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Bipolar made Van Gogh a creative genuis & famous !?


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If I hear (or read) this kind of thing, one more time - I really think I am going to SCREAM. :wall:

I was trying to talk to a (sort-of) friend last night, whom I haven't talked to for several months. She already knows she is bipolar. She's still refusing meds.

The reason we stopped talking is because I got tired of her weepy phone calls- after she'd had knock-down drag-out fights with her husband - in the wee hours (while drinking)

- and she'd also be in some wild, manic-driven state to top it off.

We'd have the same type of conversation, over and over and over.

It went like this:

Her: Joe (her husband) HATES me!! I know he's going to LEAVE me!! I hate this whole situation. WHY do I do this?? I keep doing this. WHY?!!

Me: It doesn't have to be this way. You can see my doctor (my psychiatrist) - he's really good. I know he can help you. IMO, you need medication. At the very least, you need a medical opinion about your manias.

Her: Medication is a CRUTCH. I won't do that. (she says this knowing full well I take plenty of psych medication, btw)

Me: Well, you don't appear to be getting any happier, to me. I hate to see you like this - ESPECIALLY when there's a very available solution. Like seeing a doctor.

Her (changing the subject): I HATE myself !! But I CAN'T do good photography or paint, without feeling like this - it ENHANCES my work so much! It's SO MUCH BETTER this way!

Me: You ever tested that theory? How do you know? Really - how do you? You've never done photography while taking medication. You've never stayed on medication longer than 6 months.

Her: Van Gogh would NEVER have been the creative genuis that he was - without his disease. It did nothing but enhance his work!

Me: That's a total myth. His brother Theo was an expert businessman. Without Theo, Van Gogh's work may never have been recognized - especially on the level it has been.

Do you know how many excellent artists every year go unrecognized, because they're either 1) Not in the "right place at the right time" or 2) Don't know how to market their work - they don't have connections in the art world?

How do you think artists become famous? They just produce good art - then someone comes along and says: Wow - great stuff! Let's put it in the Louvre?

Her: He was a GENISIUS!!! How can you say he wasn't??? (she's getting really pissed; I guess I'm ruining her romantic delusion that you need to be really crazy to be a good artist.)

Me: I didn't say he wasn't a genius. I said I highly doubt he'd have become famous, without a brother who had so many business connections. I also don't think you can possibly know - since Van Gogh could never have taken any psychiatrIc medication - because it wasn't available - just HOW taking it would have affected the quality of his work. :blink::wtf:

Me: In fact, I think some people reach such levels of mania, that their ability to even judge the quality of their own work is dodgy, at best. If one is in a grandiose mood due to mania - of course everything you do as far as art will seem fabulous - to you. Even if it's actually a pile of doggy-doo, as far as quality. In fact, I doubt some people even CAN work, while manic.

Her: I can't believe you're saying this!! I NEVER thought I'd hear you say something like THIS !!. IT'S UNBELIEVABLE. HOW CAN YOU SAY THIS? I HAVE TO GO! (click. She hangs up her phone)

Am I the only one who has this kind of conversation with Bipolar people who are un-medicated "artist types?" :violin: Or depressed or schizophrenic, for that matter. I honestly wasn't trying to be mean (but I've had it with this kind of thinking from her.)

I am so sick of the "I'm bipolar and therefore my artwork is high quality & enhanced by my illness" idea.

IMO, someone might be a good artist because they're talented - BUT IMO, it's NOT just because they're bipolar. Or just because they're schizophrenic or depressed.

Maybe if you're hypomanic - possibly it could enhance your productivity - but not if you're out-of-control manic. And not if you're not already talented to begin with, IMO.

And it's really debatable (to me) that quality of work is affected positively - possibly productivity goes up - but who's to say quality doesn't go down, instead?

I don't think there have been any definitive studies about that. If so, I'd sure like to see them.

Also - it's highly debatable whether Van Gogh was Bipolar, or schizophrenic, or some other kind of psychotic - or "just" depressed. It doesn't matter anyway.

I don't know why I am writing this, except I am frustrated with both the person I had that convo with - as well as the entire idea.

I'm sick of the whole delusional idea.

I'm not calling her back. She's not going to change.

Comments ? No offense to anyone intended. Thanks for letting me vent. :brooding::blink:

-suzie

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ah, van gogh. first let me say i LOVE the man, one of my favorite artists. and i do think there is truth to the theory that artistic types are more prone to mood disorders. and quite frankly, it does give them (me included) more to "create" because there is more to choose from. by having a mood disorder, you have a whole new "tool box" (if you will) of pain and ideas that need to be expressed.

that being said, i CANNOT express these ideas, at least not in a coherent (or the best) fashion while swinging back and forth. even while manic i just end up writing and drawing picutres all over things and while hypomanic i tend to just write and write and write lists that have nothing to do with anything. any artistic ideas i have are far too grandiose to carry through and there's always one moment on the way up or down where i see what it could/can be, but i'm never in the moment long enough to do anything about it.

van gogh was also institutionalized and there's a lot to be said about not having to deal with the everyday stress of life. hell, i'm sure i'd be more productive if i had nothing to do but that. but the fact is we do and there's always some compromise you have to make. if you look at my track record, i look perfectly "well adjusted" and successful. a bachelors, a masters, 4.0 average, good job straight out of school. but i hated it and my personal life, relationships, body (i self injured), and mind suffered for it. i could only tolerate short bursts of energy usually right before a project was due, then i was done. and it only gets harder (job, family, bills, etc.)

many artists might have had mood disorders, but they often paid the price. while brilliant, they often lead sad lives - read their writings. van gogh sounds like a child and michelangelo sounds like a curmudgeonly old man and had very few friends (he was also gay which probably added to his issues at the height of the roman catholic church). davinci was the one everybody loved.

besides, no one knows for sure what van gogh had. there's a theory he had syphilis. and he cut off his own ear. next time you have this convo with your friend, tell her once she's institutionalized, contracted an STD that's made its way to her brain, and cuts off an appendage, then she can compare herself to van gogh. or course she won't be able to measure her success until she's dead, as it goes for most artists.

i kid, but you get my point. there are too many variables and in all likely hood swinging like that is hurting her work more than helping it. besides, comparing herself to van gogh is a bit presumptuous. ;)

i do feel your pain though. i've had many similar conversations.

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If I hear (or read) this kind of thing, one more time - I really think I am going to SCREAM. :wall:

I was trying to talk to a (sort-of) friend last night, whom I haven't talked to for several months. She already knows she is bipolar. She's still refusing meds.

The reason we stopped talking is because I got tired of her weepy phone calls- after she'd had knock-down drag-out fights with her husband - in the wee hours (while drinking)

- and she'd also be in some wild, manic-driven state to top it off.

We'd have the same type of conversation, over and over and over.

It went like this:

Her: Joe (her husband) HATES me!! I know he's going to LEAVE me!! I hate this whole situation. WHY do I do this?? I keep doing this. WHY?!!

Me: It doesn't have to be this way. You can see my doctor (my psychiatrist) - he's really good. I know he can help you. IMO, you need medication. At the very least, you need a medical opinion about your manias.

Her: Medication is a CRUTCH. I won't do that. (she says this knowing full well I take plenty of psych medication, btw)

Me: Well, you don't appear to be getting any happier, to me. I hate to see you like this - ESPECIALLY when there's a very available solution. Like seeing a doctor.

Her (changing the subject): I HATE myself !! But I CAN'T do good photography or paint, without feeling like this - it ENHANCES my work so much! It's so much better this way!

Me: You ever tested that theory? How do you know? Really - how do you? You've never done photography while taking medication. You've never stayed on medication longer than 6 months.

Her: Van Gogh would NEVER have been the creative genuis that he was - without his disease. It did nothing but enhance his work!

Me: That's a total myth. His brother Theo was an expert businessman. Without Theo, Van Gogh's work may never have been recognized - especially on the level it has been.

Do you know how many excellent artists every year go unrecognized, because they're either 1) Not in the "right place at the right time" or 2) Don't know how to market their work - they don't have connections in the art world?

How do you think artists become famous? They just produce good art - then someone comes along and says: Wow - great stuff! Let's put it in the Louvre?

Her: He was a GENISIUS!!! How can you say he wasn't??? (she's getting really pissed; I guess I'm ruining her romantic delusion that you need to be really crazy to be a good artist.)

Me: I didn't say he wasn't a genius. I said I highly doubt he'd have become famous, without a brother who had so many business connections. I also don't think you can possibly know - since Van Gogh could never have taken any psychiatrIc medication - because it wasn't available - just HOW taking it would have affected the quality of his work. :blink::wtf:

Me: In fact, I think some people reach such levels of mania, that their ability to even judge the quality of their own work is dodgy, at best. If one is in a grandiose mood due to mania - of course everything you do as far as art will seem fabulous - to you. Even if it's actually a pile of doggy-doo, as far as quality. In fact, I doubt some people even CAN work, while manic.

Her: I can't believe you're saying this!! I NEVER thought I'd hear you say something like THIS !!. IT'S UNBELIEVABLE. HOW CAN YOU SAY THIS? I HAVE TO GO! (click. She hangs up her phone)

Am I the only one who has this kind of conversation with Bipolar people who are un-medicated "artist types?" :violin: Or depressed or schizophrenic, for that matter. I honestly wasn't trying to be mean (but I've had it with this kind of thinking from her.)

I am so sick of the "I'm bipolar and therefore my artwork is high quality & enhanced by my illness" idea.

IMO, someone might be a good artist because they're talented - BUT IMO, it's NOT because they're bipolar.

Maybe if you're hypomanic - possibly it could enhance your productivity - but not if you're out-of-control manic. And not if you're not already talented to begin with, IMO.

And it's really debatable (to me) that quality of work is affected positively - possibly productivity goes up - but who's to say quality doesn't go down, instead?

I don't think there have been any definitive studies about that. If so, I'd sure like to see them.

Also - it's highly debatable whether Van Gogh was Bipolar, or schizophrenic, or some other kind of psychotic - or "just" depressed. It doesn't matter anyway.

I don't know why I am writing this, except I am frustrated with both the person I had that convo with - as well as the entire idea.

I'm sick of the whole delusional idea.

I'm not calling her back. She's not going to change.

Comments ? No offense to anyone intended. Thanks for letting me vent. :brooding::blink:

-suzie

You could have also said that Bipolar Disorder made Van Gogh threaten someone's life, give his earlobe to a prostitute, spend years in an asylum and shoot himself in the chest. I also like wemble's post!

ETA: They say that one in four people can likely be diagnosed with some mental illness. I do wonder what that figure is for creative types.

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Salvador Dali was another artistic genius (IMO) who played the crazy part in his public persona. But really, he was quite sane, and was his own best publicist. He lived a long and seemingly happy life, adored his wife of many years in a fulfilling relationship, and enjoyed 60+ years of fame (and at least some fortune) while he was still living. There is a lot to be said for being normal (even if meds are necessary to obtain it) AND a creative genius.

Van Gogh, IMO again, was just whacked. Great art, though. Too bad he couldn't enjoy his life while he had it.

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It wouldn't surprise me if, once the brain is mapped and our inner depths plumbed and measured for the medical community, creativity and mental illness are discovered to be symptomatic of one another.

I do know that when I take SSRIs, which are supposed to 'fix me', I lose my ability to write or think creatively...but that's just a single anecdote from one person. *shrug*

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The funny thing with me is that during my "states" I never gain creativity or productivity. In fact, I am only productive or creative at all if medicated to the nth degree, so it seems. My mind is too scrambled and irrational to do anything useful when I am in some "state."

Now, I do wonder sometimes if I am actually bipolar, because I never really fit the criteria for mania. I never get expansive, elevated moods. I get angry, upset, blatently psychotic, with strong "positive" symptoms, but never anything like classic mania. I wonder if I am actually schizophrenic instead.

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I went to the Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Florida about 4 years ago. I loved it - it exhibits his art, as well as biograpical details about his life.

He was excellent at marketing himself and his work. He was a walking advertisement for his own work.

IMO, Van Gogh was really good, but I feel sorry for him, too.

-suzie

Dali was excellent at promoting himself. I don't remember the specifiics, but he was "kicked out" of the surrealist movement (the formal group) because he agreed too much with the Nazi ideals and they were afraid he'd give them bad press and cause problems.

And van gogh... I want to pinch his cheeks and tell him it'll be ok. My goal in life is to touch one of his paintings (and not get arrested). They're beautiful. Supposedly some of the paint is still wet down at the first layers.

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Supposedly some of the paint is still wet down at the first layers.

is that even possible?

I don't know. It's just what I've heard. The paint is SO thick in spots and oil paint takes forever and a half to dry, so who knows...

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Medication might damper some of my ability to think creatively, but it greatly increases my productivity. The ability to think creatively is useless without the ability to actually employ it towards some creative ends. If I'm too depressed to get out of bed or too scattered from ADHD, I'm not going to get any writing done.

I think people who rely too heavily on their MI as part of their creative process really need to rethink how they work.

I read an article by Steven King several years ago describing how he basically had to learn how to write all over again once he got sober and mentally healthy. I think the issues is often not that medications rob your of your creativity so much as it is that you have to relearn how to create without using MI symptoms as part of their muse.

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Medication might damper some of my ability to think creatively, but it greatly increases my productivity. The ability to think creatively is useless without the ability to actually employ it towards some creative ends. If I'm too depressed to get out of bed or too scattered from ADHD, I'm not going to get any writing done.

I think people who rely too heavily on their MI as part of their creative process really need to rethink how they work.

I read an article by Steven King several years ago describing how he basically had to learn how to write all over again once he got sober and mentally healthy. I think the issues is often not that medications rob your of your creativity so much as it is that you have to relearn how to create without using MI symptoms as part of their muse.

I hadn't considered it like that, but you may be right. I don't really think of my creativity in terms of mental illness, it's not like a crutch I struggle to hang on to, but literally, when I was taking SSRIs, there was no desire to write, no 'need' to write like I had before, there was no immersion in it, etc. There was just this killer apathy. ADHD drugs work really well for me, and help me be more productive, but for some reason, the SSRIs I've tried always kill that urge to write in my case. I would literally sit in front of my word processor and stare at the blank field and be terrified at how -nothing- was coming.

I don't live that horrible stereotype of 'mentally ill writer' or anything, but on level of moods, I seem to have developed my craft around my issues. The ADHD I could do without though, lol. (The vyvanse and adderall cover that though, thankfully.)

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My dad thinks (this is just a theory, he has given several papers on Van Gogh and TLE) that Starry Night, with its circular swirls, and the auras around the stars, is partial evidence of his organic brain disorder. I have no idea of the underlying truth of this, but that is what he thinks.

ETA: This is not to say he would leave Van Gogh untreated, he feels incredibly badly that Van Gogh suffered the way he did.

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That's funny, we were just talking about Van Gogh in class the other day and he wrote in a letter to someone that while he was inspired during his fits of delusion, he always waited until he was sane and calm to paint what came to him while he was mad.

Here's an article about it: (quick google search)

Warm and supremely lucid, full of fine description and close attention to his own creative process, they're {the letters} proof it wasn't his madness that made Van Gogh a great artist. It was his sanity.
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Just because someone is having relationship problems and is being difficult for you on the phones sometimes doesn't mean they need to be medicated or waste their time with a psychiatrist, sorry.

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My late grandmother was BP1.

She thought she was creative and artistic.

She churned out some of the most horrifyingly hideous paintings and crafts that ever graced this planet.

Not all artistic whims are good ones.

Van Gough without the artistic eye would have been nothing.

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Medication might damper some of my ability to think creatively, but it greatly increases my productivity. The ability to think creatively is useless without the ability to actually employ it towards some creative ends. If I'm too depressed to get out of bed or too scattered from ADHD, I'm not going to get any writing done.

I think people who rely too heavily on their MI as part of their creative process really need to rethink how they work.

I read an article by Steven King several years ago describing how he basically had to learn how to write all over again once he got sober and mentally healthy. I think the issues is often not that medications rob your of your creativity so much as it is that you have to relearn how to create without using MI symptoms as part of their muse.

I hadn't considered it like that, but you may be right. I don't really think of my creativity in terms of mental illness, it's not like a crutch I struggle to hang on to, but literally, when I was taking SSRIs, there was no desire to write, no 'need' to write like I had before, there was no immersion in it, etc. There was just this killer apathy. ADHD drugs work really well for me, and help me be more productive, but for some reason, the SSRIs I've tried always kill that urge to write in my case. I would literally sit in front of my word processor and stare at the blank field and be terrified at how -nothing- was coming.

I don't live that horrible stereotype of 'mentally ill writer' or anything, but on level of moods, I seem to have developed my craft around my issues. The ADHD I could do without though, lol. (The vyvanse and adderall cover that though, thankfully.)

FWIW, ssri's generally turn me into an immobile lump of apathy. So it might be worth trying a different kind of AD, should you find yourself sufficiently depressed to warrant medication again.

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The funny thing with me is that during my "states" I never gain creativity or productivity. In fact, I am only productive or creative at all if medicated to the nth degree, so it seems. My mind is too scrambled and irrational to do anything useful when I am in some "state."

Now, I do wonder sometimes if I am actually bipolar, because I never really fit the criteria for mania. I never get expansive, elevated moods. I get angry, upset, blatently psychotic, with strong "positive" symptoms, but never anything like classic mania. I wonder if I am actually schizophrenic instead.

Mania is not always experienced as an expansive, elevated, state. Often enough, it's an angry, edgy, energy, with, perhaps, a side of grandiosity.

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Medication might damper some of my ability to think creatively, but it greatly increases my productivity. The ability to think creatively is useless without the ability to actually employ it towards some creative ends. If I'm too depressed to get out of bed or too scattered from ADHD, I'm not going to get any writing done.

I think people who rely too heavily on their MI as part of their creative process really need to rethink how they work.

I read an article by Steven King several years ago describing how he basically had to learn how to write all over again once he got sober and mentally healthy. I think the issues is often not that medications rob your of your creativity so much as it is that you have to relearn how to create without using MI symptoms as part of their muse.

The thing with you, though, is that your whole situation is so complicated, it's kind of difficult to pin down what might be going on because of meds, and what might be remnant depression, or something else entirely.

The Steven King example is definitely an interesting one. The longer I am relatively stable, the more I realize I'm having to relearn, reevaluate, reconceive, now that I'm not just being dragged around by the crazy anymore.

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