Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 2 months ago

Did famous writers who had messed up personal lives have to be that way, or did they just not have modern day mental health care?


For example if James Joyce realized how unhealthy his lifestyle was and gave up booze and went to the gym, would he still be James Joyce? Interestingly Murakami Haruki has a very boring bougie personal life just to prove he just makes up his stories. 

In the same vein, Elmore Leonard was neither a cowboy or a gangster at any point in his life. 

Update 2:

Get on Prozac and off the booze is exactly what I have done. Does not answer the question. 

7 Answers

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Big Pharma corporate psychiatry... a.k.a. “modern day mental health care” the great destroyer of human creativity. The great leveler of human potentiality. Some of the most gifted people out there are the ones who tread the razor’s edge that often separates creativity from ‘madness’. 

    If gifted souls such as James Joyce were to have succumbed to the authority so many of us have today invested in the self-appointed arbiters of sanity we call “psychiatrists”, they might have considered themselves ‘cured’ and yet have had nothing to show for it but broken spirits and and a more ‘acceptable and appropriate’ obedience to such authority figures and the corporate- controlled society they serve, a society whose intention it is to ensure a steady supply of placid and obedient wage slave/consumers. 

    What better way to ensure such a supply than weeding out those who are ‘disruptive’ to the economically-determined status quo by virtue of their creativity and individuality, convincing them they are ‘mentally ill’, and appropriately subduing and ‘reforming’ them with psychiatric drugs and electroshock treatment etc. so they will cease to stray from the flock.

    If gifted and creative people from the past had been placed in this situation,  they might have obediently joined the ranks of the “Prozac nation” as you and I and so many others have done. But at what cost to history and culture?

    And ultimately, do not all those who have given over their autonomy and free will in such a fashion have to ask themselves on their deathbeds whose lives they had actually been living? Was it their own? Or somebody else’s...?

    “If my devils are to leave me, I am afraid my angels will take flight as well.”

    —Rainer Maria Rilke

  • 2 months ago

    What WE do is write about things, like your insincere questions here, constantly...  do not stop because people like you make my strange behavior life book -follows clown shoes first...excellent read about yourselves..  thx    keep up the good work...

  • 2 months ago

    I'm not sure what you mean by "have to be that way". We're all a product of our childhood and environment, so if you're asking if a writer have to be exactly the way he or she is in order to produce a specific work, then... probably yes. James Joyce might still be an author if he'd been born into an upper class British family, but I doubt he would have written exactly the same novels.

    All the novels I've written have been a product of my childhood, personal experience, and even the books I've read and programmes I've watched. When I was 15, we had to write a short story. I wrote about an alcoholic middle-aged man, trapped at sea on a broken sailboat. My teacher was completely bowled over. In the three years he'd been my teacher, I'd never seen him so excited about anything. He read the story out loud to the class, raved about how incredible it was for a 15-year-old girl to have such insight and understanding of a character like that. Well, let's just say that I did not pull that character out of hat.

    If you're asking if authors have to be mentally ill, alcoholics, or otherwise troubled to produce great work, then no, although the tortured artist trope is quite popular. And like you say, an author doesn't have to have personally experienced everything their character does.

  • Tina
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Joyce did not have a mixed up personal life, or a particularly unhealthy lifestyle. One of his daughters had a genuine mental problem, and it could be that he was also affected. I liked 'Dubliners' and 'Portrait of the Artist' as well as some of his verse, but 'Ulysses' and 'Finnegans Wake' are very positively not for me.

    Joyce had very poor eyesight, which meant he could not sight-read music. Otherwise he might have had a very respectable career as a tenor. As a student I regretted this very much. Joyce would have been happy as a singer and I would have been spared 'Ulysses.'

    You have rather odd ideas about writers - as if writing was something that could be cured by modern mental health care - which in some cases doesn't offer great advances on early 20 century health care - they can treat the more florid symptoms with largactil, but no one seems much further with finding the cause.

    Most writers are very quiet and unobtrusive people who suffer nothing worse than the delusion that they will one day be published, and it will *matter*.

    Yes I am, yes I have and no it didn't.

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  • Cogito
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Having a messed up personal life does not equate to being mentally ill or needing psychiatric treatment of any kind.

    And the physical health of a writer is largely unconnected to his or her work.What you're asking and saying makes very little sense.And a bougie is either a medical instrument or the French word for 'candle'.

  • Andrew
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Plenty of people experience all sorts of trauma in their personal life. That hardly equates to those people being mentally ill or requiring psychological counseling. What you seem to be asking is "Why doesn't everybody think like me, see things exactly the way I do, and follow the parameters I've set when it comes to normal and acceptable behaviour?" And if you can't see why that's a very stupid question then maybe it's you who ought to speak with a mental health professional. 

  • j153e
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    So Molly is Leopold's personal trainer, and she soliloquizes "I was a Personal Fitness Trainer at Herberton Leisure yes when I put the sweat band on my head just like the Cadence Ireland girls and how we sweated on the StairMaster and his heart rate was in the zone and I said yes you are in excellent health."

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