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The link between creativity and madness

There is a proven link between creativity and madness. I think it’s important for us writers to understand the connection, how it can affect us and what we can do to find our inner equilibrium.

When I studied creative writing at university, the program I studied was called Professional Writing. My classmates and I quickly renamed it to Professional Madness. The link between creativity and madness has been around for a long time, but it’s only now that it’s been proven. Aristotle is said to have said that “there is no true genius without a touch of madness” when philosophizing about why so many in poetry, philosophy, and art often suffered from melancholy.

It is only now, in recent years, that the link has been confirmed. In their book Equilibrium: The link between creativity and madness, Simon Kyaga and Jonas Matsson write that “it is two sides of the same coin. The personality traits we associate with madness and otherness turn out to be not only associated with mental illness and neuropsychiatric diagnosis, but have also paved the way for what we associate with the most valued aspects of society: artistic expression, musicality, entrepreneurship, certain types of leadership and technological progress.”

What I, as an author, find most interesting about the book is that it gives me a greater understanding of why many of us creative souls can sometimes fall into manic periods and why it can be difficult to get out of a creative slump. What I liked best in the book was when the authors describe Equilibrium: “For a person to succeed in a creative field, an inner equilibrium is required, an equilibrium in which a touch of madness is matched by the ability to plan, analyze, and execute.” And that equilibrium is something I feel I have found recently. I think the combination of habits, such as regular meditation and exercise, has made me more alert and focused. It has allowed me to get up an hour earlier each day to write. If I want to write more later in the day, I can, but the habit of writing in the morning is something I want to cement as a daily habit so I can do it whether I’m working or on vacation.

The things that helped me find equilibrium may not work for you. But I recommend that you read the book and think about what habits you can try to add to your everyday life that make you feel good and have inner balance.

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