?Genius and Madness/ Mental Instability: Does It Go Hand in Hand? Michelangelo, Ludwig van Beethoven, Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Salvador Dali… this list can be continued further. What unites all these people, separated by epochs, except of their outstanding talent and worldwide fame? They all were mentally ill, or strange, to say the least. Such a peculiar state of mind, however, did not prevent them from creating incredible pieces of art in literature, painting, music, etc.
This fact naturally invites the following question: are genius and madness always connected? On the face of it, the concepts “genius” and “madness” seem to be completely different phenomena.
Genius is usually associated with a high level of intelligence and talent, which enable a person to create masterpieces that are admired and appreciated by millions of people all over the world. On the contrary, madness evokes associations with lack of intelligence, stupid behavior that can be destructive for the person in question and dangerous for others.
On the other hand, bearing in mind the significant number of celebrated people in history who suffered from mental instability, one should admit that these two seemingly incompatible states can agree in one and the same person. It is common knowledge that all men of genius have specific mentality and views on life. Due to their vivid imagination, gifted people tend to think unconventionally. The way they see the outside world differs greatly from that of ordinary people: they always look at it like explorers, or as if they were from another planet.
Gifted people search for inspiration in things that seem trivial to other people. When reflected in their art, these uninteresting things acquire special value and significance. It is noteworthy, that creative work is not a simple occupation for men of genius, it is the meaning of their life. Genuine great masters put their heart and soul into their art, they get absorbed in it, depriving themselves of various pleasures in life. Creative work becomes a sort of monomania for them. This destructive obsession has a serious impact on their state of mind and often results in insanity.
In conclusion, answering this complicated question, I presume that madness is not a precondition for genius; nevertheless, these two phenomena are often linked. From my point of view, such symbiosis may give a powerful impetus to the artist’s work, enabling him or her to create marvellous paintings, literature and music. Russian literary giant Leo Tolstoy once mentioned in this connection that the mad are always more successful in achieving their goals than normal people1. The reason for this is that there are no moral barriers, no shame and even no fear for the insane.
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Genius and madness: do they always go hand in hand?. (2016, Jul 05). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/genius-and-madness-do-they-always-go-hand-in-hand/