numbers in comedians. The first and most common mental illness is clinical depression (3). The next most common are bipolar disorder, dementia, and schizophrenia, in that order. For the purposes of this paper, we can disregard dementia, because it is an aging disease. (4)
Next, I will be looking at the most common mental illness that affect the general population – depression. Because comedians are a diverse group, the whole populations ' rate of illness should apply. As the most common mental illness, and one that most people know about, depression seems appropriate to look at first. Depression affects approximately 15.7 million adults in the United States alone. (5) A common misconception of people with depression is that they are constantly sad or gloomy. In reality, depression can best be described as “numb”. Individuals suffering from depression report a lack of interest or motivation to do anything. This leads to both a spiral (the person questions why they should do any activity, so they do not) and a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” My goal in looking more in depth at common mental illness is to preface my discussion of comedians ' mental states, as well as to inform and familiarize the reader with the terms and topics I will be discussing later on. In addition to that, I will also correct some misconceptions that the general public have about mental illness.
Depression has a wide number of causes, which can result from life events, as a coping strategy, or genetic factors. Recent research shows that depressed people may “see the worl...
... middle of paper ...
... of the population. The exact rate of depression among comedians is not known, but they do trend higher. But even if we were to increase the rate by 275% - which is a high estimate - the rate of common mental illness would be just over 20% of all comedians. That would leave the vast majority (79.925%) of comedians not mentally ill.
This leads me to the question, why is the rate of mental illness higher? On personality tests, comedians tended to score higher than other groups in impulsiveness, neurotisim, and difficulty focusing. These traits are necessary to have the creativity a career in comedy requires, to keep ideas fresh, and to keep coming up with new content. However, these traits also appear in the mentally ill. The conclusion I draw from these statistics is that, again, while mental illness trends in comedians, it is not the rule. Rather, it is the exception
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