Secrets of the Creative Brain. As a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who studies creativity, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many gifted and high-profile subjects over the years, but Kurt Vonnegut—dear, funny, eccentric, lovable, tormented Kurt Vonnegut—will always be one of my favorites.
Kurt was a faculty member at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the 1960s, and participated in the first big study I did as a member of the university’s psychiatry department. I was examining the anecdotal link between creativity and mental illness, and Kurt was an excellent case study. He was intermittently depressed, but that was only the beginning. His mother had suffered from depression and committed suicide on Mother’s Day, when Kurt was 21 and home on military leave during World War II. His son, Mark, was originally diagnosed with schizophrenia but may actually have bipolar disorder. While mental illness clearly runs in the Vonnegut family, so, I found, does creativity.
“Doing good science is … like having good sex. Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D.: After the Show: The Many Faces of the Performer. "Do I contradict myself?
/ Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.) " - Walt Whitman Recounting his recording sessions with the young Michael Jackson, famed record producer Quincy Jones remembers that "Michael was so shy, he'd sit down and sing behind the couch with his back to me while I sat with my hands over my eyes -- and the lights off. " What a contrast from his onstage extroverted, charismatic and bold performance! In the CNN.com article "The confusing legacy of Michael Jackson," Todd Leopold discusses the perplexing combination of seemingly contradictory traits displayed by Michael Jackson. In explaining his many sides, Jackson biographer J. I think that when you're talking about Michael Jackson and you try to analyze him, it's like analyzing electricity, you know?
Creativity researchers aren't so confused. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they're also often quiet and at rest. A recent study illustrates this point. The Complexity of the Creative Personality. Researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi includes in his books and other writings descriptions of the diversity and multiple characteristics of creative people.
In a post of hers, Juliet Bruce, Ph.D. notes that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced me-high chick-sent-me-high-ee) wrote, “If there is one word that makes creative people different from others, it is the word complexity. Instead of being an individual, they are a multitude.” “Like the color white that includes all colors, they tend to bring together the entire range of human possibilities within themselves. The Unleashed Mind: Why Creative People Are Eccentric. He is one of the world’s best known and most successful entrepreneurs, with hundreds of patents to his name—including the Segway scooter.
But you will never see Dean Kamen in a suit and tie: the eccentric inventor dresses almost exclusively in denim. He spent five years in college before dropping out, does not take vacations and has never married. Kamen presides (along with his Ministers of Ice Cream, Brunch and Nepotism) over the Connecticut island kingdom of North Dumpling, which has “seceded” from the U.S. and dispenses its own currency in units of pi. Visitors are issued a visa form that includes spaces on which to note identifying marks on both their face and buttocks. Kamen, who works tirelessly at inspiring kids to pursue careers in science and engineering, is one of many highly creative people whose personal behavior sometimes strikes others as odd.
Select an option below: Customer Sign In *You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content. 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently. This list has been expanded into the new book, “Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind,” by Carolyn Gregoire and Scott Barry Kaufman. Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process. Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity.
As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). Why “Psychological Androgyny” Is Essential for Creativity. By Maria Popova “Creative individuals are more likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other one, too.”
10 Paradoxical Traits Of Creative People. Editor's Note: This is one of the most-read leadership articles of 2013.
Click here to see the full list. I frequently find myself thinking about whether I am an artist or an entrepreneur. I am simply trying my best to create my own unique path.