Falter-Barns comments, “I couldn’t agree more. I’d always had this sense that self-expression, passion and the stirrings of your soul were intertwined.”
And our “stirrings of the soul” can get very complex.
In our interview, psychologist Stephen A. Diamond commented, “We create because we seek to give some formal expression to inner experience. Certainly, that inner experience is sometimes joy, peace, tranquility, love, etc. We wish to share that experience with our fellow human beings.”
But, he continues, human nature being what it is, “more often the inner experience is conflict, confusion, anxiety, anger, rage, lust, and so forth. So this is what fuels and informs the bulk of creative work, and it is what gives it its resonance, intensity, and cutting edge.”
There are some revealing studies on how feelings and thinking about love and sex impact creativity.
Research by psychologists Jens Forster and others at the University of Amsterdam “demonstrated that love makes us think differently in that it triggers global processing, which in turn promotes creative thinking and interferes with analytic thinking.
“Thinking about sex, however, has the opposite effect: it triggers local processing, which in turn promotes analytic thinking and interferes with creativity.”
In his Psychology Today blog post Love, Lust, and Creativity Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D. refers to that research study and others, including one by Vladas Griskevicius and colleagues which “showed that it doesn’t matter if men are thinking about a short-term or long-term affair–in either case their creativity was increased. For women, however, their creativity was only increased in the condition where they were imagining an affair with a long-term, committed mate.”
Kaufman comments, “So perhaps actual interactions can cause anxiety and intimidation and it is these feelings that are causing a decline in cognitive performance.
“So to reconcile the two: Thinking about the experience of sex or receiving a cue that relates to sex can increase a person’s analytical skills because you are in a ‘here and now’ focused mindset, whereas thinking about sex with a stranger in the presence of that stranger can cause one’s mind to become scattered and that person then can lose all sense of who they are, what they are doing there, and even what their name is (which, I have argued, is actually just the conditions necessary for divergent, creative thought!).