Did Salvador Dali suffer from Mental Illness?
Based on two psychiatric assessment procedures, a computer program investigating the presence of a psychotic disorder and a personality questionnaire, Salvador Dali was found to have a personality disorder for DSM Cluster A and B. He was also found to meet the diagnostic criteria for psychotic illnesses.
You can’t diagnose psychiatric illness without doing a face to face psychiatric examination. Usually personality diagnosis takes even more than one diagnostic interview. Distributing psychiatric diagnoses solely based on “circumstantial evidence”, hear say or news stories is obsolete. Nevertheless these authors from `oxford digested a lot of information on which they based the above conclusions.
Information on his behaviour and art comes from various sources such as his autobiography; literary texts; published interviews with friends, family, and the artist himself; letters; and data on his family history. Here, in addition to a descriptive analysis of such data, a formal diagnosis exercise was attempted, using two psychiatric assessment procedures….
Moreover, their findings are consistent with prior findings in visual artists. Based on biographical information the rate of psychosis in one study was far greater (35%) than in the normal population (2%). Affective disorders were 10 times more prevalent and the rate of suicidal behavior three times greater in a group of New York impressionists. Compared to non art students artists were found to be more deviant on certain personality traits but this didn’t correlate with the individual’s talent. This led to the conclusion that originality with antisocial type of behavior lead to creative achievement, originality alone is not enough.
….whether particular visual artists are more creative than average or not, as a group they do have a propensity to respond antisocially with taboo responses that shock.
Sounds very much like Salvador Dali.
Working through all the information about Salvador Dali the authors claim a lot of symptoms of which he might suffer. From exhibitionism to unusual sexual behavior, paranoia and temper tantrums. His mental symptoms worsened after he was left by Gala.
More objective information such as mental illness in the family revealed that Dali’s grandfather committed suicide. His uncle from fathers side also tried to kill himself.
Although Salvador Dali was not “a normal person”, it is still possible that he consciously created an “artistic” personality. Some people say he did all this for the money and in order to succeed. Whatever was or was not wrong with him he still was one of the greatest artists.
it cannot be stated too strongly that Dalí’s deviation from the norm should not be allowed take away any of his greatness. It is too easy to react negatively when the term ‘disorder’ is used, in any context. Dalí and his contribution to the history of art is a perfect example for highlighting the fact that abnormality is not necessarily disagreeable – or to be so readily dismissed as a sign of neurological disease. For without his instability, Dalí may not have created the great art that he did.
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Murphy, C. (2009). The link between artistic creativity and psychopathology: Salvador Dalí Personality and Individual Differences, 46 (8), 765-774 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2009.01.020
September 7, 2009 @ 11:16 am
“The only difference between a madman and I is that I am not mad”.
isabella mori (@moritherapy)
September 7, 2009 @ 8:06 pm
as someone who is very interested in the intersection between creativity and mental health, i found this a good article. there is also the question of how important it is to posthumously apply labels to anyone.
September 7, 2009 @ 8:36 pm
Not very important to my opinion. Kind regards Dr Shock
September 7, 2009 @ 9:29 pm
You should do more research before making such claims.
Dali worked with what the Surrealists called “critical paranoia” Self enduced psychotic episodes to help the creative process. In other words, it was deliberate.
Seems to have worked well for him, don’t you think?
September 7, 2009 @ 9:59 pm
To much honor, it’s not my research. Nevertheless I did postulate the view that you can’t do a psychiatric examination without knowing the patient. On the other hand psychosis, even self induced is not a pleasurable state to be in. Kind regards Dr Shock
September 10, 2009 @ 10:01 pm
Mood instability or disorder that is not ‘chosen’ can be profoundly disrupting. Creativity coach and therapist Eric Maisel, PhD notes “Only a small percentage of creative people work as often or as deeply as, by all rights, they might be expected to work. What stops them? Anxiety…”
September 21, 2009 @ 10:10 pm
I have done a fair share of research on Dali over the past several years. I don’t see any evidence that Salvador Dali was mentally ill. It seems to be one of those rumors an average man must create in order not to feel intimidated by a superior intellect.
October 9, 2009 @ 2:30 am
Dali was certainly extremely brilliant, although maybe not a genius. He had a violent relationship with his wife (a nymphomaniac, the victim of child abuse) with probably what would be called today a love addiction. He was also bisexual, and a very humble person when not in from of cameras (maybe even shy?). He also had strong mood swings as attested by his epiphany at the “Gare de Perpignan”. At the end of his life he developed Parkinson’s, and recent evidence links that disease to mental disorders. Also recently an article has come out saying that more than the majority of people (60%) will have some mental problems during their lives. I will let you dray your conclusions.
Painters and Psychiatry | Dr Shock MD PhD
November 14, 2009 @ 6:09 pm
[…] post on the question Did Salvador Dali suffer from mental illness certainly raised a lot of […]
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April 8, 2011 @ 8:19 am
[…] qualifies him for receiving at least one Mental Illness Award. So, what did he suffer from? 1. DSM Cluster A and B? 2. Bipolar Disorder?? … Don’t ask – but Dali’s eccentricities (which […]
June 26, 2015 @ 7:03 pm
By his face figures I could claim he was suffering DiGeorges Syndrome. Won’t comment on psychics since i have not learned sufficient about Dalis personal life. Yet from my personal experience, such people have abnormal sexual apetite and don’t grasp the concept of limits that are not to be crossed – about anything in their life. Not because they want it, but because there is something in their dna missing or modified – they just live as if sky is no limit…I’ve met 4 different people and they all had this “no limits” behaviour. For example – today they gonna want to travel to a different continent, they will do it seriuosly – today. They all had very good jobs and nice pay, which was their main goal – so everything would become available… really weird apetite for everything, you can feel it when near them.