All Writers have Some Mental Illness.
So, here’s my theory after doing nearly a whole class in psych nursing: Writers are merely a milder form of schizophrenia.
I’m not trying to be mean or insensitive. Honest! This I think is the reason why some people can be writers and others (say, my mom) can’t barely come up with a plot. I’ll show you.
- In general, people with schizophrenia will hear voices and/or see hallucinations. These voices can, on occasion, be their friend.
- Moreover, people with paranoid schizophrenia can have it all understood to themselves how one thing in another country without any electricity can control their mind. (One person in the 80s, my teacher said, was convinced a place in Chicago controlled his thoughts. Chicago is 10 hours away from here and we did not have wireless internet at this time.) They can explain it all in complex detail in fact.
- Lastly, it is common enough that people with schizophrenia will have another mental illness on top of the initial one. Even if they don’t, one of the problems with schizophrenia is the apathy of life they have, quite similar to depression.
So now, let’s look at writers.
- Writers commonly say, in more or less words, that their characters talk to them. Dean Koontz (Probably not the best example but…) said in a podcast a long time ago that he almost heard a character’s voice plain as day and started writing a book based on that. And if you read other authors’ FAQs, they’ll say that the story came basically out of nowhere.
- Writers need to have everything, all the little, complex impossible details, figured out just how the paranoid schizophrenic has everything figured out how the government is watching him. Good writers just make the reader go, “Wow.” when they are finished explaining everything.
- And finally, think about all the famous writers that you’ve heard had some kind of mental illness. The list goes on and on. Georgia O’Keeffe, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald,, and George Eliot, all had depression (with the possible exception of Hemingway, who may have had bipolar.)
So although I don’t think that all writers have a full blown case of schizophrenia, or even a diagnosable case of schizophrenia, I think that most of us writers are closer to the schizophrenic side than not.