1. punk
    Offline

    punk Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    donut hills

    Depression and Creativity

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by punk, Mar 10, 2011.

    According to my professional resources (Wikipedia), people like Jim Carrey, John Lennon, and Jonathan Swift (and many, many more) all had some pretty serious bouts of depression in their life.

    Usually when I think of depression and creativity, people like Sylvia Plath, Kurt Cobain, or Van Gogh come to mind, but these folks (Harrison Ford, Conan, etc.) are not usually thought of melancholic.

    I have many depressed/bipolar friends, and most of them seem to display some sort of friction against the "crowd", opposing the evil government and what not, and almost every one of the people listed above are typically thought of as progressive...

    Do you think this could be a cause, not just a correlation? Are depressed people more in tune with reality, making them depressed?

    And why are they all creative?

    I figured discussing the topic of my paper on a forum doesn't qualify as procrastination :p
     
  2. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    I know what you are saying but, if we look at percentages are they more creative than any one else? I don't know the answer to this one. I do know that 10% of people will suffer from some form of mental illness in their lifetime - ranging from the mildest form of depression through to serious mental conditions - I out of 100 people will suffer from a serious mental health illness, so the percentage is high. I have also heard it said (somewhere) that there is a fine line between intelligence and insanity - how true? I don't Know.

    Stephen Fry is a extremely intelligent man and he is a bipolar sufferer.

    Sir Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln both suffered from depression.

    To get back to you Q.

    Are they more creative or does it have more to do the fact that because they suffer from a mental health problem - the media tend to point this out
    as being somewhat unusual that someone with X condition can be creative.

    After all someone suffering from depression (the black dog - as he named it) led this country of ours through WW2. ps he also liked a little tipple.
     
  3. w176
    Offline

    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,067
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Luleå, Sweden
    There is a positive correlation between bipolar disorder and creativity, but that might be because of the symptoms of mania and hypomania, and mixed states rather then depression,

    But if I would guess at a causation between depression and creativity I would say it goes the other way around. People who experience emotional tumult try to express it and reach catharsis in number of different way through creativity.

    Rather then that they see "reality more clearly". One of the basic symptoms of depression is that you view of the world and yourself become distorted, rather then more clear. So i think the "seeing things more clearly" crap is a way trying to romantizies serious mental disorders.
     
  4. punk
    Offline

    punk Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    donut hills
    well, in my research, I found an interesting case study negating this point.

    Basically, a group of depressed and a group of non-depressed people were given a hypothetical situation that was literally impossible - there was absolutely no solution to it. The subjects were still asked to find a solution.

    As soon as the depressed individuals looked at the problem, they knew immediately that it could not be solved.

    But the non-depressed individuals were able to work out and find their own solution, despite it being wrong.

    I think this might be 'learned helplessness' taking its course. Humans always seem to want something for nothing... I think depressed people realize that's unrealistic.
     
  5. w176
    Offline

    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,067
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Luleå, Sweden
    Yeah. But depressed people tend to have an ureslistiv negative view of them self and their situation. That that worldview tend to be more correct at times might just be a case that even a blind hen can find seeds at times.
     
  6. punk
    Offline

    punk Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    donut hills
    "The mad genius" has been a fascinating character for the "normal population" to romanticize since ancient Greece... and I think that's because it's half true.

    My hypothesis that I'm trying to prove in my paper is that the social divide that complements depression and mental illness will cause the individual to think differently from his/her peers, and be forced into creative thought to learn. Without a social background, an ideology, or a popular belief (all perhaps negated or proven untrue by the individual's past experience with "learned helplessness"?), the individual is required to make inductive conclusions alone.

    Just my thought :D
     
  7. punk
    Offline

    punk Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    donut hills
    Yeah, this is very true. And I think that this is because they keep trying to accept another's ideas... like, "take this pill, you'll be happy", or "McDonalds makes you thin, dark, and attractive".

    The biological aspects of depression and mental illness could always retain control over a person's outlook of the world (I think this is the case with Sylvia Plath, Poe, etc.), but creative thinking seems to have a definite healing power. Kurt Cobain was very happy at one point in his career. Jim Carrey loves his life now and Harrison Ford is very successful.
     
  8. PurpleCandle
    Offline

    PurpleCandle Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    NC
    My bipolar diagnosis came in part because of my creativity, creativity being considered a potential symptom of being bi-polar.

    When I look for solutions to a problem the solutions are more often that not creative in nature. My head board once broke, a normal person would go out and buy a new one whereas I painted dozens of roses on my wall to look like a head board.

    I don't think bi-polar/depressed people see the world more clearly. I think they just think inwardly so much that eventually that inward thinking has to manifest itself out side of the mind. A story must be written, a painting must be painted. We become obsessed with a thought, we can't let it go until we perfectly execute that thought.

    "As soon as the depressed individuals looked at the problem, they knew immediately that it could not be solved.

    But the non-depressed individuals were able to work out and find their own solution, despite it being wrong."


    I think these results relate to perfectionism more so to learned helplessness. You will often find that depressed people and bipolar people want things to be perfect, when they can't do something perfectly they can shut down and not even make an attempt. In this regard, think of those people who hoard objects until their house is full. They want their house clean, but they want their stuff~ the can't find a perfect solution so they shut down and do nothing about their messy houses.

    The non-depressed, non-bipolar person probably does not let the thought of solution not being perfect shut them down/choke them out. They figure, "We will do the best we can" whereas the bipolar person says, "I can't because I cannot find a perfect solution to this problem, therefore for me this task is impossible to complete".

    Just my experience, other people may have different experiences!
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,215
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Denmark
    Well, of course the depressed people would "win" a test that had no solution. But they'd lose every single one that had a solution while seeming not to. A majority of life's problems have solutions or work-arounds and in all those cases, the depressed person fails.

    Creativity is no different. It's really little more than finding unusual solutions and combinations of ideas. When you're depressed, the ability to make those connections is physically hampered in the brain. It's easy for the depressed to think they're more creative -- that their work has more depth, simply from being depressing to read/watch/hear. It has more depth in their own eyes, because its in tune with their own mental state, nothing more.

    I'm not being prejudiced, here. I've struggled with depressions through a big portion of my life, sometimes year-long ones. It's only when I'm out on the other side I can see the things I created during those times for what they are -- dull, pretentious drivel.
     
  10. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    I'm not sure people seeing no solution instead of trying to find one is a sign of creativity. Surely part of creativity in writing and other arts is testing boundaries and finding new paths ?

    I'm not depressed, bipolar etc I do have a slight autism but nothing delilitating. I don't think it is a prerequisite for being creative. Some people who are creative also have a form of mental illness, people are people. Some people who do not have a mental illness are also creative.
     
  11. chacotaco91
    Offline

    chacotaco91 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2011
    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Lexington KY
    I wouldn't say depression=creativity, but I do feel there is a definite correlation between depression and intelligence.


    I've dealt with a decent amount of depression in my life, and the worse thing of all is I've gotten so good at spotting it. I can see when I'm falling back on my unnecessary inferiority complex, or being pessimistic to the point of ridiculousness. I can spot it every time, I can tell myself its stupid, but I do it anyway, which just makes it worse.

    Here's a thought process I go through in some form everyday:

    The biggest cause of the depression I've gone through in my life is a sort of envious jealousy of the happiness of others. Most people I've met who seem content and happy carry around a simple ignorance of the world they live in like a shield . They fail to see the hypocrisy and vanity of everyday people. They carry around their copious number of friends with pride when I know that 95% of those friends are hollow pricks who don't give a crap about them. Yet they seem happy.

    They're glad to receive trophies and praise I know is useless, and live for the pats on the back they're so willing to receive from authority. I know they're being used, that no one cares about them, yet they seem happy.

    They don't comprehend how silly and ridiculous the things average things people consider important are. They pay good money to watch a bunch of millionaire or soon to be millionaire athletes run around on a field while looking ridiculous in fully body paint or wearing the team's over-priced merchandise. They talk about their teams in terms of "we", like they take pride in the player's accomplishments, even though they had nothing to do with it and those players couldn't give a rat's ass who that person was. Yet, they seem happy to just cheer on.

    Kinda get an idea of where I'm getting at here? I know this is just overly negative pessimistic hogwash, but it's the kind of thought process I'm going to fall back on almost everyday. I also know that I'm basically calling myself smart and can see things dumb people can't, and that makes me feel pompous, which makes me feel worse about myself, which makes me more depressed.

    So to me, depression may just be a kind of intelligence to be able to see and understand the stupidities of the world around. We see these terrible things, and then watch as everyone ignores them and lives on with big smiles on their face.

    In other words, If ignorance is bliss, than depression may just be a lack of ignorance.
     
  12. w176
    Offline

    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,067
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Luleå, Sweden
    chacotaco91: I do not agree with you, it not the intelligent reaction to the world, to become depressed in my opinion. Even if there is a correlation that probably have many biochemical as well as social factors to why intelligent people tent to be depressed more often.

    But you post make me think of an article I read about a study on another possible correlation between low self esteem, anxiety and intelligence.

    "The powers (and perils) of praising you child" - http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

    Well worth a read for well anybody alive.
     
  13. punk
    Offline

    punk Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    donut hills
    Actually, research agrees with you. The idea that a depressed person is creative is usually false because production in a time of depression is extremely hard to do. Suicides usually don't occur in a time of deep depression because it's just too exhausting.

    But in a creator's situation, the creativity usually comes from the biological upswing that complements the depression while the body is returning to equilibrium. Just last night, I was sitting in a depressive state, until that depression turned to anger. then I was able to write something and fall asleep.

    As for the "winning" of the contest, I think it differs with each person... or maybe it depends on the problem being solved. In PurpleCandle's case, she had to do something about her headboard. A "normal" person wouldn't consider repainting it into a new creation, so that solution is out of the question... I'll have to read the whole report to see the nature of the questions asked.
     
  14. w176
    Offline

    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,067
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Luleå, Sweden
    Interestingly enough wikipedia do link intellectual giftedness to both higher rate of depression among adolescents, and a higher rate of existential depression and existential anxiety in adults.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_giftedness#Depression

    Wikipedia as well does on the page on creativity briefly mention a study linking depression and creativity.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creativity#Creativity_and_negative_affect_relations

    As well as menyioning on the mood disorder page

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mood_disorder#Sociocultural_aspects
     
  15. punk
    Offline

    punk Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    donut hills
    I used to feel like this every day! I used to wish myself into a stupid state, and I hated myself for thinking I was any smarter than someone else.

    This is what I'm trying to find in my paper. I think this sort of thinking will draw a person to creative thought for answers because accepting the ones provided to us by the big bad society aren't sensible.

    That's why I'm so drawn to politics... it's become such a huge drive in my life, simply because I would go insane if I ever fail.

    And this isn't to say to all you non-depressed folks that you're stupid and ignorant, because that would be a stupid and ignorant comment in and of itself. I think most folks recognize worldly issues, but some people can't handle them as well as others, which is probably the case with depression. I guess then the argument would be where does the motivation for creatively fixing them come from? I don't know :confused:
     
  16. Mister Cheech
    Offline

    Mister Cheech Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2010
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    The problem with this is that although there is a kind of morbid satisfaction in discovering the many hypocrisies of the world, essentially this thought process ends at the ultimate hypocrisy, which is happiness in the face of the fact that one day (probably sooner than we think) we're going to die and consciousness will end and everything that we've thought, felt and experienced will be as if it was never retained by our mind at all. Hence, everything we do is useless and pointless.

    Blissful ignorance helps one to contribute to society a lot more than fairly indulgent depressive over-rationalization and pessimism.

    P.S. I am bipolar.
     
  17. chacotaco91
    Offline

    chacotaco91 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2011
    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Lexington KY
    Before I start ranting, I want to make clear 2 things:
    -By "intelligence" I mean having above-normal mental capabilities in most anything: whether that's in art, leadership, socializing, sciences, politics, or even just being extremely productive.
    -secondly, I've always made a huge generalization of society into 3 groups:

    1st tier: The hyper-intelligent, hyper-driven. The Leaders and Doers, movers and shakers.
    2nd tier: the above average intelligence. Intelligent enough to understand society and the system, yet not intelligent enough to actually change it or run it.
    3rd tier: Not necessarily dumb, as they can have normal or even high mental capacity. Its that that they simply cannot or will not look deeply into society or their world. They are the blissfully ignorant, happy with the most trivial things and doing whatever the 1st tier tells them.

    I agree on the blissful ignorance things: Society would fail hard if it was made up of a bunch of individualistic deep thinking people with creativity and bouts of depression. The vast majority of people need to be simple-minded and obedient. They need to be happy just having kids, watching american idol or america's biggest loser and getting their paycheck. This is the bread and butter of society, the consumers and workers.

    Then there is the top tier of society; the super successful and intelligent that run the system and push its boundaries. While the blissfully ignorant enjoy the simple things and doing what their told, the top tier are happy running the show. They get their thrill from success, power, money, status, or pushing the boundary of some art or science.

    What I believe is that there is a middle between these two, probably around 10% of the population, that are stuck in the middle. These are the above-average intelligence people. The people who are the most likely to underachieve, to have depression, to question themselves, to wonder why their not happy, to not fit in, etc etc. These people are unhappy because they can't achieve the happiness of either group. They're simply not good enough to be a top-tier, and their too intelligent to shut off their mind and join the 3rd tier. They want to get to the top, but don't have the means or the will to do it. Thus they become stuck in the society of the 3rd tier, having no notable successes besides being able to think deeply. They can never truly fit into this group. They want to like all the things they like 3rd tier likes, and be happy doing all the things they do, but they can't. Empty friendships and status symbols, baseless entertainment and conversations about nothing; the 2nd tier wants to be happy and enjoy these things, but they can't.


    What I'm getting at here is that I believe one of the worst things you can be born with is above average intelligence. Above average intelligence makes you smart enough to have difficulty relating to the less intelligent around you, but not smart enough to simply leap frog over them to the next level and leave them behind. You have these feelings of higher intelligence, but then merely question yourself and your abilities when you only accomplish as much or even less than the less intelligent around you. When you were in high school, you felt just as smart or smarter than all the honors kids, but you still couldn't do what they did: it was simple too hard for either your work ethic or your mental abilities.

    I'm guessing you can tell what group I think I'm in. Trust me, I feel dumb enough that I believe I'm in this group anyways. You'll say I'm just looking for excuses for my underachiever. The problem is, with an underachiever, they'll probably just agree with you.

    Also, its seems common that 90% of the population would name themselves as above average intelligence. I'm not arguing about self-perception, I'm talking about the inherent ability to understand underlying themes and see patterns. People can say there smart, but if there was a super computer that could process every mind's intelligence in the country simultaneousness, I'm pretty sure it would make a chart similar to my own.
     
  18. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,215
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Denmark
    If you wrote this entire post in order to justify why you think you'll never excel, then you are an underachiever. A huge portion of those you call tier 1 were underachievers until someone or something gave them a swift kick in the pants and they got their act together.

    Success is not a birth-right. It depends on perspective.

    If you're depressed and only see limitations then you'll never go as far as those who are optimists and see possibilites. In your previous rant you got into how blissfully ignorant everyone else are, because they go about their lives. How can you be so sure they're ignorant? Perhaps its you who are ignorant to the depth of their happiness and fulfilment, because you're unable to feel it yourself. You call their happiness fake, because you can't feel it. You call their interactions with each other shallow, because you're blind to the finer nuances of what goes on between them. Depression is, by definition of the word, a numbing of emotions. It doesn't make you see things clearer, it makes you blind to anything other than your own misery.

    Now, get your act together and write some best-sellers.
     
  19. chacotaco91
    Offline

    chacotaco91 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2011
    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Lexington KY
    ^Horuseye

    The tier 1 being prior underachievers is valid point. However, an underachiever would merely tell you that they were never truly depressed underachievers to start with. They were just tier 1's who were somewhat lost, and then merely found there way.

    I guess I'm having a hard time trying to give the point I'm getting at. Most of the things I've said above there, are wrong. I know you're not born with success, that everyone makes their own (except for professional sports and extremely complicated sciences). I know that optimism and hard work get you there. I know all these things, but it doesn't mean I or others like me or going to believe it.

    I'm basically trying to tell you the way I used to think, and not what actually I think is true. It's like my mind has a set way of thinking, no matter how much reason detests against it. I think of things only in terms of possible failure, and if something goes bad then it probably will. As I've gotten older, I've just gotten really good at catching myself when I'm doing it. I constantly have to remind myself of my own responsibility, and to never trust what my gut is telling me. At no point was my inadequacy and bad attitude ever fixed with "a kick in the butt" or getting set straight. People who attempted that on my I often ignored or just rebelled against.

    I know there are no 3 groups, with me being nicely put in the middle as an excuse to never feel like I "fit in". There is no mass group of unintelligent people that I'm vastly superior to. (though I sometimes have a hard time believing that seeing as Hall Pass made #1 in the box office) But thats the way I think. Anytime I see successful person, my first reaction is to think is that it's innate, that he was born with it. If I don't like a large group of people, or they don't accept me, Its because they're dumb. This is stupid, the thinking is all generalizing and messed up; but I did it anyway.

    When I'm thinking of the future, its all in terms of the failure of something in the present. I'm never imagining when I'm graduating, only when I'm dropping out. I never Imagine getting an A on a test, thinking instead of what I'm gonna do when I fail the class. I never imagine meeting new friends, I only imagine being lonely or never meeting people.

    The best thing that ever happened to me in my life is that I've gotten older, people start to give a rat's ass about you. As a child everyone is constantly worrying about your future and direction, your path and your health. When people stopped caring, and expect you to just do life on your own, I've found myself happier and more together than I could have ever remembered. I stopped saying I was "lost" and that I'm too smart for those around me. I enlisted in the Guard, went at school steady, and stopped constantly blaming myself or the system since no one would really cared who I blamed.

    All my friends still know me as the pessimist of the group though, the naysayer and what not. It's hard to make friends when all you do is see the bad side to everything. So I may be just saying I'm pessimistic, though I've felt like I've been in depression before. All I know is that the majority of people I know do not creatively write in their spare time. The ones I have met that do are usually very intelligent people, though not necessarily successful. These people to me are often unhappier, or think of the world more darkly, than the majority of people I've met.

    So I guess that's why I put together intelligence=depression=creativity. Also, from my own experience, I doubt I would have ever been even interested in creative writing if wasn't so self-conscious, pessimistic, and mildly depressed.
     
  20. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Not sure why you have to have depression to be intelligent or creative ??
     
  21. chacotaco91
    Offline

    chacotaco91 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2011
    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Lexington KY
    You don't, but it is curious as to whether there is a correlation with such things. Or possible that one cannot be creative without having a certain depressive view of life. You have to wonder if things like anti-depressants had existed in history, would Van Gogh have made his paintings? Would Keats or Hemingway have written their works?

    Makes you think.
     
  22. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Dunno - I am intelligent, have an IQ that is in the top 0.5% of the UK population. I am well read, reasonably well educated. Seem to have had a creative flair in my working life.My quilts were eye catching enough and my websites that people offered me jobs until they realised I didn't really know what I was doing. My writing seems to have pretty inventive plots and characters - my world for my fantasy stories I think shows a reasonable imagination.

    Whilst i have some autistic leanings, I have never been seriously depressed and have a positive outlook on life. I know plenty of creative academic types very few are depressed as far as I am aware. Not that you ever really know a person.
     
  23. LordKyleOfEarth
    Offline

    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX. USA
    I can't write when I'm feeling down. Then again, I really don't feel like doing much of ANYTHING when I'm down.
     
  24. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,215
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Denmark
    I think it's very typical for the depressed to justify or perhaps even defend depression. I remember this from my own lapses into it -- depression likes itself very much and it doesn't want to go away, so it makes up excuses for staying. There's also a certain kind of comfort in the mentality because it works as a shield against all other (and sometimes more painful) feelings. So if you can remain in your depression and then also tell yourself that it's productive and good for you, then it's even better. I just don't think it's one bit true.

    Btw, chacotaco -- your avatar has me cracking up every time I look at it.
     
  25. punk
    Offline

    punk Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    donut hills
    Ok, so I'm basically done with my paper, so I'll share my thesis.

    The social stigmatization toward people with behavioral disorders serves as an incubator for creative and inductive thought (I think I used too many big words).

    Basically, I came to the conclusion that depression in and of itself does not spur creativity. Rather, the social distance that a depressed or mentally ill person experiences leads them into an adverse relationship with big bad society. Because they grow in this environment, it is very likely that they will resent the many ideas it has to offer, and so the individual will resort to their own reasoning for learning.

    Creativity is the production of something both original and valuable, and so it is natural for people who oppose the popular and sometimes wrong ideas to be attracted to it. The motivation to find answers through creativity is enormous - curiosity, after all, is the distinguishing factor between us and snails.
     

Share This Page