Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh, Michael
Jackson – the idea of the insane artist is as old as artwork itself. It is a
common understanding that mad-genius is an oxymoron, assuming they contradict
one another and are opposite. Contrary to popular belief, however, several
philosophers, scientists, and literates have concluded that there is an
important link between madness and creativity. The word “madness” is frequently
used in everyday speech as a loose adjective to depict people, experiences, and
events. In Plato’s novel “Phaedrus”, the concept of madness and its relation to
inspiration is thoroughly analyzed by Socrates. Socrates recognizes madness as a
mental illness where the brain malfunctions, and the body does not work as
desired (Plato, 212). He makes a bold statement with a shocking claim that “the
greatest goods” come from madness. Socrates states that madness allows artists
to create the most valuable works (Plato, 230). On the other hand, creativity
is the capability to produce physical or intellectual property of value. As a
result of these definitions, it is apparent there is a fascinating mystery of
the connection between creativity and madness.
of the many reasons madness and creativity are proven to be related is through
a genetic link. In 1987, a study by Neuroscientist Nancy Andreason revealed a bond
between the act of being creative while mad. Andreason’s studies find that a
higher incidence of mental illnesses is in those in the creative fields such as
art, writing, and performing. There are several similarities in how the brain
acts when being creative and when mentally ill (Andreason, 14). The precuneus
is located in the center of the brain, it is generally connected during rest
and when a person is not concentrating on a task. Interestingly enough, the
precuneus displays the highest level of connection during creative thinking.
This supports the idea of the mad-genius because there is a strong inability to
deactivate the preceneus among mad people.
reflecting leads to creativity, overthinking on a single problem does as well.
Neurotic thinking is a term coined by psychoanalyst Karen Horney, it is the process
of continually concentrating on damaging thoughts and feelings that occurred in
the past (Horney, 161). The manner of repeating can have a benefit; individuals
who dwell on the same problem can lead to fascinating and unique solutions.
Because neurotic people are highly anxious, they are typically more creative
than regular people. The desire for dramatic imagining may help creative people
imagine solutions most would not.
concept of free association is worth noting. It is the impulsive and aimless
association of ideas, emotions, and feelings and it is how mental illness means
more creative thoughts. Free association is in the subconscious mind and could
lead to uncanny links. This development gives artists new novel, music, and choreography
ideas. This process is Albert Einstein’s definition of “combinatory play”,
taking two dissimilar ideas and combining them together to make new ideas
In conclusion, through
the many research studies, experiments, and theoretical thinking, the idea of
being creative and insane is now beginning to be widely accepted. It is clear
there is a fine line between the two. Some of the most respected works have
been created by mad geniuses. Aristotle put it this way: “There is no great genius
without some touch of madness.”