Tag Archives forcreativity

For all of you non linear thinkers

(left hand raised)  I admit it, I do not think in linear progression.

Or I should say, frequently, I do not consciously think in linear progressions.  As a rule, I tend to think and process information either verbally, tactically (e.g. writing down initial thoughts and continuing via exploration), or through pictures: I draw insights and conclusions from time and dimensional disparate data.

Mind mapping tools are great for us non-linear, and/or picture centric information processors.  Here’s a short video from the father of mind mapping, Tony Buzon.

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Want a free version of mind mapping software?

(hat tip to Mike Brown for this post’s inspiration)

Seeing the World Differently Makes You Crazy?

I read a blog posting on the Idea Connection blog about creative types and mental illness.  The main point of the posting revolved around original thinkers and the prevalence of mental illness, even in a mild form.

Conducted by Dr. Arnold Ludwig, the study surveyed “1000 original thinkers in a wide array of professions – art, music, business, science, politics and sports. In his research spanning close to 10 years, he studied these people’s mental fitness, their chosen professions and the relationships between their mental health and career selection” (quote taken from the actual Idea Connection blog post, not Dr Ludwig)

Results from his study (”Method and Madness in the Arts and Sciences”) showed that:

  • 9 out of 10 poets studied had diagnosable mental disorders (!)
  • 77% of fiction writers had mental disorders
  • 74% of theater people
  • 73% of painters and other visual artists
  • 68% of musicians (not sure if there is a difference between classical/jazz vs. rock)

I commented on the blog post.  I pondered not the actual results, albeit I do find them interesting.   What struck me was the “why”?  Why does there seem to be a correlation (at least based upon this one study)?

My theory based upon not one shred of empirical evidence: people with mental illnesses see things (no pun intended) that others do not.  Specifically, these people see connections where many see noise among verse, ideas, patterns, and themes.  Perhaps the mental illness removes filters that allows for these connections to be drawn.  After all, creativity is seldom drawn from obscure hard to access information.  Actually it is quite the opposite.  The raw materials for creativity are often in front of our noses.  It is the catalyst and connections that are seemingly evanescent and hard to pin down.