Depression and creativity: Fiona Apple – good at being uncomfortable

Fiona Apple

A Wikipedia page summarizes some of the artist’s life:

Fiona Apple is “a member of a family rich with roots in entertainment… she is the daughter of singer Diane McAfee and actor Brandon Maggart.

“Her older sister, Amber Taleullah, sings cabaret under the stage name Maude Maggart.

“At the age of twelve, Apple was raped upon returning home from school…

“The rape is mentioned subtly in some of her work (as in the song “Sullen Girl”), but is not necessarily a major theme. [From Wikipedia profile.]

Many artists, of course, use their work to express and deal with painful experiences.

Psychologist Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D. notes in his book, “Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic..” that our impulse to be creative “can be understood to some degree as the subjective struggle to give form, structure and constructive expression to inner and outer chaos and conflict.”

Read more in our interview: The Psychology of Creativity: redeeming our inner demons.

While the media latched onto the story of Apple’s dark past experience, the singer said the only reason she even mentioned the rape to an interviewer was because she didn’t want it to seem like something of which she should be ashamed.

As I note in my article Cognitive Accommodations to Childhood Sexual Abuse, a survivor of abuse may incorporate into their self-image negative ideas such as personal “badness” or being wrongfully different or inferior, or experience destructive feelings such as shame and guilt.

On her official site, Fiona Apple writes, “As you may know, I am a girl prone to low-days. I don’t know how many times I got to soundcheck, in a grumpy nasty, teary rut..”

In her song Extraordinary machine, the lyrics include: “But I’m good at being uncomfortable so I can’t stop changing all the time…”

Read more in Fiona Apple – a brief annotated biography.


Trauma takes many forms, and has different sources and levels of impact for each of us.

See quotes by and about many artists who have experienced rape, physical abuse and other experiences, including Alice Sebold, Allison Anders, SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy), Halle Berry, Lady Gaga,, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonathan Safran Foer and many others, in my article Creative People, Trauma and Mental Health.

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