Getting High Doesn’t Make You Creative

Absinthe Robette - Henri Privat-Livemont’s 1896 poster extolling absintheBeethoven reportedly drank wine about as often as he wrote music, and was an alcoholic or at least a problem-drinker. At least five U.S. writers who won the Nobel Prize for Literature have been considered alcoholics.

Scientist Carl Sagan was reportedly a regular user of marijuana until his death in 1996.

Richard Feynman (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1965) used marijuana and LSD while in his mid 50’s, mostly while exploring consciousness in a sensory deprivation tank.

Also in my article Gifted, Talented, Addicted, I list many other people with exceptional intellectual and creative abilities who have used drugs and alcohol, perhaps as self-medication to ease the pain of their high sensitivity, or as a way to supposedly enhance thinking and creativity.

One of the most ‘romantic’ forms of alcohol has been absinthe.

Absinthe or la Fée Verte (Green Fairy) may have been “the drink of choice for Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, Julius Verne, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, and Ernest Hemingway.

“Many openly attributed some of their creativity to la Fée Verte. Its popularity spread during the Belle Époque to artist havens such as Paris, Bohemia and New Orleans.” [From ecodigerati post: Absinthe.]

But do drugs enhance creativity?

A Medical News Today story reports this is a “dangerous myth” – and drugs can actually stifle creativity:

Addiction psychiatrist Iain Smith, speaking at the International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Edinburgh, said that while many artists and writers, such as the 19th century French poet Baudelaire and American writer Ernest Hemingway, were well known for their use of intoxicating substances (cannabis and alcohol respectively), most produced their greatest works when they were sober.

Dr Smith said: “The reason that this myth is so powerful is the allure of the substances, and the fact many artists need drugs to cope with their emotions. Artists are, in general, more emotional people and the use of substances to deal with their emotions is more likely to happen.”

Continued in article Alcohol And Drugs ‘Stifle Artistic Creativity’ by Medical News Today.

Related article: Actors and Addiction – Edie Falco, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tatum O’Neal and others talk about the challenges. Ed Harris, commenting about playing the lead in “Pollock,” has admitted to having ”a slight drinking problem at that time… It had to do with things that you don’t talk about, very private and similar fears [to Pollock’s] about the need for approval and attention and the desire to do something that makes me feel worthy.”

One sort of emotion many of us have to deal with is anxiety – see many articles, plus non-drug, non-addicting ways to deal it on my site Anxiety Relief Solutions.


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Originally posted 2010-06-25 18:46:03.


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