Portfolio of Hope

A few weeks ago, when considering some of the greatest writer’s of all time
(in my opinion)-
Virginia Woolf,
Sylvia Plath,
Ernest Hemingway,
Anne Sexton
(to name just a few),
I noticed one ‘thread’ that ties them all together
(aside from their talent as writers, of course).
that thread?

and Sexton,
their lives were all cut short
by suicide.

Now, as morbid as this may seem,
this is a fact that interested me
as I seek to understand;

‘What is it about writer’s/’creatives’ that leads to such high rates of suicide amongst them
compared to suicide rates within the general population?’

Today’s blog post will,
I hope,
help me to answer that very question
as I delve into the concept of the ‘tortured artist’
and, with that,
observe the connection between creativity and mental illness…

So, to begin;
What is a ‘tortured artist?’

An exaggerated representative/
of an individual whom often finds themselves feeling ‘troubled’-
by art,
by other people,
or even,
just by the world in general-
the ‘tortured artist’ is a long-standing concept,
having first been introduced by the Greek philosopher,
some 2000+ years ago…

It is widely considered that the ‘tortured artist’ arises as a result of the art itself-
that creatives become mentally ill.
The opinion which I hold,
is that creatives do not become mentally ill,
but rather,
the mentally ill become creative,
turning to art as a way to express their unique perspective on life,
and as a way to process painful experiences which they have been through.

The reason why there is such a high volume of ‘creative types’ with mental illnesses then,
is precisely because of this fact:
Because art truly is the greatest healer-
the greatest healer of painful experiences.
It is also because people with mental illnesses tend to possess the depth required to probe the human condition/
the ‘collective human experience’,
owing to the fact that people with mental illnesses such as clinical depression,
bipolar disorder,
and anxiety disorders,
tend to exist with their sensory volume turned up,
thus meaning that they can,
in turn,
take in much more than most people do,
and form connections out of seemingly disconnected things,
and ideas.

As such,
people living with a mental illness are often,
(and perhaps,
better equipped to explore all of humanities trials and tribulations
through the power of art/creativity
(art of any kind,
from poetry and songwriting,
to painting and acting)
than the general population.

The ‘Tortured Artist’,
I therefore conclude,
is a myth,
one can either feel tortured
or one can be an artist,
but the two do not-
go hand-in-hand,
as I’ll say again;

Art truly is the greatest healer,
of everything.

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