Exasperating article today on whether Prozac b teh deth ov ART, horrors horrors.
Which has so many unexamined assumptions festering away in the subtext...
One thinks that there have been many creative artists who were not, in fact, bipolar, or suffering more than the kinds of normal unhappiness that are part of human existence, and it is really not necessary to have distressing problems of brain chemistry to produce worthwhile works of art. No, really, not all artists are 'tortured' and it is not the precondition of entry. Mi Romantyk Phallusy, I show u it.
One also considers that there have been artists who have needed a certain degree of uproar and upheaval in their personal lives to get them going, which I think of as Robert Graves syndrome, and recommending marriage guidance counselling would probably be beside the point, alas. (One perhaps feels less sympathy for these artists than for the people within their ambit who are dealing with the fallout from this.)
Above all, however, one wonders whether people were going around, following the discovery of salvarsan/penicillin, and the introduction of isoniazid, bewailing the likely effects on creativity of the eradication of cerebral syphilis and consumption.
I am also, about the allusion to Freud committing suicide, seriously WTF: Freud was over 80, terminally ill with cancer and in excruciating pain for which medication was no longer working; this surely comes under the heading of self-euthanasia rather than being assimilatable to the 'suicidal artist' model that precedes it.
Also, depression is not some romantic gothic black pall, pierced by occasional amazing shafts of light: it's a grey slime of apathy covering everything. At least one of the cited descriptions of the effect of some psychotropic drug sounded exactly like depression, which suggests that it wasn't actually working.
I am never about magic bullets, and there are problems of individual response to particular medications, of an overly pharmaceutical quick-fix approach to mental distress, and, ultimately, it's always more complicated.
But: the drugs can help even if they're not the complete answer.