Monday, June 19, 2006

Still crazy after all these years

Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence--whether much that is glorious--whether all that is profound--does not spring from disease of thought--from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect. Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night - Edgar Allen Poe

When you are insane, you are busy being insane - all the time... When I was crazy, that's all I was. - Sylvia Plath

In 1992 Dr. Arnold M. Ludwig, a psychiatrist at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, published an extensive biographical survey of 1,005 famous 20th-century artists and writers, comparing their mental health with those of individuals in other, more conventional, professionals. Ludwig discovered that artists and writers experienced two to three times the rate of psychosis, suicide attempts, mood disorders, and substance abuse than did comparably successful people in business, science, and public life. Ludwig went so far as to trace various types of mental illness to different creative professions: he found that if you're a poet you're more likely to suffer from mania and psychoses; a musician or actor, drug abuse; a composer, artist, or non-fiction writer, alcohol dependence. In Ludwig's analysis, those professions which rely on precision, reason, and logic have a much lower rate of mental illness than those that rely on emotive expression, personal experience, and vivid imagery as a source of inspiration.

In other words, it could always be worse--you could be a poet.

Are suffering and art inevitably linked? Carl Jung praised the artist as the one who "makes it possible for us to find our way back to the deepest springs of life." If that sounds like a big responsibility, it is. Jung's artist, forced to carry "the unconscious psychic life of mankind," might find himself with "so heavy a burden that he is fated to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being."

Are artists crazier than other folks? Read on and find out.

Creativity and Mental Illness, by Laura Gosselink has done more research into the subject.

...although it is certainly not the case that all creative individuals suffer from manic depression, it seems that characteristics of mania and depression aid the development and expression of creative thought and action. Mania combines new and heretofore unconnected ideas at a rapid pace and has even been shown to elevate IQ scores(8). Mania also imbues the individual with relentless drive and confidence that can, very often, lead to creative output. Balancing mania, depression not only can serve as a "reality-check" to manic excesses of thought and action, but also can itself provide fuel for creativity.

What does this mean for treatment? "I want to keep those sufferings," said artist Edvard Munch. When told he could end his cycle of psychiatric hospitalizations with available treatment, he replied that emotional torments "are part of me and my art. They are indistinguishable from me, and it would destroy my art"...

An article from The Guardian linking art and sex.
From Lord Byron to Dylan Thomas and beyond, the famous philanderers of the art world may have had a touch of mental illness to thank for their behaviour, psychologists report today.

So before insanity claims me entirely, I'll add my art for today then pour alcohol on the demons within (well, the study DOES expect it of me, doesn't it?). Well these are drawings from a couple of days really, plus another addition for Crack Skull Bob's Selfportrait Marathon. I have updated the image of the duck in the bucket that I did a couple of days ago. The scan didn't turn out well and this version is a digital photograph taken in natural light.

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Jan said...

I'm really enjoying your recent self portraits, especially since I've been entertaining the notion of a similar series. Thanks for sharing!

Jeanette Jobson said...

Thanks Jan. Do join in, its great fun.
You do learn a lot about yourself in the process.

Anita said...

I really think that art leads to insanity! Or maybe it is a form of insanity?
What a super self portrait!

Jeanette Jobson said...

Thanks Anita. You should join in the fray too, stil a couple of weeks left to go...

Insanity and art or art and insanity - a bit like the chicken and the egg question isn't it? :o)

Mary said...

Very interesting quotes Jeanette. Could it also be the road to recovery from insanity?

Another stupendous self portrait!

Jeanette Jobson said...

I'm sure it works both ways Mary.

And thank you.

art_forgarden said...

simply wonderful Jan ! crazy wonderful!I enjoy your work, thank you