Chapter 2

The ‘Mad Artist Syndrome’

2.3 A myth born by documentation

The lives of artists are usually very well documenmted, reaching a vast amount of people, especially since the invention of mass-printing and television. The life, work and illness of van Gogh for example is familiar to a lot of people, while the lives and illnesses of Joe Soaps remain largely unknown.

Bearing this in mind one needs to pose the questions :

  • Are there more cases of madness (not eccentricity or epilepsy etc.) amongst the artists in comparison to members of any other profession (e.g. plumbers) ?
  • Can madness be related to any profession ?
  • R.Michaelis states that to his knowledge there are no more artists in mental institutions than members of any other profession.

    In addition one needs mention that occasionallt this documentation is based on half-thruths.