Creative Potential: Holding Back or Hypomania?
“He has a passionate speech about a business plan, conceived when he was a college freshman, that he says will change the planet — making it more entertaining, more engaging, and giving humans a new way to interact with businesses and one another.”
That is a reference to a pitch for getting venture capital by entrepreneur Seth Priebatsch, in the article Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs, by David Segal (The New York Times, September 18, 2010).
Segal notes Priebatsch (age 21) “can work 96 hours in a row. He describes anything that distracts him and his future colleagues, even for minutes, as “evil.” … He displays many of the symptoms of a person having what psychologists call a hypomanic episode… grandiosity, an elevated and expansive mood, racing thoughts and little need for sleep.”
[Photo: Seth Priebatsch at TEDxBoston.]
Psychologist John D. Gartner, Ph.D. thinks “Successful entrepreneurs are not just braggarts. They are highly creative people who quickly generate a tremendous number of ideas — some clever, others ridiculous. Their ‘flight of ideas,’ jumping from topic to topic in a rapid energized way, is a sign of hypomania.”
[From my page Hypomania, which has more quotes and info.]
As someone with high sensitivity, shyness, a disposition toward depression, lower self confidence and introversion, I am enviously amazed at people with this state of mind and level of energy.
Those traits and dispositions can hold back many talented people from promoting themselves and their creative ideas.
In her article Preparing For Performance, coach Linda Dessau talks about the issues of stage fright and anxiety that can “keep artists locked away in their own homes, carefully guarding their creative gifts. Then those gifts never see the light of day, and they’re never seen by the world.
“For some of us, simply facing our art form and giving voice to our creativity is a performance. For others, it might be meeting with an art gallery owner, a submission to a contest, fulfilling a commissioned piece of artwork for a customer or something else that brings up similar fears and self-doubt.”
So hypomania may seem a “good thing” – even something to try to encourage with caffeine or energy drinks or even illicit pharmaceuticals, to “ramp up” enthusiasm and supposedly energy.
But I learned about the New York Times piece through a Psych Central post: Hypomania: Bipolar Lite, by journalist Christine Stapleton – who writes about the downsides of being hypomanic, and getting treatment.
“I am in good company. Teddy Roosevelt, George Patton, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs. For me, I did not know I had hypomania. Most folks with bipolar disorder, either I or II, don’t recognize it in themselves because that is our normal. Thankfully, I had a therapist and nurse-practitioner who recognized it. I now take a mood stabilizer, which was really weird at first because I felt level – that’s the only way I can describe it.
“I worried when I began the medication that I would not be as creative or productive. That has not been my experience. Actually, I can do more. It is easier for me to focus and organize my thoughts. I recognize my hypomania now. I still love being manic but I know it is not healthy or safe. Life is good. My brain now obeys the laws of gravity.”
For a related post on the experience, and using or not using drug treatment, see Mental illness and creativity: singer songwriter Meg Hutchinson on bipolar disorder and medications, by writer Cat Robson.
Eby, D. (2010). Creative Potential: Holding Back or Hypomania?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 21, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/creative-mind/2010/10/creative-potential-holding-back-or-hypomania/