Many well-known artists, writers and musicians have had a history of mental illness, in fact some of them have become so deeply depressed that they eventually ended their own life in an effort to stop the pain and suffering. So, could there actually be a link between artistic creativity, brilliance, and mental illness? Several studies have suggested that there is indeed a very strong link and that writers or people with strong creative capabilities are more likely than others to suffer from a class of mental illnesses that fall under various categories from mood disorders to major depression, and manic-depressive illness.
An examination of writers concluded that poets tend to be the most emotional and introspective among all writers, and had a much higher rate of mental illness than nonfiction writers who tend to be the most rational and analytic. Many researchers that have surveyed people with creative minds speculate that mood disorders allow people to think more creatively. In fact, one of the criteria for diagnosing mania includes sharpened and unusually creative thinking.
Writers block can inhibit deep emotional feelings that leave an otherwise creative writer feeling as though they will never write again. This is typical of a creative mind and writers eventually overcome writers block and continue with their brilliant thinking process once their thought pattern is refreshened and sharp. Mood can play a big role in the out come of how a piece will turn out. Mood disorders usually go along with deep emotions and feelings. A writer can easily become depressed when their mood blocks clear thought patterns that stop them from being productive. Once they find their niche again, and have an outlet for clearing their head, usually on paper, they can once again rely on their artistic creativity.
Many experts believe that creative outlets or careers that include writing might by their very nature magnify the symptoms of mental illness. Artists, musicians and writers quite often work alone, and when they begin to fall into depression, they do not have the support and encouragement as do people that regularly work in a setting that has co-workers that would notice a change in personality, mood, or signs of depression. Instead they heavily rely upon their own strength and that of paper and pen to work out their problems, rather then seek the advice of a professional, possibly due to lack of personal time as deadlines become first and foremost in the life of a writer.
Mental illness is not easily discussed or admitted. It takes a strong person to recognize the symptoms that quite often sneak up on you, and then to boldly seek treatment for something that you would rather be kept personal. The media does not often go easy on famous writers, actors or artists that have been diagnosed with some type of mental disorder, and when they do seek help they are often looked upon as a nut case or remembered for their troubles rather then their success. It is an unfortunate fact that many famous people have suffered from depression, and many continue to suffer. During the last millennium, many of our icons have endured ineffective therapies and dodged social stigmas by keeping mental maladies from manic depression to multiple personalities and schizophrenia out of the public eye, but others have shared their suffering in an effort to wake up the public to something that isn’t going to just go away.
Does brilliance go hand in hand with mental illness? All of the famous people listed have suffered from some form of mental illness.
Patty Duke, Connie Francis, Peter Gabriel, Charles Haley, athlete for the Dallas Cowboys, Kristy McNichols, Spike Mulligan, Abigail Padgett, Charley Pride, James Taylor, Mike Wallace, Kurt Cobain, Elton John, Sheryl Crow, Axl Rose, Ted Turner, Robin Williams, Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, Edgar Allan Poe, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Dickens, Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Margaux Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Drew Carey, Judy Garland, Jim Bakker, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, and Virginia Woolf.
Roseanne Arnold, actor, writer & comedienne has Multiple Personality Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Studies have concluded that famous writers are particularly prone to mental illness, with an average percentage set at 72%. Others famous personalities also suffer high rates of depression with artists at 42% and composers at 35%.