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Neurotic Creativity Study May Explain Why Neurotics Are More Creative

An opinion paper published this past Thursday may finally explain why some of history’s most creative minds were also the most neurotic.

EurekaAlert issued a public release this week about the Trends in Cognitive Sciences story in which it was indicated that the psychologists had come up with a new theory as to why “unhappiness and creativity go hand-in-hand.”

The region of the brain which is responsible for recurring, self-produced thoughts that lead to neuroticism is responsible for both creativity and misery.

Adam Perkins, lead author for the study, was quoted as saying that he was inspired to explore the relationship between neuroticism and creativity after listening to a lecture from a colleague who said that neuroticism is, in part, due to a heightened sensitivity to threat.

Whether the threat is real or not has not bearing on the neuroticism. What results is a mind that has a tendency to wander in some situations and focus intently on other situations.

TIME magazine quoted Perkins as saying that this tendency to daydream and problem solve are the “costs and benefits to being neurotic.”

There’s costs and benefits to being a neurotic. What’s interesting is that you can be neurotic and have a creative benefit, but we still don’t understand it.

Results of the study don’t necessarily prove that neurotic people are more creative, but they do show that there may be a link between daydreaming, problem solving and creativity.

US News & World Report was quick to point out this out, noting that the study was more of an exploration of the nature of neurosis, what parts of the brain are involved and it’s costs and benefits.

Explaining creativity and its possible link to the side effects of neurosis were secondary.

Perkins was quoted as saying that his team’s theories of neurosis, threat-thinking and problem solving will give them a “straightforward unifying framework” to understand possible links between neurosis and creativity.

Hopefully our theory will also stimulate new research as it provides us with a straightforward unifying framework to tie together the creative aspects of neuroticism with its emotional aspects.

Those who suffer from neurosis are more likely to have a psychological disorder later in life.

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