September 8, 2011

The Country Girl: Are creativity and addiction connected?

By Administrator
Country Girl

Many of us have known addicts like The Country Girl’s Frank Elgin: talented and amiable in public, but in private, woefully dependent on loved ones who spend much of their time working to maintain the polite facade. Georgie Elgin believes personal problems fueled her husband’s alcoholism and wrecked his career:

UNGER: Tell me….why did Frank begin to drink?

GEORGIE: There’s no one reason a man becomes a drinker. You should know that — you’re a writer, Mr. Unger. Looking back . . . I’d say bad judgment started him off. He had some money once, but you don’t know my Frank — he wanted to be his own producer — eighty thousand went in fifteen months, most of it on two bad shows.  I didn’t know a thing about it — he was afraid to tell me. A year later we lost our child . . . it was awesome how he went for the bottle . . . he just didn’t stop after that.

Frank Elgin might be a forerunner of contemporary celebrities whose calamities become tabloid fodder.  These days, not a week seems to go by without our hearing about another entertainer’s substance abuse problem.  Why might this be?

Some psychologists believe that creative people feel more intensely.  The late Polish psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski wrote that talented people may experience “increased mental excitability, depressions, dissatisfaction with oneself, feelings of inferiority and guilt, states of anxiety, inhibitions, and ambivalences — all symptoms which the psychiatrist tends to label psychoneurotic.”   As intense and sensitive people, artists may self-medicate to dampen these uncomfortable feelings.

Are creative people more prone to addictions than others?
What do you think?

Comments are moderated.

The Country Girl plays at Gunston Theater II through October 8, 2001.

6 Responses to “The Country Girl: Are creativity and addiction connected?”

  1. QueenEm Says:
    September 15th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I think creative people are as prone to addiction as others, but theirs often become more public – during and after.

  2. Heather Says:
    September 15th, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if creative people were more prone to addiction than the general population, all other things being equal, because they are so hypersensitive – and not just in a negative pop-psychology way, but in that they register experiences more deeply and are more sensitive to stimuli, which can be very positive also. The dark side of that is the inability to shake things off easily, which can lead to self-medication in order to keep working at an optimum level even while dealing with inner pain.

  3. Bill Says:
    September 16th, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    I dont think that creative people are more likely to be addictive then others. If anything I think they are less likely. Ive worked in construction, white collar, and been a Marine and I can tell you for the most part theater people drink less as a group over all then those others.

  4. Headlinzman Says:
    September 16th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I don’t know about all that. But anyone who watches Inside The Actor’s Studio could tell you there’s an unholy high percentage of talented actors from that guest list who have such issues in their families, effecting their childhoods.

  5. Ray Says:
    September 17th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I think it is because we hear of the problems of creative personalities in the news. Who knows how many people who are not creative out there have addiction problems and just have not been noticed?

  6. Steven Scott Mazzola Says:
    September 29th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Having directed the show, it’s been interesting to go back and see it and think about the idea of “the bug” theatre people often speak about. “When did you get the bug?” you hear in interviews or when actors are introducing themselves. Having not searched the origin of that idea-that the origin of someone’s art-making can be thought of as a bug bite-I’ve always thought of this as when did an artist give up or lose control end enter this period of just constantly needing to make or be a part of art. Like an addiction. As much as the play is about life with the addicitive personality of an alcoholic, it’s also very much about the hot and cold relationship artists have with their craft and where it takes them. In that way, Monday’s terrific performance showed it’s as much Bernie’s performance as director as it is Frank’s performance as actor and Georgie’s art of survival.