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Pharmaceuticals and the Death of Art

By anthroporraistes in Op-Ed
Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 02:51:53 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

One of the leading causes of artistic and creative decline is the modern view of mental illness, and the treatment methods used to prevent or minimize it. If one views creativity as a form of madness (or deviance), then the modern view that all forms of psychopathology must be eradicated will be detrimental to societies body of great artistic works.


In the past, the views that society took towards the mentally ill were much different than today (for more info, read Foucault's Madness and Civilization), the mentally ill were to some point revered. To rephrase, the eccentric were generally revered. The difference would lie in the amount of otherness represented by the individual, and the amount of social acceptability of individual pathology. This is a line that I will not draw in this essay.

Plato viewed creativity (and love) as a form of divine madness, a loss of rational control. This can be supported, anecdotally, by the amount of insane creative geniuses. Van Gogh, Hemmingway, Nietzsche, P.K. Dick, Rachmaninoff, the list goes on, and some topical research could easily uncover more. Then we have the artist that we consider "merely" eccentric, such as Dali. Then we have art that captures madness (as in Hieronymus Bosch). There is an existent cultural archetype of the insane creative genius, one that has persisted for years.

If we look closely at the essence of art (and more generally philosophy, and science), we can analytically see the similarity between creativity (or more specifically genius), and madness. Creativity brings the otherworldly, as in either subjective fantasy, or hitherto unknown truth. Meaning that the genius must delve into the unknown to bring it to the attention of society. By nature of knowing something that the masses do not know, the creative are aberrant, meaning they diverge from common experience.

By art I mean any creative work, literary, poetic, musical, or graphic, and loosely, philosophy. Anything that requires imagination, and creativity. I will not further define art, for the sake of brevity. For more information on what is artistic read Kant's Critique of Pure Judgment, or Nietzscheís Birth of Tragedy, or many other good philosophical texts on aesthetics.

(Another, and non-related (and tangential) aspect of this train of thought is ADD/ADHD. Many of the historical instances of great inventors and renaissance men would probably be diagnosed with attention deficit, and/or hyperactivity disorder, this is evident though a historical analysis of their personalities. Evidence can also be seen in the `flighty' nature of their intellectual endeavor, skipping from one interest to another, one project to another loosely related one with little provocation except intellectual curiosity. We can see this in such personalities as DaVinci, Tesla, and Jefferson, and possibly even the early Thomas Edison.)

In this modern (post-industrial) age, society's view of mental illness has greatly changed, in keeping with our current industrial paradigm. By this I mean that our view of the part of the individual has changed, we have become as parts of a well functioning whole, and each individual must serve a utilitarian purpose. Norm deviations are now viewed with some aspect of threat and fear, a stepping out of order, or a failure to do ones productive part. Insanity, also, in now accepted among all pathologies as a thing to be treated by modern medicine.

With the drug companies and commercialism, it is becoming more and more accepted (and culturally enforced, and reinforced) to treat individuals with drugs for any problem they might have that causes then to step (even temporarily, or insignificantly) away from the norm. We can see this in the increasing rates that drugs for treating mental illnesses are prescribed. (We can see this across the board, actually, and not just for psychiatric drugs) It is not because there are more mentally ill, or that we are better at diagnosing people as such, it is because our standards for medicating are lowering. "Better living through chemistry" is indeed becoming our cultural motto.

Thus, many people who previously (pre-60's) would not have gotten psychiatric chemical interventions have now. This means that many of the disorders that we, classically, associated with genius and creativity are being eradicated by psychiatric treatment. If there is a causal correlation between insanity, and greatness, then we to some extent also eradicating greatness. Through our push for conformity, and so-called mental fitness, we lose something more socially important, great works of creativity, the baring of human soul, the sense of awe that genius can bring.

As a closing tangent, some would say that the very essence of humanity is our creative flights, and if we stifle these we are no longer truly human. If these flights are dictated by psychological pathology, then in medicating ourselves (and not grappling with our own unique internal states) we lose some fundamental aspect of our humanity. We lose sight that the (psychological/social) norm is a concept to judge, and not a place we have a natural inclination to be.

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Pharmaceuticals and the Death of Art | 224 comments (173 topical, 51 editorial, 0 hidden)
What a fantastic concept! (2.75 / 12) (#5)
by A Bore on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 07:16:39 AM EST

Let the mad be mad without therapy - it's a lot more entertaining for the rest of us. COMING NEXT IN THE SAME SERIES: let the sick stay sick - their misery enriches life.

What Kay Jamison says (2.54 / 11) (#8)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 09:29:45 AM EST

Kay Redfield Jamison is a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, and a noted authority on manic depression. She is a coauthor of the standard medical textbook on manic depression.

Her book Touched with Fire explores the link between manic depression and creativity. There are short biographies of many, many noted poets, writers and artists, who were either known to be, or thought to be manic depressive. Quite a few of them died from suicide.

Her book discusses a couple peer reviewed studies on the topic. In one, Jamison herself conducted a study in which successful British playwrights were found to be bipolar far out of proportion to the normal population. Another found that many of the writers who attended the Iowa Writer's Workshop went on to die at their own hands.

Jamison isn't just an expert on manic depression because she has studied it - she is manic depressive herself. She wrote an autobiography called An Unquiet Mind.

She says that she feels that if a cure for manic depression could be found, it would be wrong to actually cure it. She feels that society needs the creativity and eccentricity that the manic depressive contribute.

She doesn't say that lightly; in An Unquiet Mind, she recounts her suicide attempt, in which she came close to death from a drug overdose.

I agree with her myself, and I also do not speak lightly - I have sufferred grievously as a result of my schizoaffective disorder, but I have, at times, experienced such joy, passion, and brilliance as I do not think are accessible to most people. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Interestingly, Touched with Fire doesn't have any biographies of noted scientists. A while back I read in the newspaper of a study that did not find a link between madness and success in the more technical fields.

I think that's probably true if you only consider scientists who have matured in their fields, but based on my experience as a Physics student, noting not just myself but other students at Caltech and UC Santa Cruz, I think there are just as many mad science students as there are mad poets. I just think the technical academic and technical communities don't tolerate eccentricity as much as the art and literary communities do, so that young mentally ill students are not generally able to pursue careers as scientists or engineers.

There are exceptions: the most brilliant mathematician of our time, Paul Erdos, was well known to be as mad as a hatter.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


Questions... (2.75 / 4) (#15)
by GenerationY on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 11:06:38 AM EST

I'm a little dubious of psychiatrists because they aren't for the most part scientists (despite giving the appearance because using jargon isn't science, using logic and scientific method is).

Did it occur to her (for example) that if one suffers a debilitating illness then poetry and writing plays is about the nearest one can come to having a job? They'd be fired from anything else that demanded punctuality, deadlines and semi-objectively determined standards of performance.

Furthermore, being creative (or the attempt to be creative) is seen as a shortcut by many to a position within society without the hard work and a vindication of whatever antisocial behaviour they indulge in. I know a few artists read Kuro5hin and its not them I'm gunning for them here, far from it. Its the feckless "Nathan Barley" types, the heiress playing at being a painter, etc etc. Theres no exam for declaring yourself a poet, anyone can do it. Occupational crisis solved. You're not an immoral dickhead who treats people like shit, no you're a libertine or bohemian. Electrical Engineer doesn't really provide that escape route.

OTOH, to be a good (even competent) artist requires an amazing amount of skill and hard work that in my observation of people I know is breathtaking. But by the same token, in a similar position of having difficulty with the standard mode of existence in  the 9-5 world but through no fault of one's own, why not adopt the persona of a "struggling poet" instead of saying one is really someone struggling with life. This also in a single move recasts an illness and the maladaptive (potentially antisocial and thus greatly upsetting) behaviour associated with it as a positive attribute. This may not be in itself a bad thing for the individual but the point is that I don't think one should buy Jamison's argument uncritically.

[ Parent ]

Funny you should say that. (none / 1) (#18)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 12:12:59 PM EST

Did it occur to her (for example) that if one suffers a debilitating illness then poetry and writing plays is about the nearest one can come to having a job?

I wrote in Living with Schizoaffective Disorder:

I have also had disturbed sleeping patterns as long as I can remember - one reason I'm a software consultant is that I can keep irregular hours. That's a primary reason why I went into software engineering at all when I left school - I did not think my sleeping habits would allow me to hold a real job for any length of time. Even with the flexibility most programmers have, I don't think the hours I keep now would be tolerated by many employers.

I find myself now working to change careers, from programming to writing, and hope someday to change careers again, by going back to school to study music.

But I don't think it's fair to say that people who pursue creative careers are lazy just because they are unable to accept the confines of a 9-to-5 job. Far from it. Most artists that I know - those who make their living at it - are very hardworking people, who understand very well that they could earn far more money in an office job, yet devote themselves to their art, and sacrifice any hope of wealth, because that is where their passion lies.

I know myself that I work far harder than most office workers, quite commonly working round the clock. Does it mean that I'm lazy, because I don't punch in at nine? You can accuse me of having poor judgement, but never accuse me of being lazy.

Some of my k5 stories which have made front page have been written not only at the risk of my sanity, but nearly at the cost of my marriage.

Unconventional, yes. Unpunctual, yes. Unwilling to conform to social norms, certainly. But lazy? Absolutely not.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

No offence (none / 1) (#35)
by GenerationY on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 08:14:28 PM EST

I was quite clear it isn't about laziness, although the rich heiress playing at being an artist is taken from personal experience.

And I wouldn't accuse you of having poor judgement either.

My underlying concern is that I'm concerned this view might stop people from seeking help because they think their condition might almost be a economic necessity to them.

[ Parent ]

bipolars are notorious for going off their meds (2.66 / 3) (#36)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 09:33:23 PM EST

I don't have this problem with depakote, but most people who take lithium say it makes them feel flat, that it takes all the spark out of their lives.

For many years, lithium was the only drug available to treat mania, and so there was a constant, common problem of manic depressives quitting their medicine so they could get back the joy and creativity they once knew, a joy and creativity that often resulted in their delivery to the intensive care unit of a psychiatric hospital by the police.

I hated lithium with such intensity that despite being very well aware what it would cost me to ever get manic again, I refused to take it, and said so quite bluntly to my psychiatrist.

However, I find I am able to be creative on depakote. I don't think that the flattening effect of lithium had anything to do with its efficacy as an antimanic medication, but that it was an unfortunate side effect.

These days there are over a dozen drugs known to be effective in treating or preventing mania. It was discovered a while back that many of the medicines that help with epilepsy also work for manic depressives.

I don't think it is necessary to avoid treatment to be successful as an artist or writer.

However, living on the edge has a certain romance to it. This certain romance, though, is intolerable to such people as my wife, so I try to limit my indulgence.

It makes Bonita anxious, whenever I tell her I have an idea for a new article. It's not that she doesn't want me to write, but that she doesn't want me to destroy myself, and her as well, by doing so. She actively encourages my writing, she really does. She just wishes that I were more disciplined about it.

I do better with my music, I've never known my piano to send me over the brink. That's why I feel that in the long run, music is a better choice for me than writing, despite how much more work and study lay ahead of me before I can hope to make music professionally.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

the problem with your thesis is ... (3.00 / 4) (#9)
by pyramid termite on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 09:37:31 AM EST

... you haven't demonstrated that we are in a state of artistic decline ... more books, more music and more art is being produced now then at any other time in history ...

you also haven't considered that the majority of mentally ill people aren't that creative ... or that there are some creative people who don't have mental problems ... or that a lot of slightly "ill" people with creativity fall through the cracks and aren't treated at all


On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.

Too tangential (none / 1) (#12)
by anthroporraistes on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 10:47:45 AM EST

Those two paths would actually force me to delve into what art is, which would make the article more tangential, and veer off topic.  

The amount of GREAT art is in delcine, while the amount of pop-art and kitch is definitly more prolific than ever.  To draw a line between these two would require much more time and space, and would (as said) distract the issue at hand.

I would say that a majority of the truly creative are mentally ill, and if (in our culture) a majority of the mentally ill are treated, then a majority of the truly creative are lost.  This does not mean that MOST mentally ill are creative, only that most creative people are mentally ill.  Nor do I say the oppostite, that all creative people are mentally ill.  Using todays definition, of course.  

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Utter Rubbish (none / 1) (#26)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 02:23:48 PM EST

Those two paths would actually force me to delve into what art is, which would make the article more tangential, and veer off topic.

Sorry, but you're going to have to "veer" in order to make even a preliminary case for your argument. You've given no reason whatsoever to accept your argument, except that it has a long tradition in folk psychology.

The amount of GREAT art is in delcine

Rubbish!

To draw a line between these two would require much more time and space, and would (as said) distract the issue at hand.

It was also require that you come out from behind the protective cover of your empty platitudes and actually argue your case.

I would say that a majority of the truly creative are mentally ill

And if we respond to your naked assertion with skepticism? Do you have anything more than a naked assertion to rest upon? If so, please place in the article where it belongs. If not, then expect your article to die quickly in the queue.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
sir, (none / 0) (#28)
by Battle Troll on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 02:46:20 PM EST

Would you agree that the major Western craft traditions are in decay, rather than GREAT art (per se) ? Because I could buy the former.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
I don't know... (none / 0) (#29)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 03:03:02 PM EST

...that I'm in a position to say. But, if may enter an off-hand judgement, it seems to me that state of the various craft traditions (techne?) is rather uneven. Perhaps technology has something to with why some crafts have continued to flourish while others have languished?

Or were you getting at something else?

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
well, by 'crafts' (none / 1) (#31)
by Battle Troll on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 04:07:33 PM EST

I mean crafts slash arts such as classical composition or realistic oil painting - things in which aeshetics are enmeshed in an entire process and ideology of creation which the greatest masters transform by making it thoroughly their own.

I saw Kid Koala live a while back and it was rivetting. The only problem with his art medium is that it is necessarily extremely 'subjective' because of its being intertwined with mass media that is generally not highly aesthetic on its own merits. So, basically, I loved him for 20 minutes, but might not have cared to hear a 2.5 hour show. There isn't really the possibility of a full-fledged independent tradition of sound collage and scratching.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Telescope making is still going strong (none / 1) (#32)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 04:38:20 PM EST

Because of the widespread availability of large commercially manufactured telescopes, it has become difficult to obtain the needed supplies from commercial sources, so amateur telescope makers having taken it upon themselves to invest in bulk quantities of glass and abrasives, so they can sell the small quantities needed for a single mirror to other amateurs.

Here is my telescope making page.

You'd be astounded at the precision you can obtain with some simple hand tools, hard work and patience.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

The instersection of techne and the fine arts? (none / 1) (#34)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 05:15:57 PM EST

The visual or plastic arts really aren't my bag, and I've never really made peace with the wholesale departure from representational modes of art (I'm so bourgeois), but in the past I've been surprised to learn from acquaintances who did go to art school that an awful lot of time was spent doing "classical" exercises like drawing muscle structures, perspective diagrams, copying the classics, etc...

As an exercise look around the web for custom oil reproductions. You might be surprised how cheaply one can get a resonably good oil reproduction for these days. A glut of art school students I suppose.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
more (none / 0) (#206)
by Battle Troll on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 12:49:02 AM EST

in the past I've been surprised to learn from acquaintances who did go to art school that an awful lot of time was spent doing "classical" exercises like drawing muscle structures, perspective diagrams, copying the classics, etc...

Sure, but there's more to an art tradition than technique; it's as much about ideology and tradition. (And I question whether anyone can be fully assimilated into a traditional craft as an adult anyway; I'd say that even an enthusiaist is likely to lack the proper 'formation,' much as an adult student of an unfamiliar language usually can't learn the accent and idiom of a native speaker.)

Consider violin making. We can put a probe in Jupiter, but we can't equal the craftsmanship of a few generations of rule-of-thumb woodcarvers from a country town in the sticks of northern Italy. In fact, even Venice and Milan couldn't match Cremonese workmanship back in the day, which is why a Gofriller or a Seraphin sets you back $200k but a Strad (or del Gesù) starts at $1 million plus on the modern market.

Similarly, it's not that no one today can paint a relaistic oil painting. It's that we can't match our technique to a coherent craft tradition that would indoctrinate our painters in terms of production method, choice of subject, composition, and visual allegory, and even if we could, society wouldn't respond appropriately.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Excellent point (none / 0) (#211)
by cr8dle2grave on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 01:32:53 AM EST

Reminds me of an essay where Geertz gave art criticism a go. His chosen subject was Renassiance painting and he began with the very standard line of inquiry into the material, social, and economic foundations of the era's artistic production, but he then veered into the manner in which the then emerging mercantilist culture had cultivated a very peculiar type of "educated sight." In the absence of an elaborate science of weights and measures, and lacking even the basic technological and social means for necessary employing such knowledge, the ability to rapidly "size up" raw goods and merchandise--quantifying and qualifying over large and disparate sets of items--became an essential art for the merchant class. He argued, not very persuasively as I recall, that it was the emergence of this form of educated sight which gave rise to era's celebrated advances in the representation of perspective and spatial dimension. Additionally, and he was far more persuasive on this point, that as an audience (and thereby as partrons as well) the new merchant classs was highly disposed to appreciate those visual arts which exhibited a far greater complexity in the representation of dimension and space.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
That's technology for you (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by godix on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 02:54:25 AM EST

I mean crafts slash arts such as classical composition or realistic oil painting

A very good case could be made that cheap and easily avalable photography is killing the realistic art form. For the average man any real world object can be captured quicker, easier, and with far less training with a camera than paint which means art has opened up to the common man. As a bonus you can take multiple shots in a matter of a few minutes to capture different angles, variations of lighting, etc. of the same subject. Plus it's far easier to mass produce a photo which means it's easier to get photos into the mass culture.

For the true artist though, photography can still satisfy their desires to capture the world. A true master of photography pays as much detail to color (or B&W if so desired), lighting, and other similar factors as any of the great painters would have. I personally think the realistic represntation of a person that provokes the most emotion I've seen is a photo rather than a painting.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the talent and abilities or realistic artists. However their abilities are like the abilities of a programmer of dos 6.0 games. Regardless of the talent required technology has made it an obsolete niche thing rather than the mainstream. You aren't seeing the death of 'great art', you're seeing the transformation of art. Realistic painting is largely dead but it's spirit lives on in photography and unrealistic painting still has a long life ahead of itself (although I wonder how long till computers end that).


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]

this is EXACTLY what the modern artists said (none / 0) (#169)
by Cloud Cuckoo on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 07:34:27 PM EST

decades ago. 'we have the photograph, so realistic rendering is pointless.'

[ Parent ]
but a photo isn't necessarily the most realistic (none / 0) (#170)
by Cloud Cuckoo on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 07:38:04 PM EST

way to capture an image. With a graphite drawing for instance, everything is in focus so you get more details; a more accurate rendering of the scene.

[ Parent ]
I am not defining art. (none / 0) (#42)
by anthroporraistes on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 12:19:01 AM EST

This would be no mere veering, it would be a very large peice of work in itself.  The philosophical feild of aesthetics is VERY large, and very muddy, I could easily write 10x as much text just defining what art is, but here I'm going to judge my audience as capable of distinguising it.  If it would help I could put in a link to amazon for Kant's Critique of Judgement, and conversly Nietzsche's Birth of Tragety, and a slew of other disagreeing philosophers.  

Also defining art in such depth would completely destroy my premise, bury it under unneeded distinction and philosophical points.  

And what would you consider great art in modern society, Pollack, Warhol, JLo?  

The point of the article is not to define art.  I figure it would be counterproductive, but if you want I could add suggested readings, as I said.

I couldn't find a study that actually went through every artistic individual and diagnosed them, nor could I find one that tested a good sample of the  mentally ill (historic, non-drugged) and tested them for creativity.  Your going to have to accept an inductive supposition based on observation and anectdote, and if you don't...  Oh well.  Hopefully at least it made you think.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

you lack perspective (none / 0) (#58)
by pyramid termite on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:48:41 AM EST

And what would you consider great art in modern society, Pollack, Warhol, JLo?

i think the beatles will be listened to 500 years from now ... i think, in general, the flood of mass media music, tv/film will be regarded as an extraordinary burst of creativity ... yes, a lot of it is crap, but there's enough things of worth to keep anyone occupied for a life-time

our civilization has done something rare ... we've actually redefined what art is and how it's made ... that doesn't happen very often

i would look at photography rather than traditional art for our current masters ...

in any case, defining modern art as pollack, warhol and jlo is rather unfair


On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]

I'm not asking for a dissertation (none / 1) (#60)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 12:39:12 PM EST

Just an argument. You've thus failed to deliver one.

You assert a deep affinity between "madness" and "creativity," and point out that if that is the case, then our successfully combating "madness" will lead to precipitous decline in the arts. The rest of your article is just rhetorical dressing without any substantive content.

The burden is on you to at least make a case for the plausibility of the asserted linkage between creativity and madness. If you can't tell, I'm highly disposed to reject your assertion, but you don't need to convince me, just give an argument. Alternately, if you've decided that you bit off more than you can chew (no shame, it is a complex subject), than shift rhetorical gears and frame your article in a more tentative open-ended mode, rather than one which purports to defend a rather controversial psychological thesis.

And what would you consider great art in modern society, Pollack, Warhol, JLo?

The traditional plastic arts really aren't my bag, and I can't offer an opinion on them any more sophisticated than "I like" or "I don't like." That said, the most contemporary painter I personally appreciate would have to be Francis Bacon.

Literature--a subject I'm far more knowledgeable about than the plastic arts--actually flourished during the 20th century to an extent which is arguably unparalleled in the whole history of the West.

And film is an entirely modern art form. Insofar as there has been any evidence of artistic genius in film, and I would argue it has been plentiful, that genius accrues entirely to modernity.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
i think we forgot something (none / 0) (#71)
by anthroporraistes on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 03:33:08 PM EST

I wouldn't say that redefined art, I would say that we relativized  what we call art.  We've decided that if someone produces it, can sell it to the masses, then it must be art, especially if they can get some academic to agree.  We forgot the line between art and kitch.  We call Jlo and Bach an artist without the merest dissonance now, this seems to me to be idiocy of the highest degree.  We completely confuse the lines between our subjective (and possibly wrong) feeling of taste, and some form of actual idea of art.    

With lit, there are some problems, since the amount of crap being produced overwhelms the amount of quality work being produced.  

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

heh (none / 1) (#135)
by Battle Troll on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 12:08:40 PM EST

With lit, there are some problems, since the amount of crap being produced overwhelms the amount of quality work being produced.

What proportion of classical Greek (or, let's not mince words, classical Athenian) playwrights and poets are still read? How much of the greatest medieval literature has survived? I mean, even such collosi of their times as Clopinel, the Gawain Poet, Snorri Sturlusson, or the Digenis Akrites Poet form mere footnotes to modern cosmopolitan culture. And, gosh, have you ever read a Byzantine imperial panegyric? Some things die out for a good reason.

Quick, name five pre-Elizabethan English writers besides Langland, Malory, Chaucer, and the Gawain Poet.

We forgot the line between art and kitch.

There is no such line, as anyone who's ever heard Respighi, Stravinsky, or Shostakovich can tell you. The material of art is the whole human experience, not merely its aesthetic dimension.

We call Jlo and Bach an artist without the merest dissonance now, this seems to me to be idiocy of the highest degree.

Who does this, the mass media? Certainly not any professional artists speaking candidly. Bach wins out not because he's more 'aesthetic,' but because there's more substance there, better handled. Look, the days when an artist could put his shit in cans are largely over, and that kind of 'art' contains the seeds of its own destruction anyway.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

in history... (none / 0) (#139)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 02:28:43 PM EST

there also was less being produced, being that the means of production (literacy) were not universally available, also most people were too busy working to produce superfluous labor, and the means for distribution were severly limited, ensuring that more quality art got distributed.  The signal to noise ratio was rather low, as opposed to now what it is EXTREMELY high, verging on making all communications meaningless and contentless.

Could more substance and better handling be an aspect of his aesthetic appeal?

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Did you misplace your comment? (none / 0) (#137)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 01:01:52 PM EST

This seems to be a response to pyramid termite's comment, not mine.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Rate of formation (none / 1) (#27)
by Sgt York on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 02:30:02 PM EST

Of "great" art is always hard to know, especially wrt what is being made at the time of examination. We know great art because it has been perceived as great by people from different cultures and times. We know that Michelangelo was great because his work has been loved by millions for centuries. The same test simply cannot be applied to art that is currently being created. We'll just have to wait.

Another problem with your thesis is your assertation that the "majority of the truly creative are mentally ill". This may or may not be true, but it is not backed up. It's a chunk of opinion that serves as the foundational tidbit in a string of logic. It makes it a very simple matter to dismiss the whole argument.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

not a tangent at all (none / 0) (#57)
by pyramid termite on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:29:01 AM EST

Those two paths would actually force me to delve into what art is

if you're going to discuss something, it's only fair that you have to define what you're talking about

The amount of GREAT art is in delcine,

there's so much activity going on these days that no one can keep track of it all ... how can you or anyone possibly know?

I would say that a majority of the truly creative are mentally ill, and if (in our culture) a majority of the mentally ill are treated, then a majority of the truly creative are lost.

yes, you've said it, but you haven't proven it - especially your assumption that creative people under treatment become less creative

all i can say is that we appear to be living in times of an extraordinary explosion in creativity ... one that became very noticable in the 1950s and has continued to this day ... which, oddly enough, coincides with the introduction of drugs to treat mental illness

could it be that these drugs are saving the mentally ill so they can create?


On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]

naw (none / 0) (#167)
by Cloud Cuckoo on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 07:25:19 PM EST

its just people have more free time. The medicated eccentrics I know lose their creative motivation. They grow numb largely because drugs kill strong emotions, and strong emotion is the essence of part.

[ Parent ]
I really can't stand it anymore (3.00 / 3) (#163)
by schrotie on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 06:24:40 PM EST

I hear that at least once every week. "Gosh, art is in decline!". Wake up people. The trouble is not that art is in decline, the trouble is that we are drowning in great art. There's a German saying: You are unable to see the wood because of the trees. That is exactly what is happening. Well, actually there is another problem, but I'll come to that later.

I am an amateur musician and music is what I know best, so I'll use music for my argument. Music has been completely reinvented at least four times in the 20th century, mostly due to African influences: We got jazz, rock/pop, a wide range of electronic music (probably most importantly sample techniques as propagated by Yello and much used in Trip Hop) and - currently evolving - world fusion.

For each of these completely novel forms of art I could throw more names of outstanding geniuses at you than the 19th century has seen in music all together. Classical music is often played twice as fast today as it was originally performed - the reason? Playing faster is harder. Today there is an abundance of outstanding interpreters. There are even baroque orchestras in the south American jungle in villages that have no electricity. Those orchestras are not bad, they work under equal conditions as people who originally performed the music.

Maybe you find contemporary genius not outstanding enough. First as has been pointed out, only time will tell. It is common for great genius to not be recognized during their lifetime. Second it is harder to stick out when the "competition" is as fierce as ours. Still there are some names that are probably here to stay, e.g. Miles Davis and The Beatles (electronic music and world fusion are too young to clearly reveal their outstanding artists, but Kraftwerk and Peter Gabriel are likely candidates for making history).

But apart from the abundance of genius there is another probably even more important problem with recognizing outstanding artists: Great art is drowned in an unbelievable pile of rubbish. In spite of its abundance you have to hunt down genius and its probably more difficult than ever. Since contemporary genius is almost always very specialized only people who are interested in that particular style are able to help you. And even they will likely fail to recognize genius, because genius usually has to be dug out under tons of trash. Genius does not sell big time in music because it does not conform to what people are used to. And the mainstream is arguably trash.

The olden days had one big advantage. They had the perfect trash filter: art did not fill your stomach. Only people who were desperate to make art made art at the serious risk of living in utter poverty. Today every Bozo who got the looks can be trained to sing songs that sell millions of copies.

Now if you want to able to recognize genius you ave to be pretty proficient in a style to even tangentially evaluate what musicians in that style are doing. The good old days of classic music are over, where music had one important dimension: harmony. Contemporary music is much more complex, going deep in several dimensions (e.g. harmony, scale/tonal system, rhythm, sound and a blend of local styles that might be unique for one song). I hardly have an ear for harmonies, so classical music is mostly lost on me. To be able to judge harmonics genius (the most prominent ever was probably Bach who was not recognized at his time) you have to train your ear a lot, and you have to be endowed with at least some talent for it. The same goes for complex rhythmic constructs (mostly unknown in classical music and much of jazz), non European scales (e.g. Indian, Arabic, African) and the mostly novel dimension of sound (sounds were not created for single songs before the advent of synthesizers).

If you listen to contemporary master pieces you are very likely to miss most of their genius. Basically you have to be a musician specialized in the same style, and you have to listen to the same music as the creator to understand almost everything. I am very likely wrong, and only time will tell, but the title fits the topic and it is indeed a great work if not a true master piece: Try listening to "Signal to Noise" on Peter Gabriel's new album "Up". That might be an outstanding masterpiece from a currently emerging musical style. It indeed blends such a huge scope of music it makes your head spin. Ugh, and that is no trivial song, you have to listen to it at least a couple of times to start understanding the subtleties that are hidden behind the more obvious twists.



[ Parent ]

Agreed... mostly (3.00 / 2) (#176)
by gidds on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 09:57:18 PM EST

While I generally agree, I have to take issue with one point:
Classical music is often played twice as fast today as it was originally performed

Certainly, some classical music is now generally played faster than it was a generation or two ago — but that doesn't necessarily mean it's faster than it would originally have been played.

A lot of earlier classical music (particularly mid to late baroque) was written for relatively small, agile forces (e.g. one voice or instrument per part, clear-toned keyboard instruments, &c), but later suffered under a tradition of huge symphony orchestras, festival choruses, rich resonant pianos, &c.  While these give richness and sheer power to later works, they tend to completely swamp the subtleties, crisp timing and harmonic detail of earlier ones.  The result is that such music was often played slower.  (There's also the practical problem of synchronising large ensembles which sound can take a significant time to cross!)

So when a couple of decades ago some musicians started to create 'authentic' performances, using similar forces to the composer, they found themselves using faster tempi than they were used to hearing: it wasn't a conscious decision, just a natural result of the smaller and more nimble forces.  Some go too far, of course, and I'm sure there's an element of braggadocio in some cases, but in general I find many of the 'authentic' performances more natural and more enjoyable than some of those from a few decades ago, which often seem to 'wallow' and smother.

And to answer the wider point, while there are certainly many more accomplished classical performers today, there are also huge numbers of performers of more modern music.  Just look at the number of performing bands, the number of session musicians and club performers.  I suspect that making music is a job, a business, a serious hobby or an occasional diversion to more people now than ever before.  (I'm probably a case in point; only an amateur but having played bass in a theatre band, sung solos in some large classical works, played keys in a local band, programmed some backing tracks and original compositions, written music for a local choir, &c.  Further details on request :-)

Another point worth making is that Sturgeon's Law applies to music too. There's just tons of music from earlier times that very few are aware of. Who can name any work by Telemann, say?  And yet he was the superstar of his day, and wrote more than even Bach.  Come to that, who's heard even a fraction of what Bach wrote?  (His complete works were recently issued on 172 CDs...)  And that's not to mention the hundreds and hundreds of composers whose names aren't even remembered.

(Things go too far, of course.  As is widely known, Bach was more popular in his day as an organist than a composer, and it took a few generations for his work to be recognised as the product of genius.  Vivaldi's work suffered even worse, mostly getting buried and forgotten about for two hundred years, until it was rediscovered in cabinets and archives — sometimes after much detective work — during the 20th century.  And much more that's still forgotten or unperformed is enjoyable, beautiful, inventive, and worthwhile.)

Whereas time has given us less perspective on more modern music, and we have to wade through more of the 90% of crud...


Andy/
[ Parent ]

more (none / 0) (#69)
by BottleRocket on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 02:37:24 PM EST

More books
More music
More art

This is not to say that there wasn't a lot of crap passed off as creativity in the old days too. But percentagewise, it's no contest.

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Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
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$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

indeed (3.00 / 2) (#11)
by mariahkillschickens on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 10:16:07 AM EST

we talked about this recently... how the hypomaniac state is when bipolar people are very productive... but then they go manic and throw away whatever they got while being hypomanic.

on the other side of the coin is abusing psychoactive drugs to try to become creative or to enhance creativity, some say it works, while others (like me) believe it blunts creativity in the opposite direction.

"In the end, it's all dirt."

I wouldn't say blunts (3.00 / 2) (#16)
by LilDebbie on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 11:29:03 AM EST

nor would it be appropriate to say drugs cause or increase creativity. Rather, they warp the artist's creativity and, in a way, add a certain creativity themselves (that is, the drugs). granted, you're getting this from someone who's discussed the question with the LCD directly, so I understand if you're skeptical.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Blunts? (none / 1) (#95)
by mcgrew on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:44:21 PM EST

Ugh, tobacco. Yecch, thst stuff should be against the law.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

In the past, the mentally ill were revered (2.85 / 14) (#22)
by Adam Rightmann on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 01:31:55 PM EST

I'm sorry, that doesn't parse right. Could you change it something like:

In the past, great artists with mental illness were tolerated, the average person with mental illness was warehoused in huge, gothic institures for the mentally ill where they could live like animals, inarticulate and feces covered until they died an early death. Perhaps you can download some video from Willowbrook on your favorite criminal P2P app.

I'm sorry, I've worked with the mentally ill/developmentally disabled, and such romantizing of the past with respect to their illness is ignorant and dangerous.

This depends on... (none / 1) (#39)
by anthroporraistes on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 11:57:45 PM EST

what period of the past we are looking at.  I would reccomend, as I did in the article, reading Foulcault's Madness and Civilization for a good overview of the cultural views of insanity througout the ages.  It really wasn't until Victorian times that the mad were seen as something to hide, and this only grew worse throughout the industrial revolution.  

In times before that (with some exceptions, of course) the mad were seen as touched by god (in greek times for example), inspired, or prophetic.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

The source of Nietzche's torment (2.66 / 3) (#23)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 01:43:22 PM EST

I understand that it was migraine headaches that drove Nietzche to stare into the abyss, rather than mental illness.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


Actually... (3.00 / 4) (#24)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 02:14:55 PM EST

Nietzsche was afflicted with two serious maladies which are aware of: chronic insomnia and severe headaches (its likely they were migraines). What drove him over the edge? Medicine is the most likely culprit. Nietzsche spent most of his adult life taking daily doses of opiates and chloral hydrate. And while some speculate about syphilis, I've never seen any evidence which would lead me to believe one way or the other on this one.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
the syph (none / 0) (#41)
by anthroporraistes on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 12:05:00 AM EST

The syphilus idea is popular with Kaufmann, and it does explain both the headaches, the drugs use, and the insomnia very well, as well as (ignoring sister and mother) some of his misogomy,

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]
Yeah... (none / 1) (#70)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 02:39:03 PM EST

I don't know if Kaufmann was the first to propose that N. suffered from syphilis, but he definitely had a hand in popularizing the idea. I don't find the idea at all improbable, after all it seems that nearly half of Europe had syphilis at that time, but, on the other hand, I've never seen evidence which I consider dipositive.

In any case, I don't think it's really an important question anyhow. Unless, that is, you're studying historical models of epidemology.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Withhold treatment for syphilys! (none / 0) (#93)
by mcgrew on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:42:18 PM EST

Maybe it will cayse somebodt to paint or write or something...

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

No, most likely... (none / 0) (#92)
by mcgrew on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:39:55 PM EST

Codeine or some other narcotic. There was no social taboo against these drugs in his time.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Calling people insane (2.71 / 7) (#25)
by Sesquipundalian on Mon Mar 14, 2005 at 02:14:55 PM EST

is just the new form of dueling. Things have been this way since the gulags. Instead of bullets at 30 paces, you sling insults and character assasination at each other until everyone chooses a side and the loser goes for electroconvulsive shock therapy.

Electroconvulsive shock therapyis still being practiced by doctors at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Center in Manitoba, Canada. I know this because one on my ex-business partners had a "break-down" and was treated with it. Basically a nurse just hooked very stylish jumper cables up to his head and blasted his brain senseless with powerfull jolts of electricity. Then when he was too stunned and confused to object, they pronounced the treatment a success.

I later found out that shortly after the treatments, his brother talked him into signing over his entire share of the family estate, for free. Up until that time he and his siblings had shared ownership and management of the estate. He isn't the same person he used to be.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
a little extreme (3.00 / 3) (#61)
by mpalczew on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 12:39:15 PM EST

I've known people who voluntarilly get eloctroconvulsive therapy on a regular basis. He said it helped him and he liked it.  Not everything is always black and white and some people are insane and do actually need help.
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]
I'm against electroshock (none / 0) (#91)
by mcgrew on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:38:46 PM EST

I've known a couple of people who have undergone it is why.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

we have schizophrenics to thank (1.11 / 9) (#49)
by circletimessquare on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 03:22:03 AM EST

for the unfortunate birth of christianity (christ), islam (mohammed), and judaism (david)

so maybe it's a good thing after all that we are treating schizophrenics with drugs nowadays


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Good point, but (3.00 / 3) (#51)
by bml on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 05:35:44 AM EST

As a moderate atheist, I doubt we would actually be better off had those religions never emerged. Consider the alternatives.

The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey
[ Parent ]
Can you imagine a world run by the Mayans? (2.50 / 4) (#53)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:32:34 AM EST

Human sacrifices, entire cities slaughtered, trying to read that goofy calendar....

It would be a mess.

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]

OTOH (none / 1) (#54)
by speek on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:51:42 AM EST

It could have been run by celts! Yes yes, human sacrifices, lots of dragging big stones around, but think of the sex!

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Big Stones (none / 0) (#55)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 08:31:37 AM EST

We could have a silicate revolution where entire industries revolve around filling people's pockets with pebbles and calling them "personal computing devices".

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]
Listen up good, son, (none / 0) (#132)
by ksandstr on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 11:20:42 AM EST

You still have a long way to go.

[ Parent ]
I like that thought a great deal. (none / 0) (#65)
by Kasreyn on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 01:33:55 PM EST

"Ya *could* outlaw religion and most of these sex crimes would disappear in a coupla generations... But we don't have time for rational solutions!" --George Carlin.

So basically if we keep a tradition of psychiatric treatment alive and drug all potential messiahs to the gills, the next major world religion will be smothered in the crib?

Sounds good to me. We've already got Buddhism, I don't see why we need more saviors and prophets. Not that I'm Buddhist, but if I were to be religious again, there would clearly be no other rational choice for me.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Troll or ignorance? (none / 0) (#82)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:13:02 PM EST

I can never tell with you CTS.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Is that why you won't take your meds? nt (none / 1) (#86)
by mcgrew on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:28:04 PM EST


"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

yes, i'm your lord and savior (3.00 / 3) (#98)
by circletimessquare on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 08:09:22 PM EST

now suck my dick


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
That's a terrible thing to say! (none / 0) (#102)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 09:40:11 PM EST

The vast majority of religions are founded by sociopaths, not schizophrenics.  This is obvious from looking at modern cults.  Jesus might have been schizophrenic, but the people who used and shaped his religion after he died were cold and calculating.  Mohammed clearly created his religion to rule other people.  It is unlikely that the biblical figure David ever existed.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
David wasn't schizo. (none / 0) (#159)
by Wise Cracker on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 05:11:04 PM EST

It was Moses who talked to burning bushes, saw staffs turning into snakes, and blacked out while he was chiseling stone tablets.
--
Caesars come, and Caesars go, but Newton lives forever
[ Parent ]
Are you a Sc-1entologist? (2.33 / 3) (#59)
by sudog on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 12:30:43 PM EST

A severe schizophrenic who doesn't take his meds is effectively useless in any productive capacity on his own. Modern psychiatry has done more to help severely mentally ill people with their illnesses (and to educate others about those illnesses) than any other discipline on the planet.


I don't think that was the point. (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by Kasreyn on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 01:27:34 PM EST

Van Gogh cut off his own ear. Hemingway shot himself after pickling his liver for years. If they'd had psychiatric assistance, maybe they would have led longer and happier lives. But maybe we wouldn't have Starry Night and A Farewell to Arms.

I think the point is that society should deny psychiatric aid to artists, in order to milk more creative works out of them before their inevitable self-destruct. I'm not sure what good it would do, though, if all the works are copyrighted for eternity under the Disney Law.

And I don't think he's a Scientologist. They're generally not capable of writing that well. They usually devolve into rants after a while (from what I've seen lurking various places). Plus they're against all psychiatry, not just treatment for geniuses and artists.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
part of the point is... (none / 1) (#72)
by anthroporraistes on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 03:45:16 PM EST

changing our view of mental illness.  We now view it is something that should be fixed, and removed from view at any cost.  We view any little hicup in our mental functioning as something to be fixed, smoothed over.  All of our children should be on Ridalin, all of the adults should be on anti-anxiety meds, or antidepressants.  We're not smoothing over internal medical problems, we're ignoring symptoms causes by society not working the way WE work mentally.  Psychology is just a way to cause the individual to conform to some nonexistant socially defined ideal.  

Yes, I am not denying that there are cases of severe mental illness, and some of you would make it appear that I don't think that they should be treated, this is wrong.  Severe schizophrenia, mania, bipolar, depression, and even the few actual cases of ADD/ADHD are actual problems that limit the functioning of the individual in society, and more importantly can lead to individual harm.  But, I think that the amount of actual severe mental illness, versus the amount of diagnosed mental illness is rather low.  

Perhaps if (here follows wishful thinking, ignore a will), our society stopped seeing mental illness as a problem to be corrected, or something to be hidden away, we would have happier individuals, and perhaps society would be forced to conform to what we need, and no longer us to it.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Heh, you're preaching to the choir, friend (none / 0) (#107)
by Kasreyn on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 12:32:01 AM EST

I myself was one of those unfortunates prescribed drugs by quacks for the quack syndrome "ADD". Trust me, I have a deep-seated skepticism of the mechanistic viewpoint of those who think pharmaceutics can provide all the answers we need. Personally, I see mental illness as a social responsibility issue, and the "just take a pill" craze as another example of America's desperate urge to escape all responsibility. Insanity has just become the chic way of saying "What me, have self-control?" with an Alfred E. Neuman grin.
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Gah, DAMMIT. Ignore above post, read this instead (none / 1) (#108)
by Kasreyn on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 12:33:07 AM EST

correctly formatted thusly:

I myself was one of those unfortunates prescribed drugs by quacks for the quack syndrome "ADD". Trust me, I have a deep-seated skepticism of the mechanistic viewpoint of those who think pharmaceutics can provide all the answers we need.

Personally, I see mental illness as a social responsibility issue, and the "just take a pill" craze as another example of America's desperate urge to escape all responsibility. Insanity has just become the chic way of saying "What me, have self-control?" with an Alfred E. Neuman grin.

There, hopefully that's more readable -_-;;


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Sometimes taking a pill is taking responsibility. (none / 1) (#177)
by Morally Inflexible on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 01:45:20 AM EST

I, to, was diagnosed with ADD. As a child I successfully resisted medication. I have mixed feelings about that- I would have been a successful student, but I think my later success was mostly because I was such a horrible student- I educated myself because I hated school so much.

As an adult, I found that I could successfully hold down a job for about a year. After that, they began to notice that all the really cool projects I started never got finished, and I would have to find a new job. Is this taking responsibility? Running from my failures? floating from job to job? I do have a friend who also has ADD, who does this. Now, with drugs (for me, I found a small dose of both Ritalin and Straterra combined with regular exercise to be extremely effective) I am on year 3 at my current job, and looking at a promotion, up from looking at getting fired, last year.

Yeah, I take responsibility. I don't expect anyone to cut me any slack because the doctors have a fancy word for the fact that I am naturally a flake. It is my responsibility to deal with this problem. I have tried to deal with it through counseling, meditation, and a serious expenditure of will. You have no idea how much effort I have put into focusing without drugs. It seemed like the harder I tried to focus on a particular task, the more my mind would wander.

The drugs allow me to take responsibility. They enable me to become the person I want to become. Now, I am still not normal, but I can focus; I can follow-through. My bills get paid on time. I don't bounce checks. I finish my projects.

[ Parent ]

misread subject... (none / 1) (#63)
by urdine on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 01:23:01 PM EST

Thought this was "Pharmaceuticals and the Art of Death."

Either way, we seem to be discussing Sylvia Plath.

just plain wrong (2.71 / 7) (#67)
by Polyxena on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 02:15:14 PM EST

It's popular these days to blame modern society, or drugs, for many of our perceived ills. The fact is that drugs are the best solution to the problem of mental illness today.

People with depression/ADD aren't more "creative" than those who are not. The artists with depression do not do their best work while depressed - as anyone who has suffered from it can tell you, it is a debilitating and painful condition. Their best work happens when they are not suffering from their bouts of depression. Kids with ADD aren't more "creative" - they are just more restless and unable to focus on anything, even their creative urges. Studies on kids with ADD show that their hyperactivity is a disadvantage to them and makes them less productive in any activity, even the "creative" ones. For example kids with ADD who play video games often "seem" to play better but in fact they are worse players overall because they can't focus on the task at hand. Any creative activity can be done better once they are calmed down with medication. The same with depression - people are more productive in their life, with artistic and creative activities, once their suffering has stopped. Because make no mistake, these mental illnesses are not wonderful creative urges. They are just plain awful to endure.

Just because a lot of artists and novelists suffered from diseases doesn't make those diseases good. They certainly did not do their best work while suffering from them, that's for sure. In fact a case could be made that they could have done better work had they had the modern technology to cure them of their ills.

It is wholly irresponsible to suggest that drugs are the problem when they are the cure. Ask anyone who has suffered from any sort of mental illness - it is not fun and they are not more productive while they are suffering. Manic depressives often don't want to be cured because they like their highs, but the truth is they are totally unproductive and often endanger themselves and others while they are in that state.

I'm by no means a shill for modern medicine or the pharmaceutical industry. Just someone who has suffered from depression/ADD/anxiety and knows what they feel like.

you overstate my point (1.66 / 3) (#73)
by anthroporraistes on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 03:55:32 PM EST

I am not saying that drugs are bad.  Or even that an individual does their best creative work while in the grips of mental illness.  But I would say that individuals can call on their experience with mental illness and turn it into greatness, letting the masses see horizons that most don't experience.  If someone has a debilitating (to the individual) mental illness, by all means, drug them for their own good.  But just remember that your not actually doing anything but dooming them to take drugs until they die, your not fixing anything, your covering something up.

I think that society has redefined what is mental illness so we can cover up more and more things.  Until this day when most mental illness isn't anything to even worry about, unless everyone want to reach some nonexistant and mythical norm.  In cases of less debilitation mental illnesses we should just accept them, not try to do away with them.  What harm has a little madness ever caused?  A lot, sure, a little none.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

heh (2.33 / 3) (#74)
by Polyxena on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 04:28:27 PM EST

So basically your argument is "people should suffer, because then they'll have something to write/draw about". What crock. If you don't believe mental illness is a boon to creativity (which it most certainly is NOT) then you don't have a case.

But just remember that your not actually doing anything but dooming them to take drugs until they die, your not fixing anything, your covering something up.

Clearly you have no experience with the mental health profession. Most doctors will not prescribe meds unless you are also getting talk therapy first, and then the drugs are usually just to get rid of the worst symptoms. Most people are off drugs after a few months or years once their life gets a little better. In a meanwhile, the drugs usually help alleviate their symptoms so that they can function, and yes, be creative and all that. There are many drugs on the market, and if one does not work there are usually others that do.

To say that they are going to have to "take drugs till they die" is just nonsense.

[ Parent ]
people SHOULD suffer... period. (2.40 / 5) (#75)
by anthroporraistes on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 04:51:29 PM EST

My mother suffers from severe depression, sadly because of this she is extremely poor.  She has been on a whole slew of drugs for 15 years to hide the symptoms of her depression, and hopefully keep another suicide attempt at bay.  

My mothers best friend suffers from severe bipolar disorder, she has been on medication for 30 years, until the point where her liver started shutting down, and she developed parkinsons from the drugs.  She also, because of her condition is poor.

Both of these women get 1 15 minute therapy session a month through the state, but cannot afford insurance or actual counciling.  I'm sure the middle class might get some degree of therapy for their illnesses, but the poor do not.  

Also, most mental illnesses are idiotic, and should not be considered mental illnesses.  I'm not talking about SEVERE mental illness, I am glad my mother is on the drugs that she is on, though it saddens me that she is doomed to be on them forever.  I would be quite angry if someone took her off of them.  BUT... most diagnosis of mental illness are bullshit, pure and simple.  I am slightly uncomfortable with my mental functioning, as compaired to some silly societal norm, not debilitating, not a risk to myself, and therefore not a mental illness.  To me this includes most mild forms of depression/bipolar/mania, add/adhd, ocd, and anxiety disorders.  There is a line between uncomfortable and debilitated.  

People should suffer because suffering is real.  Again don't take this as extreme suffering (such as severe chronic depression).  When we deny suffering we lie to ourselves.  And perhaps we suffer for a reason.  Also I view if there is no chemical basis for your mental illness, there should be no medication for you to smooth it over, it is then a pure psychological problem, and one you should learn to accept and cope with.

Sadly in our culture we don't like coping, we need the easy way out.  And we don't want to accept unfavorable things, we want solice and happiness NOW, even if it is fake.  This is, too me, sad.  We don't want to experience the depth of human emotion, we only want to be happy, all the time, without realizing that such happiness is meaningless.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

well (3.00 / 3) (#78)
by Polyxena on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 05:59:45 PM EST

Certainly, minor mental illnesses can be dealt with without drugs. But that's just an issue of treatment, not of the medical community or pharmaceuticals.

Drugs don't make people "happy" - that's a complete misconception. What they do is prevent you from becoming worse, from becoming more depressed/anxious/fearful.

I'm sorry that your family is poor, but we already know poor people get bad health care. That's just the US for you. Don't try to deny the treatments for people who can afford them. For many people psychiatric medicines are the best thing that has happened to them. Don't hold back progress just because the poor are poor. That's capitalism for you.



[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, I have a hard time (3.00 / 5) (#105)
by anthroporraistes on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:25:34 PM EST

buying the modern "if it isn't pleasant, destroy it" mentality.  Life IS NOT pleasant all the time, and if you gloss over the rough spots you lose something.  Yes, as I've stated enough times to actually make me feel like people here are deaf, some things need to be treated, so please stop making it a black and white issue.  No where have I said that NO ONE should take drugs, some (minority) of people actually need them for their own good.  But it has become a COSMETIC industry, where psychiatrists are pretty much willing to call anything a mental illness, and I despise this.  We diagnose depression more than ever because people are willing to pay money to smooth out their funky moods, we diagnose add/adhd more then ever because our classroom structure is deficiant and our parents are too lazy to cater to the needs of the young.  And yes, there are genuine cased where there is a problem, and they should be treated, but only where it becomes a MAJOR disruption to the individuals life and wellbeing.  

Your working on some erranious misconception (or issue of faith) that the mental health field actually diagnoses things in line with real problems, no, they diagnose things as they are expected to.  Most cases of diagnosed depression would not be diagnosed as such 10 years ago, and this is not because our criteria has become better, or because it is on a rise, it is because people expect to have something wrong with them if they are not constantly happy.  Unlike physical medicine (which is based on actual science), psychology lacks a degree of empirical rigor, "do you feel sad?  Then you are depressed!".  Yes, there is a neurological basis, but how often do psychiatrists give you EKG/MRI/CAT before writing out a prescription to the pharm of the day?

Have you even watched drug commercials?  They use the same marketing techniques as Nike or Gatorade, are you down on your game?  Then come get some x.  To me this is sickening.  Most problems are subjective, and within the individuals power to fix without chemical treatment.

I've had an uncountable amount of people tell me (from 18-40) that they have some form of ADD, because they can't focus on boring things.  I just look at them funny, lacking discipline is not a mental disorder.  I'm sure some of the people here would be very happy if it was, if only some PhD said it was, it must be a terrible affliction that has cursed the face of mankind for years, its a good thing we can treat it now!  

Stepping out, unless your a threat to yourself, or debilitated by your mental illness, then I can see no reason to be treated.  People learn how to cope, thats one of the things that make us human.  Once coping becomes an undesirable skill, I really doubt the value of the individual, and the society that harbors them.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

What makes you think (2.00 / 3) (#101)
by GenerationY on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 09:06:19 PM EST

a purely psychological problem is trivial? Are you the last of the Cartesian Dualists or something? I bet you also think psychomatic problems are "imagined" as well. You are well out of your depth with this.


[ Parent ]
Stop the black and white strawmen, please. (none / 1) (#106)
by anthroporraistes on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:40:22 PM EST

Actually I don't, and I'm not a dualist.  

People keep puting words into my mouth to make me appear as black and white as possible, I guess it makes it easier to disagree with me, though it really is nothing more than a nice strawman.

There are genuine mental illnesses, I've seen with them, I've dealt with them, I've even helped people with them in my undergrad program.  I NEVER denied the existance of severe mental illnesses, ones where the person really needs help.  So please don't make it sound like I did.

Our redefinition of mental illness has made lots of normal conditions into treatable illnesses.  People can be sad and moody without being mentally ill, but this is now grounds to being diagnosed with depression.  It isn't about being a threat to yourself or others, or debilitated, it has become a matter of individual comfort.  Or the comfort of others with most diagnoses of ADD/ADHD.  

A purely mental subjective problem that can be coped with on an individal level (with discipline, or patience), is TRIVIAL.  As I said, coping is a human skill, those who would rather pick the easy way out are pathetic in that they are not accepting the human condition.

You too are going under the misconception that the mental health field is doing what it is designed to do, and possibly are giving it equal validity as actual medicine.  Most of their criteria are subjective judgements, with no physical basis.  I could go to a psychiatrist right now and get a prescription to just about anything I wanted.  I feel sad, life is lackluster, blah blah blah.  Now if I was actually debilitated and/or a risk, then by all means medicate me.  But if I am just in a funk because I'm at a low point of my life, is it okay to medicate me?  

I would say no.  People cope.  People adapt.  People learn from the low points.  I'm glad I faced the low points in my life, my minor anxieties, I am a better person today for it.  I know more about REAL life than someone who hasn't.

The risk and debilitation aspects are the most important.  If there is no risk, and no debilitation then there should be no drugs.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Idiot (1.66 / 3) (#111)
by GenerationY on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:24:08 AM EST

A purely mental subjective problem that can be coped with on an individal level (with discipline, or patience), is TRIVIAL.  As I said, coping is a human skill, those who would rather pick the easy way out are pathetic in that they are not accepting the human condition..

I look forward to you telling rape victims that as you wrench the valium out of their hands.
Theres no organic cause for their distress, its just a psychological thing. They shouldn't be going for the easy way out right?

If this helps, what you forget is that the internet is an international forum. Whats true in your society may not be true for others. The problem is you spoke of the death of art. Art is common to humanity not just north Americans and Europeans. Do you think people in the Congo are over medicated? Do you think they can see a quack at will beacuse they feeling a bit sad? Can they bobbins.

[ Parent ]

congrats on the continuing straw man! (none / 0) (#114)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 05:14:58 AM EST

I'm sure your bringing up rape victems serves some purpose besides the emotional card.  Next you will bring up other issues that I didn't, like abortion and rebublicans, and war... and what not.  Good job on the emotion card, that must mean your right.  Please continue with the strawmen.

I'm sorry, western society is taking over, you don't like it, but it is true.

Please argue against me without the strawman...  I know you can!  

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

If you are that stupid (none / 1) (#115)
by GenerationY on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 05:19:25 AM EST

that you can't understand that non-organicly originating mental problems are non-trivial thats your problem not mine for putting it on the table. If you want an example of a traumatic experience that could destroy the balance of someone's mind that is somehow devoid of emotional content you want the impossible.

[ Parent ]
wow... (none / 0) (#120)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 06:48:42 AM EST

you must be illiterate.  Woo!

Yes, there are REAL MENTAL PROBLEMS!  I never said other wise, actually I have repeatedly said that there are.  Most, though are not.  I'm very happy for your inability to read.  I wish you really would stop continueing your agenda at my expense, especially if you have no fucking idea what I'm talking about.

i hope you are on medication for this, since appearently we all should be on some form of medication, since we all deviate from the fiction norm...  I hope they make one for chronic strawman dysfuntion, or illeratacy.  

I'm sure I should be on drugs because I'm in a bad mood, I'm sure you should too.  It's a bad day, give me prozac!  My cat died, give me prozac!  my child does not function in an overcrowded school taught by an underskilled teacher, give him ridalin, especially since I'm too busy with my own (egotistical) problems to teach him/her discpine. I don't like crowds, I must have anxiety disorder, give me drugs. I don't like my job, there must be something wrong with me!  

I'm sure escapism is desirable in your little world.  I'm very happy for you, perhaps you should be on something for that.

Especially since you miss my two premises, threat to self/others, and disabilitated.  I guess all escapes from the fictional norm are mental illnesses now, and I have no respect for any of them.  If you can't cope with your life, you are not human, congradulations for falling into the latter catagory!  I hope your on as many drugs as you can be!  And I'm done with this conversation with you, if you don't like it, please medicate youself accordingly, I here soma is particulary good.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

What are you blabbering about (none / 1) (#122)
by GenerationY on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 07:10:26 AM EST

nobody gets prozac because they've had a bad day. They get it after a process of investigation and consultation with consultant psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. Psychotropic drugs are expensive and so are not usually prescribed without a matching programme of interventions. Why blow tax payers money on an expensive addiction? These people aren't simpletons however you want to think of them.  Yes, there is concern in the profession about over-prescription but you seem to have blown this out of all proportion. My "little world" is the real one, you however seem to be mainly existing within a "Brave New World". You aren't American by any chance? You know America isn't the whole of Western Civilisation right?

As to REAL mental problems you seem to have your own little impenetrable scheme worked out. One minute only severe problems count. Next its things that are chemical. Now its, well, I have no idea. If you don't explain yourself clearly its not my fault I can't understand your system because it appears to be somewhat capricious.

[ Parent ]

clinical psych == witchcraft (none / 0) (#141)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 02:45:02 PM EST

Yes, I am American, and I am writing this from my cultural context.  I'm sure that is some grave new-wave evil.  I write in the context I'm embedded in, and I really don't care about trying to be multi-cultural.  I know this is a modern liberal sin, but I can live with it.

my "system" is pretty much unchanged.  You have actual illness, as define by risk and debilitation (which shows an actual physical dysfuntion, mostly).    Then you have everything that does not represent risk or debilitation, which in my eyes are not illnesses, and should not be treated as such.  Pretty black and white, no?  Easy to understand, even if you don't agree, unless you want to keep building strawmen on it.

I'm glad you have so much faith in the mental health feild, you must never have actually delt with it.  For the most part it is completely subjective and nonscientific, and is much influenced by social trends.  It is VERY easy to be diagnosed with something just because the DSM says you should be.  It really has little to do with actual illness.  Psychology is not medicine, it lacks rigor.  The only psychology I have any respect for is neuropsych and other research branches (though they are rather too dependant on stats).  The clinical branch is pretty much a sham.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Not quite (none / 1) (#161)
by Wise Cracker on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 05:52:41 PM EST

In America, psychotropics are typically prescribed without any "matching programme of intervention". They come with semiannual medication checkups that are billed for fifteen minutes but only last five. You don't get them for having a bad day, but with the relaxation of pharmaceutical advertising, you soon may ( "Ka-ching" -- Mr. Lilly ). You can already get fluoxetine under some brand name for glorified PMS. And they're now advertising Ritalin to adults by trying to equate symptoms like being distracted and harried with having ADHD.

"tax payers money"? You aren't English by any chance? You know England isn't the whole of Western Civilization right?

Most modern psychoactive drugs are not addicting.

Nor is there anything wrong with assuming that most of the readers are American, given that the British have largely self-segregated and that America has the largest population of internet-connected English speakers.
--
Caesars come, and Caesars go, but Newton lives forever
[ Parent ]

Actually, (none / 0) (#216)
by Harvey Anderson on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 11:29:35 AM EST

it is very, very easy to get these sorts of drugs.

I once went to the GP, talked to him for about five minutes, and came out with two week's worth of SSRIs.

[ Parent ]

You worthless shit. (2.00 / 2) (#110)
by Danzig on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 02:12:50 AM EST

Suffering is real? Then deny it. They make opium for a reason. If suffering is real, declare war upon it. If you are not a prohibitionist, opium and cocaine will be the weapons you need to triumph. Suffer for a reason? There is no (valid) reason. Because our brains and bodies are imperfect and need to be improved? That a condition exists currently is not a reason (or in your case an excuse) to permit it to continue.

Fake happiness is an oxymoron. It is not meaningless. Pain of any sort is meaningless. It is experienced, then (if one is lucky) vanishes, leaving the conscious will to resolve the issues that caused it in the first place.

You sick fuck.

You are not a fucking Fight Club quotation.
rmg for editor!
If you disagree, moderate, don't post.
Kill whitey.
[ Parent ]
Soma for all! (none / 0) (#116)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 05:20:27 AM EST

Fuck reality, fuck humanity, free drugs for all!

Sure...  If we can't confront reality we should die, we deserve to die.  If we don't live in reality we do not live.  If we do not live, we should be dead.    

I'm sure your very happy escaping reality, this I'm sure is your prefered life.  I'm VERY sorry I disagree, I'd much rather live in the real world.

Dilliusion is dillusion, whether socially acceptable or not.  

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Maybe you deserve death. (none / 0) (#129)
by Danzig on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 10:33:34 AM EST

I confront reality through drugs. I have done lots of hallucinogens and cocaine, and more than a few narcotics, and I have been more alive under their influence than in any other time. If you would rather live in the "real world" (it is less real than you apparently believe) go ahead, but do not condemn others to a lifetime of torment. Asshole.

And it is spelled delusion, moron.

You are not a fucking Fight Club quotation.
rmg for editor!
If you disagree, moderate, don't post.
Kill whitey.
[ Parent ]
heh (none / 0) (#142)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 02:55:38 PM EST

break out the ad hominem like a big boy!

On drugs you are not confronting reality, you are running away from it.  Reality is that which actually exists, and not that which some chemical misfiring in your brain tells you.  

Yes, I too went on the drug route when I was younger, and when I finally came out of it, I looked around and realized that this is a beautiful world, and I should try to understand it on its own terms, and not artifially.  There are ways to see the world that are much less physically harmful than drugs.

And now, to address yet another strawman, when did I ever propose anything close to condemning ANYONE to suffering?  Please read the rest of my comments, and the article again, and point out one instance of me condemning ANYONE.  Thank you.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

IAWTP (none / 1) (#76)
by Psychopath on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 04:58:36 PM EST

Thanks for the good comment.
--
The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain. -- Karl Marx
[ Parent ]
death of art? what are you smoking? (2.66 / 6) (#68)
by Polyxena on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 02:36:40 PM EST

What makes you think that "art is dying"? I would argue that we are more productive as a society now in terms of art, in part because of our medical advances (like pharmaceuticals) that allow us to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.

Just because you turn on the TV and don't like what you see doesn't mean that art is dead. It just means that you aren't looking in the right places. There is plenty of art around that isn't appreciated by the masses. There were always popular and vernacular forms of art, many of it bad. You just don't happen to live 200 years ago, and we today only remember the great works. Nobody remembers bad art. Just like a hundred years from now people will only remember the greats of today, and forget 99% of the stuff that sucks.

As for the relation between mental illness and art, you're so totally off the mark it's not even worth discussing. Most people with mental illnesses are just completely useless and contribute nothing to society. Some artists and creative minds were ill, but they did their best work while they were not suffering.

Stopping the use of drugs doesn't not stifle creative urges, it enhances them. I would hate to live in your Luddite society where people suffer needlessly for the sake of some idiotic ideal of what should be cured and what should not be.

Todays art is brain dead... (1.00 / 2) (#85)
by mcgrew on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:24:15 PM EST

...as befits today's societies. Bravo to today's art!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Did you just discover... (2.00 / 5) (#79)
by gr3y on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 06:27:06 PM EST

Hubbard and Scientology, or is a blow against the "psychs" your way out of "doubt" or "liability"?

At least Ron is dead, so you don't have to worry about rinsing his laundry in thirteen buckets of clean water on the deck of the Apollo to remove the smell of laundry soap.

!XENUNEX!

I am a disruptive technology.

actually... (none / 1) (#124)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 07:21:26 AM EST

I have no faith in psychology, being that for the most part it has no empirical or logical grounding.  Most of psychology is at best a psuedoscience masked in scientific jargon.  Much like sociology or cultural anthropology.  

This has nothing to do with the cult of scientology, it has much to do with the methodology involved with psych.  From a philosophical point of view, it is very weak on method and axiomatic logic, and very strong on subjective judgements, and popularly accepted theory.  The only branches of psychology I will accept the validity of is cognitive science, and neurology.  The rest is empty of actual content.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Some points (none / 1) (#144)
by enthalpyX on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:01:45 PM EST

  • There does indeed exist empirical sociology.
  • Experimental psychology is empirical as well; all of Skinner's work, according to you, is bunk?
  • Cultural anthropology is more descriptive than anything else; any comparison to science, therefore, is somewhat ill guided. My inclination is that you've never studied the subject.


[ Parent ]
in my experience... (none / 0) (#149)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:48:56 PM EST

in sociology you start with a liberal premise (rich white men are getting everyone down), then you use a bunch of statistics to back up your claim.  Then you have the flawed claim that all human behavior is socially defined.  This claim is obviously bunk.  Then we have the problem that it lacks a fundamental aspect essencial to science, repeatability, meaning sociology generates a slew of untestable premises.

Yes, Skinner did come up with some genuine findings, and most research psychologists come up with real scientific results too.  It's just the theories they make to explain their results are idiotic.  Like Skinner saying that everything about us is explainable by some form of conditioning.  Or Freuds obsession with his mother, and his psychosexual stages.  Or the cognitive camp's insistance on silly computer analogies.

And one of the problems I have with both cultural anth and soc, is the relativism problem.  I can't stand cultural relativism.  

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Not everything is science (none / 1) (#160)
by enthalpyX on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 05:46:06 PM EST

I think your criticisms of [experimental] psychology are somewhat weak. Aren't psychologists going through exactly what scientists go through? There's some phenomena that bares explaining: they posit theories & try to verify them. Sure, conditioning can't explain everything, but it will and does explain *some* phenomena. I believe current mainstream research opinion is that human behavior is a mix of both genes and conditioning. The key is discovering in what exact proportions.

And just because Freud can be viewed, in a sense, as the father of the field, he'll be in the shadows in the next 100 years. Alechemy is non-science, but, arguably, fomented the growth of True scientific disciplines.

The key property of science is that of predictability and testability. Fields like sociology, anthropology, art, language, history-- such questions just aren't very relevant.

With respect to your relativity problem, I guess the best solution is just to stay at home. Then you don't have to deal with other cultures that might see things differently than you do. :)

[ Parent ]

I don't mind experimental psych... (none / 0) (#175)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 09:37:40 PM EST

Its not really the experimental bit I mind, they do gather valuable information.  It's the theory aspect that bothers me, it doesn't really seem that they describe reality, it seems that they are just confused analogies, and half thought out agendas.  Like they come up with an idea, then look for statistics to support their pet idea (and we all know that statistics can be used for any agenda).  

As for relativism, I have no problem with other cultures, but I have a hard time accepting a fundamental equality between all of them, some cultures are better at some things than others, and worse at some than others.  Not intrinsically equal.    Also I don't think that all truths are contingent upon culture, there are some absolute truths (logic, math, perhaps some form of ethics, and some other stuff).  

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Good point... (none / 0) (#187)
by Morphine007 on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 12:39:24 PM EST

From a philosophical point of view, it is very weak on method and axiomatic logic, and very strong on subjective judgements, and popularly accepted theory.

I know I'm not being a responsible K5'er in doing this but... does anyone know details about the following:

I remember a discussion in a psych course during university where an example was given of a researcher whose work was used as the foundations for a large number of "breakthroughs." Years after this heavily referenced research was published, said researcher admitted that it was all complete bullshit and he had completely and utterly fabricated all of it.



[ Parent ]
Er, as a creative type... (2.80 / 5) (#84)
by mcgrew on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:20:52 PM EST

I think I've just been called a lunatic.

"If one views creativity as a form of madness..."

And why should one do that?

"...(or deviance)"

Madness and deviance are two different things. Ask someone who had a bit of expertise in these matters. The fact is, you're talking out of your ass.

Now, as in times past, simply deviating from the norm will not get an adult medicated. Whether a child is medicated (say, for A.D.D.) is usually up to the parents and the doctors.

There are horrible mental illnesses, like schitzophrenia or pipolar disorder, or panic disorders, and many other forms of mental illness that don't just "make the patient 'deviant'" but are agonizing, horrible to the sufferer, that are helped almost miraculously by some of the newer drugs.

Drugs like Paxil or Haldol don't intoxicate.

-1, rampant bullshit

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

Well, actually... (3.00 / 2) (#96)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:48:31 PM EST

Haldol will stun a horse, and when I took it, it cause a seizure that required a massive injection of cogentin into my buttock to make me come back unraveled.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

more strawman! (none / 1) (#123)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 07:12:35 AM EST

I've come to realize that the average K5er is completely illiterate.  Either that or they suffer from some odd disease that only lets them see things in black or white.  Congrats, you live up to this.

I HAVE experience in this, both in dealing with the SEVERE mentally ill, and in dealing with people who view themselves as such but aren't.  I have worked in a clinical setting as an undergrad, and in my everyday life.  And, to reiterate, there are the severly mentally ill, and then there is those who are not, but still think they are because they deviate from the fictional norm.

Most diagnoses are not about those who are a RISK TO THEMSELVES OR OTHERS, or THOSE WHO CANNOT FUNCTION IN SOCIETY, but about those who are felt or feel themselves to be DEVIANT.  

In most of the cases that I have come in contact with (out of hundreds) the patient is on drugs only to makes them feel more comfortable with themselves, and surely could learn to cope.

I'm sure you might view yourself as a lunatic.  I hope you do, you suffer strawman disorder, and should be medicated for you inability to understand.


---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

You make so little sense, it's not funny. (none / 0) (#148)
by Therac-25 on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:23:43 PM EST

Seriously, okay, your complaint has now been narrowed down simply to people who are abusing prescription drugs?

Can I get that in writing?  Because I don't see how the Death of Art follows from the abuse of prescription drugs.  

(Unless of course Art is the one taking them, and then he overdoeses on Tylenol-3 or something)

--
"If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
[ Parent ]

to put it simple... (none / 0) (#150)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:52:31 PM EST

Our culture tells us deviation is bad
We thus medicate ourselves to some fictional norm

Great art is born of deviation and mental illness (pain, or experience outside of the norm)

Now I'll leave you to draw the connection.  It really is simple logic, it shouldn't be too difficult for you to grasp.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

You're still a tool (3.00 / 3) (#183)
by Therac-25 on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 11:35:32 AM EST

You're right, the logic is simple. Unfortunately, when the axioms you start with are wrong, your logic generally doesn't take you places that are correct.

Now, let me sum this up -- a) There is a single, fictional norm. b) people medicate themselves because they are unable to attain this norm, and c) medication somehow causes people to be unable to express themselves.

First of all, "deviation is bad" is something that is a fundamental part of all group behaviour. The fact that our culture communicates the "deviation is bad" message is nothing unique -- all cultures, large and small -- from Islamic to Furry -- have thier lists of behaviour which are good and bad. There are behviours and standards which are held up as ideals, and those that are put down as being heretical. This is nothing special and will arise in any gathering of people with anything in common, at least as long as measures are not taken to prevent it.

Which brings us to "our culture" -- now, you're in the states, and I'm in Canada, so I'm sure we live in different conceptual worlds. But we're both still living in liberal western democracies -- which means we have unprecedented freedoms of behaviour, expression and lifestyle. One of the fundamnetal characteristics of modern western culture that individual rights and freedoms generally take precedence over the good of society, as long as it is not explicitly harming other individials in society. That is, even if we engage in behviour which is outside of the norm and deemed by some people as damaging to society (homosexuality, promiscuity, etc), we can't be formally punished for it.

That is, our cultures have certain protections in them to defeat the default cultural reactions of "inside the culture is good, outside it is bad" from manifesting themselves to large degrees.

We have unprecidented freedoms to exist outside of the norm. Now, what this causes in reality is not an abolition of the norm, but a splintering of it. For each little subculture that has grown up out of and around individual interests and lifestyles, there are now "fictional norms" for each of them. I'm sure there are cultural norms within homosexual communitys, within Islamic communities and within Furry communities that have just as much weight as the fictional single "fictional norm" you're imagining.

So, your delusion that there's a single "fictional norm" -- which you're probably imagining is equal to the "norm" in the local region of the country that you happen to exist in, for a certain segment of the population that you have experience with -- is a faulty assumption.

Which of course, brings us back to your thesis. That medicating oneself to get over the depression caused by being unable to attain the "norm". Now, that is nothing new either. Ever since alcohol has been part of human culture, people have been self-medicating with it to get over pain. Same with opiates, and pot, coke, and any other type of drug. Drugs are so old, that it may as well be considred a fundamental part of the human condition. The drugs have changed, the social acceptabiltiy of self-medication has changed, but whether you were an aztec having alcohol rectally administered or a sales executive taking prozac to give him "the edge" by reducing his existential angst, you're still doing the same thing.

To sum this response up: your statement that our culture has norms which it celebrates is so general as to be a meaningless statement. All cultures do. Our culture, however, has protections in place so that even if you want to deviate from the norm, you're allowed to without sanctions.

Your statement that we medicate ourselves to get away from pain is similarly so general as to be pointless -- we've been medicating ourselves since alcohol was discovered. It hasn't caused the death of art, since then, and it's not about to now that they're SSRIs intead of Opiates.

(Also, underlying your whole scribe is the Adbusters-esque belief that ADs somehow are "happy pills". I take it you've simply been taking the advertising of the drug companies at face value or something. Speaking as someone who has gone through using Paxil, Wellbutrin, Celexa, and one other one that I forget the name of, I can assure you that they do not "make you happy" or "get rid of the pain". All it does is transition you from "lying on the floor unable to move while you figure out how short you'd have to make the rope so that the beams in your low-hanging basement would support you hanging yourself" from "getting up and being able to talk to someone to thier face without wanting to carve up your arm too badly".)

If anything, Great Art is going to be shortcut by our acceptance of deviation instead of our supposed condemnation of it. When you're raging against a machine, and that machine embraces you, it's kind of hard to propel yourself to greatness.
--
"If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
[ Parent ]

Stupid post button (none / 0) (#185)
by Therac-25 on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 11:47:42 AM EST

*sigh* Hit post too soon, I meant to hit preview.

Should look like this:

Your statement that we medicate ourselves to get away from pain is similarly so general as to be pointless -- we've been medicating ourselves since alcohol was discovered. It hasn't caused the death of art, since then, and it's not about to now that they're SSRIs intead of Opiates.

So your statement that Great Art is going to die as a result of two patterns that are an ancient part of humanity -- deviation and medication -- is simply not borne out by history. We've been medicating ourselves for millenia as a result of deviation which was far harder, and riskier than it is nowadays. And art hasn't died yet.

If anything, Great Art is going to be shortcut by our acceptance of deviation instead of our supposed condemnation of it. When you're raging against a machine, and that machine embraces you, it's kind of hard to propel yourself to greatness.

And the parethnesized text should have been turned into a footnote. Whatever.
--
"If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
[ Parent ]

blik (none / 0) (#190)
by anthroporraistes on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 04:01:10 PM EST

I really don't think you actually said anything.  Especially anything against my point.  

Alcohol is very different than any AD, being that it is a DEPRESSANT.  Same with opium.  There drugs had side effects worse than the problem that the individual was self medicating.  These, if you read the DSM, are actual illnesses in themselves.  Therefore I would say that you have a nonpoint.

If you deny that there is any supercultural norms, then you must be mistaken.  Sure they are not accepted by all, but they still exist.  We only have to look at the modern commercial media for proof of this, it shoots memes at us left and right, and most of these are accepted by the masses.  Yes their are subcultural norms as well, but there must be larger norms to tie us together as a society.

Yes, culture has always had a built in thing against deviation, as self protection.  But certain forms of deviation were more acceptable in the past than they are now.  The insane were seen as having a spark of the divine, and now they are seen as something that must be hidden and treated.  Insanity has become a pure negative with no positive aspects.  

I think your completely wrong about putting modern western liberal societies on a pedistal.  I think you can only say that from the modern liberal stance, and realize that we are as guilty of groupthink and irrational ideologies that are taken as normative as any other culture in history.  We are as restricted as ever.

We now confuse most mental illness for actual illness.  Medical illnesses risk death, debilitation.  Most mental illnesses don't.  

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

That's just ignorant nt (2.00 / 2) (#103)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 09:43:46 PM EST



I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
The problem with the thesis. (2.83 / 6) (#104)
by Scott Robinson on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:09:54 PM EST

Modern pharmaceuticals can provide a mental stability that historically hasn't been possible.

Simultaneously, modern pharmaceuticals can provide a mental instability that historically hasn't been possible.

true (none / 1) (#113)
by Cat Huggles on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 04:29:47 AM EST

But the neat members of the second category tend to be illegal.

[ Parent ]
Pharmacueticals implies legailty. (3.00 / 2) (#138)
by bhearsum on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 02:03:23 PM EST

They aren't wonder drugs. If used improperly they can be just as dangerous as things like Heroin and Cocaine, and some are as physically addicting as the aforementioned drugs.

[ Parent ]
Heroin and Cocaine aren't dangerous, (none / 1) (#202)
by Sesquipundalian on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 02:38:56 PM EST

networked computers are.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
-1 There is nothing noble about suffering. (nt) (2.33 / 3) (#109)
by Danzig on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 01:41:02 AM EST



You are not a fucking Fight Club quotation.
rmg for editor!
If you disagree, moderate, don't post.
Kill whitey.
Suffering is bragable, noob. /nt (2.50 / 2) (#112)
by Cat Huggles on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 04:25:19 AM EST



[ Parent ]
At least not for whingers like you. [nt] (none / 0) (#117)
by Gruntathon on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 06:07:32 AM EST


__________
If they hadn't been such quality beasts (despite being so young) it would have been a nightmare - good self-starting, capable hands are your finest friend. -- Anonymous CEO
[ Parent ]
I categorically refuse... (none / 1) (#128)
by skyknight on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 10:09:45 AM EST

to take any psychotropic drugs for any reason. My brain is who I am, and, quite frankly, I don't trust chemists to tweak its parameters. I'll deal with my own neuroses, thank you very much. Taking vitamin supplements and having moderate amounts of caffeine and alcohol is about as much meddling as I'm willing to tolerate.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
IAWTP (none / 0) (#134)
by ksandstr on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 11:46:57 AM EST

My particular little deviations from the ill-defined norm are as much a part of me as, say, my left buttock. Medicating them away would perhaps remove or conceal them, as would cutting off the left side of my ass, but I wouldn't be sitting straight afterward now would I?

(Barring some strange asscheek prosthesis, speculation over which is too strange for this margin to contain.)

Fin.
[ Parent ]

here here -np (none / 0) (#143)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:00:43 PM EST



---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]
From "The Wee Book of Calvin" (3.00 / 2) (#130)
by IHCOYC on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 10:36:26 AM EST

Bill Duncan's protracted meditation on Scottish Calvinist culture, "The Wee Book of Calvin: Air-Kissing in the North-East", says, among many other things:
You harbour an unspoken contempt for the use of anti-depressant drugs as an aid to emotional stability, in the belief that sadness and depression are forces to be experienced in their full, stinging intensity.
I suspect I am inclined to agree.
--
Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

yes, exactly. (none / 0) (#168)
by Cloud Cuckoo on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 07:29:36 PM EST

its very easy to judge bad vs good art. Bad art is an intellectual activity, fulfilling a vanity. Good art is focused emotion. Good artists NEED to create, bad ones just like to create.  

[ Parent ]
gain a little loose a little (none / 0) (#136)
by mpalczew on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 12:18:29 PM EST

while we are perhaps making insane people sane and thus loosing art.  We are also allowing more freedom to gays, who tend to be more artistic.  Everything will even out.
-- Death to all Fanatics!
forget art (none / 0) (#153)
by rpresser on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 04:08:49 PM EST

please learn how to spell "lose".
------------
"In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
[ Parent ]
suck it (none / 1) (#165)
by mpalczew on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 06:54:29 PM EST

> please learn how to spell "lose".

please learn to stop being annoying.
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]

This sounds like the arguments (3.00 / 3) (#140)
by jubal3 on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 02:36:44 PM EST

I've heard from alcoholics who don't want to stop drinking. They argue that the greatest acheivements of art and philosophy have been arrived at via alcohol. What they iusially mean is just that they don't want to stop drinking.

The idea that only the clinically insane can acheive great art is simply not true. Nor is it true that madness necessarily contributes to all great art.

Can you prove that Van Gough would not have been the painter he was but for his insanity?

If you want to talk about the over-medication prevelant in American society, then do so. But arguing that this is killing art is to me, a stretch to say the least.

Also, what seems obviously lacking in your piece is the fact that the vast majority of people with serious mental illnesses DO NOT WANT to take medication, and avoid doing so whenever possible.

It's usually in response to symptoms that people medicate, and usually only once the symptoms get so severe that they are unbearable.

So the idea that the next Picasso, whose art is made possible by his manic depression will not create because he is taking lithium, doesn't wash.  On the contrary, lithium doesn't erase the symptoms of bi-polar disorder, merely makes them less intolerable. Nor is the experience of having had those great depths of mania and depression  somehow magically erased from the memory of a person on medication.

If great emotional suffering and an altered perception of reality is what great art depends upon, then there is no problem, because medication doesn't erase them.


***Never attribute to malice that which can be easily attributed to incompetence. -HB Owen***

If you were Van Gogh's psychologist (none / 0) (#146)
by Dogun on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:11:49 PM EST

Would you advise him to continue painting after seeing how fucked up it was?

[ Parent ]
Van Gogh (none / 0) (#147)
by Therac-25 on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:18:36 PM EST

There's been alot of speculation (PDF, sorry) that Van Gogh's insanity was due to lead poisoning from the pigments in paints.

If that was the case, he wouldn't have suffered from insanity without being a painter first...
--
"If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
[ Parent ]

Dammit (3.00 / 3) (#145)
by Therac-25 on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:08:58 PM EST

One minute I'm reading this in the moderation queue, and when I go to vote the piece of tripe down it gets posted...  

This is the biggest piece of garbage I've read in ages.  Depression (I'm guessing that Whatshisface McTooly is talking about depression and ADs) stops people from being creative.  Waking up in the morning, laying in bed for three hours because you can't even be bothered to get up to do anything, fantasizing about the pattern that your blood and brains would make on the back wall if only it wasn't such a pain in the ass to buy a handgun in Canada, putting a fake smile on, and trying to make it through the day without breaking down in tears, carving shit into your arm with a scalpel from a dissecting kit... yeah, lots of room for creativity there.

I'm sure that McTooly is probably going to whine more about straw men, and how he wasn't talking about Bad Things, but the Things that Need Medication that Aren't That Bad, which is probably composed mostly of people who would abuse prescription drugs regardless of what they did.

Whatever.  The basic thesis is that because a miniscule few people MIGHT have had thier GENIUS creative insticts MAYBE toned down A BIT by going on ADs, that we're living in a Brave New World where everybody is givne thier daily alotted set of drugs to Stay Happy in thier Station.

--
"If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."

nice ad hominem (none / 0) (#151)
by anthroporraistes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:59:10 PM EST

If people with depression cannot be creative, then explain the amount of depressive artists?  Perhaps they just find a constructive way to vent (treat themselves) through art.  This might explain the success rates of art therapy.  

At this point I really don't care what anyone thinks of it, it has done it's purpose, generated an interesting discussion, and controversy.  I might be completely wrong (that is always a possibility), but that really doesn't matter, the argument is completely worth it.

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Depressive Artists (none / 0) (#184)
by Therac-25 on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 11:40:37 AM EST

Do you have any hard sources for the number of depressive artists?  Or are you just pulling a romantic notion out of your ass?

--
"If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
[ Parent ]
Depressed artists. (none / 0) (#222)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 07:40:53 AM EST

I think you will find that most artists that suffer from depression are not very productive during a depressive episode.

The contrast and different perspective of a depressive episode may help in creating new ideas. But that's a bit different.

[ Parent ]

way to misspell "their" (none / 0) (#200)
by klem on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 12:42:54 PM EST

douchebag.

[ Parent ]
I think you're spot on... (none / 0) (#152)
by claes on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 04:00:00 PM EST

or at least I think there may be a grain of truth in what you're saying. I do agree with a lot of the others that modern psych drugs do an amazing job of helping people cope. I just worry that we're getting a little to trigger-happy with them.

I also worry about the same thing happening to the gene pool. If we get genetic engineering down pat, we'll eliminate the variability that is 90+% bad, but allows the species to survive in 10% of the situations. Perhaps 99.9/00.1.

Plus there was that lady with the brain tumor (nun?) that could talk to god. They removed the tumor and she went back to normal. The old monoclonal agricultural lesson.

And another thing, "Revelations" (i.e. the wierd bits of the bible) is going to be on TV. Wierd.

-- claes

I disagree (3.00 / 2) (#188)
by IAmNos on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 01:08:09 PM EST

I was recently (about 6 months ago) diagnosed with Adult ADD (I'm 30). Since then I've been taking methylphenidate (more commonly known as Ritalin).

For my entire life I have been very much a logical kind of person, with little ability for arts. I excel at math and computer science. I ended high school physics with a high 90s average, and I didn't work very hard for that. Yet in English class I never really "got" symbolism. I'm horrible with spelling and grammar. My stickman drawings don't even look like stickmen.

Since I started taking methylpenidate, I haven't lost any of my logic and math abilities. If anything they have improved since I can spend longer amounts of time on the same project without losing intrest. However, I have also begun to do some 'artistic' type things that have never interested me before. I'm beginning to become very interested in woodworking. I'm currently creating a DVD consisting of photos my wife and I took on a recent vacation. Not only am I creating the slide show of stills, but I'm also creating (from scratch) animations to introduce different sections. If anything, these medications have increased my interest in the artistic side of things.


http://thekerrs.ca
[ Parent ]
Very interesting, thanks. (none / 0) (#195)
by claes on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 10:35:18 AM EST

Sounds like meds are really helping. Good luck.

-- claes (sorry to be such a nattering nabob of negativism)

[ Parent ]

ADD counterpoint; commercialism (none / 0) (#156)
by MoebiusStreet on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 04:37:38 PM EST

I think that the ADD phenomenon contradicts part of the point. As recently as the 70s, ADD wasn't generally considered a psychological problem; it was "kids being kids". Somehow it has been redefined as a genuine disease, though, and that leads us to medicate. It's not that we always viewed this as a disease but only recently developed the proclivity to medicate it; rather, we used to think that it was within the range of the norm.

Second, I fail to understand the point of "With the drug companies and commercialism, it is becoming more and more accepted...to treat individuals with drugs". I've never been forced by a pharma company to take any drugs, nor have you offered any evidence of such.

It would be more accurate to say that our society has changed in that we collectively feel the authority to act as nanny to any individual, whether or not he or she wants the "help". Thus, society is pushing toward upward-definition of many non-conformant states, as well as pressuring for the pharmacological "treatment" of them. At most, the pharma companies are complicit.

insurance companies require drug treatment (none / 1) (#158)
by MichaelCrawford on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 05:11:00 PM EST

It is common for both drugs and psychiatrists (MD's who treat psychological problems) to be covered by insurance, but for psychologists not to be, or for one's insurance not to allow enough visits each year to make a difference.

That would be OK if it were just schizophrenia or manic depression that troubled you, but neurosis is far more common than either, and for that you need talk therapy. Medicine won't provide lasting relief.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

ya, but talk therapy sucks for serious problems (none / 0) (#178)
by jubal3 on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 03:17:25 AM EST

I mean really, what happens? you spend years learnign how you tick at a cost that's ruinous, then in the end......

You feel crappy, but you know why.

Whats the point? lol


***Never attribute to malice that which can be easily attributed to incompetence. -HB Owen***
[ Parent ]

It made a difference to me (none / 1) (#181)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 08:31:48 AM EST

It takes a long time, twenty years in my case, and cost, I don't know, sixty, seventy thousand dollars, but I had a breakthrough in January that makes my whole fucked-up crazy life make a great deal of sense, and things are much better now.

No amount of medicine would have given me that sort of insight.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Why? (none / 0) (#182)
by MoebiusStreet on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 10:16:31 AM EST

It's great that you feel better, and I don't mean to belittle that.

But why would anyone think that life must "make sense"? Things happen, and we do our best with them. There's no reason to think there's any overarching purpose or structure to this.

[ Parent ]

It's difficult to explain (none / 1) (#191)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 05:06:22 PM EST

... more than I can say in a comment. I'm planning to write about it in detail, but I can't right yet.

But sometime in January, I was in my therapists office, talking a mile a minute, and repeatedly asking her whether she thought I was either manic or delusional. She didn't think either was the case. When I insisted she explain my experience, she said she thought I was coming out of a depression.

I came back the next week, and said I thought she was right, but if so, it was a depression I had been in since I was seven, and further, I understood how it came about.

There have been plenty of times my symptoms have receded, and I would not have thought I was depressed, but thinking back on those times, it wasn't actually the case that I wasn't depressed. I felt better than I usually did, but still depressed.

The reason the book The Road Less Traveled has that name is that despite the fact that many people commence therapy, few follow through to its conclusion, and so do not experience its greatest benefit. I don't think I would have, had not my schizoaffective disorder - which is a biochemical illness, not a neurosis - compelled me to stay in therapy all those years.

You see, I had more than one thing going on, the S.A.D., and my neurosis. Most mentally ill people are the same, but I'm afraid most are unable to get treatment for their neuroses, either because of the limited funding of public mental healthcare, or because of the unwillingness of the insurance companies to pay for the kind of treatment that neurosis requires.

In my case, I was at the same time so desperate, and yet so fortunate as to be intelligent enough that I could develop a salable skill where my eccentricity would be tolerated, that in the end I spent all those years paying for my therapy out of my own pocket. Eighty bucks a week for thirteen years is a lot of money, and that was just one of my therapists.

Canadia gives me psychiatric care for free, but just like in the US, I'm paying for my psychotherapist out of my own pocket. I feel very fortunate that I am able to do so.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

This isn't really a new idea (none / 0) (#157)
by xgray on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 04:43:27 PM EST

It's been covered before by many folks, including Steve Martin, no less, who back in 1998 included the essay, "Artist Lost to Zoloft," in his book, Pure Drivel.

But the art consuming public is also changing (none / 1) (#162)
by Wise Cracker on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 06:06:49 PM EST

Think of how much literature is based on broken relationships, alcohol ( "Cause of, and solution to, all life's problems" -- Homer Simpson ), and addiction. When we have pills to eliminate addiction and treatments to wipe out unpleasant memories, then how much of the past's great literature will make sense to us? A Eugene O'Neill play would simply not make sense to such people, so they couldn't appreciate it, so they wouldn't watch it. Not watched, it would eventually be lost through the forces of cultural garbage collection. I think in the future you will see a bar that separates literature into "before Prozac [bP]" and "after Prozac [aP]".
--
Caesars come, and Caesars go, but Newton lives forever
insanity is not good (3.00 / 2) (#164)
by mylungshurt on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 06:43:58 PM EST

i was psychotic for about a year. it was the most nightmarish experience of my life. the reality that i had long taken for granted ceased to be meaningful. despite my knowledge, and acceptance, of the essentially unprovable nature of existence.. despite my extensive use of hallucinogenic substances.. i was not prepared for anything like what i experienced. i could not have been. no one could train their mind to handle such intricate delusions. there is no "logic" or "rationality" when certain concepts are doubted, or completely bypassed. i was robbed of any ability to differentiate between the "real" and the "unreal". truly, there is no such thing. however, the basic assumption of a consensus is absolutely essential. your ideals of humanity are bullshit. all humans are human. arguing in defense of your contradictory opinions? creativity is equivalent to humanity, and lack thereof is equivalent to inhumanity, or subhumanity. i guess only your approved deviations apply..

htm formatted.. (none / 0) (#166)
by mylungshurt on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 07:08:52 PM EST

there should be some break lines somewhere in there. i didn't know blank lines were ignored.

[ Parent ]
Try inserting <BR><BR> (none / 0) (#224)
by Sesquipundalian on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 01:06:03 PM EST

This secret code, inserted into your HTML will give you these blank lines you seek.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Past psychotic break. (none / 1) (#171)
by nutate on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 08:27:47 PM EST

I was 'institutionalized' twice in my life in a period of a month or two 5 years ago. It's quite a harrowing experience and one that has inspired some creative thought. But at the time, as in before I was taken and took myself (respectively) to the hospitals, I was not in good shape. It's really no good to feel, well, how to say it, immortal, all knowing, all forgiving, etc. etc. in a world where you are mortal, pretty dumb, and nobody's savior.

I'm just getting back the hospital records from the second hospitalization to see if anything interesting happened. But somehow I doubt it. Kind of like a drug notebook, it is mildly cool, but it doesn't consitute real creative work. A real product, that is.

Thinking of many 'insane' writers, it seems like their editor should have their name on the cover as well.

I think many artists have spoken on this from Thomas Ligotti (panic attacks) to well, just search your favorite music review site for antidepressants. I think these newer chemicals are just more ways of trying to recalibrate our heads and that Drs know usually know more about what helps than drug dealers and bartenders, in spite of some romanticized notions.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I had somehow escaped all 21st century American treatement for bipolar. I have a feeling I would be homeless. Weird huh? As it is, I'm in grad school, and I would like to start studying now.

What a load of crap. (3.00 / 5) (#172)
by sakusha on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 09:12:16 PM EST

This sort of pile of steaming horse pockey has been satirized before. For example Vonnegut wrote a character that declared he could tell a writer was homosexual by the way he wrote his index.

The myth of the neurotic artist tapping deep into his tangled subconscious seems to have ossified in the Modernist era, with artists like Jackson Pollock. But it's just a myth. As far as I can tell, this myth originated in the Reformation, it's part of the Calvinist rejection of ostentation, decorative arts were rejected as somehow unholy and perverted.

I have known thousands of artists, and artists are just like all other people, their mentalities span the entire range of conditions. But the mentally ill ones are just like the ill ones in other walks of life: generally they are failures. The productive artists are like all other productive people: sane.

So don't start throwing around that old Calvinist crap about how artists are insane and how "curing" them of their mental ills neuters their artistic abilities. Because it's a load of crap.

In the context (none / 0) (#186)
by levesque on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 12:20:09 PM EST

of discreet polar view points, wouldn't you also end up classifying your comment as crap.

[ Parent ]
tainted modern viewpoint (none / 1) (#189)
by anthroporraistes on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 03:33:30 PM EST

I am not talking about mere "art", I am talking about GREAT art, achievments that will last down the centuries, and not something that some idiot kid hangs on his wall, so he can tell his friends that he is an artist, that to me is not art, that is the artistic gesture.  That is art for doing art's sake.  Which is, in you oh-so eloquent words, crap.

Real art is expressing something beyond the realms of everyday experience.  Just like real poetry isn't showing off how poetic you are, it is using language to express that which language cannot express.

Your bringing up Pollack is wrong, he was not an artist, he was a metaartist, his art is only a silly commentary on the state of art at that time, and completely uninspired and unintelligable to the masses who know nothing of his context.  Art should not be contingent on context.

If you accept art as something beyond experience, and not the formulistic crap they teach art students today, then you can easily see the connection between it and insanity.  And then we have the success of art therapies, where we can see the interplay between madness and artistic expression.

I think, though, that you are merely taking the modern view of illness, where it is something with no benefit, and something that should be erradicated at all cost.  You forget that it might just be a symptom of a larger social problem, and that madness is an important part of the social condition.  We all are actually mad, if you go through the DSM you'll notice that you match tons of the criteria for various illnesses, madness is just a matter of arbitrary degree.

Actually all of our forms of madness were VOTED on, and formed by commitee useing subjective criteria.  Which kind of makes me doubt the validity of the modern idea of mental illness.

And in some cases, I think the mad are right (and hence more sane) than the rest of us.  Depression I think is a very realist view of the world.  Not a constructive view, but a realist one.  

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Ah. (none / 0) (#194)
by sakusha on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 10:20:17 PM EST

I don't see much point in arguing someone who can drop names like Foucault and Kant, but can't spell Jackson Pollock's name correctly (let alone interpret him correctly).

So, now that you have elaborated on your points, and I can recognize the motivation for your antipsychiatric screed, let me ask you a question: how long have you been a member of Scientology?

[ Parent ]
orgy porgy ford and fun (none / 0) (#213)
by anthroporraistes on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 01:27:39 PM EST

Please notice that my failure to interpret the great splatterer of mustard is PART of the damn point.  You can't unless you FULLY understand his motivations, and are an art student and know the rules of compostion involved.  The average lay-person will see as much artistic merit on the bib of a 2 year old.  

As for you Scientology comment.  That was pretty low, but silly.  I'm sorry I'm arguing against the modern ideal of a well functioning Soma state, in which we are all happy shiny cogs in the great machine.  Hopefully as long as this shitty western ideal last there will be some REAL people who acknowledge that suffering makes us human, that our eccentricities make us WHO we are.  

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Arrogance + Ignorance (none / 1) (#204)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 03:43:55 PM EST

There's some merit to the various points you've made about contemporary attitudes toward "mental illness," but all this shrill chicken-little nonsense about the death of art is getting to be a bit too much. Add to that the fact that you're pretty obviously ignorant of even the basic fundamentals of aethetics, and you, sir, are well on your way to getting my goat.

Just like real poetry isn't showing off how poetic you are, it is using language to express that which language cannot express.

This kind of woolly-headed gibberish may cut it at the local coffee shack, but I'm going to have to insist that you retract this insipid nonsense. Either language can express "it" or it can't. You can't have your cake and not have it as well. ("p & -p" is a fallicious fuck up of the first order)

Art should not be contingent on context.

All art, as is also true of all of human expression in general, is highly context sensitive. The only context invariant aspects of a natural language are those logical structures which can be translated into a rigid and formal metalanguage. So unless you want to argue that the essence of art is limited to only that which can be represented adequately in the standard notation for first-order predicate calculus, then I suggest you reconsider your ill conceived opinion on the subject of art and context.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
step away from the wittgenstein (none / 1) (#212)
by anthroporraistes on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 01:20:12 PM EST

First, put down the Wittgenstein, take a deep breath, and notice that language is far more...  illogical than logic.  Lets try now to translate T.S. Eliot into some formal logic, or better e.e. cummings.  We can OBVIOUSLY see that YOU CANNOT.  Yes, there are some form of rules to language, BUT poetry is the act of BREAKING these rules in an aesthetic, and symbolically meaningful manner.  Please notice how many statments are possible, and semantically meaningful, that are not logically meaningful.  

I really like Bach, but do I really know jackshit about the time period when he was operating?  Nope.  Do I know what his internal motivations were?  Nope.  Does it matter?  Nope.  If your statement was true, one would need to be an expert on the history of art to make an aesthetic judgement, which is obviously bullshit.  I made several such judgements when I was still in the cradle.  Pollack, on the otherhand is ENTIRELY contingent on his context, whereas forms of great art ARE NOT.  How can I possibly like Bach with no idea about his cultural background, or internal motivations, in a vacuum as it were.  

Your statement is like saying I cannot respect the grand canyon without understanding the various geological processes that lead to its formation.  And please notice the form of my previous statment, it was an analogy, and not a formal construction.  

---
biology is destiny
[ Parent ]

Gee Whiz, you don't say? (none / 0) (#218)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 02:52:36 PM EST

If you go back and read my comment, you'll find that it's patently obvious I'm well aware of the fact that the literary uses of language exceed what is expressible in a formalized metalanguage. As a matter of fact, I was counting on your assenting to this pretty obvious aspect of language usage in order to demonstrate to you the foolishness of your earlier statement about art being context insensitive. To repeat: the only elements of a natural language which are context insensitive are those which can be formalized. Given this, we must conclude that art, at least insofar as it is expressive, is highly context sensitive. Unless, of course, you'd like to translate The Wasteland into standard notation, which you obviously you do not.

If your statement was true, one would need to be an expert on the history of art to make an aesthetic judgement...

Nonsense. An art historian is almost always better prepared to make a rich and insightful aesthetic judgement on a particular piece of art--canonicity being both necessary to aesthetic judgement and essentially historical in nature--but you're latching onto the wrong contexts in attempting to prove me wrong. Bach's personal history, his "internal motivations," and most historical facts about the time and place in which he composed, are mostly irrelevant to the process of forming a sound aesthetic judgement on the Goldberg Variations, but that hardly demonstrates that no particular context is relevant. Aesthetics, at least as it has been practiced over the last four centuries, largely is the study of context.

Appreciating Bach in any depth requires an "educated ear" and the more educated one's ear is, the richer one's appreciation becomes (eg., Gould heard things in Bach that I'll no doubt ever hear). This same phenomenon of the "educated ear" exists for all forms of art. Actually, it's far easier to recognize it in domains like the literary arts, as the phenomenology of music is notoriously difficult to grasp and it appears more opaque to consciousness than probably any other form of art.

Ironically, you mention Eliot in an approving fashion in your comment, in spite of the fact that the The Wasteland is probably one of the best examples (perhaps because it was constructed to be so) of how literary language, and art in general, is thoroughly dependent upon context. If you ever read any of Eliot's work on criticism and theory, you'll find that he was not only profoundly aware of the extent to which art is context dependent, but that he went to great effort to argue against theories of "naive perception" of the sort you've offered here.  

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
if you're quoting dirty wartime songs in poetry (none / 0) (#219)
by Battle Troll on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 02:56:49 PM EST

It's a good bet you're interested in social context.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
more (none / 0) (#205)
by Battle Troll on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 12:40:50 AM EST

I have known thousands of artists

Are you a dealer or something? How on earth did you find yourself in this cesspit of a site?

The productive artists are like all other productive people: sane.

Reminds me of Richard Strauss's line about how starving in a garret makes it hard to accomplish anything.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

No. (none / 0) (#207)
by sakusha on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 02:19:43 AM EST

Not a dealer, I just met a lot of artists after 30 years in the trade.

[ Parent ]
somewhat agree, but then I don't (2.75 / 4) (#173)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 09:12:44 PM EST

I think this is part of a larger issue which is not how society relates to insanity but how society relates to the irrational. There is a difference. At one time, any woman who was insane was called "witch". Our notions of madness and witches have changed greatly over the generations so when we take at a romantic view of madness, we're not really seeing madness as our predecessors saw it.

In the past, the ancients thought poets were madmen but accepting only that notion is a failure of hermeneutics. For example, Don Quixote could choose to see a windmill but he decided to see a giant. It's easy to describe him as mad, right? His behavior can only be described as madness but there is a poetry to this description: wouldn't a person who romanticizes the past hate the encroachment of technology and treat its objects as he would a giant? The problem here isn't a case of madness but a failing of justicio which can only be loosely translated as a loss of good sense. Why not see it as a giant? Just because everyone calls it a windmill, is this a good enough reason? He prefers to accept his own interpretation therefore we call him mad. He practices knight errantry in an age without knights therefore we call him mad. He calls a peasant girl a princess therefore we call him mad.

When Homer first mentioned "the wine dark sea" you can imagine the common man unfamiliar with metaphor would think to himself "But the sea is not made of wine. He's nuttier than squirrel poop." It was a mad, inspired comparison that we remember to this day. Was Homer loopy, though? Probably not in the modern sense but he did look at the world less rationally than a modern scientific poet's "the salt-filled sea teeming with life" which doesn't evoke powerful imagery nearly as easily.

So, I think it's easy to romanticize madness if we know what they were talking about. It's equally easy to characterize a primitive insightfulness as madness. How can an irrational person (I like to think of it as pre-rational) reveal so much? He must have a touch madness because our rational selves would be incapable of conceiving it without this leap of illogic.

Artists could break through reality, reach something on the other side of it and then bring it back. They could see Apollo inside stone and entreat him to come out. They could divine a harmony from cords of catgut. They let their emotional selves be overwhelmed through rhythm; they were made ecstatic by inspiration; they saw the possible inside the absurd. How can this not be madness?

But then we have to ask ourselves, is this really madness as we see it now? And then when looking at this article, I have concerns that the wrong type of madness may be missing in our lives.

I'm going to let Man of La Mancha finish this up for me:
    THE DUKE: Why are you poets so fascinated with madmen?

    CERVANTES: I suppose ... we have much in common.

    THE DUKE: You both turn your backs on life.

    CERVANTES: We both select from life what pleases us.

    THE DUKE: A man must come to terms with life as it is!

    CERVANTES: I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is. Pain, misery, hunger ... cruelty beyond belief. I have heard the singing from taverns and the moans from bundles of filth on the streets. I have been a soldier and seen my comrades fall in battle ... or die more slowly under the lash in Africa. I have held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no gallant last words ... only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question: "Why?" I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived. When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams -- this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.

-Soc
I drank what?


Empirical crap (none / 0) (#179)
by philstaite on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 06:43:57 AM EST

"One of the leading causes of artistic and creative decline is the modern view of mental illness" What decline? Please don't confuse artistic output with artisic consumption.

The best known painter of his time (none / 1) (#180)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 08:28:53 AM EST

was, at the time, probably the least known painter: Vincent Van Gogh.

Even though his brother theo was an art dealer, I don't know if Vincent ever sold a single painting, certainly not enough to have made a living. He lived in abject poverty.

What painter, whose work will sell for tens of millions a hundred years from now, is flipping burgers at MacDonalds to support his passion for art on his days off?


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


he's right you know (none / 0) (#199)
by klem on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 12:35:14 PM EST

i mean, jackson pollock was nothing until he became a sellout. you never recognize the avant garde unless you are it, and even then probably not

[ Parent ]
Signal To Noise (none / 0) (#192)
by schrotie on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 09:03:05 PM EST

I have already written a lengthy comment explaining that there is no decline of art in music at all - quite contrary. In that comment I mentioned one outstanding song by an outstanding musician: "Signal to Noise" by Pater Gabriel. The lyrics of that song fit the discussion so well, that I'll paste them here full length. But before you have the pleasure of being rebutted by art of considerable greatness, you'll have to bear with another argument that came to my mind:

Many of the greatest artist were heavy drug users. I have no proof at all for it, and I'll certainly not get entangled in a discussion of greatness or heavy drug usage. Let it suffice to say that my drug usage hypothesis feels much more plausible to me than your madness hypothesis. Thus, by drugging ever more people, we are without any doubt creating greatness in art instead of destroying it as you claim. </irony>


Signal To Noise

you know the way that things go
when what you fight for starts to fall
and in that fuzzy picture
he writing stands out on the wall
so clearly on the wall

send out the signals deep and loud

and in this place, can you reassure me
with a touch, a smile - while the cradle's burning
all the while the world is turning to noise
oh the more that it's surrounding us
the more that it destroys
turn up the signal
wipe out the noise

send out the signals deep and loud

man i'm losing sound and sight
of all those who can tell me wrong from right
when all things beautiful and bright
sink in the night
yet there's still something in my heart
that can find a way
to make a start
to turn up the signal
wipe out the noise

wipe out the noise
wipe out the noise
you know that's it
you know that's it
receive and transmit
receive and transmit
receive and transmit
you know that's it
you know that's it
receive and transmit
you know that's it
you know that's it
receive and transmit

no rules, lots of laws (none / 1) (#193)
by blindsight on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 09:13:59 PM EST

It's interesting to think that so many people

I think society in general is less tolerant of mental illness than it used to be. It's intolerant on so many levels. While a person is mentally ill, they face institutionalization (like jail), and when they come out they have to recover in an extremely judgemental and prejudiced society.

The recovery rates, on the other hand, for schizophrenia in rural India put the Western recovery rates to shame. The secret is a more accepting environment. A relative who is lost to delusions is not locked away, they are looked after. If and when they come to ground, there is a place for them in the village; working and contributing.

Most would prefer not to associate with people with mental illness. People with mental illness are difficult and they behave badly.  

As for the creativity part, why does it have to be one way or another. Losing one's mind is not a recipe for genius, but it is sometimes one for creativity. I am myself the victim of both insanity and institutionalization. I am a non-fiction writer who, since this last time, has written a novel. And while it doesn't have anything specifically to do with insanity, there was a dynamic between my personal experiences and the story line.

Many aspects of popular entertainment are based on what could be called delusional aspects of behaviour. This world is not real (Matrix), everybody's trying to kill me (any movie), someone's watching me (Truman Show) and so on.

Is it really so surprising that people who emerges from such delusions (that feel real) feel like they have something they need to express?

I am certainly not a Leonardo, but mental illness has made me more creative. By no means does that mean that everyone feels the same way after mental illness, though.

Why would it?

It's this need to categorize, rule out, and simplify that to me seems so strange. Why do things have to be either/or, success/failure, this/that, anyway? Sometimes I suspect that mental illness is society's immunological response to such overly regimented thinking.

Do we really need these rules? Is the world too scary without them?

Psychiatry as Causing Stigma (none / 0) (#197)
by T818 on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 11:05:04 AM EST

The psychiatric estalishment puts out the blather that 'Hey there are some really good treatments nowadays!' The fact of the matter is with serious mental illness available treatments are by and large at best mediocre. Andidepressants conk out. Manic depressives are stabilized depressed. Schizophrenics no longer hallucinate but stare at walls all day.

But the psychiatric spin these days is otherwise. So when someone with a mental illness has problems it is do to lack of insight or refusal of treatment or some such.

The first concern of psychiatry is the health of psychiatry. This laudation of psychiatry by psychiatry prevents psychiatry from being forthright and saying, 'We only have some so so answers. These people have to be cut some slack'.

Intolerance towards the mentally ill by society is in part a function of the institutional requirements of psychiatry.

[ Parent ]

Bzzzzt, it's called the DSM IV. (none / 0) (#198)
by Sesquipundalian on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 11:38:34 AM EST

and the passages I read there have all sorts of value jugements in them, really strong ones actually. Try comparing an online copy of the DSM-IV to the stuff that you find on newadvent.org sometime. This information is only a short google away.

When you have a precious and delicate little nail to protect, everything can start to look like a big scary hammer. That said; when I was comparing newadvent to the DSM-IV, all I could see was the classic tricks that computer consultant use to inflate the billable hours in contracts. These tricks were being used to create open ended billing scenarios on the one hand, and irresolvable judgement dillemmas on the other.

This made me realize that ye olde psychiatrist caste be a tad long on technology of the convincing sort, and wery wery fccking short on supervision (of the comman man benefitting sort).


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Correlation Absent Causation (none / 0) (#196)
by T818 on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 10:48:20 AM EST

Perhaps great art is in decline. But exactly why is unclear. Charles Murray wrote a book Human Achievement which purports to document the decline in human achievement over the last century. Art is mentioned prominently as being in decline. Murray gives another explanation though.

I read the book sometime ago but I think Murray basically argued the unity of Western culture has been lost and absent this unity achievement declined. So the drugging of the populace may be correlated with a decline in art but not be the cause of that decline.

Perhaps both the over drugging of the populace and the decline in art art are due to some other factor.

The dedrugging? (none / 0) (#209)
by sneakin on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 12:44:39 PM EST

How about the dedrugging of Western civilization? I'd say that the War on Drugs began shortly after the start of the 20th century. I would say there are pockets of creativity that occurred: the 60s, Jazz, hip-hop, etc. And don't forget Alex Grey.

I would correleate the decline, if there is one, to the de-drugging of our society. Impressionism can only go so deep.

[ Parent ]

Alex Gray (none / 0) (#217)
by T818 on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 12:24:51 PM EST

A cursory look at some work by Grey suggests Grey's works are degenerate mandalas. The mandala patterns are underdeveloped. Grey's works are certainly no brief for creativity being associated with drug use. Drugs perhaps give an initial boost to creativity but that boost is short lived. Drugs suggest a whole new life is possible and this can lead to a burst of creativity but unfortunately drugs undermine the ability to realize a whole new way of life.

LSD which was introduced in the 60's heightend the senses but did little to alter worldviews in any meaningful sense.

The unbridled 'creativity' of the 60's was the least attractive feature of the 60's. McNamara and company killed 3 million Vietnamese which civil protests halted, civil rights were enacted and there was at least the suggestion of the coming of the computer age but the dawning of the Age of Aquarius was a disaster.

There was too much 'creativity' in the 60's.

[ Parent ]

But it builds character! (none / 0) (#201)
by zerosummer on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 12:45:21 PM EST

Three common misconceptions about treatable mental illness: One: The Van Gogh Principle. Madness is the root of creativity. Yes, and having AIDS in the 80's made you gay. Correlation does not equal causation. Many artists have mental illnesses, many do not. Many people with mental illness are entirely without creativity. There might be some overlap in the Venn diagram, but it's not made of concentric circles. The only reason this belief has persisted so long is that it comforts the mentally ill to view themselves as creative, and it comforts the uncreative to view themselves as entirely sane. Two: The Soma Argument. This argument is usually presented by people who have never taken psychiatric medication. It surprises me that we let so many people get away with saying that drugs are overprescribed and most people who take them don't need them. How does it hurt society to try to help people who are suffering? Antidepressants aren't antibiotics; overprescribing them is not going to make mental illness more prevalent. If a person is miserable and worries that they might be chemically imbalanced, there's absolutely no reason that they shouldn't attempt to treat it. Three: The 'Easy Way Out.' Many people believe that taking psychiatric drugs is a way to avoid confronting your problems head-on with therapy. This is not the case. People who need cognitive therapy generally won't be helped by drugs. People who need drugs generally won't be helped by cognitive therapy. Often, people need a combination of the two, and if they're not getting a combination of the two, therapy will fail. As someone else mentioned, there's a surprising amount of stigma surrounding treatable mental illness, and if we were more tolerant as a society, I'm pretty sure that more mental illness would be treated. These types of articles perpetuate the idea that treating a chemical imbalance with chemicals is shameful and weak, and it bothers me to see how many people agree.

Over prescription is rampant (none / 0) (#203)
by T818 on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 03:06:03 PM EST

Take antipsyhcotics for example. Often times two or even three antipsychotics will be prescribed plus a mood stabilizer, plus an antidepressant plus an antianxiety agent.

When the drugs fail to be helpful rather than live with a partial solution more and more drugs are added on with increased side-effects.

There is no medical reason to take more than one antipsychotic at a time but frequently more than one antipsychotic agent is prescribed.

When an antipsychotic is say half effective the individual can still have rough edges. Drugs are piled on to silence the ill individual exactly when the drugs fail to work.

As for creativity the mentally ill can be very creative. What is lacking is the follow through.

The belief in the association between mental illness and creativity is widespread and is one of long duration. By and large the seriously mentally ill are unable to persuade anyone of anything so this precludes a plot by the mentally to boost self esteem by lauding the creativity of mental illness.

The son of Albert Einstein was schizophrenic, the grandaughter of Bertrand Russell was schizophrenic and the daughter of James Joyce were schizophrenic. The same genes which make genius might very well contribute to madness. Perhaps genes for creativity require high maintenance. In other words if genes for creativity fail to get the support required from other genes the upshot is madness rather than genius.

Certainly when seriously mentally ill the wisest course of action is to try drugs but stick to conservative drugs regimes. The genral rule is when adding psychotropic drugs is each drug must do something different and there are surprisingly few targets for psychotropic drugs.

[ Parent ]

pills for problems/drugs and creativity (none / 0) (#208)
by 5ifty 2wo on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 11:17:02 AM EST

If you've got a problem, we've got a pill for you!  Whether it is a social problem, a painful problem, or a physical problem.
But this is not truly dealing with the problem at its root, it is the easy way out.
And it is still difficult to make the distinction between people who are 'crazy' and people who have 'treatable mental illnesses'.  When doctors make a name for it and there is an actual chemical difference that you can see, that is when it becomes one of these 'treatable mental illnesses'.  And the definition of someone who is 'crazy' depends on how many people in that culture think he/she is crazy.  An oddball in one culture is normal in another, somewhere.  So this is a fine line and a difficult distinction.  (Maybe YOU are a crazy insane nut and the people you would consider crazy insane nuts are really normal !(?) hmm.
And isn't it safe to say that if you get the right person on the wrong drugs, they could temporarily be an oddball crazy artist?  Drugs are not only a sedative for creativity, more often they induce creativity.  Martha Stewart's normal tastes for design could be transformed into a crazy, creative, eccentric, style of design if you were to drop the right drugs into her coffee.
Some medicate on a quest to be accepted as normal, while others medicate to escape normal.

Only in children... (none / 0) (#214)
by JohnLamar on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 12:10:26 AM EST

As I've discussed in similar situations I'm Bi-Polar and I can attest to the fact that medicine is something that will save your life. I still had creative moments when I was on medication (I'm off, in Linda Richman/Fran Drescher voice: "maybe you can paypal me a few bucks?")...

Many mental illnesses in America can be treated quite easily and with success. People can go on to lead more productive and creative lives - however that isn't very easy with today's setting. There is no mental health parity in private insurance and we see that all Medicaid funding for mental illness coverage is something that the Bush Administration put on the chopping block. Medication and doctors are expensive items to add to your budget when you don't make any money...

But I digress, my post is to say that I see children being medicated all to often when the parents don't/can't spend enough time with them. I see drug addicts and alcoholics give their children up to psychiatry because they don't want to deal with them. The ironic part is that they are the ones that have created these "monsters" with the language they learn from the mothers breast.

I say that something needs to be done to bring the mental health industry into one and make it more accessible. With that take a closer look at people's relationships with their families... only then can we titrate medications to ensure that we don't change people but treat them.
The worst thing you've ever seen
[ Parent ]

I guess.. (none / 0) (#210)
by naitha on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 01:02:58 PM EST

...blaming out school systems and television just got too old.


"To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also."
-Igor Stravinsky,
Article is stupid (none / 0) (#220)
by The-Bus on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 07:37:35 AM EST

Does this person have any experience at all? I personally endeavor in artistic pursuits and while I am no Van Gogh I can tell you that you don't need to be crazy to make art, just creative. And it's easy to be creative whether or not you're crazy or or treated for ADD or treated for bipolar disorder.

This is not to say treatment is good or bad, but it is independent of artistic skill. It's like saying if you have a cold you can't be a pianist.

I've also volunteered at facilities for mental illness and while medication does have some bad side effects the removal of artistic skill is not, nor has ever been, one of them. It is completely arrogant for the article writer to believe this -- as if they couldn't fathom someone being good at something innately, surely it's just "because they are crazy".


---
Small potatoes make the steak look bigger.
[ Parent ]

This is a little late... (none / 0) (#223)
by naitha on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 12:51:54 PM EST

..but maybe he was going for the idea that being crazy and artistic genius go hand in hand, because losing touch with reality makes it much easier to be creative. But to them it's not creativeness, it's just reality. At any rate, most insane people ramble on about inane bullshit. It would probably be wiser saying that being creative is it's own trait, and that those who we revere as creative genius with mentally instable properties just had both all along. It just made their work seem all the more genius.


"To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also."
-Igor Stravinsky,
[ Parent ]
Interesting.... (none / 0) (#221)
by Niha on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 09:16:19 AM EST

 It´s an interesting question this of art and mental illness, but, as people over here have already commented, you can find creativity among sanes and insanes as well...
 The question of drugs overuse is a different one, and could be interesting to discuss.

Pharmaceuticals and the Death of Art | 224 comments (173 topical, 51 editorial, 0 hidden)
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