Thursday 16 January 2014

Wacky And Fun

"The Lad": Tony Hancock is today more famous for his troubled life than his comedy - a shame, he was very funny

I have previously on this Blog drawn attention to studies which establish the bloomin' obvious and today's news that Oxford University health research wonks have found higher than average signs of mental illness among comedians might fall into this category. Certainly the comedienne wheeled out on Radio 4 this morning as I drove to work was quick to ridicule the researcher - who took it rather well and with good humour.

But actually I thought the detail behind the research was at least quite interesting. The research specifically found a high incidence of both extreme introversion and extreme extroversion which are associated with psychosis. This leads you to wonder whether these traits are a cause of illness or a response to or consequence of illness?

Probably the story will disappear quickly but I think the risk with these things is that they somehow glamorise mental illness, giving the public the impression that mental illness can be wacky or even fun. I know many people with a serious mental illness who are indeed wacky (in the sense of zany or eccentric) and fun but these are not necessarily characteristics of illness but of their personalities, surely? But of course "wacky" has a secondary, slightly rude meaning of "mentally ill", rather illustrating the problem.