A number of psychologists note that many personality traits connected with ADD and ADHD are also associated with highly creative people.
This is a topic I have addressed in previous Creative Mind posts, but here are some new perspectives, inspired by a documentary by Lisa Ling who was diagnosed with ADD during the course of her research for the project.
She commented, “As a journalist, when I’m immersed in a story, then I feel like I can laser-focus. But if I’m not working, my mind goes in every direction but where it’s supposed to go. I’ve been like that since I was a kid.”
One of the themes of creativity research, and many psychologists and creativity coaches, is how crucial beliefs and attitudes are in developing our creative abilities.
Psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson talks in the audio clip below about the prevalent idea of ‘genius’ for whether someone can be creative – or even aspire to be.
She also writes about focus and creating, and that “to be a successful creative, you need to not only be a good generator, but also a good evaluator. The problem is that in practice, it’s remarkably hard to be both.
With more and more brain imaging studies in the media, relating to different areas of human behavior including being creative, it is worth noting there are critiques of the validity and meaning of imaging technology.
The image is from an article whose authors comment, “The brain is said to be the final scientific frontier, and rightly so in our view.
“Yet, in many quarters, brain-based explanations appear to be granted a kind of inherent superiority over all other ways of accounting for human behaviour.
“We call this assumption ‘neurocentrism’ – the view that human experience and behaviour can be best explained from the predominant or even exclusive perspective of the brain.”
In Part 1 of this article Eric Maisel talks about moving from an everyday mindset of “getting things right” to a creative mindset “where huge mistakes and messes are permitted and even welcomed.”
But many of us tend to be perfectionistic – which can help drive excellence, but may also support anxiety and creative constriction.
Psychologist Stephen A. Diamond notes “Were it not for perfectionism, we would be in short supply of all those myriad human activities we deem extraordinary, excellent, outstanding or great in quality.”
But in his Psych Central article “Perfectionism: Adaptation or Pathology?”, Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. notes, “Somewhere on a continuum between normality and pathology there is a point at which the behavior results in functional impairment.” Read more in my post Too Much Perfectionism.
Coach and author Barbara Sher has a helpful perspective on this.
[Continued from Asperger's and Creativity Part 2]
Quirks and creativity
Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive psychologist at NYU interested in intelligence and creativity development, commented in a post of his:
“I think a lot of things that we call ‘quirks’, or maybe even some things we call ‘disabilities’, can turn out to be some of the determinants of high levels of creativity that we never could plan ahead of time.”
From Conversations on Creativity with Darold Treffert, Part I: Defining Autism, Savantism, and Genius.
[Photo from his video "Creativity" - see a clip in my post Don’t You Have To Be “Gifted and Talented” To Be Creative?]
In his book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, Kaufman writes about many aspects of the syndrome, and notes that people with Asperger’s tend to do “exceptionally well on perceptual tests of fluid reasoning, such as the Raven’s progressive matrices test.”
[Continued from Asperger's and Creativity Part 1]
A number of movies and TV shows have characters who show characteristics associated with autism – with varying degrees of accuracy, according to critics – including “Touch,” “Parenthood,” physicist Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory” and forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan on “Bones.”
The photo is actor Thomas Horn in the powerful movie “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” as Oskar, a “nine-year-old amateur inventor, Francophile, and pacifist who searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001″ [imdb.com].
The photo is from the article “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Familiar” by Beth Arky, (Child Mind Institute), who noted “Autism advocates embrace the movie, and slam critics who disparage the hero.”
Can Asperger’s Syndrome or related conditions include neurological differences and qualities that enhance creativity?
A page on the Asperger’s Association of New England site – What is Asperger Syndrome? – declares “There is strong evidence that such superstars as Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, code-breaker Alan Turing, and musician Glen Gould, among many others, all had Asperger Syndrome. Today, too, there are adults with AS who are successful as professors, lawyers, physicians, artists, authors, and educators.”
The Asperger’s Syndrome page on webmd.com says “Many children with Asperger’s syndrome are exceptionally talented or skilled in a particular area, such as music or math.”
Continuing from Part 1, here are more examples of creative people with dyslexia, plus some of the neuroscience about the learning difference:
Whoopi Goldberg is “one of the only ten people to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award; and is the first woman to be honored with the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor…has written three books and is a UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador…
“It’s hard to imagine that this successful woman once struggled in school, hearing words such as ‘dumb’ and ‘stupid’ directed at her” [on account of her dyslexia].
“I knew I wasn’t stupid, and I knew I wasn’t dumb,” she said in an interview with the Academy of Achievement, into which she was inducted in 1994.
From profile on site: The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity.
Creativity coach Lisa A. Riley comments, “I have encountered a connection between highly sensitive people and their own creative impulses.” Psychologist Elaine Aron declares, “I know ALL HSPs are creative, by definition.”
From my post Being Highly Sensitive and Creative.
Even if you are not working in an obviously “creative” job or career, if you are highly sensitive [see Dr. Aron's self-test] you can benefit emotionally and spiritually from engaging with and making use of your creative abilities. That is, of course, also true for the other 80 percent of people who are not highly sensitive, but especially for those of us who are.
Author Steven Pressfield goes on to describe in his book ‘The War of Art’ how this “Resistance” holds people back from being more creative.
In the Foreword, screenwriter and teacher Robert McKee explains Resistance is “his all-encompassing term for what Freud called the Death Wish — that destructive force inside human nature that rises whenever we consider a tough, long-term course of action that might do for us or others something that’s actually good.”
The book emphasizes that confronting creative blocks is an “Inner Creative Battle” against mental varieties of enemy, some of them very subtle, not so clear and definable as an outer foe.