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In the arena of art, it is not uncommon to find great writers, composers or painters who suffer from chaotic personal lives (e.g., lifelong alcoholism, addiction to prostitutes, stormy marriages and affairs), but it seems that most of the biographical sketches of great mathematicians I read portray their lives as peaceful in general.

A counterexample I can think of is Alexander Grothendieck, who estranged his wife and children, seeing other women while married. I understand that the criteria I'm setting is quite vague, but I suppose the example serves an illustrative purpose.

What are some other examples of mathematicians or scientists who led tumultuous private lives?

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    $\begingroup$ Galois' short life was chaotic by any standard. $\endgroup$ – Nick Jul 7 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ The question is where do you read the biographical sketches of mathematicians? If it is Wikipedia or MacTutor they deliberately focus on their work more than private life, and so do scientific biographies. You need to read general biographies instead if that is what you are looking for. Like the Nash's one that was made into a movie. There are fewer of those than for atrists, but that is simply because the bohema tends to write more about itself. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Jul 8 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ Which mathematicians died very young or in a tragic way? is very well received and has 29 answers! It probably is fine to leave this kind question here (tagged with big-list), it seems the community supports them. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 10 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Einstein was quite the ladies' man, repeatedly cheating on his long-suffering first wife Mileva and eventually divorcing her and marrying his cousin Elsa. He cheated on her too. indiatimes.com/science-and-environment/… $\endgroup$ – user4894 Jul 12 at 8:19
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    $\begingroup$ Check this. If indian "scientists" make such claims, what do you expect of indian journals? $\endgroup$ – llllllllllllllllllllllllllllll Jul 13 at 10:57
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Kurt Gödel was certainly known as an eccentric in his life. In fact it is said that he starved to death when his wife died as he refused to take meals from anyone but his wife. In the language of today, he would probably be diagnosed as suffering from mental health issues.

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There is nothing special about great scientists, their personal life is in general like the personal life of other people. If you mean by "chaotic personal life" things like "estranged his wife and children, seeing other women while married," read biographies of Einstein or Schrodinger, for example. Several great mathematicians suffered from alcoholism (T. Carleman, and probably S. Banach). Another great mathematician, Andre Bloch, murdered his family and spent all all his math career in a mental asylum.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, those bits of personal life could be noted as more normal, if you provided information that, for example, adultery were normal in the contemporary population. ... Is it? $\endgroup$ – Malady Jul 7 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Malady: Schroedinger's behavior was definitely not considered "normal" by contemporaries (as I understand he lost his job because of it). $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Jul 7 at 20:46
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    $\begingroup$ I was just saying that there is nothing special about "great scientists": the frequency of all sorts of "deviations" in their personal life is about the same as in the rest of population. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Jul 8 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see how you're showing that the deviation frequency is the same, here? $\endgroup$ – Malady Jul 8 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Malady He's not providing demographic evidence here, but it's pretty well understood by those who study the field that there is no significant difference in the percentage of mental health issues or bizarre family issues from scientist to any other class of people. Heck, even poets and blues singers are a lot more "normal" than the stereotypes. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jul 8 at 13:08
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Georg Cantor faced many difficulties and died in a sanatorium.

Alan Turing faced persecution and ultimately committed suicide.

Both are titans of mathematics.

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