Breaking the Myth: Mental Illness and Creativity Unraveled
The widely held belief that mental illness and creativity are inextricably linked has become a romanticized notion ingrained in our collective consciousness. However, it’s crucial to dispel this myth from the outset: mental illness is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for creativity. As we explore this intriguing topic, we uncover the nuances that challenge this prevailing belief and shed light on the complex relationship between mental health and creative expression.
“There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.” —Salvador Dali
Exploring the Connection:
While researchers emphasize that mental illness doesn’t guarantee creativity, recent findings reveal intriguing patterns. Siblings of individuals with autism and first-degree relatives of those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anorexia nervosa are disproportionately represented in creative professions. This raises questions about the potential inheritance of traits conducive to creativity while avoiding the debilitating aspects of mental illness.
Growing up as the eldest child in a family where one parent navigated artistic pursuits and mental health challenges, I witnessed firsthand the impact of these dynamics. The global pandemic further brought to light the prevalence of less debilitating forms of mental illness, particularly affecting teenagers facing disruptions in their crucial stages of growth and learning.
Silver Linings: Mental Health and Creativity
A big positive of this time was it brought to light many things, all at once, and got us all talking, sharing, and expressing ourselves. As we continue to share and learn about what makes us all tick, we continue to evolve as humans living together on this planet. I too learned that I’m not impervious to the effects of stress and anxiety, which ultimately landed me burned out in a hospital bed for a month during the pandemic, it was quite the experience and something that I will write about at some point, but for now I’ll just say, it was another reminder from the universe to ‘slow down’ and take care.
Today, I am looking back at a short documentary that was filmed just months before the pandemic broke out around the world. It is a cool trip back to a moment in time when I was just coming off a month in London, England at the Royal College of Art, my confidence was at an all-time high and I was ready to take on this next chapter of my career as a professional Artist.
Now having experienced what is one of the most prolific periods of my career, which has resulted in tremendous growth both personally and professionally. It is a period where ‘imposter syndrome’ has now largely disappeared and I am open to everything in a way I have never been before. I am also enjoying the ride much more, not putting the same pressures on myself, though my expectations will always be ‘A-type personality high’.
I want to share with you this short documentary film (about 25 minutes) by the very talented Canadian filmmaker, Randy Frykas. Although filmed at the end of 2019, this new version includes an epilogue updated for 2024.
In embracing the complexities of mental health and creativity, we challenge stereotypes and foster a deeper understanding of the human experience. As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of our lives, let us approach challenges with resilience and, in the words of my chiropractor, “Just, Keep, Moving”.