Are Genius and Madness Related?

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Are creative genius and madness related? The dictionary states that “to create” is “to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.” In ancient times, creative inspiration was a divine attribute; even the Greeks believed that creativity was achieved by altered states of mind – “Divine Madness.” This is best illustrated in the Greek belief of Muses. As the myth goes, Zeus, the supreme god and ruler of Olympus, fathered nine daughters with Mnemosyne the goddess of memory. Each of these nine daughters ruled over one domain of creativity such as epic and sacred poetry’s, lyrics, history, dance, comedy, tragedy, music and astronomy. It was believed that they provided a spiritual inspiration to the human creator. Socrates, a Greek philosopher states that, “If a man comes to the door of poetry untouched by madness of the muses, believing that technique alone will make him a good poet, he and his sane compositions never reach perfection, but are utterly eclipsed by the inspired madman.” Madness has also been described as unrestrained excitement or enthusiasm or the quality of being rash and foolish. Modern researchers on the subject would attribute these qualities to a mental disorder called manic depression. Most of us are familiar with what depression is, it is an overwhelming sadness with feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, hopelessness for a prolonged period of time. People with depression also experience insomnia, fatigue, loss of interest or pleasure in things they used to enjoy, changes in weight, irritability, restlessness, and even thoughts of suicide. But what exactly is manic depression? According to Dr. Dayal Mirchandani, author of Highs and Lows of Bipo... ... middle of paper ... ... Morgan, Nichole. "Through the Looking Glass: An Exploration of Mild Depression as a Motivational Factor for Creative Writers." Disseration Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences 65 (2005). PsychINFO. Web. 25 Feb. 2011 Runco, Mark A. "Suicide And Creativity: The Case Of Sylvia Plath." Death Studies 22.7 (1998): 637-54. Print. Silvia, Paul J. "A Dimensional Analysis of Creativity and Mental Illness: Do Anxiety and Depression Symptoms Predict Creative Cognition, Creative Accomplishments, and Creative Self-concepts?" Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 4 (2010): 2-10. PsychINFO. Web. 25 Feb. 2011. Thomas, Katherine M., and Marshall Duke. "Depressed Writing: Cognitive Distortions in the Works of Depressed and Nondepressed Poets and Writers." Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 1.4 (2007): 204-18. Print.

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