Freud used to talk about gain through illness.


He observed that some patients seem to become neurotic because mental illness could give the patient (who might not even realize this was happening) a refuge from pain or conflict.


And Freud thought that, at times, this was justifiable.


In a recent blog post, I wrote something that, upon further reflection, seems a little dumb.


Here's what I wrote:


I prefer sad songs, dark stories, cynical movies, and depressing paintings. For one thing, they match my mood. I feel less alone. For another, art which makes you unhappy is not only more honest, but in a way more optimistic, because it prods your imagination into forming images of how things could be better.


The bit about liking art which matches my mood seems fine. A little self-serving, but self-service is what I do best.


But the bit about prodding your imagination into forming images of something better, is probably a bunch of balderdash.


I'm reminded of the urban legends about poor people who had more babies just so they could get welfare. I think most people would feel that getting a bit of government cheese isn't the right reason to have a kid.


In the same way, expecting art to "get us something" seems like barking up the wrong tree. It puts me in mind of those horrid people who say that public schools should teach music as a way of improving kids' math skills.


So when I re-read what I'd written, I realized I was kind of just blowing smoke. Sorry about that.