One thing that I’ve noticed and have been noticing recently is that, frequently, intelligence and/or creative talent may be accompanied by neurosis. This is by no means an exhaustive, statistically ratified study: More from observation of myself, my friends and my family.

Often, said observed person will suffer from near-constant self-doubt and lowered self-esteem, despite the intense effort and good quality of work they produce. It’s arguable that this inability to recognise one’s own success (not quite perfectionism, but often mistaken for such) is what drives such people towards making improvements in their skills and abilities. Unfortunately, as useful as this sounds it does mean that no matter how much success you have you can never really take joy in it. It’s a horrible state of affairs to be in, and no amount of conscious, rational thought can ever really override the internal feeling of self-hatred and fill that gaping hole of confidence.

It’s a common cliché, I think, the self-deprecating genius who doesn’t know their own worth. But is neurosis really all that prevalent in intelligent people? Most of the people I know at work who are smart and successful seem to be perfectly well-adjusted people, balanced in both work and home lives. They don’t seem to exhibit much of the weirdness I feel, even though I know for a fact that they’re five times more smarter than I am (self-putdown, flippant, avoidant).

Maybe that’s the problem, though: I’ve been watching trailers for some detective show called ‘Perception’, which features a mentally ill main character who solves crime. He represents what I would view as ‘Hollywood mental disorders’, the kind of flamboyant schizophrenic disconnect that means he talks to hallucinations that ultimately help him with the task at hand.

Ever talk to somebody with a real mental disorder? Ever EXPERIENCED mental disorder? Having a breakdown is terrifying. You can be sitting there, sobbing, unable to physically move, and if this happens in public you’re subject to the staring eyes of all and sundry. A small part of your mind is floating just outside of your body, wondering what the hell is going on. Wondering what all the fuss is about. But the other mind is so wrapped up in the fear and the self-loathing that all it can do is seize control of the body and let out all the pain and anguish it’s been storing up, so as not to burden anyone else. That’s real mental disorder. Not standing on chairs conducting imaginary orchestras. Not simply acting ‘quirky’ or ‘eccentric’. Anybody who’s ever had a conversation with a schizophrenic about their experiences knows how disturbing the inability to establish the line between internal and external stimuli truly is.

Having said that, though, it is somewhat encouraging to see people with mental disorders portrayed in a more positive light. Okay, so it may be the Disney version of a schizotypal condition, but he still manages to get on with life, to add value to that fiction’s society. I think we need more characters like this, who must live with the fact that they have issues and still can live their lives as they want. Not boxed in by the preconceptions of others, or by what authors expect of readers. Neither should they be portrayed as something fantastic, or naturally more able/less able. Mental disorders are part of the human condition; anyone might be susceptible. So why not include them in fiction? Art is supposed to be a viewport on life, after all.

Anyway, hope that provides some fuel for thought on the issue! Must dash to bed, now, though my mind will undoubtedly focus itself on developing the story of my own neurotic, depressed detective’s novel. Well, they do say write what you know!

Ciao for now, all!