You’re Not Mad, You’re Creative: Part 3

As well as being united by similar characteristics and experiences (see Are You Highly Creative Quiz), highly creative individuals often possess a similar cluster of innate gifts, aptitudes and talents.

“When used in combination,” says Mary Taylor, LCSW, of the Creative Intelligence Centre , “these aptitudes give rise to the gift of creative intelligence – a superior ability for innovative thinking and application”.

They include:

  • High ideaphoria – a naturally rapid flow of ideas
  • Divergent thinking patterns, a natural inclination for simultaneous and multifaceted thinking, used in addition to linear thinking;
  • Acute sensory skills in one or more of the five senses, often exhibited in terms of having strong sensitivities to light, sound or visual images;
  • Strong intuitive capabilities, as in the experience of “knowing” something is true and being highly accurate without reliance on concrete information;
  • High emotional intelligence (EQ) having an acute awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur, and the ability to be highly attuned to the emotions of others.

As discussed previously, creative abilities can become liabilities when they are not recognized, protected, nurtured and given a meaningful outlet.

“A frequent burden of having creative abilities,” says Taylor, “comes from the fact that they cannot be ‘turned off'. For example, abilities of perception are continually at work whether one is actively aware of it or not.”

Highly creative individuals may notice a tendency to become frequently tired, anxious or overwhelmed, but may not know why they are feeling this way. They may fail to understand that the tendency to absorb stimulation “like a sponge,” says Taylor, can make them vulnerable to sensory and information overload.

Highly creative people frequently suffer from a type of psychological trauma when their experiences and abilities have not been adequately acknowledged from an early age. As adults, this trauma can be re-triggered on a regular basis when others do not appear to get what they are saying or doing.

Doctors or therapists who remain unaware of their needs and abilities are often in danger of giving an incorrect mental health diagnosis. The experience of being inaccurately pathologized can further traumatize them and compound the difficulties they already have.

Some of the most common misdiagnoses highly creative people receive are: bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder.

“If a diagnosis is incorrect, treatment will often be in error,” says Taylor. “For example, the failure to realize that highly creative individuals frequently become depressed when they do not have adequate outlet for their rapid flow of ideas may result in the recommendation for an antidepressant medication rather than a real solution to the original problem – adequate outlets (projects and people) for their highly productive thinking.”

Of course, it is possible to have high levels of creativity and, simultaneously, a mental health disorder.  “On these occasions, care needs to be given to identify each component accurately and address it on its own terms in order for treatment to be effective.”


NEXT on the Creative Intelligence Blog: 1st & 2nd Stage Problems suffered by unrecognised creatives.

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