Why do so many creative people throughout history — so many great artists and geniuses such as Robin Williams — seem to be touched by what the ancient Greek thinkers called “divine madness”?
And which came first for those graced by this “gift from the gods” — the genius or the madness?
Twenty-four centuries later, we are still puzzling, reminded once again of the seeming link between creativity and mental illnesses by the shocking suicide of Williams this week in his California home. He was 63, had long battled substance abuse and had recently sought treatment for depression.
Instantly, we recalled other artists who followed the same tragic path, a lengthy list that includes painters, poets, writers, musicians and designers: Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Kurt Cobain, Alexander McQueen to name just a few of the famous creative individuals who suffered from depression and committed suicide.