New Study Has Concluded That Overthinking Worriers Are Most Likely Creative Geniuses
Many of us consider ourselves to be anxious people, or know others whom we think of as being a worrier or over thinker. Although, societally, we have come a ways in how we think about our psychological differences, there still exist negative connotations to such traits. A new study, however, has given us food for thought, about people who have anxiety “disorders”. Many of these people have become the world’s most creative individuals; some of the greatest thinkers, inventors and artistic geniuses of our time, have suffered from anxiety.
The study referred to above, took place by researchers at King’s College in London. They found a significant connection between anxiety and imagination. Dr. Adam Perkins, whose expertise lies in the Neurobiology of Personality, made some cogent points relating to the parts of the brain that light up when a person’s thought pattern has strong negative perceptions.
The part of the brain that processes “high levels of spontaneous activity” occurs in regions of the medial prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain concomitantly influences our sense of foreboding of an imminent threat. People who tend toward such negative thought, when this part of the brain is stimulated, are the ones who tend to panic far sooner than average people who don’t have this negative preponderance.
What happens, according to Dr. Perkins, is that basolateral nuclei of the amygdala become highly reactive, which he says lead such highly sensitized people to “experience intense negative emotions even when there’s no threat present.” He surmises that people who score high on neuroticism, have an underlying neurological basis for this psychological condition. Such people seem to have very active imaginations, which can lead to a more highly perceived sense of threat, according to Dr. Perkins.
Why is this a significant finding? Anxiety can be very debilitating, keeping individuals from developing their full potential, or conversely it can be the stimulus for breakthroughs in science and other creative endeavors. For instance, those “exceptional worriers” about sources of energy came up with nuclear power. “Motivated worriers”, who were extremely concerned about illness and death, came up with medical breakthroughs, that have both improved our quality of life and how long we live.
Dr. Perkins has pointed out the correlation showing that famous people who had dark, brooding tendencies and creative genius, also had remarkable problem-solving abilities. Some examples that he offers, of such people are: Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Vincent Van Gogh and Kurt Cobain. Psychological pain can be the greatest motivator for change or creative innovation. This is discussed , with great vulnerability, in the TED talk in the video below. The accomplished artist speaking, gives us some incredible insights into the power of harnessing her own anxiety disorder.
She eloquently draws a picture of the burden of her anxiety, and how she must on a daily basis, make a conscious choice to not let it paralyze her. She discusses, how she harnesses her anxiety, to help and motivate others. Self-centered fear, can be turned around, in the service of others.
The pleasure gained, from being a part of others’ success and heightened self-esteem, is reinforcing for the anxious person. They come to link anxious feelings with the possibility of doing good. The more this gets reinforced, the greater the ability to harness that anxiety over and over again.
The artist goes on to discuss how her art acts as therapy for her anxiety, saying that “creating is it’s own form of meditation”; that when she is in “the zone of creativity, [she] is comfortably lost in the act of creation”. She goes on to discuss how making artistic choices raises her “level of consciousness”. Her insightful discussion, of the parallel she makes between artistic choices and all human choices in life, is enlightening.
She says that we ultimately make choices of when to “allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and where we remain inaccessible”, as we journey through our lives. Please share your thoughts about what she describes in this most absorbing description about dealing with anxiety. Being an overly sensitive individual has led her to an acceptance of these innate qualities, which has “[allowed her] to create, find solace and help others”. Unfortunately genius doesn’t grow out of good cheer; as John Lennon once said, “Genius is pain”.