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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Psychiatrist Says Creativity Cannot be Fueled by Drugs and Alcohol

"The idea that drugs and alcohol give artists unique insights and powerful experiences is an illusion"

It has long been held that drugs have the ability to enhance one’s creativity, prompting many artists to experiment with a number of substances. Some of the greatest artists and writers of the 20th and 21st century have lost their lives while in the grips of addiction. There are many great examples of art and drugs running wild, but, unfortunately their addictions cut their lives short long before they ever reached their full potential. It is worth pointing out that their art, whatever the medium, was genius long before the drugs that would ultimately destroy their lives; the greatest works of all time were usually not created in an intoxicated state.

It would be reasonable to think that young aspiring artists would see the genius created by writers like Hemmingway and artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, and think that drugs/alcohol were a requirement, if they, themselves, were to create such genius. Dr. Ian Smith a psychiatrist and addiction expert at Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow claims that drugs and alcohol are more likely to hamper creativity; artists use them to deal primarily with their emotions - not to create better art. "The reason why this myth is so powerful is the allure of the substances, and the fact that many artists need drugs to cope with their emotions. Artists are, in general, more emotional people”, he said.

Smith recently gave a speech at the Royal College of Psychiatrists meeting in Edinburgh. He stated that Tennessee Williams and Hemingway both battled with alcohol addiction; while Coleridge, Keats, Proust, and Poe took an array of opiates. It has been well known that Van Gogh was a heavy Absinthe drinker and that it may have had something to do with him removing his ear from his head.

"When you try and capture the experiences triggered by drugs or alcohol they are often nonsense. These drugs often wipe your memory, so it's hard to remember how you were in that state of mind," he added.


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