Ginsberg, Madness, and Creativity

In a slight twist on the concept of madness and creativity going together, a psychiatrist, with access to the records on poet Allen Ginsberg’s psychiatric stay, says the hospitalization was good for the poet.

“Somebody just asked me over the weekend,” Hadda recalls, ” ‘Don’t you think that if so-and-so had had psychiatric care, he would not have been as great an artist?’ This is an absolutely pervasive idea: that mental health somehow blunts creativity. I hear it all the time.”

That notion, she says, “can be personally destructive to people” who could benefit from therapy, “but feel that they will cease to be themselves. It’s a very old idea: that madness and creativity go together. Which they often do, but the opposite isn’t necessarily true. I know there are a lot of mad people who are not creative. Most of them, I think.”

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