Magicians with mental illness

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Rodney
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Magicians with mental illness

Postby Rodney » April 25th, 2009, 12:24 am

This might be a too personal for this forum, but it's been on my mind. I have been diagnose with schizophrenia. I'm just getting on medicines was wondering if there are any magicians that suffer from mental illness, and if there is any hope for someone with mental illness wanting to take on magic as a career. I know I have a hard time focusing , but I believe with medicines I might be able to focus more clearly and pursue magic as a career.

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NCMarsh
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby NCMarsh » April 25th, 2009, 1:28 am

I don't think it is relevant whether or not others think its possible (and while I don't have names to cite, I would be shocked if there were not successful magicians with significant mental health issues).

Had a young Rene Lavand said "I want to be one of the premiere sleight-of-hand performers in the world; and I only have one hand. What do you think?" I think many of us would have tried to politely temper his expectations. Human beings are remarkable creatures, and we don't know what we're capable of until we do it.

I also think that, if schizophrenia does not prevent you from holding on to a non-magic "people" job....there's no reason I see for it to prevent you from a career in magic, provided you have the other elements (passion and work-ethic)

I do think its worth passing along some information about life as a professional magician, so that you can walk in knowing some of the challenges we all face:

  • You have to be able to be fun on cue. It's Saturday night, you have a show. It doesn't matter if you're going through a nasty divorce, mourning a family member who died recently, or just don't feel like performing...people are paying for fun, and fun is contagious...so you have to be able to flip the emotional switch, and relax and have a good time on stage -- regardless of what's going on in your inner-life (and there are some practical tools for this that I'd be happy to share via PM or email)...I will say that if you are passionate about performing (and there is no other reason to be in this business -- there are much easier ways of making money), performing can help you through unpleasant stuff...I had a rough Summer last year in my personal life and -- between having the cool chemistry that gets pumped through your system when you perform, getting to do what I love, having fun and having something to focus on -- performing made it much better than it would have been...obviously we do it for them, not us, but that doesn't mean we don't get something out of it too
  • You have to be a self-starter. No one is going to be on you to make your cold calls, you can -- theoretically -- wake up when you want to and take breaks when you want to...of course, that's just an illusion...if you're not proactively and vigorously pursuing work, you aren't going to be working
  • you have to be dependable -- showing up before you're expected, with everything you need, and returning voice and emails promptly


If this is what you're called to do...if you can't do anything else and you have the drive and discipline (or are willing to work hard to change habits and get it) than you can have a career in magic -- regardless of schizophrenia

Also keep in mind that you don't have to dive in full-time! Keep whatever you're doing now to earn a living, and start by doing shows on the side...let it build naturally

Incidentally, with all the weird stigmas about mental health, I respect you asking openly about this

Best of Luck!

N.
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Tom Stone
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Tom Stone » April 25th, 2009, 1:52 am

Rodney wrote:This might be a too personal for this forum, but it's been on my mind. I have been diagnose with schizophrenia. I'm just getting on medicines was wondering if there are any magicians that suffer from mental illness, and if there is any hope for someone with mental illness wanting to take on magic as a career. I know I have a hard time focusing , but I believe with medicines I might be able to focus more clearly and pursue magic as a career.

If you do good magic, enjoy the paperwork and don't skip the medicine - I'm quite convinced that you could pursue magic as a career.
I guess that you even can make use of the illness, for marketing purposes. I wouldn't be surprised if there are organisations that are working to change the public's perception of schizophrenia, and if so, they might back you up, provide bookings nation-wide etc.

The big point however, is that you must enjoy the paperwork, book-keeping and such. If you don't, you would be much happier to have magic as a hobby instead.

I do not know if there are that many magicians with mental illness. I know one who is Bipolar (type 2), who is doing just fine as a magician. That's all I know of.

There are slightly more who has not an illness, but a neurological disability. Magicians with Autism, Aspergers or Tourettes.

There are even more magicians who has some kind of mental disorder, like borderline, personality disorder, severe depression. Etc.

And then we have the remaining majority - we who are just simply social misfits, general nutcases or just odd. :)

Joe Mckay
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Joe Mckay » April 25th, 2009, 6:31 am

There was an article about Mike Skinner in GENII. It said that he had shizophrenia, and yet he still managed to find ways to deal with it and become one of the greatest magicians of his day...

All the best and good luck,

Joe

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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby David Alexander » April 25th, 2009, 11:43 am

Nathan is spot on in what it takes to be a working professional. Your audiences don't care about your personal life or problems. They have hired you to entertain and that is what you must deliver. I have worked when I was sick and once did a show a day or so after my older brother died suddenly and unexpectedly. My problems were not my audience's problems.

I believe that Mike was bi-polar, not necessarily schizophrenic. I visited him in his Las Vegas apartment in the late 1970s and found him mildly catatonic. He would go in and out of lucidity as his medication has gone below therapeutic levels.

I have great respect for Mike and the fact that he had a successful career given his devastating psychophysical problems. He is to be admired, not for his skill at magic but for his ability to overcome massive obstacles that would have destroyed a lesser man.

And to end on a happy note, my friend Tom Stone is also on target, especially in his last paragraph. Great insight, Tom!
;-)

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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 25th, 2009, 12:35 pm

Some in our craft are here to distract themselves from their problems. Some in our craft seek shortcuts or easy answers and are willing to pay "the price" of our doltish guessing games. There are some who wish to delude others and some who wish to delude themselves.

Kindly keep in mind that mental illness is not a puzzle for uninvolved parties to discuss or cure. If something has affected a person to the extent that they are a danger to themselves or others it seems odd (to me) to make a spectator sport of their behavior.

So who is truly playing with a full deck? Last I heard we get dealt a hand to play in life. The Knave of dolts is not always a desirable card to hold. When one decides to care about the inner worlds of others it gets tough to be so judgmental.

Oh - and there are some in this craft who are here to learn magic.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Mats Kjellstrom
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Mats Kjellstrom » April 25th, 2009, 2:43 pm

I suffer from a extremely severe mental illness - I think Im a magician.

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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 25th, 2009, 3:09 pm

Mats Kjellstrom wrote:I suffer from a extremely severe mental illness - I think Im a magician.


How do you* suffer from this.



*Not going to ask or make comment about how others might suffer.

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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Mats Kjellstrom » April 25th, 2009, 3:24 pm


Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 25th, 2009, 3:38 pm

Not sure the pink sunglasses and hat are your best outfit but whatever floats your boat.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

David Alexander
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby David Alexander » April 25th, 2009, 7:32 pm

Mats,

My congratulations on eliminating almost all of your Swedish accent. It's barely noticeable now.

It is a Triumph...(the accomplishment...not the shuffle).

David

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 25th, 2009, 8:56 pm

TAKE YOUR MEDS!
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Rodney
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Rodney » April 26th, 2009, 9:23 am

Well I'm not schitzophrenic after all. Doctor says it's bipolar , which is not much different .
Well i'm not as lost as the person in that video. She really needs her meds ASAP. Try not to get stuck thinking that everyone with mental illness just talks with out thinking .
I don't have a single thought of hurting my self or anyone else.
So I think that I wouldn't be channeling my promblems to spectators.

Thank you

David Alexander
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby David Alexander » April 26th, 2009, 10:14 am

I smell a troll.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 26th, 2009, 11:14 am

He could be a bi-polar troll.
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opie
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby opie » April 26th, 2009, 11:23 am

Rodney,

I don't think you should have any problems doing magic, except perhaps when you are being harassed by hecklers. To help with that, just try to remain calm and continue performing. If, however, you feel really threatened, you might try my three guaranteed heckler stoppers: M-16. AK-47. and, for close-up, a Colt 45.

Hope that helps......

opie (MA, English and Counseling, Texas State Univ)...

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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Brian Marks » April 26th, 2009, 2:09 pm

I am confused.

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Michael Kamen
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Michael Kamen » April 26th, 2009, 2:12 pm

Be glad you are only confused.
Michael Kamen

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 26th, 2009, 2:12 pm

Are you bipolar, too?
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opie
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby opie » April 26th, 2009, 4:21 pm

"I believe that the moment is near when by a procedure of active paranoiac thought, it will be possible to systematize confusion and contribute to the total discrediting of the world of reality." Salvador Dali.

Now that is magical thinking......opie

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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 26th, 2009, 4:37 pm

Rodney wrote:Well I'm not schitzophrenic after all. Doctor says it's bipolar , which is not much different ...


What! That's like someone saying salt and sugar are not much different because they are both white granular substances one can find on the dining room table.

They are hugely different problems and although both can be treated as chemical imbalance issues they are NOT close in experience or outward behavior.

The magician's combination of belle indifference to readily available factual data and arrogance can work against us when we forget that we are not addressing an audience in performance.

* so, is there a book test for the DSM IV?

opie
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby opie » April 26th, 2009, 4:56 pm

Here are some tests that a lot of us might take.....tsk tsk....

http://www.okcupid.com/tests/list -

I do hope that Rodney is indeed a troll OR that he has been around magicians enough to know that we are all kind of twisted and mean him no harm...

opie

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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 26th, 2009, 5:13 pm

Okay, that merits asking if there is a typical profile for magicians on the MMPI.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

opie
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby opie » April 26th, 2009, 5:41 pm

I would give that a guarded NO.

Discussion of the MMPI profile scales is not something that would be real popular on this web....haha.... Besides, I have not studied tests and measurements since 1971.... But I will say this and nothing more: Putting labels on people is insane....

NO!!! I am restraining myself!!!! (My excitability scale is going haywire....hahaha)

opie

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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 26th, 2009, 6:04 pm

I was the idiot who put in all the MMPI data we had in the library at school and found the .999 correlation of time vs Pa with the right degree of correlation with K etc. I suggested it's more a matter of people talking about stuff since even then (1987) we had both a cold war and cuba incidents in the middle of the timeframe.

And yes of course I was joking about a "typical magician" profile.

Is it still the practice to associate neurosis with social inclusion?

opie
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby opie » April 26th, 2009, 6:22 pm

Talking about things works.....My best friend is a retired Psychiatrist (Behaviorist), and we both think tests are mostly fluff to get people grants....tsk tsk....

"Neurosis"???? I stopped thinking about things like that when I graduated.....

What got you into a job of posting MMPI data? And aren't we hijacking Rodney's thread?

opie

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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 26th, 2009, 6:27 pm

Job? That was my junior seminar research project at college.

I was suggesting that since neurosis might be common to all socialized people it might be more a matter of degree and adaptation.

IMHO any managed psychiatric condition is not an insurmountable hindrance to having a career - even one in magic.

Go amaze people for money Rodney - you can do it.

opie
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Re: Magicians with mental illness

Postby opie » April 26th, 2009, 6:42 pm

All behavior is more a matter of degree and adaptation than anything else. It might be argued, for the sake of argument, that drugs and alcohol are exceptions, but they really are not, since they become a part of the equation when they become a part of the subject....

Neuroses are not things I find important....When I was a military leader, they were just nuisances that had to be overcome, both in myself and others... Later, in the academic environment, I found them to be just nuisances that had to be overcome, both in myself and in others...

I have chores and a nagging spouse, so I am done here.....

But I agree before leaving that Rodney should pursue his goals...

opie


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