Is writing like hearing voices? The Mad Genius blog

Here is an interesting article by a writer comparing what she experiences to hearing voices and other realities. There seems to be a sliding scale that can go up and down that transfers an experience from creativity to madness dont you think?


Did Van Gogh Hear Voices?

Some say that the reason that Van Gogh cut off his ear was because he was hearing voices. I guess we will never know. However many voice hearers are extremely sensitive and creative people.

Here is a quote I read, written by him, which I think is very apt.

“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
Vincent Van Gogh “

Emma Thompson says work saved her from ‘going under’ in her battle with depression

This article was in the New Zealand Herald today. I found it online at the Telegraph website here

I posted this article as I think it is important to see that people from all walks of life can have these experiences. She also talks of the Voices in  Her head. It does not say if this is in  the literal sense.

“By Roya Nikkhah, Arts Correspondent
Published: 8:30AM BST 28 Mar 2010

 Speaking on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs,[you can listen to her Desert Island Disc session here] the Oscar-winning actress described being crippled throughout her life by the condition, which she first suffered while playing the leading role in a West End revival of the musical Me and My Girl in the 1980s.

She said: “I think my first bout of that was when I was doing Me and My Girl, funnily enough.

“I really didn’t change my clothes or answer the phone, but went into the theatre every night and was cheerful and sang the Lambeth Walk.

“That’s what actors do. But I think that was my first bout with an actual clinical depression.”

During the programme, which is broadcast today, Kirsty Young, the presenter, asked Thompson about a five-year period during the 1990s, when she starred in seven films, was nominated for five Oscars and was also divorced from the actor and director, Kenneth Branagh.

Asked how she stayed sane, Thompson replied: “I don’t think I did stay sane, actually. It was tough. I think I probably should have sought professional help long before I actually did, for all sorts of reasons.

“Yes, divorce, ghastly, painful business but also fame, in some ways a ghastly, painful business as well. You become slightly more public property in a way that’s not necessarily always comfortable.”

Thompson, 50, who is married to the actor Greg Wise, described how writing the screenplay for the film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, in which she starred alongside Wise and Kate Winslet, helped her overcome another period of severe depression during the breakdown of her first marriage.

She said: “The only thing I could do was write. I used to crawl from the bedroom to the computer and just sit and write, and then I was alright, because I was not present.

“Sense and Sensibility really saved me from going under, I think, in a very nasty way.”

The star of films including Nanny McPhee, Love Actually and An Education, also described acting as “an escape from myself, which I’m ashamed to say I enjoy very much.”

Asked what she was escaping, Thompson said: “Oh, you know, the voices in my head. The constant “must do better”, “must try harder” plus “you’re too fat and not really a very good mother”.

“That punitive conscience is part of my psychiatric problem.”

Thompson also recounted how Wise initially pursued Winslet during the filming of Sense and Sensibility, because a soothsayer had told him that he would meet his future wife on the set.

She said: “Of course I was still married, so he thought it was Winslet and courted her assiduously. ..

See the rest of the article on the link above.

Here is an excerpt.


Another inspiring story. Another highly intelligent genius among us! See the full article on the LOS ANGELES TIMES

Artist Mark Bradford, USC’s Elyn Saks win MacArthur grants

They are among 24 who will each receive $500,000 in the next five years. Bradford specializes in collages with found objects. Saks’ schizophrenia has informed her advocacy for the mentally ill.

A Los Angeles artist who specializes in incorporating found objects into his pieces and a USC law professor whose own battle with schizophrenia has informed her advocacy for those suffering from mental illness are among the 24 winners of this year’s “genius” grants from the MacArthur Foundation.

Mark Bradford, Elyn Saks and 22 other winners will each receive $500,000 over the next five years to spend any way they please…

Saks, 53, suffered from schizophrenia all her life, but kept it hidden while excelling in her academic studies, receiving a philosophy degree from Oxford University and a law degree from Yale University before joining the faculty at USC. She is also an adjunct professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego, where she does research about society’s rejection of the mentally ill and how high-functioning schizophrenics cope.

Saks came out of the mental health closet with her 2007 memoir, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.” The book described the night terrors she had suffered throughout her life, her earlier beliefs that she had mentally caused the deaths of thousands of people, and the often-inhumane treatment she had received at mental health facilities.

Saks said in an interview Monday that she would use at least some of the prize money to extend her memoir by interviewing other people with schizophrenia who are doing well.

“When I’m traveling, people always say, ‘You’re unique.’ Well, I’m really not,” she said. “I would just like to tell other people’s stories as well to further give people hope and understanding. . . . Some of their stories are just so inspirational.”

The awards have been given for nearly three decades by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “to celebrate and support exceptional men and women of all ages and in all fields who dream, explore, take risks, invent, and build in new and unexpected ways in the interest of shaping a better future for us all.”

It is pleasing to see more and more people standing up to change the perceptions abound on hearing voices.


Britney Spears hearing voices. New Weekly Magazine Feb 16 2009

An excerpt from the above magazine article pg 10 called “BRIT’S SECRET DIARIES EXPOSED”

Britney Spears has found herself in the middle of yet another crisis after her personal diaries were stolen and details of her private life exposed. The handwritten journals and video diaries that disappeared from her Berverley Hills Home contain never before revealed details of the singers fragile mental state in the lead-up to her hospitilisation.

  “Britney writes that shes heard voices for years”, says another insider. “She still hears them, and they tell her to run away and hide. She can’t get them out of her head.”

The diaries also reveal that the real reason behind Brit’s shocking head-shaving incident after she checked out of a rehab facility in February 2007.

“She beleived someone had planted an electronic bug in her hair and couldnt think of a way to get rid of it except to have her head shaved!” says the insider.

“She confides that she was out of her head at the time and was suffering from delusions.”

end of excerpt.

I think the above just indicates the strength of Britney Spears to pick herself back up, and pull her life back together. Hearing  of voices can be experienced by anybody rich or poor, young or old. With the right support and advice,  we can learn to control the voices and integrate them into a meaningful life. 

May Britney succeed with hers.