BY: Ken Levine
Oh boy! As if we didn’t have enough problems – network notes, agents not returning our calls, Final Draft 9 — a new study is linking writers to mental illness. Swell. Xanex, anyone?
Andreas Fink at the University of Graz in Austria (which is why their basketball team in not in the NCAA tourney this weekend), found a relationship between the ability to dream up ideas and the inability to turn off that function in the brain that is always thinking. (those whocan turn off their thinking portions of their brains are called Trump supporters.) We writers are constantly making associations between external events and internal memories. Make it stop!
Another study claimed successful individuals were eight times more likely as “regular” people to suffer from a serious depressive illness (which is good because if Trump gets elected there will be no health care).
Lots of successful scribes have battled with extreme depression. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Twain, Dickinson, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill – just pick any writer Woody Allen reveres.
The theory as to why there is rampant depression is the following: We think a lot, we’re often isolated, and we tend to be narcissists. And that’s for the good writers. Imagine how much worse it is for shitty writers.
Rewriting also leads to our madness. It requires near obsession and self-criticism – bad qualities if you want mental well-being or to work at Disneyland. This surprises me because rewriting is always such fun.
And then this from the article I read: “Writers are often such terrible lovers because they treat real people as characters, malleable and at their authorial will.” We’re bad lovers TOO?
That’s a lot to sacrifice for (non-existent) cable residuals.
And don’t get the researchers started on alcohol use.
Still, every profession comes with its price. I don’t see many happy plumbers. And the big problem for me is: yes, writing causes depression, but I would be more depressed if I couldn’t write.