Most bipolar disorder sufferers endure the extremes of mood stoically because of the exhilarating creative high experienced during the manic phase. Do the mentally ill have access to hidden worlds of the imagination fully denied to the sane? Creativity is described as the breath of God, turning readily into divine fire which regularly consumes the thinker, only divine fire is sufficient for the world changing genius. 20th century astronomy adopted quantum mechanics fully removing the ability of ordinary people to understand the universe. Einstein’s crazy hairstyle made him almost comedic; we picture him transported on a beam of light - a man deranged by the pursuit of the unknown. ‘Great wits to madness, thin partitions do their bounds divide’ Dryden, 1681. Is there a link between creativity and madness? There have always been people in societies and cultures with different experiences of reality at variance with the majority who clearly overlap with the fully diagnosed mentally ill. It is the strangeness of people’s experiences and how they try to communicate this that is the dangerous, threatening and anxiety provoking aspect repelling people with ordinary conventional realities. These people appear to be visionaries, people with privileged access to a world denied to ordinary humans, or, they are described as brilliantly creative. These people are described both presently and retrospectively as great minds and brilliant thinkers who displayed signs of mental instability. Artists and Scientists suffer manic creativity; such people attempt to put the unspeakable into words.
Since the time of the Greek philosophers society accepts the ideas of the rational, self aware who utilise everyday understandable language. The mentally ill are denied the progressive mainstream of western thought and society. Schizophrenia may not exist, however there is a long list of symptoms associated with the diagnosis. A suspected schizophrenic examined by 5 different Consultant Psychiatrists would invariably return with 5 different diagnoses. A diagnosis of schizophrenia forfeits fundamental human rights, ensures compulsory treatment with medication that does not resolve symptoms and often makes the patient worse. Schizophrenia is a 19th century Greek word without meaning and lacking value in the modern world. A more practical description is a state of mind in intense distress and existing in a form of psychosis. Essentially there is an absence of curiosity in human psychology. Psychiatry is less interested in ways of understanding the human condition that rely on detailed analyses of people’s inner worlds. Prozac and its multifarious side effects is currently the main discussion point. The human mind is capable of great beauty and cruelty, why this paradox?