How Creativity Might Be Tied to Sanity and Madness Alike

Having a creative mind may correlate with both sanity and madness, debunking the popular notions that creative people tend toward having a mental illness.

What's the Latest?


Having a creative mind may correlate with both sanity and madness, debunking the popular notion that creative people tend toward mental instability. While tales of Vincent Van Gogh--and more recent video of Michael Jackson--indulge our romantic notion that genius is inherently unstable, "[t]here are people who are mentally ill and are creative, but the opposite is much more common," says psychologist Arne Dietrich of the American University of Beirut. "So the link is actually negative, not positive." The vast majority of creative people are not mentally ill, and the great majority of mentally ill people are not geniuses. 

What's the Big Idea?

A "mad-genius paradox" has been proposed by creativity scholar Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California at Davis. According to Simonton, one's view of how creativity relates to mental illness depends on how you slice the pie. On the whole, creative people actually have lower incidences of mental illness than non-creative people. Of those who are considered creative, however, the individuals who make the most significant and original contributions to their field--the "geniuses"--could tend toward having higher rates of mental illness than those who offer fewer creative contributions. 

Read more at Fast Company

Photo credit: Vadim Georgiev/Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

If you want to spot a narcissist, look at the eyebrows

Bushier eyebrows are associated with higher levels of narcissism, according to new research.

Big Think illustration / Actor Peter Gallagher attends the 24th and final 'A Night at Sardi's' to benefit the Alzheimer's Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
popular
  • Science has provided an excellent clue for identifying the narcissists among us.
  • Eyebrows are crucial to recognizing identities.
  • The study provides insight into how we process faces and our latent ability to detect toxic people.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less