7/19/2006

On-going Study: The Psychology of the Artist

Most research I've found makes artists out to be "crazy." Artists aren't "crazy," but most of us are certainly not normal or live normal lives in comparison to other people who pick up more practical professions. We are moreso misunderstood for our eccentricities. It is true that some of us have neurotic disorders and there are proven links between manic-depression and creativity (Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison) but some of my friends at RISD will admit that they are quite mentally sound.
I have met people that are not mentally sound at RISD though and I sympathize for them. I too have my own difficulties in understanding my own mental health (the RISD counselors are little help in diagnosing disorders) and sometimes pass off bouts of sudden deep depression as easily solved by positive thinking and my own art therapy techniques. It's not that easy to remedy my sadness and it takes a while to get back into positive attitudes all the while shedding a bad light on my character to my friends and family. At the same time, I'm somewhat reluctant to get professional diagnosis and help. And in the case they may give me drugs of some kind... well, I'll get to that some other time.
Anyway, returning to eccentricities and major flaws decaying a healthy personality that sets artists as outcasts, one thing seems to ring universally: many of my peers follow excess in their character. An excess of too much or an excess of too little. We are enveloped by a number of causes which invade our lives and valuble time here. Most have an excessive ego (hey, we're artists here) and this can be the root of many problems, cynicism , a sense of childness, and even nihilism. The big goal of us as educated and professional artists is to tame that ego by trying to decline excess in our character. This is what I believe so far, and clarity will follow.

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