Tortured Artist Artist’s Books

The stereotype of the tortured artist insists that mental illness provides creative powers where they would not otherwise exist. It presents mental illness as a “highway to genius”; and claims that no one can be great without suffering. This stereotype is false and dangerous, and jeopardizes artists who suffer from mental illness. By romanticizing and glorifying this character, we are telling young creatives that their work only matters if it comes from pain, thus discouraging artists who suffer from mental illness from seeking the help they need.

These artists worry that their creative abilities will be impacted if they receive treatment. Treatment will not reduce creativity. We should appreciate our peers who struggle with mental illness and applaud their achievements—made not because of their illness, but in spite of it. We should remind our fellow artists that their lives are more important than their output.