The Effect of Mental Illnesses on Art Throughout Different Time Periods

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1285 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Apr 30, 2020

Words: 1285|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Apr 30, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Realism Period
  3. Romanticism Period
  4. Modern Day
  5. Conclusion


Green, brown, red, and blue are colors that at an early age humans have learned to associate with certain objects. When thinking of grass or leaves, our minds tend to paint them the color green. Over the years art and its influences have changed the way people see things. A group of people who have always seen the world differently are those who suffer from mental illness. Today, Mental illness is defined as disorders that affects your mood, thinking, and behavior. Depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors are all types of mental illness. Scientist do not know the exact reason behind the causes of mental illness, but research shows that the conditions are caused by a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. In the study, “Causes of Mental Illness”, scientists prove that “Some mental illnesses have been linked to abnormal functioning of nerve cell circuits or pathways that connect particular brain regions. Nerve cells within these brain circuits communicate through chemicals called neurotransmitters”. Even though in some cases it may not seem like it, mental illness is treatable. Humans who have a mental illness today are able to control it by expressing their feelings, thoughts, and actions or through creativity such as paintings, sculptures, and drawings. To what extent have mental illnesses throughout different time periods had an effect on paintings, drawings, and sculptures? Humans have learned to cope with mental illness by using different types of art as forms of communication and ways to express themselves.

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Realism Period

Artist of all kind have turned to creative outlets to help battle their mental illness. Vincent Van Gogh was one of many artists who had a mental illness. He was born on March 30, 1853 in Zerdant, Netherlands and he’s also known for his paintings and drawings. Because of his illness, he cut off his left earlobe with a razor blade. In the article “Art For The Soul And Mind” by Abida Chowdhury wrote “Vincent van Gogh's struggles with mental health problems are no secret either. Gogh, who cut off his ear after an argument with his friend Paul Gauguin, and later killed himself, swayed heavily between genius and madness”. Due to Van Gogh’s mental illness, he was hospitalized forcing restrictions on his creative influences. While in the hospital, he created one of his last works known as The Starry Night. Today, we believe in the freedom of expression. Painting was the only way that Van Gogh could express the thoughts that were running through his mind, but while he was in the hospital, his creative vision was limited. Van Gogh was not the only artist who suffered from a mental illness in the Realism period.

Edvard Munch is an artist who has also suffered from an illness. He is known for his paintings and graphings. Munch was born in Adalsbruk, Norway in the year of 1863. The article “Creativity and Mental illness II: The Scream” Albert Rothenberg, M. D. , writes “The diagnosis of bipolar disorder with psychosis is based on his own diary descriptions of visual and auditory hallucinations”. . . One painting that is well known all around the world that was created by Munch is The Scream. Edvard Munch was hallucinogenic which means that he saw and heard things that were not really there. In his painting, The Scream, there is a man who is on a bridge. The man’s face is in an oval shape and his eyes are very wide. The facial expressions show that he is hearing or seeing something that really are not there. The Scream is a painting that represents Edvard Munch’s hallucinations. Decades ago, there was no technology or science like there is today. When a human being would say that they were hearing noises or seeing images that really were not there, other people just thought that they were crazy. Because of the technology that scientist have now, humans know that when people say those things, they are hallucinating.

Romanticism Period

Going even further back into time, another artist who suffered with mental illness is Francisco De Goya. De Goya was born on March 30, 1746 in Fuendetodos, Spain.

In the article, “4 Artists Who Suffered Mental Illness (And How It Affected Their Art)” by Rute Ferreira, they state “More current speculations suggest that Goya suffered from Susac Syndrome, a disease that in addition to causing hearing loss and vision, also causes brain and balance problems”. As a painter, vision is something that is heavily relied on. Since De Goya was blind, it created a challenge for him. In order for De Goya to create a piece of artwork that has carried over centuries and is still recognized today is extremely incredible considering his illnesses. Just like De Goya, Richard Dadd also had mental issues. Dadd was born on August 1, 1817 in Chatham, United Kingdom. He is known for masterpieces such as The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke. Karen Stock wrote “Richard Dadd, an academically trained young artist who exhibited at the Royal Academy, suddenly descended into madness in 1843 and murdered his father who he believed to be an impostor. Dadd spent forty-two years in institutions for the criminally insane. During that time he was encouraged by his doctors to paint and continued to produce art work which included a large series, Sketches to Illustrate the Passions (1853–57)”. Richard Dadd was an artist who had schizophrenia which lead to disturbing incidents in his life. Dadd believed that his father was the devil, and because of this, he stabbed his father to death in the throat with a razor blade. Not too much longer after Richard Dadd murdered his father, he made his way to France where he killed a tourist with a razor blade as well. Schizophrenia is when humans have a false perception of life and can cause problems like the ones that Richard Dadd caused. Knowing whether or not someone has schizophrenia is important because if people know about it, then there is a chance that it could be treated whereas if no one knows, then certain things will not turn out pretty.

Modern Day

Figuring out if someone has a mental illness is still strongly important today. Scientist have been able to create technology that benefits humans in better ways. The technology that we have today is able to tell the cause, the solution, and what medication is needed for a mental illness. The treatments for these mental illnesses are affecting creativity. For example, my older brother, Dustin Delaune, has anxiety and takes medication for this illness. Dustin loves to perform, but his anxiety often times stops him from doing this. By taking the medication, he is able to put his anxiety behind him and focus on the thing he loves such as performing. Humans all over the world that have a mental illness are still able to function and take place in activities they love. According to studies, “Nearly one in five (19 percent) U. S. adults experience some form of mental illness”. “One in 24 (4. 1 percent) has a serious mental illness”. “One in 12 (8. 5 percent) has a diagnosable substance use disorder. ”

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It is important to note that artists like these when talking about creating art while having a mental illness. In history, when Van Gogh and De Goya were living, they did not have the science, technology, or medication that we have today. These two artists were able to create something very valuable and memorable with little to no assistance. Suffering from a mental illness should not stop someone from doing what they are passionate about. “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Albus Dumbledore.

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The Effect of Mental Illnesses on Art Throughout Different Time Periods. (2020, April 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 14, 2024, from
“The Effect of Mental Illnesses on Art Throughout Different Time Periods.” GradesFixer, 30 Apr. 2020,
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