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Artists & mental illnesses - The mad genius

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  1. Introduction
  2. The concept mental illness
  3. Hugo Wolf ? Composer
  4. Hector Berlioz ? Composer
  5. F. Scott Fitzgerald ? Writer
  6. Lord Byron - Poet
  7. Virginia Woolf
  8. List of artists and poets
  9. Conclusion
  10. References

Plato (427 ? 347 B.C.), one of the earliest of the great philosophers claimed in his writing ?The Ion? that artists, when creating, went temporarily out of their minds, that the artist was merely the medium used by the Gods to communicate with the audience. Plato used the term ?inspire? or ?breathed into? to describe the way the gods spoke through the artist and that the artists were merely divine mouthpieces. Plato was partially correct in saying artists were ?out of their minds?, but the cause was not because of these people being inspired by a higher power, rather the majority of the great artists suffer from a mental illness that causes a hypomanic state that allows them to experience periods of inspiration when their thought processes quicken, moods lift, and new associations are generated.

Benjamin Rush, founder of American Psychiatry and a signer of the U.S. Constitution observed that a part of the brain, not diseased, the mind sometimes discovers not only acuteness and unusual strengths, but certain talents it had never exhibited before.

[...] The following are just a few accounts of certain artists' fights with mental illnesses. a suffering creature, I cannot do without something greater than I something that is my life the power to create.? Vincent Van Gogh - Painter Let's start with Vincent Van Gogh, famous painter who cut off his ear, not because of a love gesture to his girlfriend, but because he thought it would stop the voices in his head. Vincent Van Gogh had virtually every disease known to man including: epilepsy, schizophrenia, absinthe poisoning, porphyria and Meniere's disease. [...]

[...] I would like most to hang myself on the nearest branch of the cherry trees standing now in full bloom. This wonderful spring with its secret life and movement troubles me unspeakably. These eternal blue skies, lasting for weeks, this continuous sprouting and budding in nature, these coaxing breezes impregnated with spring sunlight and fragrance of flowers . make me frantic. Everywhere this bewildering urge for life, fruitfulness, creation?and only although like the humblest grass of the fields one of God's creatures, may not take part in this festival of resurrection, at any rate not except as a spectator with grief and envy. [...]

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