Date of Award

2023

First Advisor

Jennifer Daniels

Second Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Abstract

There have been many paradigm shifts throughout history in relation to psychiatry and psychology. The major one that will be discussed through a literature review in this thesis is the shift from pre-psychiatry (pre-medication), into the world of medication. The pharmaceutical industry holds most, if not all, of the power when it comes to the development, research, and ultimately the distribution of such medications. Something that comes at a cost to the individuals involved. In this thesis, it was my goal to address a lack of research to date into the non-physical side effects of psychotropic medication, and I was particularly interested in the effects among those engaged in the creative arts. I thus examined how psychotropic prescription medications interact with the subjective experiences of those who create and produce art.

Two studies explored these research questions. A set of qualitative interviews (n=4) and a more quantitative survey (n=53) were conducted in order to see how people experience the side effects that medications may have on their art and creativity. Finding suggest that, generally, people experience negative side effects from medications—such as SSRIs, SNRIs, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics—on their creativity. Overall, it appears that people on Adderall may create art that comes forth from anger more than from any other class of medication. It was also found that between men, women, and non binary people, men seem to find it easier to make art when they are happy. While medication does do some good, in the hands of the pharmaceutical tyrants, this good comes with a cost, not only financially, but to people’s brain, to emotions, and to one’s creativity. Medication shouldn’t be given out widely to a society, it must be personalized to individuals and their needs. Only then will we be able to make some progress for the sake of our bodies and minds—and our art.

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