Why do creativity and madness often go hand in hand in case of writers and poets?
The word “crazy” is thrown around so liberally to describe a wide spectrum of activities, objects, and people.
You will walk into a room with a girl trying to describe the guy she just met and she looks up into space as her friends pause sipping their milkshakes amid the suspense and then she says with a sigh and a sheepish smile, “he is crazy.” Never mind that this is a word associated with people who are medically insane.
But you cannot blame the girl because the new catch can only be one of two types of people. One is the type that wears a suit, is at the office for forty hours a week and has dinner plans every Friday and movie night on Saturday; life goes on like clockwork.
The other kind is rarely in a suit, hates authority, writes a random poem describing things in the most outrageous terms, and never settles; the kind that wants to change things up, deviate from the norm.
Of the two types of people, the first one is relatively normal, but the second type is something else. Their restlessness makes them innovators, their rebelliousness makes them loners, their outlandish quirks makes them misunderstood, and their resultant emotions make them expressive artists. Creativity and madness seem to go hand in hand in case of these individuals.
Have you ever been at a writer’s meeting? Not the type that is hosted by writers with publicists and marketers who dictate how they write their poems or books to sell the most, but the meetings where writers are still in their crude form, where they write for the love of writing. The majority of the creative in attendance will most likely have long hair or dreads, and unconventional dressing codes that “express who they are.”
Why are these writers and poets so eccentric?
That leads to the age-old question that no one quite seems to have an answer to as of yet: why? Why are these writers and poets so different from the average person?
Is it that they are wired that way or is it just habits that they adopt along the way and they choose to keep them so that they can be identified as such? Is it a coincidence that they all act so or is it a regularity? Perhaps looking into history and science may point in the direction of the correct answer.
One psychologist, Hans Eysenck, studied the link between creativity and madness and declared that there is a level of correlation between high levels of creativity and high psychoticism. This is a personality trait that points to an inclination towards psychotic behavior.
It is important to point out that psychoticism does not necessarily make the patient schizophrenic or bipolar, two of the most commonly known types of “madness.” Instead, they are just predisposed to behavior that is similar to that of more critical illness.
This was perhaps evident in the life of famed poet James Joyce, known for writing his poems lying on his stomach in bed while wearing a white coat. He had a possible predisposition to mood changes, but he led a normal life. His daughter, Lucia, on the other hand, was not so lucky as she would eventually go mad.
Could the more severe condition have been passed on from the father to the daughter? Even James did wonder.