Art and mental illness have a long history

Kanye West has been getting a lot of attention in the media lately.

While this comes as no surprise, as he has a history of making a fool out of himself in the public eye, there is something troubling about his more recent antics on Twitter and concerning his most recent album.

He claims to be the best musician alive today, the best who will ever live, and that he has the best ideas and everyone should invest in him because he is their favorite artist.

He even claims that he and Taylor Swift are friends, but in his song ‘Famous’, he takes the credit for her success and fame and says that he could still sleep with her.

His tweets are nonsensical, narcissistic, and some would say he is delusional.

Recently, Page Six released a video from Saturday Night Live where the rapper appears to be having a breakdown backstage before his performance. You can see the video, and other past rants from West, below.

*This content contains bad language. Viewer discretion is advised.

This article published on Shrink Tank in 2013 has psychologist Dr. Rachel Kitson detail what she thinks is wrong with Kanye based on a study of his behavior.

According to Dr. Kitson, Kanye appears to have a God complex and there is a possibility of a histrionic personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder.

He could have an unsuccessfully developed identity, or it could be the result of a near-fatal car crash in 2002 where Kanye was nearly killed. No matter what is actually wrong with him, it is clear that there is something that isn’t quite right.

But these recent antics have turned the commentary on West’s apparent mental health crisis from light-hearted into a more serious conversation. People are beginning to see less and less of an egomaniac on edge and more of a person who could truly be suffering and is crying out for help in an indirect way.

He may be an irritating human being, but the commentary surrounding his recent activities calls into question just how much “madness” truly goes on in the creative mind.

Some troubling statistics


The history of mental health in the arts

The history of the connection between mental health and creativity is a long and complicated one. The ancient Greeks believed that those who were mad were the most inspired, with creativity coming from the muses (the daughters of Zeus).

Even Lord Byron is quoted to have made a connection between the arts and melancholia, saying “we of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.”

The archetype of the tortured artist was born out of this idea that people in the arts all have something intrinsically different about their minds that make them capable of producing such beautiful or thought provoking pieces of art.

They may see the world in a different, truer way than the rest of the world does.

Restarting the conversation


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