As I discovered over the years in my own interactions with the mental health system, when someone with a creative personality is seen through the eyes of those who have a different temperament, such as scientists and doctors, the result can be mislabeling and misdiagnosis.
People who are uncomfortable with extreme states are often, unfortunately, the ones who have the power to medicate and even institutionalize others. In her article, excerpted here, therapist Lisa Riley takes a look at the creative mind.
Creative Intensity or Madness
By Lisa A. Riley, MA MFT
“If a man comes to the door of poetry untouched by the madness of theMuses, believing that technique alone will make him a good poet, he and his sane compositions never reach perfection, but are utterly eclipsed by the performances of the inspired madman.” – Socrates
Many creative individuals have experienced sudden surges, flooded with creative intensity as if an arrow laced with their muse struck them.
The cycle accelerates productivity with their art lasting for days, even weeks at a time. Engrossed in the moment saturated with ideas, some will work viciously, with little sleep or food.
It’s as if creative energy is what fuels them during this interlude producing a temporary state of immortality.
Commonly following such a ride is a retreat back into their cave, often in seclusion, as if to recover and hibernate. However, during this down time the creative process is not completely dormant. Instead the artist is regrouping, reorganizing and ideas are incubating for the next eruption.
Artists have been notoriously criticized for their shifting bouts of creativity, often misinterpreted as erratic mood swings.
Throughout history many artists, unable to manage the power of their own muse were sucked under by the undertow, hence why the words “madness” and “artist” went hand in hand.