British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing led a group of other brilliant codebreakers, including Joan Clarke, at Bletchley Park outside London during WWII to crack the German’s Enigma code.
One of his biographers, professor S. Barry Cooper, writes that Turing “was a strange man, who never felt at ease in any place…He randomly adopted some conventions of his class, but rejected with no regret and hesitation most of their habits and ideas.
Elyn Saks (photo at right in Part 1) is a law professor at USC; an adjunct professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego, where she does research about society’s rejection of the mentally ill and how high-functioning schizophrenics cope; and is a recipient of a “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation.
An article notes “She kept her schizophrenia hidden while excelling in her academic studies, receiving a philosophy degree from Oxford University and a law degree from Yale University.”
She wrote of her experiences in her memoir, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.”
See more in post: Elyn Saks, Schizophrenia and Creativity.
She has commented, “Ironically, the more I accepted I had a mental illness, the less the illness defined me — at which point the riptide set me free.”
As devastating as schizophrenia can be, a number of people with the mental illness lead active and creative lives. Some research even indicates the type of thinking that characterizes the disorder can facilitate creativity.
[Continued from Part 1.]
“Before the dance of inspiration and perspiration can begin, there must be some raw material, some spark of inciting energy.”
From the book The Soul of Creativity: Insights into the Creative Process by Tona Pearce Myers.
Actor Rose McGowan relates an experience that may be common for many creative people: being inspired by seeing someone else’s artwork or other form of creative expression:
“After saving my allowance for ten years, I flew to Paris when I was 15 years old. When I visited the Musée Rodin, I was profoundly inspired by the story and the pain of Camille Claudel. Her diminutive sculptures — much smaller in stature to Rodin’s — led me to become an artist.”
Where does creative inspiration come from? It may show up mysteriously, “out of the blue” – and for a good part of human history, it has been explained as a gift from a supernatural being, a Muse.
At least some people still embrace that idea, or at least like to use the concept.
Novelist and author Steven Pressfield writes in his book “The War of Art” about pulling in creative power when we are doing creative work:
“The artist begins with a vision — a creative operation requiring effort. Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse
What fears and anxieties are holding you back from expressing yourself more creatively? Matisse and many other artists and psychologists note creative work requires courage or dealing with our fears.
“Imagination…discovers the real.”
Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was a daughter of poet Lord Byron, and worked with polymath Charles Babbage, who called her The Enchantress of Numbers.
The computer language ADA was named after her, in recognition of her work that helped originate software and computers.
Ada Lovelace talked about her passions for creative imagination and math:
“Imagination is the Discovering Faculty, pre-eminently … It is that which feels & discovers what is, the REAL which we see not, which exists not for our senses.
“The very impulse to write, I think, springs from an inner chaos crying for order, for meaning, and that meaning must be discovered in the process of writing or the work lies dead as it is finished.” Arthur Miller
Creative people and writers about the creative process often say creative work is a way to release or make use of inner chaos; what is this turmoil?
Psychologist Stephen Diamond declares in his book that our impulse to be creative “can be understood to some degree as the subjective struggle to give form, structure and constructive expression to inner and outer chaos and conflict.”
“For me, fashion is incredibly emotional. I go to shows in Paris and try not to cry.” Actor Jessica Chastain
Qualities such as emotionality and empathy can help highly sensitive people be especially creative.
The self-test Are You Highly Sensitive? by Elaine N. Aron, PhD includes the items:
“I have a rich, complex inner life” and
“I am deeply moved by the arts or music.”
Author, professor and CEO Ocean Robbins and his father John are examples of transformational writers. Ocean recalls:
“I was ten-years-old when my dad first began to write Diet for a New America. It was the first book to expose the truth about factory farms, and the link between food and our planet, to a wide audience. In the five years after the book’s publication in 1987, beef consumption in the United States dropped by 25%, and my dad received more than 50,000 letters from readers, thanking him for changing their lives.
“As we’ve seen in our family, sometimes writing can change the world.”