Open Letter to Dr. Dan Gottlieb
Dear Dr. Dan,
So I’m driving around town today listening to NPR – I really should send you guys some money – and I catch your show: “Voices in the Family.”
You’re talking about Van Gogh, in reference to the “Van Gogh: Up Close” exhibit at the Art Museum.
My wife and family attended that show on its opening night and were delighted. I recommend everyone see it.
Now, let’s get down to business:
I know it wasn’t your plan to do it but again:
JUST STOP IT!
The way you and the authors of the latest biography of Vincent Van Gogh went on and on about the “connection” between creativity and insanity was atrocious.
I’m a painter. Not a great painter, but a good one. I sell … pretty well at a gallery in town – I’m no Van Gogh but you and your guests almost had me believing by the end of your show that the reason I’m not a great painter is because I don’t have any intention of cutting off a bodily appendage or shooting myself in a cornfield surrounded by a murder of crows.
I think we should all — psychologists, biographers and everyone in the public forum — stop perpetuating this romantic view of mental illness. It’s not good for the mental health discourse, the mental health caregivers, and certainly not for the patients.
AND IT’S NOT GOOD FOR ARTISTS!
What are we telling our toddlers when they come running to us, proudly, their finger paintings and clay ashtrays in hand? “Thanks Jane, it’s beautiful!
And so creative! We’re so proud! Honey, Janey here must really be psychologically disturbed! Maybe you’ll earn a scholarship to Bellvue!”
It always amazes me when a person who can’t imagine what it must be like to have an imagination dismisses this gift, a left handed compliment if there ever was one, as a brain disease. It must be! After all, if it isn’t I would certainly have it too!
Are there artist who are nuts? Yes.
Are there bankers who are nuts? Yes.
Are there more mentally ill artists than mentally ill bankers?
Are you kidding me?
Dr. Gottlieb: Please. Just … stop it.