By: Jocelyn Schwalm
The price of creativity is often extremely high: the more pain, the better the artist, the saying goes. This is essentially the backdrop for the idea of the tortured artist. A certain neurosis seems to be present in all the greats. Creativity is often the only outlet available to these people as a means to unburden themselves from the deep feelings they have no choice but to feel. There is often an underlying paradox of introverted and extroverted qualities that constructs the creative part of a person. Not only does the group feel more negative emotion (often leading to mood disorders), but they acquire an intense ability to feel the good as well, rendering things like loving relationships that much harder to escape from.
The capacity for deep feelings can equate to a source of deep empathy. But this empathetic capacity can result in problems as well. It causes a distinct inability to be around negative people. The idea of the tortured artist comes from this exact concept. The artists we consider greats, in many different disciplines, have had to battle with demons of their own. The product of this battle is the genius of their work. With a more highly- attuned sense comes more intense emotions. These people are trapped in their own minds, and creativity is their pathway out.
Creative people often have a way of observing those around them in a way that gives them an edge while incorportating their observances into the creative process. Scientists are now attributing the link between mental illnesses and creativity as the distinct inability to simply let a thought pass, but to always ruminate. This comes from the creative mind being unable to block out much of the stimuli that is incoming on a daily basis, leading to an overwhelming wave of emotions. Through this rumination, more connections are made, leading to the ultimate breeding ground for ideas to arrive. The price of creativity may be high, but the result of this pain proves that it may just be worth it.