Suffering for your Art

prozacVan Gogh is often held up as proof that suffering from depression can also promote extreme creativity. Woody Allen (a chronic depressive) famously claimed he would be a better writer, comedian and director if he wasn’t depressive. The key question is how do we know which knowledge claim is closer to the truth … and how would we go about finding out?

The article below asks many related questions, but is mainly concerned with the idea that SSRI drugs, particularly Prozac, may actually increase an artist’s capacity for creativity. A discursive piece written by Alex Preston, who spent a lot of his early adult life on Prozac, it uncovers the endemic use of such drugs amongst artists, but, like most compelling issues, there are no clear cut answers. Some artists claim that SSRIs saved their lives and others said they dulled their creative ‘voice’.

The article in question is in this weekend’s Guardian … Does Prozac help artists to be creative?

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