Are creative genius and madness related? The dictionary states that “to create” is “to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.” In ancient times, creative inspiration was a divine attribute; even the
Greeks believed that creativity was achieved by altered states of mind – “Divine Madness.” This is best illustrated in the Greek belief of Muses. As the myth goes, Zeus, the supreme god and ruler of Olympus, fathered nine daughters with Mnemosyne the goddess of memory. Each of these nine daughters ruled over one domain of creativity such as epic and sacred poetry’s, lyrics, history, dance, comedy, tragedy, music and astronomy. It was believed that they provided a spiritual inspiration to the human creator. Socrates, a Greek philosopher states that, “If a man comes to the door of poetry untouched by madness of the muses, believing that technique alone will make him a good poet, he and his sane compositions never reach perfection, but are utterly eclipsed by the inspired madman.” Madness has also been described as unrestrained excitement or enthusiasm or the quality of being rash and foolish. Modern researchers on the subject would attribute these qualities to a mental disorder called manic depression.
Most of us are familiar with what depression is, it is an overwhelming sadness with feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, hopelessness for a prolonged period of time. People with depression also experience insomnia, fatigue, loss of interest or pleasure in things they used to enjoy, changes in weight, irritability, restlessness, and even thoughts of suicide. But what exactly is manic depression? According to Dr. Dayal Mirchandani, author of Highs and Lows of Bipolar Depression, manic depression or Bipolar Affective Disorder is characterized by extreme highs and extreme lows. Lows are when a person is in the depressive state and have a negative affect. The highs, or mania phase, are typically characterized by feelings of euphoria, extreme optimism, and in a lot of cases the individual will have an inflated idea of self that they are “god-like” or invincible. They may become overactive with a jumble of irrational thoughts and ideas and rapid speech. Someone suffering from this disorder may be easily distracted while in this manic state and their interest may jump from one thing to the next. Some people complain of trouble sleeping because of their chaotic thought process. The manic phase can last anywhere from several hours to several months in extreme cases.
What causes manic depression? According to modern research the specific causes of this disorder are not completely understood but we know that it affects both men and women alike. In some cases the disorder could be genetic and in others a chemical change in the brain could trigger it. Other research indicates it could be caused by stressful psychological factors, trauma, or even alcohol and drug abuse; though the main...