I recently came across a link that was called – ‘creativity ‘closely entwined with mental illness’. This was from the bbc website about a recent study that has connected creativity with mental health problems. The link can be found here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19959565.
And after reading all that was said, I thought I would use my creativity to write an article about this. As I don’t believe that this is a discovery that is either new or groundbreaking; associating these two things together has been done for a very long time.
This also reminded me of a book by Alice Miller and the title gives away much of what the book is about - The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness. And the Publication Date for this book was 1990.
One of the things that society likes to do is to label things. And in the area of the mind or mental health, this could relate to a certain type of behaviour or the mental tendencies that one might have.
I said the type of behaviour first, because this is typically how one comes to understand what is going on in another person’s mind. So this will then result to certain behaviour being classed as normal or abnormal, based on the criterion that has been set by the people in mental health and other such figures.
Normal Or Abnormal?
As time has gone by, it is clear to see, that what is classed as normal and what is classed as abnormal, is constantly changing. What was classed as normal many years ago could be classed as abnormal today. These descriptions are never static and are always changing - like life itself.
The ego mind functions through making judgements; this is how it hopes to ensure its own survival. It does not mean that these judgements are right or wrong or true or false, they are just how the ego mind works.
And due to the ego mind seeing everything in polarities, it will mean the judgements that are made, will be seen as the absolute truth.
No matter what one is talking about in regards to making judgements, there will always be consequences that occur through this act. And when it comes to the area of mental health, there are potentially two sides.
On one side there is the obvious motivator to assist in making people’s lives better and to aid in the betterment of their wellbeing. And by becoming aware of a certain behaviour or mental position, they will be able to or at least try to provide the appropriate solutions.
And on the other side, there are consequences of not only becoming aware, but of also giving or attaching a label to something. This can end up creating more problems.
Here, ones ego mind will not only begin to identify with the new label that has been coined, it will also begin to take on board the emotional judgements that come with it. This could be feelings of guilt, shame, anger, frustration, anxiety and/or fear. So if one does feel that they have mental challenges, these can end up being magnified by these labels.
The Four Seasons
In nature there are the different seasons and this effects how the weather is and for some countries this will be more evident than others. Sometimes it’s hot and sometimes it cold, one can change where they live or they can stay and experience the different cycles.
When it comes to the mind, there are similarities. There are moments when it can be like the summer season and there are moments when it can be like the winter season and all that is in-between. And this will naturally vary from person to person. The childhood that one has had, ones physical health, the quality of one’s relationships and their financial situation; are a few examples that will play a part in ones mental wellbeing.
This means that there will be times that one feels good and times when they don’t. The natural ebb and flow of life is at work here. (Of course, if one is constantly feeling low and down, then this is a sign that assistance is the right option and must be sought)
Pleasure And Pain
To avoid pain and to seek pleasure is how the ego mind functions. And being human, means is that we will experience pain, it can’t be avoided. However, what we can change is our interpretation of what is causing the pain. It often seems that anything that is considered to be painful is described as a mental health problem in today’s world.
If one doesn’t feel completely happy all of the time, then there is a label or a term given to these people. And if one is happy a lot of the time, there is even a label for this also. Based on this perspective, it would be easy to say everyone has a mental health problem of some kind, simply because we are human.
The Human Experience
And part of what makes us human, is our ability to feel pain. We navigate our way through life by what our ego mind has associated as painful. The childhood years of a lot of people are extremely painful and for some the years later are equally as painful.
The loved ones in people’s life will pass or they will want to move on, which will bring pain. Rejection and disapproval are but two other ways, which can also create pain.
So if pain is part of the human experience and we all need a way to deal with that pain, then what better way is there to process it than to be creative? This is a way to transmute the negative energy and that way, instead of using this energy in a destructive way, it can be used to create something positive.
Another way to describe all this is to say ‘destructivity ‘closely entwined with mental illness’. They are two sides of the same coin. And there are plenty of examples of both. And when it comes to processing the pain that we all have to one degree or another, what is the most constructive?
It can be easy to feel a certain amount stigma around normal parts of the human experience and this can be the result of different influences, from our friends to the experts. The most important thing is to be aware and to question all that is said; so that we can form our own ideas and views.
Pain motivates people to achieve and to develop themselves. The need to have or to achieve is often the result of feeling the absence within. The individual that is content rarely feels motivated to do or be more - A Buddhist monk is an example of this. So based on this perspective, does that mean that a society’s evolution and the human evolution, is the result of mental health problems?
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.