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talljasperman's avatar

How are psychosis and creativity related?

Asked by talljasperman (18243 points ) January 19th, 2010

I have a guess that psychosis is an extreme form of creativity… what do you think?

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16 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

Considering psychosis is a component of illnesses that destroy people’s lives, and creativity is a useful cognitive attribute, I think you’re probably falling prey to a dangerous stereotype.

ETpro's avatar

Art is interpreting the Universe, listening to what it is saying, and putting on canvas, clay or a written page. The more the conscious mind gets out of the way, the more of the universe’s voice can come through.

talljasperman's avatar

@talljasperman or is it the opposite

Jeruba's avatar

Both see the unreal and ascribe to it some of the characteristics of reality. The artist makes the unreal real through the creative act but does not confuse the two; the psychotic mistakes the unreal for the real.

How’s that? I just made it up.

loser's avatar

I hear it’sa very fine line…

YARNLADY's avatar

Many very creative people have shown evidence of psychosis, and it has given rise to the saying “mad genius”. However, not all people in either category fit the description.

daemonelson's avatar

Well, they both involve the brain. That’s just about it.

ratboy's avatar

Perhaps these notions are associated because the results are so striking when great creativity and psychosis are both present.

filmfann's avatar

Most really deranged people I know are fabulous artists.
There are exceptions, though.

Cruiser's avatar

Psychosis is a disease and often quite debilitating in relation to a persons ability to function as what one would define as normal within a society. The fact that a person suffering from psychosis would create something that would be ascribed as “art” through their creative process I would say is more a function that a person with severe psychosis has a lot of free time on their hands and little ability to do much else other than paint, draw, write or compose music and would naturally get quite good at what they do through repetition of their therapeutic artistic “outlet”...I would even further offer that the person doing this is doing so as a means to express the maelstrom in their skull more so than an intentional approach to art. Artists that I personally know that are quite good at their art form are quite normal, intelligent and possess a unique ability to be sentient without having to abandon their conscious connection to the real world.

wunday's avatar

I don’t think there is much of a relationship. That is, the amount of creativity amongst psychotics is not different than that found in the non-psychotic population. It’s just that when a creative person is psychotic, they get a lot more attention than other creative people.

I know many psychotics—and I find nothing special about them. If anything, they are less creative, on average. Their psychoses keep them from accomplishing much of anything. The notion that psychotic people are more creative is a myth. I’m tempted to say it’s a destructive myth, but I’m not sure how. I haven’t thought that one through, yet.

nebule's avatar

It might be because a lot of psychosis comes from traumatic experiences throughout childhood and childhood is where we are all naturally and openly creative…

Trauma shuts down this process of expression and as we grow we become more oppressed and less creative…

Creativity can therefore help heal the traumatised mind by taking us back to our original undamaged selves and opening us up again.

Blondesjon's avatar

Screaming purple donkey lice.

Jeruba's avatar

The artist thinks outside the box but retains a relationship to the box. The psychotic has lost the box.

Actually I do think there is a relationship. It is not a direct line or a simple cause and effect but a kind of webwork of continuums on each of which there is a “normal” and an “extreme” range.

Insanity does not confer talent on someone who never had any; and art does not necessarily lead to madness. But there is an aspect of creativity, not just world-class creativity but ordinary weekend-artist creativity, that seems to have something in common with psychosis. Both involve coloring outside the lines. There seems to be a passionate conviction, a commitment to something that isn’t real or meaningful to others, and above all a way of seeing that is not what one has been taught and is different from that of one’s fellows.

I do believe that the creative act has to involve a concept and deliberate intent; it is not just random. Ravings aren’t poetry, and wild scribbles are not art.

I also think a perfectly sane person can be creative, and have a concept, and execute it with intent, and still not make art. It isn’t just an act of will; in fact, it is not altogether voluntary, and perhaps that is where the madness creeps in.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I believe the statement is too broad. The artwork of some types of schizophrenics is very expressive and certainly unrestrained by our shared notions of reality. Paranoid and Catatonic types are much less expressive. Bipolar patients in their manic phase have grandiose thinking that may lend itself to very creative artistic productions. In depressive phase, they are difficult to motivate to do much. Some types or neurotics produce amazing artwork as well.

All Generalizations, including this one, are Incorrect.

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