[Dixielandjazz] Creativity and Mental Illness

Bob Loomis miltloomis at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 23 09:40:25 PST 2007

   Can't let this thread go by without adding my
.02 worth on several aspects of the topic.
   -- Attributing mental illness to demon
possession in a day and age when science and
medicine have come a long way in being able to
control even serious forms of it is quite a
stretch. To me it reveals an ignorance of the
problem beyond its traditional religious view. To
me this smacks of superstition. I say this with
all due respect for anyone's right to his/her
beliefs, but just a little careful research
should provide enough information on the state of
diagnosis and treatment of forms of mental
illness to move beyond demonization.
    -- I don't believe Hal was "feeling sorry for
the perp rather than the victim,"  to paraphrase.
It is possible, particularly if you've had any
dealings over a period of time with a mentally
ill person, to feel sorry for both victim and
    -- Regarding violence commited by the
mentally ill, the percentage of the mentally ill
who physically harm anyone but themselves is
miniscule. They are victims, not of any violent
crime but of an illness that often can be
controlled with proper meds. 
   -- The sad fact is that most people are
ignorant of how to identify even the most
elemental signs of mental disorders. Often those
who do harm others physically or who commit
suicide give strong and obvious signs of illness
for long periods and no one tries to help them
get treatment. They are simply considered "weird"
or "moody" or "f----- up." 
    -- The other sad fact is that like most
advanced medical treatment these days, it is so
expensive that obtaining really good care is too
costly for most people. That's a HUGE topic that
goes way beyond jazz and creativity and I won't
say more here. 
   As to jazz and creativity, I would guess that
a higher percentage of musicians and other
artists is afflicted with mental disorders than
the broad populace. Some sources now estimate
that 20% of U.S. population suffers from some
form of mental illness. That artists probably
would be more often afflicted would seem to me to
fit with their generally being in the higher
ranges of intelligence, and, as someone (Steve
B?) pointed out, and thus marginalized in a sense
already and thought by many of their less
intelligent peers to be "weird." 
   Again, just my .02 worth from decades of
dealing with two seriously mentally disordered
   And from working to control my own demons,
too, I suppose. ;^)

Bob Loomis
Concord CA



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