Magicians and Mental Illness

Mar 24, 2021
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Hello everyone!
This is my first time starting a conversation in this forum(or any forum for that matter), but I have a question that Google is having a hard time answering: Has there been magicians who suffer with mental health problems? I realize of course that statistically it has happened, but I have failed to find a specific instance. So, I'm wondering if ya'll, the experts, can help me answer this question?

Thank you for your time!😁
 
Nov 12, 2016
1,139
1,588
LA (Lower Alabama)
Fantastic Question! I used to write a magic newspaper awhile back, and in one issue we discussed how the NHS had determined that teaching magic tricks could be beneficial for mental health patients. I do understand their is a difference between mental health and mental illness, but just thought I'd mention that You can read my article here, and you can read the original Telegraph Article Here.

Now given I do not claim to be an expert on this topic here are a couple I can think of, and I deeply apologize if I am wrong
Like i said I understand MENTAL HEALTH and MENTAL ILLNESS are not exact synonyms, however I remember a while back Chris Ramsay made a video discussing his battle with depression

Another one is the elephant In the room: Daniel Madison. I believe he has made several videos talking about his Anxiety, depression, and various other problems. This led to many people theorizing that he was Bipolar, but as far as I'm aware that he has denied this.

Lastly, there have been a plethora of Autistic magicians. (I did a quick look on the mayo clinic and they do say autism does qualify as a mental illness) In fact Autism is so big in the magic community the previous mentioned Daniel Madison was inspired to make an autism awreness: deck of cards
One of the top autistic magicians is named Cody Clark. In fact he uses his magic to teach about autism.

Those are all the examples I can think of off the top of my head.
 
Nov 26, 2020
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Hi Sandusky. I'm not sure how to answer that question. First, you have to define mental health problems. There are more serious disorders like schizophrenia and more garden variety but no less serious ranges of depression. I can't imagine that magicians as a whole have escaped any of these (I know I haven't.) There are famous magicians who have committed suicide (such as Theodore Annemann.) I don't know if I see much merit in going into that. I'm sure there are magicians from the past and present who suffer from mental health issues. I hope that anyone currently struggling with these problems finds the help that they need. Best Wishes, Kevin
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,739
2,854
Mental health issues are very common in the entertainment industry in general.

In my experience in the magic industry I would say the most common ones are: ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar, some variation of the Autism spectrum, and OCD.

Thinking of public figures who have openly discussed mental health issues - Peter Turner has talked about having Aspergers. Jonathan Pendragon has talked about dealing with significant OCD. Daryl was obviously suffering from depression. Madison has already been mentioned. Annemann had severe anxiety in relation to performing (which lead to a lot of drinking). Harry Anderson got so nervous on stage that he could not perform without a glass of water readily available (dry mouth). In Deceptive Practice, Ricky Jay talks about if he ever was upset or anxious the best thing to do was to give him a deck of cards and a quiet room to practice in, which sounds a lot like stimming to me. There's probably more that I just can't think of at the moment.

In my personal life I can honestly say that probably every performer of any sort that I actually know well has some form of mental illness. Usually depression or anxiety. That's part of why we get on stage - we're mining for dopamine and serotonin.

When it comes to the entertainment industry in general, I think mental illness is the rule, not the exception.
 
Back in 2017 I suffered a severe mental breakdown and was subsequently diagnosed with severe depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I couldn't stay awake during the day or sleep at night, it was terrifying to leave the house, and I couldn't be around my family (including newborn son) without the crippling fear I was go to hurt them, either accidentally or deliberately.

Thankfully, I was able to get the medication and therapy I needed. The depression is pretty much non-existent from day to day now, but the OCD and GAD are things that creep back in every now and again.

When I think about Daryl and Annemann, it makes me realise how lucky I really was.

Rev
 
Apr 9, 2016
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I am a hobbyist who does magic for my co-workers and a few others. I have complex post-traumatic stress disorder and I find when I am anxious or triggered that doing something with my hands really helps, so I am learning ring magic because I always have a ring on. Sometimes it's very hard to get out of my head, and the flashback loops. I've tried many things, but working with my hands and concentrating on what I am doing quiets the nasty thoughts.

I work in a non-profit that helps people get on government disability pensions and I give many clients this same tool.

I used to do coin work and rubber bands but this year I found out I have arthritis in all of my fingers and thumbs. I can't hold a full deck of cards now so I am learning packet tricks.

Some days are better than others.
 
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