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Creativity, Madness and Fiction

  • Charley Baker
  • Paul Crawford
  • B. J. Brown
  • Maurice Lipsedge
  • Ronald Carter
Chapter
  • 133 Downloads

Abstract

The theme of madness and creativity in fiction continues to inspire post-1945 writers who have been affected by mental illness or who want to comment on the link between mental distress and genius, for example Jenny Diski, Patrick Gale, Sylvia Plath, William Styron, and Susan Hill. Indeed, there is now a distinguished body of literature about the relationship between madness, eccentricity, and creativity (Barker, 1998; Becker, 1978; Gooch, 1980; Pickering, 1974; Sacks, 1984; Schildkraut and Otero, 1996; Saunders and Macnaughton, 2005). Similarly, various studies document a notable incidence of mental illness in creative people, and also in their immediate family (Andreasen, 1987; Dykes and McGhie, 1976; Eysenck, 1993; Jamison, 1989, 1993; O’Reilly, Dunbar, and Bentall, 2001; Richards et al., 1998). While some commentators object to such a link (e.g., Edel, 1959; Lindauer, 1994), there are convincing arguments to support the relationship between madness and creativity, as Richard Bentall indicates: ‘Suffice it to say that, overall, the research is surprisingly consistent, and the long-held association between madness and creativity seems to be a real one’ (2003, p. 114). Interest in the link between madness and creativity, of course, is not just a literary phenomenon and extends much more widely, for example to figures from art, science and philosophy such as Van Gogh, Einstein, and Socrates among others.

Keywords

Mental Illness Literary Criticism Bipolar Affective Disorder Creative Writer Chemical Imbalance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Charlotte Baker, Paul Crawford, B. J. Brown, Maurice Lipsedge and Ronald Carter 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charley Baker
    • 1
  • Paul Crawford
    • 1
  • B. J. Brown
  • Maurice Lipsedge
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ronald Carter
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NottinghamUK
  2. 2.South London and Maudsley NHS TrustUK
  3. 3.Department of Psychological MedicineGuys Kings and St Thomas’s School of MedicineUK

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