Creativity Hallucination and Subsequent Punishment

Some raw unpolished thoughts on the article Secrets of the Creative Brain by Nancy C. Andreasen, subtitled A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.

Andreasen writes: I’ve been struck by how many of these people refer to their most creative ideas as “obvious.” Since these ideas are almost always the opposite of obvious to other people, creative luminaries can face doubt and resistance when advocating for them.

Powerful realization from that: much of my reality feels like hallucination because I’m the only one who sees it. When you go through life seeing things no one else does, and being mocked or pitied or shunned when you admit it, it’s no wonder we lose our emotional and mental balance.

I’ve never thought of that before. My reality is different from most people’s, and I’ve never internalized the idea that much of what I see as simple, normal, obvious, is invisible to everyone around me. It’s like being the only one to see the strange man in the hallway or whatever; I’m having a hard time verbalizing it. Thinking about the psychotic episodes in TV shows and movies where a character looks crazy to others because they’re hallucinating.

That’s what it’s like: I feel like much of my reality is a hallucination because I’m the only one who sees it. Despite appearances I’m not arrogant enough to have started life thinking I was right and everyone else was wrong, so it must be me, right?

And I still push down my “seeing other ways” because when something is obvious to me but no one else, I still feel wrong because I was always taught I was wrong.

This has implications in my desire and ability to do it all myself, my lifelong habit of ignoring feedback that doesn’t make sense to me, of finally learning to trust my intuition instead of having to prove my instincts to the satisfaction of onlookers.

2 thoughts on “Creativity Hallucination and Subsequent Punishment

  1. I often wonder how many talented people out there are afraid to do their thing because of how they will look to others. Sometimes society pushes creativity away and in some cases it goes away for good.

    1. My guess is that the number is scary big. Fear of standing out seems to be built into society.

      My wife has a beautiful singing voice. When her two daughters sing, she loves it and appreciates their ability. But it has taken a decade of constant reinforcement to convince her that they got their voice from her.

      She’s one of the most confident people I’ve ever known, but she’s terrified to sing in public. What is that about, except the universality of Resistance?

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