the eye. I know this because my son has schizophrenia. he was gifted in so many ways and became sick at 19. he is very isolating, but does want company in some strange way. not easy to communicate with either. but still loving. too anxiety laden to leave the house often but he does feel safe with family. and yes, he does have hallucinations and hears voices. sometimes the voices cause him great anger and he will yell. thankfully he is taking meds but they just alleviate the problem. there is no cure we have found. it is a cruel and sad illness and marks many creative and gifted individual. Rudolph Nureyev was schizophrenic. most people do not understand this illness and leave those who have it isolated and alone. my son himself has lost all his friends due to ignorance. i think there needs to be compassion for the afflicted. especially those on the streets. families love their ill ones intensely. tho i know there are some dysfunctional people who cannot deal with this. it is a sad and true thing. we should all care for these people. they need our support. not our fingerpointing and facination about violence and what has become stereotypic. i know that is more dramatic. but my son is disabled with this and wants to live and be a part. but how can he go into public with voices screaming in his head and respond to polite diner conversation? it is true torment. i hope you will all find the empathy to try to understand. this is a cruel, scary, and very debilitating illness. syd was not schizophrenic, he was a creative artist who had schizophrenia. the illness should not define everything he was.
as for the drug taking...my son would take 'shovelfuls' of dope if i didn't step in. we don't insist on complete extermination, i don't expect him to completely quit, but he does do some to relax himself. I wish he would do without. at least my son never touches the harder stuff... but honestly if you had this illness you'd selfmedicate too. with alcohol, with dope, with acid. anything. it is a horrible place to be and very hard to cope. thanks for letting me go on and on. i will never abandon my son. my goal is to give him as good a quality of life as i can possibly try. my heart breaks everyday for his struggle.
Posted by: Ginny at July 3, 2007 05:22 PM
Dear Ginny, I have schizophrenia and was in a condition similar to the one your son is experiencing. I self-medicated with alcohol and street drugs prior to being diagnosed 10 years ago. Self-medication does not aid recovery. Please look into draonline.org as this website offers a true means of recovery for people who have a mental illness and substance abuse issues. I love DRA because it has had a profound effect in my recovery. The beauty of the program is that it promotes socialization where people with similar illnesses help each other recovery. I now work part-time as an advocate for people who have a mental illness. I actually get paid for helping others. Helping others is at the core of recovery. I now love life despite my illness and have never had so many friends. I will pray for your son. It is true that Syd did not have quality recovery as evidenced by his isolation. This doesn't have to be so for others afflicted with a similar condition.
Posted by: Mike Braski at July 3, 2007 09:56 PM
I have never read and article so interesting. I seel pink floyd ina different view now. I have a sympathetic view now. I could not imagine something like this happening to anyone I knew none the less someone I didnt. The band members first had experiences with Mr. Barrett are unreal to read. Even though its one's common knowledge not to do acid, but some experiment, his story is not all about the drug use. He clearly had a much deeper mental issue. You can just see this as you read the band members comments as mr. Barret reaches out. My heart goes out to not only the family but friends, fans, and all who admired his work.
Posted by: Shannel La Due at July 25, 2007 10:29 AM
I am a psychiatric rehab practitioner in a very progressive rehab facility/program. I am using this article for one of my Expressive Arts classes. A student brought in HEY YOU from THE WALL to share how he feels sometimes. Not even he knew the story of Syd Barret. So we're segueing from Brian Wilson to Syd Barrett. Many class members have remarked that had no idea that such successful artists have mental health conditions. Thank you for the story. And thank you for your efforts to help those with mental health conditions. Let's keep up the good fight. There is life beyond illness!
Posted by: deborah at October 4, 2007 04:52 AM
I listened to Pink Floyd music during the 70's while in the banality of a marijuana-induced stupor. (I am not knocking the music, it is delicious), and during this time experienced the consequence of a psychosis that continued for years. Now, as a Christian, who is also suffering from schizophrenia, any symptoms of auditory hallucinations are controlled by correct medication, but the paranoia is a constant challenge, as it is of course, to many people, believer and unbeliever alike.
I can thoroughly recommend a publication, (stated elsewhere on this website, I believe), called "Strength for His People - A Ministry for Families of the Mentally Ill" by a Dr Steven Waterhouse whose brother Mark, also suffers from schizophrenia. This publication although geared to familes of the mentally ill, carers, professionals, and pastors, can also be a wonderful encouragement for a "consumer". It is deeply compassionate - e.g. On page 82, he writes: "By God's evaluation, a homeless wanderer, or a mental hospital patient, or a prison inmate, possesses the same value as the President, a physician, or a minister of a huge church. Several biblical truths express the measureless worth of all people including non-Christians. Additional biblical truths re-inforce the worth of those who have trusted in Christ as Saviour. Those who profess to be Christians should view people as Christ does. He extends grace, mercy, compassion and unconditional love." Further on Page 83 he writes: "All people have value because God was interested in us even before we were born. To God, no person is just a faceless statistic. No human is just a case study for a research project or dissertation. To God, people are not throw-away circuit boards who get tossed out when they cannot keep up with the workload. He has a personal concern for everyone beginning before birth and extending throughout life. Those who have schizophrenia, also have God's personal attention. To Him they are not impersonal objects or curious freaks".
I'm a "beggar who has discovered a gold mine" and found it, (fearfully and tentatively at first), in my quest for true spiritual fulfilment. I implore you to investigate further. God IS real! He exists! Peace is to be had, through Jesus.
Even in the midst of immense suffering (which will come to an end), He loves everyone and wants them to understand this great truth. Please don't be put off by fear or guilt or the ignorant ridicule of other people. (I can also recommend the book, "Come to Me - An Urgent Invitation to Christ" by Tom Wells. It is also available online). Thankyou for your patience in reading these comments. Pass this information on, of course.......
Unashamedly yours in sincerity. (From DW in Australia).
Posted by: Diane Wade at October 14, 2007 01:18 AM
I haven't managed to read all the comments here yet, but I have read Ginny's, just 5 comments above, and, I also have a son suffering from schozophrenia for the past 19 years, and I wholeheartedly agree with everything she says.
Posted by: Sue Calvo at November 20, 2007 03:09 AM
As time goes by we learn to let go of the passing of a dear friend. Although I never met Syd I do wish he were still here. Here's to recovery from mental illness and substance abuse. Help erase the stigma! Long live NAMI, DRA and the memory of Syd! Long live this site. May it Shine On for years to come!
Posted by: Mike Braski at March 8, 2008 03:12 AM
all THOUGH Syd was the creative and songwriter his songs are really in tune with drugs
but his genius cannot be unrecognized his influence's
in the coming water (pink Floyd)
Posted by: Nicky vanlalhruaia at March 13, 2008 11:04 AM
I don't believe Syd Barrett was suffering from schizophrenia; I believe he got lost via his previous LSD experiences and later when he found out about his cancer, he was going through deep stages of depression which included his social withdrawing, especially with the way the tabloids are, he would have garnered no privacy and that he knew this. I also believe he knew he was dying/going to die from his cancer which perpetuated his retreat.
Posted by: Victoria Farmer at March 29, 2008 12:17 AM
My sister is now 44 years old. I came upon this so i could read about Syd Barrett.. and i love the words of Shine on.. i always related it to my sister.. from the time i faintly understood her illness. Thansk for this article.
Posted by: CB at April 11, 2008 11:38 PM
Thank you Syd. You do "Shine On."
Posted by: sail at June 1, 2008 06:41 PM