Some of the qualities that make people different and creative may also be labeled ‘neurotic’ or ‘crazy’ – but that doesn’t mean those qualities are disorders.
The idea that anxiety or other mental health challenges are a necessary or key element of creative life is part of the destructive “mad artist” mythology: that you need to suffer to be creative.
Musician Sting said, “Do I have to be in pain to write? I thought so…I tried that for a while, and to a certain extent that was successful.
“I was ‘The King of Pain’ after all. I only know that people who are getting into this archetype of the tortured poet end up really torturing themselves to death.”
Leonardo DiCaprio has commented: “As a little kid growing up in Hollywood, I was called ‘a little crazy’. And now I guess I’m still that way.” (imdb profile)
Our emotional and mental health challenges and experiences can be a powerful source of creative inspiration.
One example: Lena Dunham is the creator, executive producer, and one of the stars of the HBO series “Girls.”
She has noted, “I’ve been in therapy since I was 7; that’s probably helpful.
“The way I process my experiences is to translate them into some artistic form. I don’t know another way to get through them.”
Quotes are from my article Using Our Demons To Create.
Psychologist Mihaela Ivan Holtz works with creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts.
She also writes about the emotional and creative pleasures and challenges of their inner lives on her site Creative Minds Psychotherapy.
Here is an excerpt from one of her many articles on her site on this topic:
It is not unusual that creatives and performers are seen as “neurotic” or “crazy.”
I am a mental health professional and I do not use such labels, as my purpose is to understand, appreciate, and inspire people to have the best lives they can have.
I am actually here to say that creatives and performers have amazing minds.
I never stop being fascinated by creatives and performers.
I cannot imagine a world without films, paintings, music, poems, theatre, dance, books…
In fact, what creatives and performs have is an Artistic Mind, that makes them unique and fascinating.
And despite the myth that being “crazy” or “neurotic” is desirable for creativity and performing, it appears that is not necessarily what facilitates creativity or performance.
It is the Artistic Mind State that is responsible for creating and performing.
It is the ability to connect to one’s Artistic Mind, that makes one a creative or a performer.
As we know, not all arts or performances are equal, some can really speak to and connect to our hearts, while others… may not…
We all have a more neurotic imagination and a genuine creative imagination.
As neurotic imagination is responsible for certain forms of arts, the genuine creative imagination creates something different.
While our neurotic imagination comes from our emotional pain, creative imagination comes from a cleaner emotional place.
Some may be able to translate their neurotic imagination into art, others may lose themselves in challenging emotional states.
Some can really hone into their genuine creative imagination, others may not be aware of these mind states.
While neurotic imaginations can create art that speaks to certain human conditions, genuine creative imaginations can transform us.
While neurotic imaginations can help us understand others’ emotional struggles, the genuine creative imagination can take us from mere human experiences to magical experiences…
And at times, neurotic imagination breaks into genuine creative imagination and we heal and transform through different forms of arts.
So, despite the different forms of imagination, it is the Artistic Minds State that allows creatives and performers to be fully present in a particular moment in time and space, when everything they are becomes one.
Creatives and performers say it feels almost like an aha moment, like a spiritual experience, or a love affair.
And those who create and perform through their Artistic Mind States can touch or connect to their audience…in memorable ways.
Creatives and performers can become very good at using both neurotic and creative imagination, as both have their own value.
As long as one can connect to their Artistic Mind States.
Which means as long as one does not get lost or stuck in one’s emotions and is able to seize one’s genuine creative moments.
See her article (plus many others) on her site:
The Artistic Mind…