Friday, January 28, 2011

Madness, genius and creativity

A fellow blogger of mine recently said

“So, what did I think of having no computer on Sunday? Hated it but loved it and will do it again this Sunday. It made me very productive and creative.”

She has imposed on herself a regime where she does not use the computer on Sundays and that was her response to the event.

I think it was the first blog post I ever did. It was titled Madness, genius and creativity. It examined how these three groups of people have some interesting similarities. These groups of people all think about and view the world differently than the normal or average person.

Wet man

My thesis is that creativity is not borne out of peace, happiness and harmony. If the Free Child ego state is content then creativity will diminish. It is in a state of disquiet, angst and disequilibrium when creativity will occur. Under such conditions the Free Child is more likely to view the world differently, think and behave differently such that creative acts are more likely to occur and be more profound.

However it is a fine line to walk because if the disquiet and angst gets too much then the personality will deteriorate too much and nothing creative will be produced. Hence the creative person can have times when they go over that line and descend into “madness or neurosis” and produce nothing then at other times they can have productive periods where a good deal of creative material can be produced.

Dalek women 1

The creative act is an odd combination of Adult and Free Child. Most people have too much Adult and too little Free Child and hence loose a lot of their creativity. People are trained to be like that. School is all about Adult strengthening. Children are encouraged to think logically and given lots of strokes for doing so.

The other thing about creativity is it comes how and when it wants to. At school, you can’t have creativity classes where the students be creative when the lesson starts and stop being creative when the lesson ends.

Indeed on the one hand we tell our children to be free thinkers and creative and then at the same time we can chastise them when they do. A prime example is graffiti. Decent quality graffiti is a creative act. Its about young people drawing pictures which is creative. As I said before creativity will come how and when it wants. Some do not like this but you can’t have it both ways if you want our youth to have the mind set of free speech and creativity you have to accept that sometimes the creativity will come in a way you do not like.

John and Sid
It is not possible to have controlled creativity which means sometimes the creative acts will assault our senses.

However it seems safe to say that a good deal of creativity is not offensive to many. But the same remains. These people need to be nonconformist in how they view the world and express themselves. If they were being conformist then they would not be being creative. The Free Child part of the personality is that part of us that expresses who we are without conformity to rules. This can be especially the case when a person is suffering in some way as my blogger friend notes with her comment.



  1. This is a very interesting post Tony.

    Whenever I paint, draw or write the lead up to it is absolutely excruitiating. Physically and mentally. I don't know why.

    But once I stand in front of the painting or just get into what I want to create I feel so at ease and fluid in myself. Sometimes I think only an hour has passed when, in fact, six hours has passed.

    The one big reason why I won't go on anti depressants is that it totally kills the creative process. I would rather just try to work with the way I function and learn to live with turmoil than not create.

  2. I think creativity can come out of free play. Edward de Bono has various strategies to promote this.

    Creativity is often seen as problem solving but it doesn't need to be. There may not be the drive of an urgent problem but this drive can diminish creativity (stress is not helpful to complex thought).

    Creativity can be a flow state of exhilaration.

  3. Hello Evan,
    this post is one of those where you later read what you wrote and cringe. I think as you note there are many different types and scenarios for creativity and I have really only focussed on one.

    the one that was relevant to angst


  4. Hello Linda,

    Thanks for your comments and they are interesting observations about your personal disquiet and painting.

    Anti depressants can also make the therapy process more difficult because as you say the Child in one way is suppressed. Although I do often work with people who are taking such medication


  5. Hi Tony,

    I certainly agree that creativity can help us deal with angst.