Background

Creative Individual As Dark Personality

Uploaded 1/15/2024, approx. 32 minute read

Are creative people crazy? Are geniuses mentally ill? That is a topic of today's totally demented video by the deranged Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism, revisited a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of CEAPs. So the first thing to realize is that people confuse, conflate intelligence and creativity.

IQ, intelligence co-shield, which measures how far advanced you are analytically, cerebrally, how far advanced you are compared to your chronological age. So IQ is not the same as creativity and the linkage between IQ and creativity is not clear at all more than 100 years after the first IQ test has been designed by Turman and Manison. So we're going to delve deep into the issue of mental illness as a much better predictor of creativity.

Yes, you need to wrap your mind around this new concept. Mental illness is a harbinger of creativity, not intelligence.

So super geniuses, creative people are feared, they're feared, they're hated, they're ostracized, they're punished.

This is because they bring change. People don't like change. People adore the status quo. People dread transformation, the unknown, the unpredictable.

And so many geniuses and creative people try to somehow fit in, fit in with other people in order to not suffer the consequences.

And so they are willing to clown themselves.

Slavoj Zizek, Albert Einstein, Jordan Peterson, they're clowns. They're clowns and they render themselves clowns in order to be perceived by the masses as harmless and innocuous.

The second strategy is to dumb yourself down. Many geniuses and creative people play dumb. They conform to the biases, prejudices, ignorance and errors of the masses, essentially broadcasting, signaling, I'm one of you. I may be a rock superstar. I may be a famous painter. I may be a Nobel Prize winning scientist. I may be a groundbreaking philosopher, but ultimately I'm just like any one of you.

I've been lucky or I don't know what, I've worked hard, but I'm like one of you.

In short, the message is you're all capable of becoming what I am.

These are the strategies you're all capable of becoming who I am. I'm sorry. These are the strategies that super geniuses and creative people use in order to fend off the hostility and the aggression of the great unwashed masses of humanity, masses of humanity who are no better off than apes in most cases.

Now, John Nash, who suffered from schizophrenia, was asked once, why do you believe that you were appointed by aliens to save the world? Now, John Nash was a Nobel, was one of the greatest mathematicians in history, one of the fathers of game theory and so on and so forth.

So he was asked, but he at the same time believed that he was the emissary of aliens here to save the errant human species. And he answered because the ideas about supernatural things came to me the same way as did the mathematical solutions.

So I took them seriously.

And this is a very interesting indication of the affinity between mental illness and creativity. They both come from the same source and they are experienced the same way, actually.

We're going to delve into this much deeper a bit later.

Aristotle believed that those who have become eminent in philosophy, politics, poetry and the arts have all had tendencies towards melancholia, today known as depression.

Seneca stated that no great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness. And he wrote this long before he met me.

Socrates said that the poet has no invention in him until he has been inspired and out of his senses.

And Sigmund Freud regarded creative genius as a sure sign of neurosis. Much, much later, Nancy Andresen, chair of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, commented on the connection between mild mania and creativity. She said that many eminent people in various fields have been manic depressives.

I quote, "A variety of artists, writers, statesmen, philosophers and scientists have suffered from disorders of the mood." A century and a half prior to Andresen, Lombrozo, a Jewish psychologist and phrenologist and so on, a forensic psychiatrist in today's terms, Lombrozo argued towards the end of the 19th century that genius and madness are closely connected. They are manifestations of an underlying degenerative neurological disorder.

It was a hypothesis, of course. He couldn't prove it, although he has analyzed many skulls and many brains.

What's the work being done today? What do we think today about the connection between genius, especially creative genius and mental illness?

In Berkeley, there's the Berkeley Institute for Personality Assessment and Research. They've administered the most powerful psychological test in existence, the MMPI, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. They administer these tests, the MMPI, to creative people, especially people who are known as geniuses and people who have come up with breakthroughs and paths, chartered new paths in their own disciplines.

So they tested them with the MMPI.

Now, the MMPI contains scales of assessment, assessment of personality structure, assessment of a variety of mental mental health disorders, and so on and so forth. And the results were very striking, very surprising.

So creative people, especially writers, creative writers scored much higher than normal people, healthy people, on the scales for depression, mania, schizophrenia, paranoia, and anxiety, especially anxiety about health, first of all known as hypochondriasis.

Another pattern in these studies emerged where creative personalities took the EPQ, or the ISENC personality questionnaire, and they scored higher on a scale for psychoticism.

Now, I've mentioned this in previous videos. Psychoticism is not psychotic. It's a common misconception, mistake, especially among self-styled experts. Psychoticism is a tendency towards creativity that somehow compromises the perception of reality.

And psychoticism in ISENC's model of personality, psychoticism is closely linked to creativity. So in modern creativity research, we distinguish creative potential from creative achievement or creative accomplishment. Creative potential is, as the phrase implies, the potential, the capacity, the ability to generate something new, something useful, something groundbreaking, some pioneering work.

So this is creative potential. Creative achievement is the actual realization of this potential. Can you carry this potential forward and make it happen? Can you translate it to something? Can you manifest it in some way?

So, real life accomplishments determine creative achievement, having made a scientific discovery, having written a novel, while potential remains potential.

And recent research has shown that creative potential is dependent on IQ. It does reflect underlying intelligence.

However, creative achievement is independent of IQ. And so even people with low IQ can perform and achieve creative things. High IQ does not translate into success in the absence of other factors, other features, other traits. High IQ in itself is not enough. You need perseverance. You need agreeableness. You need industriousness. You need stability and self-regulation. You need humility.

Look at me. You need a capacity for teamwork. You need to have minimal empathy and respect for other people, not contempt. Hint, hint. You need to be mentally healthy. You need a social support network. And of course, you need luck.

Many geniuses are homeless or incarcerated and all but forgotten because all they have is a high IQ and all the rest is absent. And so they have a high creative potential and a very low creative accomplishment threshold.

Now, creativity has to do with several features of mental illness. Number one, reality testing. Creative people perceive reality differently. It is no wonder that many autistic people, many people on the autism spectrum disorder, especially high functioning autistic people, are also creative and they end up being, you know, famous writers or famous mathematicians or famous physicists or famous sculptors or famous.

So because creativity and reality don't go together, creativity is the ability to imagine an alternative reality, the ability to divorce yourself from the existing reality and plunge yourself into a reality that is only inside your mind, a paracosm, a fantasy and imagination.

Narcissists are very creative, consequently, because they are very adept at fantasy defenses. They're very skilled at generating fantasies and then immersing themselves in the fantasy and confusing fantasy and reality.

This is a precondition for creativity. And when you couple this propensity for fantasy impaired reality testing, when you couple this with recklessness, a sense of fearless godlike immunity to the consequences of your actions, it actually leads to exploratory and entrepreneurial behavior.

If you inhabit, if you reside in a reality of your own making, and if within this reality you believe yourself immune to the consequences of your choices and decisions and actions, then you would never be afraid to experiment with new things, to initiate new enterprises, new directions, to explore, to survey the field, to take risks.

So it is this, this abysm, this divide from reality that allows the creative person to embark on courses of action and trajectories that other people are leery of, afraid of, reluctant and avoid.

An example of this is the savant phenomenon. There's a link between autism spectrum disorder and creativity. Savants are all people who suffer from one variant or another of autism, and they excel exceptionally in areas such as mathematics, memory, musical skills, and so on.

So there have been studies by Pring and others which demonstrated that there is a connection between autism and excellence in creative fields.

There's another study by Campbell and Wang that reported an increased incidence of creativity among siblings with autism spectrum disorder.

So it's like an echo when one of the siblings is an autistic, when one of the siblings suffers from autism and autism spectrum disorder, the other siblings are also likely to somehow be more creative, choose for example a technical major.

But the shocking thing is actually that there are no studies, no big body of studies, no corpus of learning regarding the connection between autism and creativity.

One would have thought that this would be a major vector of studies in modern clinical psychology, and it's not.

There's something in autism that predisposes the patient to be creative and even to be a genius and to excel.

What is it? It seems that the fact that people with autism spectrum disorder misspeceive reality, misinterpret social and sexual cues, including body language, are somehow divorced from their environment and have to compensate by creating an internal environment which is a full substitute to the external one or almost full. It seems that this is, this somehow triggers creative endeavors.

The next thing is originality, novelty, difference. These are all hallmarks of creativity, synoptic connectivity, the ability to connect things which on the surface appear to be disconnected. The ability to put together by borrowing elements from a variety of fields, many disciplines, put them together and come up with a new insight, with a new discovery, with a new innovation. This synoptic ability, the ability to kind of fly above the terrain, spot the topography and put everything together in a way that has never been done before. This is a hallmark of creativity and this synoptic connectivity appears to be schizotypal or even psychotic.

This is known as schizotypi. I have a video dedicated to schizotypi. I recommend that you watch it.

There's something mentally ill here. There's something schizophrenic, if you wish.

Indeed, creativity and psychoticism are linked in Isaac's work, as I mentioned. Although psychoticism is not a psychosis, they're not the same thing. Still, it's an affinity to psychosis. It's kind of a second cousin of psychosis.

Initially, there's a burst of observations and informations and ideas and thoughts, cognitions and even emotions. There's a supernova of these things and they're totally disorganized. They're totally chaotic and this is the schizotypi phase.

The schizotypi phase is followed by a more organized phase. The schizotypi phase is what inspiration is about, intuition. Even solving problems in dreams, these are all examples of schizotypi.

A stream, a river, a gushing, raging river of ideas that you can't control. They flood you, you drown in them. Very often they're forgotten the minute they've emerged and then somehow out of this chaos, order and structure begin to emerge.

This is of course chaos theory.

In mathematics, chaotic attractors, there's some elements in the schizotypi episode that around which everything coalesces. It's like the formation of galaxies in the early universe, around which everything coalesces.

So the initial phase of originality and innovation and creating something, the initial phase is very much like a gas, a diffuse gas in the voids of the universe, in deep space.

Then gravity begins to attract the gas molecules and they form galaxies.

So this is the creative process.

But of course the initial phase, the phase of schizotypi is clinically psychotic or at the very least schizotypal. Somehow in the family of schizophrenia, it's mentally ill. It's a mental pathology in whichever way you want to look at it.

Inspiration therefore is a mental form of mental illness, an attenuated form, a welcome form, a beneficial form, but still definitely mental illness.


Two-time Nobel Laureate Leidos Pauling said that the way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away. That's wishful thinking of course. It's not a rational process.

The bad ones are discarded intuitively and automatically. The good ones are chosen intuitively as Einstein has described repeatedly.

But it's true that initially there's a flawed, a deluge, an avalanche that is schizotypal or that is characteristic of schizotypi. And only then does the introduction of structure and order and syllogism and logic and so on and so forth.

Carson and Keaney conducted a study and they suggested that psychologically healthy biological relatives of schizophrenics have unusually creative jobs or hobbies. So even the relatives of schizophrenics, exactly like the relatives of people with autism spectrum disorder, are more creative than usual.

And these relatives show higher level of schizotypal personality traits in comparison to the general population.

SAS, S-A-S-S, excuse me for the expression, SAS suggested that creative achievement is more likely with one or two indicators of schizotypi than with none.

We're beginning to see that schizotypi is intimately connected to creativity. Even perhaps it's the foundation of creativity, but it's also the foundation of schizophrenia. It's also the foundation of schizotypal personality disorder.

So let's discuss schizotypi a bit.

Schizotypi, there's positive schizotypi and negative schizotypi.

Positive schizotypi, this is a series of traits, unusual perceptual experiences, thin diaphanous mental boundaries between self and other. So it's a bit psychotic. You know, the schizotypal person is not quite sure where he ends and the world begins. The boundaries are very porous and diffuse. There's impulsive nonconformity, magical thinking and beliefs. And these are the positive aspects of schizotypi.

So you can imagine the negative ones.

The negative ones include cognitive disorganization, physical and social, anhedonia, difficulty to experience pleasure from any kind of activity, social interactions. Where the majority finds all kinds of activities enjoyable, the person with schizotypi doesn't.

And that's another reason why the person with schizotypi has to create a world where he or she can experience pleasure.

Of the two types, the negative and the positive, Beattie and Fernhout found that the positive dimension of schizotypi which consists of unusual experiences and impulsive nonconformity, but not the negative one, not the disorganization. The positive aspects were significantly correlated to creativity, especially to self-perception, rating oneself as creative and to the emergence of a creative personality.

The more creative the person, the more difficulty that person has to suppress certain activities in the brain.

Pricunius, for example, Pricunius is an area in the brain that is active even when you are not active. And so it's difficult to suppress the Pricunius in creative people.

But the same happens in schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia cannot suppress the Pricunius.

Whitefield and Gabriel found difficulties to deactivate the Pricunius among schizophrenics and relatives of schizophrenics.

So even as far as neuroscience, we are beginning to see similarities between creative people and schizophrenics.


Next, creative people are capable of attention multitasking. They are able to divide their attentions to slivers and each sliver of attention is directed at another task. Some of these tasks are routine and irrelevant to the main creative core. Some of these tasks are conducive to and contribute to the creative endeavor.

But the creative person is able to do many things at once and divide his attention among all these things. And because of this, he is able to create unexpected insights and synergies.

Synoptic connectivity that I mentioned earlier, the ability to connect the apparently disparate, the apparently unrelated, the ability to put these things together and come up with a new insight or a new innovation or a new process or a new idea, the ability to do this has to do with the capacity to fragment attention and focus among multiple tasks without hindering the quality of performance.

So performance is the same. Only the creative person can do many things simultaneously. And there's no diminishment in the level of attention.

So this creativity is exactly the opposite of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder of ADHD and ADD. Exactly the opposite, actually.

There's heightened focus, heightened attention, so much attention and focus that they can easily be distributed among multiple self assignments or self tasks.

Now, many talented, creative, skilled geniuses are very impatient. They're very grandiose. They hold other people in contempt. They're patronizing, in condescending. This could be perceived as some kind of grandiose narcissism. But it's not 100% that. It's not 100% grandiosity.

You see, the creative person has to block out the noise of the world. He has to ignore other people. Because if you let other people enter your life, they consume your life. They eat your life. They consume your attention. They make demands on your time. They abscond with your resources.

And so other people are burdensome, annoyances and nuisances. And if you're not creative, if you're not a creative type, if you have a nine to five job, if you're a desk jockey, pushing papers around, you can afford to let other people to interact with other people, regardless of how demanding they are, how high maintenance and how difficult you can, you still have a sufficient amount of free resources to deal with them.

But if you are creative, definitely if you're a genius, you don't have time for any of this. You just don't have time for other people. They're in utter waste. Every second and every split second of your internal mental psychological life has to do with innovation, with novelty, with rearranging the furniture inside your mind, recasting the world in new ways, kaleidoscopically moving around, shifting elements and figments and ingredients, and then trying on one reality after another. One scenario follows another. You don't have time for people. People are non-productive. The overwhelming vast majority of people are idiots and they're non-productive. They're actually destructive.

So it's a defense. This rejection of other people, holding them in contempt, grandiosity, extreme impatience, rudeness, these are defenses. Defenses intended to create a perimeter within which the creative person can work it in peace, a sanctuary where he can escape the madding crowd, madding and maddening crowds.

So the value editing of interacting with people is between minimal to negative.

And the value editing of interacting with your own mind when you are a creative genius is infinite. So it's a rational decision to block out other people and the white noise they generate.

However, at the same time, the creative person is typically labile and dysregulated. It is this lability and dysregulation that give rise to the chaotic schizotypy of inspiration.

We're going to discuss this at length in a minute.

Coupled with the lability and dysregulation, there's a proclivity, a tendency, predisposition for change. Change is the only fixed feature, only fixture in the creative person's life.

The creative person seeks to upend the status quo on a regular basis. So in a way, the routine of the creative person is what Schumpeter called creative destruction.

And so change, the thrill that comes with change, the risk that is attendant upon transformation and innovation. This is the bread and butter of the creative person and also of the psychopath.

While lability and dysregulation are common in borderline personality disorder and in creative people, thrill seeking and novelty seeking are common in psychopathy and also in creative people.

So we're beginning to see that creative creativity, the ability to create, the potential to create and definitely accomplish create creativity have something to do with cluster B personality disorder disorders.

And this explains why so many people who are creative geniuses, leaders, scientists, authors, sculptors, painters, artists, cinematographers, directors, and so on and so forth, why so many of them are narcissists and many of them are psychopaths.

Because there is something common to creativity and genius and psychopathy and narcissism and borderline. All geniuses endure inordinate hardships in life. The biographies of most geniuses are mind-bogglingly, chaotic, itinerant, desultory and insane.

But this only serves to test the resilience of the genius and enhance it.

Geniuses are tough cookies. They survive the storm of life literally unscanned in the vast majority of cases.

I refer you to studies by Ludwig, which I will discuss in a few minutes. Ludwig studied the biographies of 1000 geniuses and sifted through these biographies with a psychological strainer. He used a psychological lens to study these biographies.

Now studies by Reuter, Maisles, others, Carey. These studies indicate that there is also some genetic template involved. They discovered that the DRD2 and DRD4 genes and their various shapes, the polymorphisms of these genes, the 5HT2 and the NRG1 genes, they're all linked to both creativity and some forms of psychopathology. It seems to be the beginning of indications of some shared genetics.

There's a shared, perhaps, vulnerability framework of creativity and psychopathology.

Carson suggested there's some kind of genetic vulnerability or some other type of vulnerability that predisposes these characters to either become creative geniuses or, on the contrary, severely mentally ill.

The shared vulnerability model, by the way, Carson is the greatest proponent of it, but there are others.

The shared vulnerability model implies that creativity and psychopathology have common genetically influenced factors. These genes are expressed as either psychopathology or creativity. This depends on the presence or absence of other protective factors, such as high IQ, cognitive flexibility, good working memory, risk factors such as low IQ, and working memory deficits and so on.

There is a basic vulnerability. You could become either a psychopath or mentally ill, borderline psychotic disorder. You could go that way or you could become a creative genius.

This depends largely on whether you have a high IQ and good memory and so on. Now, these studies are very rudimentary. They're very rudimentary and the shared vulnerability factors that have been recognized include novelty salience, neural hyper-connectivity, emotional ability, cognitive disinhibition, and so on and so forth, but we are grappling for answers in the dark. These are very initial studies. For example, novelty salience, there's some connection between creativity and psychopathology when it comes to novelty. It's associated with motivation to explore new and distinct aspects of ideas or even new aspects of objects. It's something to do with the dopamine reward system.

We know as much, but not much more than that.

There's research by McCray, Reuter, Flaherty. This research demonstrated that novelty seeking is associated with creative personality, creative drive, but also addiction. There are other vulnerability attributes, emotional ability, neural hyper-connectivity. They've been connected to creativity, but also to mood disorders and schizophrenia.

It's inescapable, inescapable. Whenever you study elements, the founts of creativity, the reasons for creativity, the causes of creativity, you come across mental illnesses.

And by the way, severe mental illnesses, not minor ones. But these associations are poorly understood at this stage.

Subjects with cyclothemia, cyclothemia is a form of depression. And first degree relatives of people with manic depression, they had higher creativity, scores, than controls.

Goodwin and Jameson, they studied biographical materials reported by people. And they found that bipolar disorder has afflicted many, many important and prominent creators. There were, I mentioned Ludwig with his biographical study of 1000 creative geniuses. And he found elevated rates of bipolar disorder in samples of these famous individuals.

There were other studies by Anderson, which I mentioned also earlier, and she used structured diagnostic interviews. She tried to assess creative writers. In the University of Iowa, there's a very famous writer's workshop. And so she studied these people. She discovered that 43% met the criteria for bipolar spectrum disorders. 43% of these creative writers actually had bipolar disorder. This is a shocking number. Only 10% in the general population have this.

So among creative writers, the propensity, the vulnerability to bipolar disorders is four and a half times higher than in the general population. And several studies suggest that creativity is likely among people with mild forms of bipolar disorder or family histories of bipolar disorder. But people with full-blown bipolar one disorder are less creative, by the way.

Anyhow, this raises a very interesting topic, a very interesting idea. Perhaps what we regard as mental illness is actually a positive adaptation. We call it mental illness, we stigmatize it, we demonize it. But maybe it's not mental illness at all. Maybe it's the vanguard of humanity. Maybe these are the pioneers who drag us, kicking and screaming into the future. Maybe progress is dependent on these so-called mentally ill people. After all, in previous periods in history, mentally ill people became prophets and established religions.

So maybe we're wrong by castigating them, casting them out, ignoring them, confining them. Maybe we're missing on a treasure. Maybe that's the hope of humanity, mentally ill people.

And I'm gonna try to show you that this is not a completely crazy or zany idea or proposition.

There's a growing body of studies that demonstrates links between physical diseases and positive evolutionary advantages, positive adaptations.

So what we used to consider as physical diseases are actually evolution's choice of life prolonging and reproduction enhancing adaptations. These medical diseases are good actually for the species, though they are not good for individuals. They're good for the species.

Maybe mental illness is a species-wide adaptation.

Consider, for example, Huntington's disease.

In 2007, scholars in Tufts University published a study and they proposed a new hypothesis to explain the prevalence of Huntington's disease.

And they suggested that the disease enhances your chances to reproduce. If you have Huntington's, you're more likely to have children and you are likely to have more children, a larger number of children.

And this is true. Statistically, this is true.

So up until 2007, the belief was that people with Huntington's disease are more promiscuous. And that's why they end up having more children.

But this is not true because the typical onset of Huntington's disease is at age 44 or 45. And promiscuity occurs in the 50s and 60s when the patient is 50 or 60 years old and long after reproduction age.

So it's nothing to do with promiscuity.

People with Huntington's disease are healthier in childbearing years and they have more children than the general population.

These are facts.

Huntington's, the disease, strengthens the immune system during the most fertile years, allowing people to produce more offspring, more children.

Symptoms associated with Huntington's occur much later in life after the peak reproductive age.

And so it seems that Huntington's predisposes people to reproduce much more.

I'm going to quote from the study.

Research has shown that individuals with Huntington's produce higher levels of cancer suppressing P53. And we hypothesize that they may be able to reap the health benefits associated with a generally more vigilant immune system.

These individuals also suffer from the negative impacts of heightened immune function.

Is there more likely than those without Huntington's to suffer from autoimmune diseases later in life?

So the disease, Huntington's disease, is the price that the individual pays in order to avoid cancer and similar diseases during the reproductive age and to be able to have more children than typical, 40% more children, by the way.

Consider another disease, multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis is considered a seriously bad disease. And yet the same genes that cause multiple sclerosis protect you from infections, especially zoonotic infections, infections from animals. When the animal is a vector, one example is COVID-19, of course.

They studied nomad tribes. And they discovered that a few of the multiple sclerosis risk variants are linked with partial resistance to diseases, infectious diseases, especially tuberculosis, among these nomad tribes. And so we need to ask ourselves, mental illness is probably grounded partially in genetics. It has to do with brain abnormalities. But are these things necessarily bad? They are bad for the individuals, we know that. But are they bad for the species? Is mental illness not just another name for creativity? Anyone who has worked with mentally ill people know how amazingly creative they are. Their fantasies, their delusions, their hallucinations, their defense mechanisms, reframing, everything is so creative. Maybe mental illness is another name for creativity.

When the creativity is not socially sublimated, it's not socially acceptable, we call it mental illness. And when it is socially acceptable, we call it art, art or science.

D2A identified four different types of creativity with corresponding brain activities.

First, there's the deliberate and cognitive type of creativity. It comes from sustained work in a given discipline. Example, Thomas Edison.

Then there is deliberate and emotional creativity. It's a personal crisis leading to a realization about yourself and what bad choices and decisions you might have made that contributed to the problem. So there is a deliberate emotional creativity after a breakup, after losing a job, after going through a bankruptcy, a horrible friendship.

And this kind of creative juices get going. Then there is spontaneous and cognitive type of creativity. A sudden realization about something which creates insight and innovation. Isaac Newton, discovery of gravity with a famous apocryphal probably, apple. And so this is spontaneous and cognitive.

And then the spontaneous and emotional, the kind of creativity exhibited by great artists, musicians produce great works of art within minutes. Mozart is an example. All of these correlated closely with brain activity, highly specific brain activities, but also with specific mental health disorders. Correlation is higher than what would have been expected randomly.

So it's significant statistically.

The Componential model of creativity says that you need four components to respond creatively to triggers and cues from the environment.

Because ultimately, we're all triggered by the environment. I refer you to my work on IPAM, the intra-psychic activation model. It's all about the environment.

But some people react to the environment one way and others react to it creatively. And there are four components needed for this.


Three components are within the individual. Knowledge, domain relevant skills, creative thinking, how you approach problems, your personality traits and so on.

Motivation, an intrinsic passion or interest in the work. And there's one component outside the individual, the social environment in which the individual is embedded and working.

Is it conducive? Does it encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, transformation, change, progress, or does it frown upon them?

And prefers consensus and status quo and tradition and routine. So the environment does influence creativity, of course.

But it's the same way that the environment influences psychopathology.

Again, we see the linkage. Mental illness and creativity are triggered by the same elements in the environment.

The rate and intensity of pathological symptoms appears to be higher among geniuses, creative geniuses. And highly creative geniuses, highly creative artists even, are about twice as likely to experience some kind of psychiatric disorder compared to non-creative individuals.

There are studies about this. Depression is the most common problem faced by creative individuals, along with correlates of alcoholism and suicide and so on.

Ludwig suggested that on average, the more eminent the creator, the higher the expected rate and intensity of mental illness. The rate and intensity that you mentioned varies according to the specific domain of creativity, not only individual factors, but which field, which discipline you're active in.

So for example, it's different for writers of fiction, writers of non-fiction, and scientists. Studies suggest that almost 87% of famous poets experience some form of psychopathology, compared to only 28% of eminent scientists.

And the scientists are much closer to the general population than, for example, poets or authors of fiction or so on and so forth. The family lines that produce the most prominent creative geniuses also tend to be characterized by a higher rate and intensity of psychopathological symptoms.

So it runs in families. Creativity and psychopathology run in families.

The Bach family, for example. And by the way, families of politicians. So depression, alcoholism, suicide, anxiety, mood disorder, these are common psychopathological problems faced by creative people.

The evidence points that creativity and mental illness runs in the same family lines, as I mentioned.

And this is supported by what we know in psychology as histiometric research.

Now, highly creative individuals have a tendency to show elevated scores on some psychopathological symptoms, as I mentioned.

But their scores are rarely so high as to represent a clear-cut diagnosis. So they are what is known as subclinical.

You know the famous dark triad personality? Everyone in his dog, self-styled experts online, tell you that dark triad is narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism. It's not. Dark triad is subclinical narcissism, subclinical psychology, narcissism, psychopathy, narcissism and psychopathy that cannot be diagnosed. They're not sufficiently high to be diagnosed.

And so it's the same with creative people.

I would even venture to suggest that creative people should be designated a dark personality because they suffer from mental illnesses, especially mood disorders and depression, but also personality disorders.

And yet they cannot be diagnosed because their scores are not high enough. So their subclinical creativity may just be another type of dark personality actually.

Now, creative people we've just said are somewhere between normal and abnormal. And this is a great definition of a dark personality.

They score high on many other characteristics. And this is the mitigating factor. Creative people may harbor, may incorporate features of psychopathology, but at the same time they have other traits that ameliorate and reduce the impact of the psychopathological element or elements.

So for example, most creative people have very high level of what we call ego strength and self-sufficiency. They exert metacognitive control over their mental illness. They can control their illness. They take advantage, for example, of bizarre thoughts, bizarre cognitions to create rather than giving the bizarre thoughts control over them. They control the bizarre chaotic thinking, not the other way.

And psychometric research demonstrated that many creative geniuses lie on the same spectrum of psychopathological syndrome, but less severe. And they're able to use everything to their benefit.

So what about inhibition?

I mentioned inhibition earlier. So there's a link between creativity and latent inhibition. Carson pointed out that latent inhibition is a filtering mechanism to strain out irrelevant stimuli, as I mentioned before.

Now everyone has latent inhibition. Even animals have latent inhibition. Otherwise, we will be flooded with information from the environment. It would be perceived as noise and will be paralyzed. We actually filter out 95% of all the information on data that emanates from the environment. That's why we need the unconsciousness, this huge repository of things denied, ignored, and repressed. And latent inhibition is intimately connected with the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Research also has demonstrated that low latent inhibition is associated with high creative achievement, creative personality, and originality of divergent thinking. It seems that latent inhibition makes a person creative.

And the above networks are recruited to generate novel ideas.

So this is the clinical explanation for the creative geniuses tendency to block out, to filter out the world. It appears to be rude and condescending and patronizing and contemptuous, and often it is, but it's a defense.

Now to explain this, I will give a few examples.

Normal people with average latent inhibition concentrate only on a task at hand. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder people concentrate on all the irrelevant stimuli rather than the task at hand.

And people who are creative, artists with what we call low latent inhibition, they can concentrate on relevant and irrelevant tasks together and become more creative associating the two while blocking out the rest of the world.


Okay, I gave you an overview, there's literature of course as well in the description of the video. I gave you an overview of the connection between creativity, genius definitely, and some mental health pathologies.

And I would like you to consider the takeout from this video. Perhaps we should stop stigmatizing mental illness.

In the absence of mental illness, we wouldn't have had anything we have today, not science, not art, not beauty, and not utility.

Spoken by someone who knows nothing about mental illness or creativity.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

How Narcissist Defeminizes You: Answering Your Questions

Sam Vaknin responds to questions from his audience, addressing topics such as narcissistic withdrawal, hoovering after modification, his decision not to have children, and his relationships with women. He explains his refusal to grow up and his acceptance of asymmetry in his relationships. Vaknin also discusses his views on mental illness and the challenges he faces in finding suitable partners.


Pathologizing Vulnerable, Normalizing Power: Where Psychologists Fear to Tread

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the blurred lines between delusion and belief, and the reluctance of psychologists to pathologize certain behaviors, such as religious beliefs and conspiracy theories. He questions the integrity of the profession and the DSM, highlighting the gender bias in pathologizing certain personality traits and the fear of confronting powerful groups. Vaknin also criticizes the opportunistic nature of psychology and psychiatry, and the lack of transparency in the inclusion and exclusion of diagnoses in the DSM.


Mental Illness: Network or Hierarchy? (World Psychiatrists and Psychologists Conference Webinar)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the application of network theory to mental health disorders, emphasizing the interconnectedness of symptoms and the need to incorporate both internal and external factors in understanding mental illness. He explores the symbiotic relationship between hierarchies and networks, and the impact of going viral on mental health. Vaknin also delves into the role of networks in generating meaning and value for individuals with mental illness, highlighting the positive adaptations that allow them to function in chaotic life circumstances.


Antidepressants Scam, DSM Capitulation

Professor Sam Vaknin criticizes the field of psychology, particularly the use of antidepressants and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), for being influenced by money and celebrity rather than focusing on helping patients. He argues that the serotonin hypothesis, which claims that low serotonin levels cause depression, is a scam perpetuated by the pharmaceutical industry. Vaknin also highlights the flaws in the DSM, such as its vague and arbitrary diagnostic criteria, and its failure to transition from a categorical to a dimensional model. He calls for a reevaluation of the influence of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries on psychological research and treatment.


Reframing YOU in Narcissist's Shared Fantasy

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the suggestions he's received to change his name, but ultimately decides to remain Sam Vaknin. He then addresses questions about relationships with narcissists, one-night stands, and the psychology of young people, expressing concern about the emotional and mental health of today's youth. He also delves into the psychological dynamics of one-night stands, sexting behaviors, and the narcissist's perspective on a promiscuous partner.


Mental Illness: Myth or Real? (7th International Conference on Brain Disorders and Therapeutics)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the debate surrounding mental illness, questioning whether it is a myth or a clinical entity. He highlights the medicalization of behaviors previously considered sinful or wrong, and the impact of cultural and societal norms on the classification of mental disorders. Vaknin also addresses the limitations and controversies in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on psychiatry.


Narcissism and the Meaningless Life (ENGLISH responses, with Nárcisz Coach)

The guest thanks Sam Vaknin for his work in identifying and naming psychological disorders. They discuss Hungary and the Hungarian people, who have a tendency to suffer and are highly ranked in suicidal accidents, divorce, and alcohol consumption. Sam Vaknin explains that this is not unique to Hungary, but rather a modern existential crisis caused by a loss of meaning in life. He discusses the problems of atomization and the need to be seen, as well as the shift from libidinal societies to fanatic societies, where pain has become the currency and language.


MAIDness of Assisted Suicide and Lonely Happiness

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the topics of suicide and socialization in the context of mental health. He argues against recommending suicide as an option for mentally ill patients and challenges the notion that socializing is universally linked to happiness. Vaknin also emphasizes the importance of preventing suicide and the role of mental health practitioners in equipping patients with tools to combat cognitive distortions. Additionally, he highlights the Harvard study of adult development, which suggests that maintaining good health and building loving relationships are key factors in long-term happiness. However, he also acknowledges that socializing may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with schizoid personality disorder.


Workaholism: Addiction or Lifestyle? (33rd International conference on Mental and Behavioral Health)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses workaholism, questioning whether it is an addiction or a lifestyle. He delves into the negative consequences of workaholism, its association with mental health disorders, and its potential link to compensating for deficiencies. Vaknin emphasizes the need to consider societal and environmental factors in addressing mental health issues, rather than focusing solely on individual treatment.


How Trauma Breaks You Apart (Structural Dissociation in Cold Therapy)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the opening of a new YouTube channel and responds to a comment about a theory in psychology. He delves into the theory of structural dissociation and its application to trauma and personality disorders. He also discusses the interaction between the apparently normal part and the emotional part in the context of trauma and dissociation. He suggests that all personality disorders should be reconceived as post-traumatic conditions.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy