Imperfect Mind

Night

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) in New Zealand.

MHAW is endorsed by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) and marked in over 150 countries. It usually falls during the week of October to include World Mental Health Day (WMHD) 10 October.

While definitions, descriptions and various other attempts to somehow distinguish healthy from unhealthy mind have changed over the centuries; creative artists of all creeds have remained the main recipients.

British poet Roddy Lumsden wrote that; ‘a poet confessing to mental illness is like a weight lifter admitting to muscles’.

Popular stereotype has long classified poets as depressed and creative scientist as mad. The notion that there is a direct link between creativity and madness reaches as far back as Aristotle when he wrote that eminent philosophers, politicians, poets and artists all have tendencies towards ‘melancholia’.

Numerous examples of famous creative minds inhabiting mysterious halls, which those looking from the outside termed mental illnesses, followed throughout history; from Isaac Newton, Ludwig van Beethoven, Leo Tolstoy, Robert Schumann, Vincent van Gogh, to Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, John Nash, Sylvia Plath … to mentioned just a few.

Poets seems especially apt inhabitants; Emily Dickinson stated that ‘Much madness is Divinest sense’, while Edgar Allan Poe wrote; ‘Men have called me mad but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence.’

They, and many others, pierced the darkness with the shiniest torches of them all – those of art. And in doing so illuminated many winding and precarious roads humans travel on. 

Were they mad or just exceptionally gifted? Is the former prerequisite for the later? Or is it the other way around – writing poetry drives one to madness?

And what is madness anyway? Does anyone really know where the illusive line that differentiates between healthy and unhealthy mind lies?

I know not … there are numerous serious doctors, psychoanalysts, and scientist preoccupied with this topic. They inevitably develop ever newer terminologies, classifications and drugs to go with it. To soothe and numb one’s minds sufficiently to function amongst the healthy, normal population.

The same healthy, normal population that starts bloody wars, tolerates corrupt leaderships, inflicts devastating cruelties, and otherwise tortures the fellow humans.

Really, I know not … all I can do is just to write few lines … and so here they go:  

She does not write poetry often

I do not write poetry often, she said. We were sitting on the bare concrete steps, still warm from the early summer sun. 

Why don’t you?

Oh it hurts too much, she said. It makes me ill.

Longing in my limbs throbs with aching, and

Ocean becomes too heavy in my eyes. 

Just walking the whole night alone,

Over the stones, and shingle and sand,

Into those graves unnamed, 

Where birch trees grove tall and lonely.

It hurts too much. 

What do you write then?

Anything, anything at all … but not poetry.

Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

29 thoughts on “Imperfect Mind”

  1. ‘Where they mad or just exceptionally gifted?’… I think you meant to say were they mad?
    I think we are all to some extent mad and the variance is in degrees. It’s impossible to draw the line between sanity and insanity. I think every genius is potentially mad🙂

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    1. Oh, sorry about that mistake (again -:)) Thank you so much for pointing it out -:) I am going to correct it right away … my mind does not seem to have ‘correct spelling’ software installed -:)! Most likely because it was made in Croatia!

      The ‘line’ has always been blurry … especially when it comes to creative minds.
      Many thanks for visiting, reading and commenting (and helping me out -:))

      Daniela

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  2. Society feels compelled to ‘cure’ anything that does not neatly fit its categories. Working within the status quo, I applaud its efforts to identify and constrain the ‘harmful’ subcategory of the ‘imperfect mind’. However, it may possibly be time to re-define and re-label the ‘creative’ variant, with all its contributions to our current understanding of the world? Enjoyed this thoroughly, Daniela. Until your next thought-provoking post🙂 Love, F x

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    1. Hi my dear -:)

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting,
      Your visits always make me happy -:)!
      And ideed I do agree; ‘creative variant’ does not lend itself to categories easily, if at all.

      Many thanks,
      Daniela

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      1. Molim, i drugi put🙂
        Tu, kod tebe, uvijek ima svašta zanimljivog za pročitati, tako da mi je ovo mjesto postalo svakodnevna oaza za opuštanje. A usput, vježbam engleski🙂

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      2. To mi je tako drago cuti!
        Ja ne pisem, slusam ili govorim Hrvatski vec godinama (nazalost) i tako mi je posebno drago kada me ovdje posjeti netko iz starog kraja …
        Hvala Puno
        Danijela

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  3. good post. I hate labels and I like what Martin Luther King said, “we should be creatively maladjusted”. So many gifted and highly sensitive people struggle with depression. I prefer to think that we are all human and experience varying moods at different times in our lives, but many factors contribute to better mental health, such as diet, exercise and proper nutrition. Creative activities help me to focus on positive things in life.

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    1. Hi,

      Yes, depression is one of those ‘blanket’ diagnosis/descriptions so widely used today that it covers everything from feeling sad because something terribly sad has happened on one’s life, to ‘explaining’ creative energy. I agree indeed with your notion that being a human and experiencing life as a human brings whole array of moods and states of mind. And we are all experiencing it, just in our own, unique ways.
      Many thanks,
      Daniela

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  4. The pack seems to determine what is normal and what is not. Those who do not fit in may be seen as “mad” or out of touch with reality and often, creative genius leaves people outside the lines, creating depression and descent into actual madness. Hmmmmm. My humble opinion.

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    1. Indeed you are right, when one sees the world in somewhat different way, outside the line of what is accepted as ‘normal’ … the one fells outside the main stream.
      Thank you very, very much for reading and commenting,
      Kind Regards,
      Daniela

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    1. My dear Janet,

      Thank you very, very much!
      I truly appreciate your comment, especially since I am never ever ‘sure’ of my poetry (or any other writings for that matter).
      Kind Regards,
      Daniela

      Like

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