Why Artists Go Crazy

21 Jan

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We know the stories. The alcoholic musician. The chair-jumping actor. Of course there are many reasons why these characters take a weird turn. Sure genetics and personality are risk factors, but I think there is one particular and under-appreciated reason. Artists go crazy because our education system teaches them to be crazy.

The world teaches everyone to be responsible. Get a good job. Find a husband. Buy an Audi. However, artists take a different path. They ignore this advice. They grow up on a curriculum of creation, risk, and rejection. Their teachers are the audience. They are graded by applause (or lack thereof).

Educator reformer Ken Robinson said, “…this is exactly why some of the most successful people you’ll ever meet didn’t do well at school. Education is the system that’s supposed to develop our natural abilities and enable us to make our own way in the world. Instead, it is stifling the individual talents and abilities of too many students and killing their motivation to learn.”

So, if the artist is going to be successful she must learn to ignore advice. She must learn to trust in her own intuition above that of the expert, because the expert’s allegiance is to the status quo.  Teachers. Friends. Family. They may even have good intentions, but the system itself does not encourage impractical pursuits. So what happens to the artist?

He learns that common sense doesn’t make a lot of sense. Advice doesn’t have a lot of value and that sanity is oppression. Is it any wonder that artists go crazy? Is it any wonder that we want to be like them?

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