The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius by Nancy C. Andreasen

Ran across a couple of articles this week discussing the book, The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius by Nancy C. Andreasen.  Dr Andreasen is a neuroscientist and psychiatrist who started out with a PhD in English Literature.

The first article, A Little Weird? Prone to Depression? Blame Your Creative Brain, is actually from about seven years ago, and discusses several points about creatives and depression:

  • “We cannot afford to waste human gifts. We need to learn how to nurture the creative nature
  • Creative people have characteristics that make them more vulnerable
  • A highly original person may seem odd or strange to others
  • Creative brains have difficulty “gating” sensory input
  • Creative people are more likely to be productive and more original if surrounded by other creative people”.

The article’s author summarizes Dr Andreasen’s findings as “creatives experience higher rates of mood disorders than the general population”.

The second article, Neuroscientist Explains Five Secrets of the Creative Brain, is from about a week ago, and also discusses the connection between creatives and depression with this quote from Dr Andreasen, “Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them ‘creative geniuses.’ Some people see things other cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill. And some people (are) both”.

The article’s author reveals the five secrets to be:

  • “Many Creatives Are Polymaths
  • Creatives Are Mostly Self-Taught
  • Creatives Are a Persistent Bunch
  • Creatives Get Their Best Ideas at Rest
  • Creatives Have a Ton of Ideas”.

As is always the case with depression or any other mental illness, your experience may differ from what is described in this book.  Needless to say, this book now occupies a spot on my must read list.

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