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Illness as Inspiration

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But at least one professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago reels at what he calls a stereotype -- the mental illness-inspiration link. "That's folklore," Randy Vick, MS, tells WebMD. "Creative people have diabetes, cancer, mental illness. It's a kind of discrimination, a romanticizing of mental illness. It doesn't hold up. People in any field have those tremendous bursts of energy, whether they are carpenters, farmers, or artists. It's a terrible stereotype that's not doing anyone a favor."

Whether medication is detrimental to the creative process is controversial, Rothe tells WebMD. "Some believe a little creativity is lost. ... But the artist who becomes too manic-depressive, too psychotic, or depressed is not functional. The idea with medication is to bring them to the point where they can function but still retain their creativity."

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