Category: Mental health

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Depression and Creativity
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The Edge of Madness: Black Swan and Artistic Expression

The Edge of Madness: Black Swan and Artistic Expression

In another outstanding post, cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman includes a wide range of material on creativity and mental health. Here is an excerpt: In the movie Black Swan, the ballerina Nina Sayers (played by Natalie Portman) is asked by the director to “lose herself” in the role of the black swan in the ballet […]

Keeping the turmoil in your art - not your spirit

Keeping the turmoil in your art – not your spirit

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” Friedrich Nietzsche That quote is a perspective many artists and other gifted and talented people with intense and “chaotic” inner lives may appreciate. But is turmoil necessary for creative expression? [The image, by the way, is “Bond of Union” […]

Avoid holiday stress with "9 Holiday Depression Busters"

Avoid holiday stress with “9 Holiday Depression Busters”

In her article, 9 Holiday Depression Busters, Theresa Borchard shows how to keep stress levels low and depression and anxiety at bay over the holidays. Her 9 tips run from the serious “Avoid Toxic People,” and “Make Your Own Traditions,” to the seemingly frivolous, but ingenious, “Travel With Polyester, Not Linen.” Here’s a sample: #9: […]

Many talented people use or abuse drugs

Many talented people use or abuse drugs

Psychologist and creativity coach/author Eric Maisel, PhD declares: “The artist is often a drug and alcohol abuser. “The challenge for the creative artist stirred by [their] work and dream is to maintain mood equilibrium without resorting to mood-altering drugs. The social environment of the artist makes this challenge doubly difficult.” [From article Counseling Artists: The […]

Highly creative people have brains similar to those with schizophrenia

Highly creative people have brains similar to those with schizophrenia

Research provides more neuroscientific explanation for the potential links between mental health and mental illness to creativity. A press release reports: “By studying receptors in the brain, researchers at Karolinska Institute have managed to show that the dopamine system in healthy, highly creative people is similar in some respects to that seen in people with […]

Emotion Regulation

Emotion Regulation

How we relate to our emotions can deeply impact our experience of life, and how well we are able to pursue talents and passions. Trying to block or “escape” what we view as negative feelings or emotions can block access to parts of ourselves we might develop. Laura L.C. Johnson writes in a Positive Psychology […]

Creative People and Madness [Slideshare presentation]

Creative People and Madness [Slideshare presentation]

A number of mental health challenges and myths relate to creative people. For example, director Tim Burton may be acclaimed for his films, including “Alice in Wonderland,” but has also been called ‘crazy’ (at least in part for his appearance) or at least ‘eccentric’ – perhaps a polite cover label for ‘mad.’ … The mythology […]

The Link Between Depression And Anxiety

The Link Between Depression And Anxiety

Many highly talented, creative people experience some degree of anxiety, as well as depression. This writer is a “psychologist and nutrition specialist who personally dealt with depression for nearly 20 years, and through his research developed a way to shift your focus and change your mindset, to re-gain control over your thoughts and feelings.” ~ […]

A Time and Place to be Bipolar?

A Time and Place to be Bipolar?

In his book “The Hypomanic Edge : The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America,” John D. Gartner, Ph.D. provides a list of characteristics that probably applies to many in the huge community of creative minds in entertainment fields: “Filled with energy… flooded with ideas… driven, restless, and unable to […]

Creative Expression and Healing

Creative Expression and Healing

Creative expression can transform our painful reactions to traumatic or difficult experiences, providing a way to give voice to painful feelings. Charlize Theron is an example. As a teen, she saw her mother shoot and kill her abusive and violently threatening father in self defense. She said in a 2004 interview that her work has helped […]

Perfectionism and Depression: What to Do When Being a Perfectionist Drags You Down

Perfectionism and Depression: What to Do When Being a Perfectionist Drags You Down

Here is an excerpt from an article by Sedona Training Associates staff and Hale Dwoskin: Do you ever think the following self-limiting beliefs? * It’s not OK to make a mistake * People will not like me if I’m not perfect * I’ll avoid anything I can’t do well * I’m a failure because I […]

Mental health and creativity posts

Mental health and creativity posts

The impact of mood disorders and other mental health challenges on being creative. The Mad Hatter : “Have I gone mad?” Alice : “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.” ~ ~ ~~~~ Originally posted 2012-10-29 10:59:55.

The creative experience: intensity or madness

The creative experience: intensity or madness

By Cat Robson. 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 […]

Successful People Who've Struggled with Psychiatric Disorders

Successful People Who’ve Struggled with Psychiatric Disorders

By Leslie Johnson Although it is somewhat of a media-influenced stereotype, the cultural image of the “mad genius” has stayed with us, and that’s because many of the qualities attributed to highly successful people (i.e. that they are crazy or insane) are quite true. Especially for those of us who are creative and active people, […]

Achievement pressure and the word salad breakdown

Achievement pressure and the word salad breakdown

The term “nervous breakdown” may be loose and non-medical, but still somewhat useful and descriptive.  If it is extreme enough, the experience may get called a psychosis. One of the things that intrigued me in the story below is the symptom of “word salad” – which the Wikipedia page on Schizophasia explains is “confused, and […]

Excessive Internet Use Linked to Depression [or not]

Excessive Internet Use Linked to Depression [or not]

A ScienceDaily news article reports: People who spend a lot of time browsing the Internet are more likely to show depressive symptoms, according to the first large-scale study of its kind in the West by University of Leeds psychologists. Researchers found striking evidence that some users have developed a compulsive internet habit, whereby they replace […]

Eric Maisel on investing meaning in our life and art for mental health

Eric Maisel on investing meaning in our life and art for mental health

Eric Maisel, PhD is author of The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person’s Path Through Depression. In our interview, he addresses some of the meaning and mood issues facing creators, noting that when we consciously make meaning, we improve our lives and mental health. Q: The kinds of anxiety we call stage fright, or fear […]

Guided Imagery and Emotional Health

Guided Imagery and Emotional Health

“Raking in a zen garden is one form of relaxation, but visual guided imagery is a specialized form of meditation that teaches a patient to focus on their breath and different muscle groups. “Even learning for a short period of time could teach you how to reduce stress, reduce anxiety in different situations,” said clinical […]

Janis Joplin: "Don't compromise yourself."

Janis Joplin: “Don’t compromise yourself.”

“Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.” Janis Joplin What reminded me of this photo and her quote was a recent obituary of the photographer Jim Marshall. He commented in the article: “Some people said I shouldn’t have published that picture of her lying back, with the bottle in her hand, but I’ll defend it […]

Madness and creativity: do we need to be crazy?

Madness and creativity: do we need to be crazy?

~ ~ ~ ~ The idea of the mad artist is supported to some extent by research, and the experiences of mental illness for many creative people. What do psychologists say? Here is a video on the topic: “Connecting strength and vulnerability of the creative brain” – PBS, July 25, 2014. “Why have so many […]

Can stress and bad moods spur creativity?

Can stress and bad moods spur creativity?

According to research by professor Modupe Akinola of Columbia Business School and colleagues, negative mood-triggering situations and stress can in some ways enhance creative expression. An article on the research asks, “Where does creativity come from, and how can it be harnessed? “The answer may be a dark one, says Professor Modupe Akinola, whose research […]

Eric Maisel on emotional mastery

Eric Maisel on emotional mastery

Psychologist and creativity coach Eric Maisel comments: “Mindfulness includes minding your emotions. If you know it will rile you to re-read that curt email from that literary agent, delete it. What are you saving it for? Become someone who is able to mind her emotions… “You get angry, you get envious, you get depressed. You […]

Depression As An Adaptation

Depression As An Adaptation

According to The National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 21 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of people 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder, including major depression, dysthymia (chronic, mild depression), and bipolar disorder. [From my article Making Good Use of Depression. Photo: actor Hayden Christensen from the book […]

You Can Heal Your Life - the Louise Hay video

You Can Heal Your Life – the Louise Hay video

Author Gregg Braden says, “I was working as a defense systems computer engineer during the last years of the Cold War when I first read Louise’s book, You Can Heal Your Life. “It came to me at a turning point in my life and I found it so beautiful, so powerful, and so true. “Through […]

Too 'depressing' a topic for Valentine's Day?

Too ‘depressing’ a topic for Valentine’s Day?

Anne Tyler Lord writes: “Some may think that depression is too ‘depressing’ of a topic for Valentine’s Day. But I think it is the best because it is one of the holidays where many people experience depression, right up there with Christmas and New Year’s Eve. “And, what better way to care for your heart […]

Ingmar Bergman on mastering anxiety, depicting joy

Ingmar Bergman on mastering anxiety, depicting joy

As journalist Charles McNulty writes, Ingmar Bergman [1918-2007] “will always be remembered first and foremost as one of the most influential of European auteurs, a filmmaker whose enthralling forays into characters’ interior darkness were unmatched in their psychological acuity and inward intensity.” [From “Bergman a giant not only of film but of the stage,” Los […]

Eric Maisel on distraction addiction

Eric Maisel on distraction addiction

Creativity coach Eric Maisel, PhD points out the insidious attraction of what he calls “special addictions that might be dubbed the distraction addictions.” Among these, he lists “compulsive Internet surfing, online shopping, and video game playing that have sprung up alongside our technological advances. “These new addictions are a lure for everybody, but they are […]

Living A Creative Life - Eric Maisel on Dealing With Stress

Living A Creative Life – Eric Maisel on Dealing With Stress

Creativity coach, author and psychologist Eric Maisel, PhD, notes “Some people become doctors, lawyers, accountants, or marketing executives. Some people stay at home and raise a family. “But millions of people make another sort of choice, maybe only as part-time employment if you count the money they earn but as their full-time identity: they become […]

Anger and creativity

Anger and creativity

Actor and Singer/songwriter Melora Hardin said in our interview: “Anger is the best propeller for any kind of action, it really gets you moving. It’s a good thing. A healthy thing. “But I also think a lot of people — like some songwriters I interact with — get really caught in the trap of feeling […]

The upside of our dysfunctions

The upside of our dysfunctions

“So many good things have happened to me because of how unhealthy I’ve been mentally.” The photo shows Judd Apatow directing his wife, Leslie Mann, on the set of “Knocked Up,” which he also produced and wrote. Other credits include “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” and the acclaimed “Freaks and Geeks” TV […]

Artists and Addiction

Artists and Addiction

“Let’s just say I needed a cocktail when we finished that day.” Amy Adams was referring to shooting a scene in “American Hustle”, which a Los Angeles Times article describes as “a scene in which her character, Sydney, a steely, sexy con artist, confronts her lover, Irving (Christian Bale), about the authenticity of his devotion.” […]