Mental illness is difficult to define. Even in today’s society with the advancements we have made in social awareness, mental illness still seems to be a subject of uncertainty and confusion in the eyes of the general public. This ignorance stems from the lack of concrete answers on how these diseases develop as well as, for the most part, the lack of physical symptoms presented in those with various mental illnesses and disorders. For now, doctors have gathered that these issues come from a combination of several biological, psychological, and physiological factors, including, but not limited to, genetics, psychological trauma, sudden change in location or status, social expectations, or familial complications. Any combination of these stressors can affect a person who is susceptible to mental illness and disorders, potentially causing them to develop from an early age, or through adulthood.
The main category of mental illness I will be focusing on is psychosis, and the underlying conditions that go along with it. Psychosis is a condition that involves a severe mental break with reality, usually involving hallucinations, delusions, and other sensory issues that come about through schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, or excessive drug use. Within this category, studies have shown that entertainers, such as singers, dancers, actors, and others of the like, scored higher than the general public for psychotic traits, comedians scoring the highest among all of them. The traits in question were as follows: unusual experiences (belief in telepathy and paranormal events), cognitive disorganization (difficulty focusing thoughts), introversive anhedonia (reduced ability to feel social/physical pleasure, including avoidance of intimacy), and impulsive non-conformity (tendency toward impulsive, antisocial behavior). These studies believe that the high scores for these characteristics are the reason these people are able to perform, which also leads the general public to believe that every performer has to be disturbed in some way to be good.
Comedians in general are an interestingly peculiar niche of people, as they are both introverted and extroverted. They are willing to present themselves on stage in front of hundreds, perhaps even thousand of people, yet have trouble socializing and are more often than not withdrawn, interacting only with those they know. While psychosis is a severe disorder, and there is a big difference between having the disorder and showing traits for it, it is proposed that this is what helps comedians form new and interesting material, all the while providing an outlet for the more extroverted side as type of self-medication.
Mental illness can effect anyone, and more often than not can be a scary situation, especially since there is so little information on it as compared to physical illness; but in terms of entertainment, psychotic disorders may be the exact momentum needed to create a great performer. While not everyone suffers, most that do have certainly found ways to transform their problems to their benefit.
“Causes of Mental Illness”. WebMD. February 2014. Web. 26 October 2015.
Stang, Debra. “What Is Psychosis?” WiseGEEK. Ed. J.T. Gale. N.p., 12 Oct. 2015. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.
“Comedians Have ‘high Levels of Psychotic Traits’.” <i>BBC News</i>. N.p., 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
feedback was requested.
P1. I’m loving most of this, twofoursixohtwo, but a few things confuse me. Your second sentence observes that it’s “the general public” that can’t define mental illness. Is this a particular problem? Since we readers don’t know your thesis yet, we have no idea whether the scientific community or the public matter. Much of the rest of your paragraph is devoted to what doctors have learned about mental illness. So, which is it? By the end of the paragraph, we conclude that (after suggesting you might try to define mental illness) you’re not going to define mental illness. What, then, is the purpose of your paragraph? (By the way, your possibly pointless paragraph is very nicely written 🙂 .)
P2. Want a good way to start your essay? Good. Lose P1, or at least move it to later in the argument, and start with this: “Entertainers, particularly comedians, score higher than the general public for psychotic traits.” (You might want to rephrase that for punchiness: “Comedians are, to put it scientifically, certifiably psycho.”)
I’m serious, of course.
You’re a fine writer, twofoursixohtwo. You just need permission to write effectively which, in your case, means with a bit more abandon . . . not recklessness . . . but more freedom.
It’s very inhibited, right? Loosen up a little bit?
If you need permission to be blunt but clear in that way, I hereby grant you that permission.
P3. Good as far as it goes, but unclear in one essential. What’s the connection between psychosis and introversion/extroversion? I’m guessing none at all, so the transition from I/E to psychosis comes from nowhere. Your comment, therefore, about showing symptoms of psychosis seems completely irrelevant. Finally, your “THIS” helps comedians write material has an unclear antecedent. Is it their invisible psychosis? their I/E duality?
P4. Blah. Nothing of value here. Sorry, but it’s true.
Were these notes helpful, twofoursixohtwo?
Definitely helpful. I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to write pretty things without having much punch behind it, and while I wish I had jumped on that earlier, I will try my hardest to avoid that in my final pieces. Side note, I really appreciate the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern excerpt, it’s one on my favorite plays! 🙂
The idea that a comedian plays out his personal dramas on stage (saying in public things that are difficult enough to say in private) reminds me of a scene from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
PLAYER (to TRAGEDIANS, now departing with their cart, already taking various props off it.) Entrances there and there (indicating upstage).
(The PLAYER has not moved his position for his last four lines. He does not move now. GUIL waits.)
GUILDENSTERN: Well… aren’t you going to change into costume?
PLAYER: I never change out, sir.
GUILDENSTERN: Always in character.
PLAYER: That’s it.
GUILDENSTERN: Aren’t you going to – come on?
PLAYER: I am on.
GUILDENSTERN: But if you are on, you can’t come on. Can you?
PLAYER: I start on.
GUILDENSTERN: But it hasn’t started. Go on. We’ll look out for you.
PLAYER: I’ll give you a wave.
(He doesn’t move.)