Thursday, July 12, 2012

August Strindberg and Schizophrenia

Strindberg is fascinating for those wishing to understand creative intersections with schizophrenia.  Strindberg rose to prominence with plays such as Miss Julie and The Father.  His plays were performed around the world, in particular in Paris and Berlin (and towards the end of his life in America).  In his forties he experienced a psychotic episode, and detailed his illness in a book called Inferno, which he wrote from diaries entries he kept during the time.  The book is full of psychotic traces.  He believed that someone was trying to kill him using electrical currents from a machine in the room above his. He believed that lighting strikes in his area were specifically designed for him (a delusion known as a delusion of self-reference).  The world was full of heightened and special significance for him, and he felt directed by these meanings.  He believed that special 'Powers' were directing his life.  In one instance, on the eve of departure for an overseas trip, he said he couldn't go, because the Powers forbade it.

How could one of such outstanding creative talent believe in such things?  Because schizophrenia can bring with it great creative outpourings which Strindberg was able to harness to create his oeuvre.

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