Genius or Psychotic? A Look at the Strong Positive Correlation Between Creativity and Psychoses

From Personality Research that attempts to establish a connection between creative thinking and psychoses. Most of the article just defines the terms of the discussion. I think one term discussed in the article is especially useful.

Latent Inhibition (LI) is defined as “the capacity to screen from conscious awareness stimuli previously experienced as irrelevant” (Carson, Peterson, & Higgins, 2003, p. 499).

In other words, a person with a high LI level ignores things they don’t see as relevant, but a person with a low LI level is constantly reevaluating relevancy. Now, they continue, having a low IQ and a low LI level leads to just a small  increase in creative thinking. But, an intelligent person with a low LI level is many times more creative. So, creativity and low LI are seen as two definite factors in human creativity.

They also discuss another study where “fantasy proneness” was matched against diagnosis for mental illness and a definite relationship was found. Here are a few numbers:

…It was found that most (70%) fantasizers, while displaying some signs of psychoses, were able to maintain a normal life.

However, 5 out of the 13 people tested scored more than 2 standard deviations above the mean for schizotypy or hypothetical psychosis proneness, and an amazing 20-35% of all the subjects with fantasy proneness exhibited “significant signs of maladjustment, psychopathology, or deviant ideation. And perhaps a smaller proportion of fantasizers can be aptly characterized as schizotypal or borderline personalities” (Lynn & Rhue, 1988, p. 42). It can be derived from this that at least some degree of overlap exists between healthy creative tendencies and pathological ideational processes.

So, there is according to Jonathan Byrd, a measurable connection.

It seems to me that part of what they should be looking at is not a low LI, but the ability to control LI. Are there ways to make the brain shake loose and start evaluating objects it has previously judged as irrelevant? Are there ways to stop it when it gets out of control?

I’m also interested in the correlation of low LI and fear of failure with psychoses. Creativity seems to be stifled in those that fear the judgment of others, could fear of being judged as crazy actually stifle psychoses?

And, since psychiatric evaluations are completely subjective, do we need to look at changing the definitions? After all, this article could just be proving that most of society finds creative people irritating and wants them drugged and locked away.

In any case, I will be post some exercises in the next few days that will lower you level of LI. Attempt them at your own risk.

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