Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Genius is akin to madness.

I discovered a list last year, courtesy of my friend Jo Swinney, of famous creative people who suffered with Depression.  The list can be found here.

It’s funny how so many of the world’s greatest thinkers and artists suffered with Depression.  What is this link?  Why does the old adage in this post’s title so often prove to be true?

I’m not claiming to be a genius by the way (well, alright, maybe I am a little…), it just seems that my ‘madness’, Depression, is intrinsically linked to my creativity.  I do feel able to create things which can emotionally move others – songs, poems and stories, and I think much of this ability comes because I tend to feel things very strongly.  I’ve also spent a long time dwelling on my emotions – particularly the negative ones – and so developed ways of describing the feelings.  Is this why I’m able to put them into writing more easily than others?

We can all relate to broken hearts, loneliness or perhaps even despair – we’ve all heard songs that we felt could have been written specifically for us at a difficult time, so apt is their presentation of the feelings involved.  I remember the song, ‘Fix You’, by Coldplay, seemed to follow me around everywhere I went during one particularly low time after a break-up!  It’s still one of my favourite songs.

I wonder if it is Depression which allows me to feel emotions strongly enough to be able to articulate them more eloquently.  But why ‘art’?  I could just as easily have written a very dry, prosaic treatise on the emotions involved in being depressed, why do I, and other creative/depressive types, seem so readily turn to music, or poetry, or other art forms?  I don’t have an answer…

Or perhaps it just depends on the particular person, for example, Einstein, who appears in the list, wasn’t an artist as such.  I wonder whether people who suffer with depression are simply deeper thinkers – we spend more time, perhaps, sitting on our own, chewing things over, trying to explain the whys of life, the universe and everything, which Douglas Adams (another depressive, apparently!) helpfully explained as being ‘42’.  Albert Einstein, a more scientifically-bent mind than my own, turned his thoughts to the physics of such questions, and came up with world-changing formulae and ideas.

After thinking about all this, I came across an article in The Independent, which seems to back up the theory that creativity and mental illness are linked.  I like The Independent, so if they say it’s true, I guess it must be.

Whatever the reason, I firmly believe that because of this apparent link, having Depression is not all bad.  However, once again, I reserve the right to change my mind next time I’m in the pits…

No comments:

Post a Comment