Creativity has always been a part of my life. From a very young age, I fell in love with both writing and acting. In high school, I surrounded people with similar passions, and I noticed a somewhat disturbing pattern: it seemed to me that these people, most of whom I dearly loved, carried around far more baggage than others. Not long after I realized this, I saw this quote from Ursula LeGuin: “The creative adult is the child who survived.” I began to wonder if there was a connection between creative expression and a person’s history. (Of course, looking at the full quote does somewhat dull the point. Ask Nora about that and the citation for this.)
I decided to dig into the psychology behind creativity to find the answers to several question about myself and the people I cared about. I wanted to know what being creative actually meant, and what that trait did to define my personality as a whole. I wanted to know what factors contributed to someone being creative, especially when it comes to having a traumatic past. I was also curious about the connection between creativity and mental illness, and if there was an actual cause and effect relationship, or if it was more complex than that.
Creativity is defined in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as “the ability to make new things or think of new ideas.” This definition would sit well with most psychologists and laypeople; However, Scientists have come to include what they call Little-C creativity, “which is often used as an indicator of mental health, [and] includes everyday problem-solving and the ability to adapt to change,” and Big-C creativity, seen in individuals like Albert Einstein or Pablo Picasso, which “occurs when a person solves a problem or creates an object th…
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Forgeard, Marie. “Perceiving Benefits After Adversity: The Relationship Between Self-reported Posttraumatic Growth and Creativity.” Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 7.3 (2013): 245-64. PsycArticles. Web. 14 Nov. 2013
Kersting, Karen. “What Exactly is Creativity?” Monitor On Psychology 34.10 (2003): 40. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
Schuldberg, D. “Mental Health and Affective Disorders.”Vol. 2. Encyclopedia of Creativity. Ed. Mark A. Runco and Steven R. Pritzker. 2nd ed. Waltham, Massachusetts: Academic Press, 2012. 2 vols. 94. Print.
Seeling, Tina. InGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity. New York, New York: Harper Collins, 2012. Print.
Smith Bailey, Deborah. “The ‘Sylvia Plath Effect.’” Monitor On Psychology 34.10 (2003): 42. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.