Crazy Creatives?

Vincent van Gogh, Self portrait with bandaged ear. 1889

I'm not convinced that great art requires madness, or, if you'll feeling crazy, then you will automatically become a great artist.

Both Aristotle and Shakespeare have the archetype of the mad genius.  Since then many have reinforced this idea, so it has now become a stereotype.

According to Nancy Andreasen, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who has studied creativity for many decades:

"One possible contributory factor is a personality style shared by many of my creative subjects. 

These subjects are adventuresome and exploratory. 

They take risks. 

Particularly in science, the best work tends to occur in new frontiers. 

(As a popular saying among scientists goes: “When you work at the cutting edge, you are likely to bleed.”) 

They have to confront doubt and rejection. 

And yet they have to persist in spite of that, because they believe strongly in the value of what they do. 

This can lead to psychic pain, which may manifest itself as depression or anxiety, or lead people to attempt to reduce their discomfort by turning to pain relievers such as alcohol."

This is why I am intensely interested in the social networks in the arts, for social support reduces the psychological burden of constantly working at the cutting edge, on topics or areas of research which are either not supported or acceptable to the general public or government of the day.

Personally, I have actively sought to base my studio within an active artists studio, and a large community of visiting artists and studio class students (see

For a full history and empirical research into the perceived link between mental illness and creativity, I strongly recommend that you click on and read the complete article below: 

("Vonnegut’s brains tell us about genius and insanity" By Nancy Andreasen, The Atlantic June 28, 2014 )

(image source: 17/8/15 9:30am)


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