by cheryl santa maria

Imagine what the world would be like today if there had been no Abraham Lincoln. Or Beethoven. Or Van Gogh. Or Isaac Newton.

Imagine if War and Peace had never been written. Or A Streetcar Named Desire. Or The Bell Jar. Or …

Well.. I’ll stop there.


It’s human nature to stigmatize and isolate the things we don’t understand. Those with mental illness are often the most vulnerable victims of discrimination and abuse largely due to the fact that society has written these people off: there has, for example, been no social uprisings for this group that are comparable to the women’s lib movement or to the million man march.

Afflictions of the mind are often associated with negative connotations, which is unfortunate.

There is nothing shameful about mental illness.

One could even argue that mental illness, in some aspects, is a strange gift to humanity. None of the brilliant minds listed above would have been able to perfect their crafts if they had not been gifted with the extreme sensitivity, focus and creativity that were borne out of their mental afflictions.

Workman Arts, an organization dedicated to bringing “[a] greater understanding of mental illness and addiction through the arts” is about to kick off Toronto’s 16th Annual Rendezvous with Madness film festival. It will run from Nov 6-15, and will feature a variety of shorts and feature length films that will educate and enlighten.

Call (416) 583-4339 or visit the website for more information.

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