Everyone knows about how genius and madness are so often linked. Especially, perhaps, creative genius, the genius of the arts -- though geniuses of mathematics and science get their share as well.
To borrow a page from Douglas Adams, suppose a pharmaceutical company could go back in time and give Vincent Van Gogh some antidepressives to see what he could paint during times he wasn't trying to cut any extremities off. I think most of us would be convinced the result would be the loss of some of the greatest art in history. And yet, perhaps one man would have had a happy life, notably devoid of self-surgery. If it were up to you, how easy would you find it to decide which is more important: one man's happiness or misery, and the contribution to the world of art that has beautified and inspired? For my part, I'd find it a difficult choice indeed. I find myself instead saying, thankfully no one was able to help him... and then feeling awful about it.
When I listen to the music of Tori Amos, I feel the same way, only it's slightly less theoretical. Tori is still alive, after all, and one can't help but wonder, if she got some therapy, rebalanced her chi, whatever it took, whether she'd be happier and less likely to produce heart-wrenching bits of musical genius (about one time in ten -- some musicians are more reliable, it must be admitted). Of course, I doubt I could get her cell number and say, "Hey, Tori, you don't know me, but I can recommend a good therapist," and cure all her anguish and self-doubt. And if I did, it'd still be her free choice (just like it would have been Vincent's choice to take the Prozac -- assuming you explained it to him first, of course), which essentially obviates me of any ethical responsibility.
But that avoids the question. Should I feel guilty about the fact that their agony is so pretty?