Creativity 'closely entwined with mental illness'

I’ve always known that there was something wrong with me. I know this is why it has taken me this long to find work. “Normal” people who interview others for jobs tend to write-off eccentric souls like myself, because they don’t want creative thinkers. They really don’t. They want cogs in the machinery. They want folks that they can hammer into their mold with little effort. That’s why they say things like “We’re sorry, but you’re just not a good fit.”

I get frustrated when I see articles like this that are meant to lessen the stigma associated with certain mental illnesses (I personally have Attention Deficit Disorder, Anxiety, Depression and once had a psychologist entertain the idea that I might have a personality disorder) but then I still can’t get work. I was in therapy for almost three years hoping to learn “what is wrong with me,” but I kept my therapist so thoroughly entertained (I made him laugh several times a session) that we never got around to figuring out what that was. :eek: (that’s supposed to be irony).

There really isn’t a question here. The article is ambiguous, as it must be, saying:

"[F]indings suggested disorders should be viewed in a new light and that certain traits might be beneficial or desirable."

…and then…

**“It is important that we do not *romanticise *people with mental health problems, who are too often portrayed as struggling creative geniuses.” **

Most likely replies (if any) will be ambiguous, too. I have no expectations. I just know that all of my life most of my creative accomplishments have been ignored in favor of giving me grief over my shortcomings, which are really manifestations of my “disorders.”

I’ve been called all sorts of garbage against my person partly because I think very differently.

It makes a sad sort of sense that somebody who sees life differently from everybody else (so that they can create what was not there before) would be accused of having a head that didn’t work right.

The tragedy of it is that this can be used as a persecutory weapon.


Sad. I would like a study for those that engage in competitive sports as professionals: basketball, football, rugby, ice hockey. I imagine if you mix and match enough ingredients, you will discover as the article stated, that many people have suffered some emotional/mental disturbance in their lives, or may be more likely to be depressed or whatever.

Have friends. Talk to people. And if you have long-term bouts of depression or anxiety or something else, get professional help. Yes, some doctors will see you at a reduced rate if your income is low. Call around.

Hope this helps,

I don’t think so. People don’t have to be creative to see the world differently. As a creator myself who works with a lot of creative people - most of my friends are artists and writers - I see different worldviews. We’re not all homogenous. I know one atheist, and a friend who went through an atheist phase, but God brought him back.

Artists, for example, do not have any mystical abilities. Though there are those who would exploit artists, and there are artists who just do what they like. The same with writers.

Society has been conditioned to believe: “Wow! You’re an artist?!” “Wow! You’re a writer?!” As if you are above the human beings “beneath” you. I know for a fact that each is a gift and a craft. I know that a motivated person can be taught to draw or write.

Some guys spend their days designing cars. Are they artists? I think so.


I have alot of trouble finding jobs and keeping them because I think and act differently than most. I too have ADHD and depression and people don’t feel comfortable with anyone outside their norms. I feel for you. It is very hard for me also to keep and find friends and I have been lonely most of my life.

This perhaps has something to do with why mentally ill people are so creative. Not only do they think differently, they are usually outcasts, leaving them with tons of time on their hands to use their creativity. “Normal” people are usually too busy with their friends to sit down and think of a story plot or a sketch for a fantastic painting or words to a poem or song.

You aren’t. Me, either. The difference is, I wouldn’t hire me (or you), either, and I understand and accept that this makes perfect sense. And I’m way more nuts than you are. But I’m older and I actually did work in therapy, I didn’t brag about distracting my shrink.

In the world, color inside the lines. At home, doing whatever creative thing you do, no boundaries. That’s the way things work and there’s nothing wrong with it. Accept it or keep complaining about it: your choice.

Hmmmmmm OP, you seem quite bright. You made your shrink laff a lot… how about being a stand up comic? Be your own boss.

I’ve always wanted to be a stand up comic. The only thing stopping me is that I have no idea how to create “an act.” You can’t just walk out and start telling jokes. I have no idea how to package myself. :shrug: (I hate the “shrug” emoticon but I had nothing else that worked. :()

I totally identify with what you’ve written here. When I was a kid they didn’t have a name for what is now being called ADHD/ADD. I didn’t have depression or anxiety as a child, but I *know * now that I definitely had ADD. My mom, before she died, gave me all of my report cards from when I was in elementary school. The teachers comments were consistent all the way from kindergarten. “[Nom the Wise} is lazy, he doesn’t care, doesn’t put forth effort, always daydreaming, disrupting class with jokes, etc. etc.” And with all of that, from my point of view *I felt like I was working my butt off! :banghead:

In a way my diagnosis was a relief. When I’d get these comments, I’d think to myself “I must, absolutely must try harder!” And then the next report card came and I didn’t just feel like a failure; I felt like there was something wrong with me. To find out that there actually was something wrong with me (when I was 29) was actually quite liberating. I wish I’d known sooner.

I agree with you. Someone posted something on here and then deleted it (but I read it before it was gone, whoever you are). I can’t remember who, but he/she confessed to having some mental issues of their own, but then said “I wouldn’t hire myself or you for that matter.” I think that’s entirely true as well. Then the person said something about me complaining, and that was not my intention. I was hoping more would come out of the closet, as it were.

I think people with mental illness can be “persecuted” by those who have less compassion for others. Because the truth is that those of us who are chronically late, day dream, can’t sit calmly in our chair are very disruptive to the majority of the world who can. Does that make sense? We’re a minority.

I know of a guy who was a serious athlete, and he also had depression. For years he never sought help, mostly because he feared to appear “weak” in his strenuously competitive world, and I think that’s a real fear. I’ve never thought about this before, but I imagine that a mental illness would work *against *an athlete as opposed to a mental illness working *for *an artist/writer, etc.

It’s late and I’m finding it hard to develop that idea. I think I mean that athleticism depends on the physical body more than the mind. But in most sports, you have to have that body/mind balance–peak performance *and *strategy. A creative and impromptu move to escape a tackle is of course different than character development in a story.

Thinking of it this way suddenly makes me doubt the article. Wouldn’t they have to do comparative studies before singling out writers as being most likely to commit suicide.

Arrgh! Time for bed.

Yah, you can be a comic. A routine is not that hard. Many resources are available.

Remember- There is always a reason to not do something…

Practice on a tape recorder. Practice on your friends at gatherings. I sense you have a good sense of humor…

Writing is another thing to try.

Remember. Not all behavioral anomalies are a diagnosis. Some are just unique. Be not quick to label yourself.

Have you done the Myers Briggs test?

I did the Myers Briggs years ago. I can’t remember what I was. INJP? That sounds familiar.

I should have said: I have a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing (Poetry) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Before I began working on my novel ( I concentrated on poetry (

I’m saying this because I noticed a link next to the article that I posted for this thread: **Poetry, the creative process and mental illness **

It seems the more creative I get, the more screwed up I am. From the article: “The incidence of mood disorders, suicide and institutionalisation was 20 times higher among major British and Irish poets between 1600 and 1800 according to a study by psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison. In other words, poets are 20 times more likely to end up in an asylum than the general population.

I am an American poet, but then again, I’m half Irish which might make me, oh, 15 times more likely to end up in an asylum. :frowning:

Okay let’s see if I can’t get myself back into bed…zzzzzzzz

Depends upon the sport, and the mental illness.

The human body is a high-performance mechanism, but one that depends upon its mind for optimal development and performance. The human mind has quite a bit of leeway, not so human body.

Mental illness can redirect creativity, but it saps body’s energy, as all illness does, and may not leave enough margin for competitive performance.


I liked the excerpt from your novel. :thumbsup:

I agree that having the ability to be an artist is both a gift and a craft.

But, while a motivated person can be taught to draw, I doubt their native gifts will change into those of a person who was born with gifts that make drawing relatively easy.

I don’t agree that “creative” people don’t get hired.

Read the book Coming Apart by Charles Murray.

Creative, eccentric, “odd” people ARE being hired, and getting paid six figures.

Thank you! (It’s not too late to leave a comment :blush:)

Done!–It says my comment is awaiting moderation.

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