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.
His Scientific American blog Beautiful Minds notes Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD is “adjunct assistant professor of psychology at New York University, where he teaches courses on cognitive psychology and human intelligence” and is a co-founder of The Creativity Post.
In a post for that site, he writes that his new book “Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined” includes “my personal and scientific exploration of a broad range of research on the development of IQ, expertise, talent, and creativity.
“My investigation spans genetics and neuroscience, as well as evolutionary, developmental, social, positive, and cognitive psychology.”
In this video – “Use It or Lose It Expert: Scott Barry Kaufman” (for National Geographic) – he talks about how developing creative thinking involves moving back and forth from broad fields of attention, to more narrow ones.
[See Part 2]
“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything…whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”
Helping ourselves get as free as possible to create can take many forms, of course. Including, for Tina Turner and many other people, getting out of a destructive relationship.
Psychologist Cheryl Arutt believes “the best way to protect the art is to protect the artist.
“Learning how to regulate internal states, how and when to use self-soothing techniques, and how to know when we are actually safe — these are key to emotional well-being for anyone, but for artists, they are especially useful.”
She adds, “The ability to self-regulate provides an all-access pass for traveling the internal world, allowing the artist to mine for the gems that can be found there… without losing touch with the light of day.”
“I would burst from all of the emotion inside.”
How do you work with your strong emotions? Creative people experience a wide range and depth of intense emotions, and use that wealth of feeling to create artwork and performances.
The idea of overseeing or regulating emotions is not necessarily about suppressing or stifling, but about staying aware and in control of our feelings, to live with a higher level of well-being, and be more creative.
The quote above is from Gloria Reuben, who said: “The thing I love most about acting is that while I am doing a scene, I am allotted all of the freedom to feel. Sometimes, actually I find that most times in life, one is not able to fully express what one feels.
“And I am the kind of person that feels so much that if I didn’t have acting (and music), I would burst from all of the emotion inside!”
[From officialgloriareuben.com; photo from "Lincoln"]