Mental Health Monday


Time and time again, I run across the idea that there’s a fine line between extreme creativity and mental illness. I’m sure you’ve heard about “so and so historical figure” or  “someone or other contemporary artist” having Bipolar disorder or depression, maybe even Schizophrenia. For example, some think General Sherman (yup, the Civil War dude) had Bipolar disorder. And certainly, I think there is a link between extreme creativity and altered brain chemistry or anatomy.

Factor in the importance of art therapy and creative expression in social rehabilitation programs, inpatient mental health units, outpatient day programs, and you can see the significance of molding thoughts and emotions to improve well-being.

I know, personally, that writing has been a wonderful outlet for me–even when it’s frustrating, LOL! And I bet I can safely say you’ve had a similar experience. Cool, right? (And no, I’m not blindly calling us all mentally ill.)

Anyway, to expand the “cool factor,” I’d like to share some links describing Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s endeavor to encourage the creativity of those living with mental illness.  Creedmoor is the largest state psychiatric facility in Queens, New York. In 1999, Jessica Yu filmed a documentary for HBO featuring the patients/artists and how they created their art in the context of mental illness.

  • Wikipedia page describing Creedmoor
  • Wikipedia page describing The Living Museum where the patients’ art was displayed
  • Examples of art with descriptions of the artists and their illness.

Thoughts?

Oh, oh, and don’t forget to check out Lydia’s Medical Monday–Did you know willow bark has bite?

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5 comments on “Mental Health Monday

  1. Lydia Kang says:

    Is it bad that I keep finding questions to ask you?

    I’ve been asked whether medications like SSRIs or benzos can “blunt” the creative drive. What’s your take?

  2. MAN I love the topics you come up with for Mental Health Mondays! As someone living with bipolar disorder, I’m ALWAYs thinking about the link between madness and creativity. And for Lydia’s question, hands down have I found that SSRIs blunt my creative force. I choose now to manage my raging “creativity” with structure, routine, lotta exercise and stress management. I’ll take it all as it comes – because that skewed perspective lends a certain grace to my writing. Terrific post!

  3. Are you saying that all writers are mentally ill? 😉

    I’ve wondered about all those voices that float around my head and how they come to breathing life in my books, especially when the person I am writing about exists wholly in my brain.

    Do you ever wonder if, with soooo many people on this earth, any ONE of them are exactly like a character you’ve written about? Interesting thought, hu?

  4. Danyelle says:

    The link between the two is fascinating. I think, in some ways, mental illness is just creativity on hyperdrive and the mind and body deal with it the best way they can. I like that creativity is used to help people deal with mental illness. 🙂

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