Scholarly article on topic 'Is College Education some Unnecessary Stress for Poets?'

Is College Education some Unnecessary Stress for Poets? Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Doina Cosman, Bogdan C.S. Pîrvu, Ionuţ-Horia T. Leoveanu, Ioan-Florin Diaconu, Ioana Cosman, et al.

Abstract The biographical research that we ran on 50 eminent Romanian poets (scanning 140 years, from 1850 to 1990) comes up with a figure of 44 (88%) cases of psychopathology and invites the gruesome conclusion that psychopathology and (poets’) creativity are inexorably connected, that psychopathology although not sufficient is necessary to make an eminent poet. Now, given that psychopathology is most likely to be inherited and has little to do with the environment (educational institutions included) we are led to another unpleasant conclusion, viz. poetry has little to do with college education. College won’t ruin the “frame,” but neither will it help.

Academic research paper on topic "Is College Education some Unnecessary Stress for Poets?"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 142 (2014) 291 - 295

CIEA 2014

Is college education some unnecessary stress for poets?

Doina Cosmana*, Bogdan C. S. Pirvub, Ionu^-Horia T. Leoveanuc, Ioan-Florin Diaconud,

Ioana Cosmane, Cristina Prisacariuf

aMD, PhD, clinical professor ofpsychiatry - Iuliu Hafieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca bMD, MPsych, PhD student - Iuliu Hafieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca cMD, PhD student - Iuliu Hafieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca dPhD, associate professor of piano - George Enescu Arts University, Ia§i ePhD, postdoctoral fellow - Babe§-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca fMD, PhD student - Grigore T. Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Ia§i

Abstract

The biographical research that we ran on 50 eminent Romanian poets (scanning 140 years, from 1850 to 1990) comes up with a figure of 44 (88%) cases of psychopathology and invites the gruesome conclusion that psychopathology and (poets') creativity are inexorably connected, that psychopathology although not sufficient is necessary to make an eminent poet. Now, given that psychopathology is most likely to be inherited and has little to do with the environment (educational institutions included) we are led to another unpleasant conclusion, viz. poetry has little to do with college education. College won't ruin the "frame," but neither will it help.

© 2014 Publishedby ElsevierLtd. This isanopen access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Alexandru loan Cuza University.

Keywords: psychopathology; creativity; stress; college; Romanian poetry

1. Introduction

In a recent within-family study by Cosman & Pirvu [1], referring to the case of Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889), the national Romanian poet was found to have an impressive history of "tainted blood," much like what Jamison [2] found in Tennyson and Byron. What is it? The authors come up with the grim conclusion that psychopathology and poetry are, so to say, soulmates. To make a long story short, there were 11 siblings in the poet's family: three died in

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +40-723-522.075. E-mail address: clinicpsychology@hotmail.com

1877-0428 © 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Alexandru loan Cuza University.

doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.07.633

infancy or early childhood (27.27%); a fourth one died in his teens and we have no way of knowing what he may have developed in terms of psychopathology. As for the other seven, a staggering figure (63,64%) by all means, they all had a psychiatric history - and we can take the liberty to assume, just for the sake of the argument, that this figure might well have risen to 100%. Furthermore, three of the siblings (27.27%) committed suicide.

2. Hypothesis

Various other studies by Cosman [3], Lazaroiu [4], Juda [5], Martindale [6], Trethowan [7], Schildkraut, Hirshfeld & Murphy [8], Post [9, 10], Ludwig [11, 12], Andreasen [13, 14], Enachescu [15], Cosman & Pirvu [16], without always saying that much, infer that psychopathology and creativity (with the highest percentage in poetry) are so much related - going as high as 87% in poets [11] - that we can safely presume that a poet will not be a poet unless there is some kind of "fine madness" in himself. Yes, your reading is correct, "himself' is not readily followed by "herself," the sad discovery, as you will shortly see, being that poetry does not seem to be, in any way, "women's land" - at least as far as Romanian poetry is concerned.

3. Material and method

Working on the above-mentioned hypothesis we made our choice of eminent Romanian poets, which proved to be a complex, time-consuming task, compelling us to consult the seven-volume Dictionary of Romanian Literature and George Calinescu's History of Romanian Literature to begin with; and then a never-ending retinue of literary histories and monographs by Titu Maiorescu, Vasile Lovinescu, Nicolae Iorga, Tudor Vianu, Garabet Ibraileanu, §erban Cioculescu... and what not.

Prior to such extensive readings, however, we were faced up with this unpleasant task, to draw boundaries: 1850 because it would be next to impossible to find any reliable data before this year in terms of psychiatric illness, and 1990 because one has to put at least a one-generation temporal distance (~20 years) so as to get an objective view. The "unpleasantness" of the task now comes clear because we were obliged to leave aside illustrious names like Costache Conachi and the Vacarescus on the one hand, and such Ia§i-based poets as Cezar Ivanescu (1941-2008) and Mihai Ursachi (1941-2004) on the other hand. At long last we came up with an abundant list of (really) eminent poets - "all of the Romanians are poets" is the famous statement of Vasile Alecsandri, the unrivalled star of Romanian poetry until the divine advent of Mihai Eminescu. The really nasty part of our job came forth at this point. Had we used aesthetic criteria only, it would all have been Russian roulette. The lucky winner seemed to be the idea to let cultural criteria in, to join the team. And so, paying due reverence to the founding fathers in the first place and weighing out the cultural significance of this or that name we drew the conclusion that a figure like 50 might well be satisfactory. We do regret not going any further, but we were afraid of losing control. So, fifty it is, and it is a number as good as any other.

4. Results

And the winners are, for:

• psychiatric illness Grigore Alexandrescu (1810-1885), Dimitrie Anghel (1872-1914), Tudor Arghezi (18801967), Ceorge Bacovia (1881-1957), Ion Barbu (1895-1961), Geo Bogza (1908-1993), Dimitrie Bolintineanu (1811-1872), Dan Botta (1907-1958), Emil Botta (1911-1977), Ion Caraion (1923-1986), Paul Celan (19201970), Mihai Codreanu (1876-1957), George Co?buc (1866-1918), Aron Cotru? (1891-1961), Nichifor Crainic (1889-1972), Leonid Dimov (1926-1987), Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889), Barbu Fundoianu (1898-1944), Radu Gyr (1905-1975), Ion Heliade Radulescu (1802-1872), §t. O. Iosif (1875-1913), Nicolae Labi? (1935-1956), Gherasim Luca (1913-1994), Al. Macedonski (1854-1920), Adrian Maniu (1891-1968), Virgil Mazilescu (19421984), Ion Minulescu (1881-1944), Sa?a Pana (1902-1981), Miron Radu Paraschivescu (1911-1971), Perpessicius (1891-1971), §tefan Petica (1877-1904), Ion Pillat (1921-1975), Nichita Stanescu (1933-1983), Dimitrie Stelaru (1917-1971), Vladimir Streinu (1902-1970), Al. O. Teodoreanu (1894-1964), Constantin

Tonegaru (1911-1952), George Topirceanu (1886-1937), Tristan Tzara (1896-1963), Tudor Vianu (1897-1964), Ion Vinea (1895-1964), Alexandru Vlahuta (l859-1919), Vasile Voiculescu (1884-1963), Ilarie Voronca (19031946)

• neurological illness Cezar Bolliac (1813-1881), Octavian Goga (1881-1938)

• somatic illness (mostly lung disease and heart disease) Vasile Alecsandri (1818-1890), Lucian Blaga (18951961), Alexie Mateevici (1888-1917), Al. A. Philippide (1900-1979)

See also Fig. 1

(Fig. 1) mind- and bodily-related conditions in Romanian poets (%)

□ psychiatric illness □ neurological illness □ somatic illness

5. Discussions

For gender studies fans! Yes, no woman has been shortlisted. We tried it hard, but the two women who came close, Magda Isanos (1916-1944) and Otilia Cazimir (1894-1967) both of them being based in Ia§i, might have made it if we had extended the list to include, say, 80 names. Shall we put the blame for this certainly regrettable situation on the special situation of women in Romanian history? Take Mihai Eminescu's family: his father sent all of his sons to college, in Bucharest, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, and he never talked his daughters into studying. All they needed must have been a nice fat dowry, which is a pity because we see no reason why, given their heredity, they shouldn't have been just as studious as their brothers. What we mean, then, is that we are now up against cultural mores rather than against an impotence of whatever nature, intellectual or emotional. The Victorian "But men must work, and women must weep" is not far from this Romanian / East-European trend, which will hopefully get out of the picture some day.

For social geography fans! There is no poet to have come from Banat - arguably the richest county in the country - and, come to think of it, no writer or playwright, either. On the other hand, the poorest counties in the country, Moldavia and Oltenia - with Moldavia coming first by a long shot in matters literary - gave the vast majority of eminent poets. Shall we classify it as a nice paradox that ought to be buried and forgotten about, or shall we philosophize and see it as a recompense for poverty assumed. All in all, poverty is by every estimate, rough or thorough, poetry's core situation!

Six poets (12%) in our account: Dimitrie Anghel, Paul Celan, Barbu Fundoianu, §t. O. Iosif, Gherasim Luca, and Ilarie Voronca committed suicide; two others (4%): Sa§a Pana and Dimitrie Stelaru attempted suicide but failed no matter how hard they tried - dr. Sa§a Pana, for instance, put five bullets into his head and had a narrow, and miraculous, escape. (See also Fig. 2)

(Fig. 2) suicides and attempted suicides in Romanian poets (%)

□ suicides □ attempted suicides □ no relevant records

As for suicide, Ludwig's estimate [11] - 20 to ours 12% - is significantly higher but, when we come to psychopathology his 87% is quite similar to ours 88%... Speaking of comparisons, an earlier, unpublished study of ours - with questionnaires applied to 27 poets based in Ia§i - gave equally discouraging results for depression (87%)...

Six poets: Grigore Alexandrescu, George Bacovia, Ion Barbu, Dimitrie Bolintineanu, Mihai Eminescu, and Ion Heliade Radulescu are known to have been hospitalized for their psychopathology; another one, Paul Celan, is known to have undergone therapy under dr. Jean Starobinsky. Why do we feel it necessary to mention all this? Because in Romania, and we fear lest this state of things should be valid for Eastern Europe by and large, psychopathology is regarded as something shameful, and people tend to keep it a secret. Being in a mental hospital is already a kind of "fall from grace," a sign of social and intellectual descent - small wonder that it is oftentimes impossible to get reliable information. To say nothing of suicides, which everybody in the family attempts to present in a different light, like an accident of some sort. Police work on it only if obliged by suspicion of murder. Coroners will help police, of course, but will be deaf to any questions from media - they unconditionally sympathize with the family and refrain from disclosing information that might harm them or spoil the reputation of the suicide. Little wonder, then, that one has to read between the lines of many a monograph in order to make an opinion that is, however, seldom authenticated by open admissions.

Nevertheless, we are pretty content with our overall diagnosis. We had to go to a lot of places to pick up lost data, we often had to search into people's memory, we had to spend long, not always rewarding hours in libraries and read monographs, old documents and manuscripts. We corroborated them all and, especially when data were scarce or deliberately confusing - the case of the political prisoners - we wouldn't have empathy ruin our judgments. We worked on the premise that they were not supermen but most likely only too human, so that the long dreary decades of hard work and solitude in prison is expected to have given them not only the aura of saints but some trivial, down-to-earth psychopathology, to boot.

6. Conclusions

Psychopathology and poetry are then, in a manner of speaking, married to each other. Granted that the former is inheritable, we will safely conclude that the inherited side is transferred onto poetry. If so, the beneficiary of this transfer (i.e. poetry) is sure to be, to a smaller or greater extent, actually greater rather than smaller, a matter of heredity. Going on with the argument, we will finally conclude that it is the "thorn" or the "drive" or the "talent" or simply "nature" that really matters, rather than "nurture" or "education." In other words, college is expected to make no difference whatsoever in the making of poetry: the poet is born, and hardly ever can be made / taught.

References

1. Cosman, D., & Pirvu, B. C. S. (2013). The Poet's family. Romanian Journal of Artistic Creativity, 4, 16-19.

2. Jamison, K. R. (1993). Touched with Fire: Manic-depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. New York: Free Press.

3. Cosman, D. (2013). A spectacle unto the world, and to angels. Romanian Journal ofArtistic Creativity, 1, 9-12.

4. Lazarescu, M. (2013) Creativity and bipolar disorder. Romanian Journal ofArtistic Creativity, 4, 9-15.

5. Juda, A. (1949) The relationship between highest mental capacity and psychic abnormalities. American Journal of Psychiatry, 106, 296-307.

6. Martindale, C. (1972) Father's absence, psychopathology, and poetic eminence. Psychological Reports, 31, 843-847.

7. Trethowan, W. H. (1977) Music and mental disorder. In M. Critchley & R. E. Henson (Eds.), Music and the Brain. London: Heineman.

8. Schildkraut, J. J., Hirshfeld, A. J., & Murphy, J. M. (1996) Depressive disorders, spirituality, and early deaths in the abstract expressionist

artists of the New York School. In J. J. Schildkraut & A Otero (Eds.), Depression and the Spiritual in Modern Art. Homage to Miró (pp. 196220). Chichester: Wiley.

9. Post, F. (1994) Creativity and psychopathology. A study of 291 world-famous men. British Journal of Psychiatry, 165, 22-34.

10. Post, F. (1996) Verbal creativity, depression and alcoholism. An investigation of one hundred American and British writers. British Journal of Psychiatry, 168, 545-555.

11. Ludwig, A. M. (1995) The Price oof Greatness. New York: Guilford.

12. Ludwig, A. (1994) Mental illness and creative activity in female writers. American Journal of Psychiatry, 151, 1650-1656.

13. Andreasen, N. C. (1987) Creativity and mental illness: prevalence rates in writers and their first-degree relatives. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 1288-1292.

14. Andreasen, N. C. (2005) The Creative Brain. The Science of Genius. London: Plume Books.

15. Enachescu, C. (1977) Psihologia activita¡iipatoplastice. Bucure§ti: Editura §tiin^ifica §i enciclopedica.

16. Cosman, D. & Pirvu, B. C. S. (2013) Watchman, what of the night? Romanian Journal ofArtistic Creativity, 1, 13-26.