Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Genius or Madness? The Connection between Psychosis and Creativity

Part Two – Just Where Do You Come From?

As mentioned previously, psychosis and mania are not always bad experiences for people. Many people actually welcome these experiences, feeling that they are a source of inspiration.

Of course, feeling inspired by psychosis can mean different things to different people. For some it will literally mean that they feel that their hallucinations are informative in some way; for example, they may feel that their hallucinations are a form of apparition or vision; a religious experience. They may feel that they are being instructed on how to carry out a certain task. Others feel that their psychosis merely provides a “subject” for their creativity.

Hallucination or Vision?

"The Vision of Time" by Doctor Goober Modesty

Where does this creativity really come from?

Since hallucinations are a product of the persons own mind, the knowledge and the abilities must be their own. Mr Man believed that the voices instructed him on how to play Chess, compose music and how to solve programming dilemmas, but a hallucination can’t tell a person how to do something they don’t already know how to do, because it doesn’t really exist. To suggest otherwise would be to suggest that the voice is from a real outside source and not a hallucination after all. Although auditory hallucinations appear to the hearer to be from an outside source, it is merely a symptom of psychosis.

Some artists use their experiences of psychosis as a subject for creativity, and this can be a beneficial form of therapy

"Medication" by Philippa King

So what role, if any, does psychosis play in creativity?

Psychosis can aid creativity in two ways. As previously mentioned, psychosis can often provide a subject for creativity. The subject is compelling, and as Philippa explains regarding her own art “I could be creative without psychosis but it would not have the same edge to it”. Conversely, creativity itself can be an important outlet for those suffering from psychosis, and can be a beneficial form of therapy.

Also, delusional thinking often gives people confidence. The person could genuinely be a genius, and their delusional thinking could give them the confidence that they would usually lack to believe in themselves; or they could be lacking in talent, and suffering from delusions of grandeur which gives them false confidence. Either way, whether the ability in itself is real or imagined the delusional aspect of phychosis can aid self belief.

“I don’t know if my writing is any good at all and in normal circumstances I don’t believe it is, but I miss that manic self-belief.” - Seaneen

As mentioned previously, Mr Man also gained confidence through his psychosis, and felt that the voices were helping him with various tasks. It’s been a slow process, but Mr Man is starting to believe in himself now, and to find his own identity. I’ve already mentioned how he is becoming more involved in Table Tennis, and that he will be redesigning the website for his club. Having access to the internet means that he can share the computer programs he has written with others, and he has quite a little “fan club” of users who regularly ask him for the latest updates, so he is learning that his abilities are appreciated by real people. His music is something that has taken him a little longer to get back to, but recently he has started experimenting with that also.

But is it necessary to challenge the delusions of an individual? Is it necessary to treat someone experiencing psychosis? Why do some people have a pleasant experience with psychosis while others do not? These questions will be discussed in part three.

Next: Part Three


Seaneen said...

I'm not sure if force is the right word. I think that psychosis can sometimes be inconsistent so it is neccessary to break through it gradually, rather than watch the person experiencing it find it fall from them.

Still- these are fascinating. Thank you for writing this.

Anonymous said...

excellent post.

& an interesting question. who is to say what is right or wrong?

our world is made up of many different & interesting characters.

just imagine if everyone was the same take the rainbow song for instance

"red & red & red & red........I can paint a rainbow too"

you get the picture

I am restrained on this visit dear lady. not physically of course as I wouldnt be able to type, unless I could get one finger free. & there are no gags except the one in my mouth. bum bum!

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Seaneen. I was starting to get a bit paranoid about it because no one had commented!

Hmm, maybe that sentence should read: is it necessary to challenge a persons delusions? I suppose force is a strong word.

Thanks for your comment Seaneen.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you for your serious comment Granny :) I know that must have been very difficult for you! You make a valid point.

You still managed to make me laugh at the end :) Thanks for commenting.

Catherine said...

I am waiting until you are completely done before I comment. Is yours going to be just three parts, or will it be four?

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thanks Catherine. Yes, it will be just three parts.

I was going to wait until tonight to post part three, but just for you I will post it early! :)

Catherine said...

I feel honored!

uphilldowndale said...

Thank you for this MrMW,it is such a complex subject and one so full of prejudice and misinformation.
Grannys.M.P is on the pip, with his comment.
If we all tried to show a little more tolerance of 'differences' the would would be a better place

Mr Mans Wife said...

I couldn't agree more Uphilldowndale. Thanks for your comment.

Elanor said...

this is a great post, I work with some wonderful clients with psychosis histories and I think these questions are really important. Have you read any of Thomas Szaz's works? I love his stuff and was constantly in trouble at uni for it!

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Elanor. No I haven't read anything by anybody! I never seem to have the time! Maybe you could tell me the gist of what he's written?