Category: Mental health

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Depression and Creativity
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Robert Epstein on the teen brain

Robert Epstein on the teen brain

In an article, psychologist and editor Robert Epstein, PhD asks, “We blame teen turmoil on immature brains. But did the brains cause the turmoil, or did the turmoil shape the brains?” He says brain imaging studies “find that teens and adults use their brains somewhat differently when performing certain tasks” and that such studies “are […]

James Ellroy: "Crazy suppressed s--- came out and blew up in my face."

James Ellroy: “Crazy suppressed s— came out and blew up in my face.”

From article “How James Ellroy lost his mind,” The Week, October 8, 2009. In 2001 the best-selling noir novelist had a nervous breakdown while on a book tour. James Ellroy has an intimate knowledge of despair, says Sean Woods in Rolling Stone. In 2001 he was at the top of his professional game, a best-selling […]

Giftedness, sensitivity and psychiatric drugs: why do we take them and why do we quit?

Giftedness, sensitivity and psychiatric drugs: why do we take them and why do we quit?

By Cat Robson What are some of the considerations that lead sensitive and gifted adults to take psychiatric medications? What are some of the reasons people stop taking medications? What are the alternatives? My inner life, and sometimes my outer life, is painful/chaotic/confusing. The DSM symptoms list for certain mental illnesses seem to fit me […]

Sinead O'Connor on her creativity and dealing with depression

Sinead O’Connor on her creativity and dealing with depression

On or about April 24, 2012, an announcement was posted on her site www.sinead-oconnor.com that Sinead O’Connor has had to cancel her tour. She posted the following note: “With enormous regret I must announce that I have to cancel all touring for the year as am very unwell due to bi polar disorder. “As you […]

Managing Depression Releases More Creativity

Managing Depression Releases More Creativity

“I only know that summer sang in me a little while, that in me sings no more.” That excerpt from one of her sonnets expresses how much poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) probably knew of depression. Singer Marie Osmond has described her experiences suffering from postpartum depression in her book Behind the Smile: “I’m […]

Reduce how you compromise yourself by dealing with anxious thoughts

Reduce how you compromise yourself by dealing with anxious thoughts

“The equipment used in connection with this operation will consist of the following items: 1 unopened newspaper; 1 sterile can opener; 1 large sterile plate; 1 sterile fork; 1 sterile spoon; 2 sterile brushes; 2 bars of soap; sterile paper towels.” That is part of a long memo from Howard Hughes on how to open […]

Therese J. Borchard on her journey in treating depression

Therese J. Borchard on her journey in treating depression

“When you’re in the midst of depression, that’s the scariest thing — it seems that you’re going to feel like that forever. The pain created by depression kills almost 1 million people a year. It almost killed me, and it did kill my aunt. “If I can give just one person hope that there’s an […]

Keeping positive about our darker edges

Keeping positive about our darker edges

“Life’s just much too hard today / I hear ev’ry mother say / The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore / And if you take more of those / you will get an overdose / No more running for the shelter / of a mother’s little helper” “Mother’s Little Helper” by The Rolling Stones, […]

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 […]