Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Institute of Psychiatry - Creativity/Madness debate

There would be no genius without madness
This house believes that mental disorder is the price we pay for exceptional creativity

Amazing debate (like Jeremy Paxman!) at the beautiful 50s lecture theatre at the Institute just round the corner for me. It was absolutely packed with people - great to see artists and psychiatrists interested in the same thing. They did a vote beforehand with the audience, and I voted for, then each of the four speakers had 8 mins to present their case. Such a treat to see people like the world's leading expert on Neurotheology - amazingly sharp.

Notes I managed to scribble:
There is a paradox between creativity (an expansive thinking style which requires focus, clarity of thought) and madness (inability, incompetance).

There are obviously main dimensions of madness - degrees of illness and there are healthy 'mad' traits and only when they get to extremes would you consider the person to be mad. He mentioned an over inclusive cognative style - me?!

In the end I changed my mind to against - that you don't have to be mad to be creative - overall in some ways the terminology was confused so it was also a debate about exactly what we are defining. Fantastic idea and I hope they have more debates in relation to the arts/sciences.

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