Stop Falling For the Tortured Artist Myth

Artists, great or not, get to be happy too.

Photo by Ari He on Unsplash
Photo by Liel Anapolsky on Unsplash

‘Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says “But, doctor… I am Pagliacci.’’ (from Watchmen)

The Sad Clown paradox explains a dichotomy that some comedians face. Certain kinds of humor can be attributed to a difficult childhood. Comedy is a way to cope with such situations and is usually the most effective. If you can laugh at your own traumatizing experiences, or at day-to-day euphemisms for them, then you aren’t a victim to them anymore. Humor is also used to cope with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

The way artists perceive the world happens to leave them more vulnerable to mental illness.

Creativity and mood disorders come from similar minds, but don’t cause one other.

Here are two reminders that need to be more commonly recognized:

1. Artists can be happy.

Hey, we’re both tiny specks in a universe full of stars that happened to exist at the same time. Cool!