"The Effects of Diseases, Drugs and Chemicals on the Creativity and Productivity of Famous Sculptors, Classic Painters, Classic Music Composers and Authors" is the name of an article by University of California pathologist Paul L. Wolfhas. From the article, published in this month's Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine:
The phrase “the inhumanity of medicine” has been used by Sir David Weatherall, Oxford's Regius Professor of Medicine, for a kind of sickness in modern technological medicine.1 In 1919, one of his predecessors, Sir William Osler, had the remedy for that complaint. Osler suggested that the “arts” secrete materials that do for society what the thyroid does for human beings. The arts, including literature, music, painting, and sculpture, are the hormones that enhance an increased human approach to the medical profession.2,3
Illness has affected the artistic achievement of musical composers, classical painters, creative authors, and sculptors. Illness affected their physical and mental status as well. Their inspiration may have been shaped by their human condition. The associations between illness and art may be close and many because of both the actual physical limitations of the artists and their mental adaptation to disease. Although they were ill, many continued to be productive. The afflictions these people endured probably could have been ascertained and perhaps treated with modern medical techniques.
This article analyzes the effects of drugs, chemicals, and diseases on the creativity and productivity of the famous sculptors Benvenuto Cellini and Michelangelo Buonarroti; classic painters Ivar Arosenius, Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, and Michelangelo; classic music composer Louis Hector Berlioz; and author Thomas De Quincey.
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