The almost mythic quality of the tortured artist is something we see reiterated over and over in all forms of media. But just how accurate is that image?
Coming to you from The Art Assignment, this fascinating and important video essay examines the idea of the tortured artist and just how accurate that myth is. That very image is romanticized constantly in movies, television, books, and more, but whether creative genius and mental illness go hand in hand is far more complex, and whether the presence of mental illness in an artist helps or impedes creativity is a separate issue altogether.
Where things get dangerous, though, is when one buys into the idea that mental illness is a requirement or at the least, an enhancer of creativity. As the video mentions and as many successful creatives will tell you, serious mental illness is a detriment to creative work, often to the point of halting it, and romanticizing it can lead younger artists into making dangerous life decisions or not getting the help they may need. It's a serious issue that deserves careful consideration among the creative community, and we should encourage those of us who are suffering to seek proper help, rather than playing up mental illness as a sort of job requirement.