Creativity and neurodiversity

Alright, so here we go…

I was at a meeting the other night where, apparently, I touched on something that people without my diagnosis don’t have to deal with.  That is, having one’s creativity recoil on oneself if it’s not outwardly-directed, so that one’s own life becomes the “art project.”

This is not in relation to appearances.  This is in relation to how one conceptualizes the world, creates stories to explain it, sees ones place within it.  Without writing and art, all the power that could be going into outward creation feeds back onto me, and it starts to re-make me in a way that causes me to seem different from other people.

D says that this is related to my illness.  What I heard, from the person leading the group, is that it’s very important for me to have the writing and the art to channel these energies into, in order to maintain my own stability and health.

I was playing around with colors, earlier…not anything really worth sharing, but kind of amazing in that it got me engaged with something.  M was asking what it is about psychiatric diagnoses and art that go together; for me, the answer is pretty clear.  There’s such a history of neurodiversity and mental illness within the art field, that it’s not something to be ashamed of or hidden, here.

It’s pretty hard to be an artist and not show who one is, through one’s art.  Over the centuries, there have been a large number of artists who, by either predilection or poisoning (or both), have had minds which were not standard for their time.

Writers are known for this to a lesser extent, but from what I can see, the problems tend to be chain smoking (something I’ve heard that people with schizophrenia are more susceptible to than other populations) and alcoholism.  For me, that’s easy to imagine as well, though I’m not a smoker or a drinker (it’s difficult enough for me to deal with second-hand cigarette smoke [plus my grandmother died from lung cancer], and alcohol makes me sad and angry at the same time).

It would just seem that when one is a writer, one would need a break from one’s own mind (I’ve used meditation and medications in lieu of street drugs).  I can’t speak really for these populations, though, because I don’t use these materials.  What I know is that it seemed nearly all of the students in my Creative Writing courses were smokers, and arenas for open-mic readings often headline that wine will be there.

I’m thinking that people who have creative minds need some way to manage that creativity, and maybe the creative energy just really…more or less forces one into the arts, as a way of modulating that energy.  The main reason I’m heading up to an Art AA, after all, is that I already had so many Art credits that it seemed something viable.

Got to go — will be back later.


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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

8 thoughts on “Creativity and neurodiversity”

  1. When you say that the art turns in onto yourself and remakes you and how you see the world – are you saying that your impression of people and events change through the “lens” of the art that is in your mind? or are you saying that it directs the way you decide about things and describe things to people? maybe that is why people describe us as different and refer to our thoughts as “your own little world” as if they will never be able to see as we do?

    1. Hi,

      What I was thinking of was really closer to your first interpretation, though it’s slightly different and broader. Particularly when I was in my 20’s, identity was on my mind a lot, though it probably is for most in that age range. I found myself with the difficulty of not entirely knowing who I was, and having so much complexity that it was difficult for me to maintain the differing fragments of my mind in one idea of “self”. Some forms of writing, like fiction, give one the chance to work out these differing fragments and develop them into differing characters who can then work out a drama, as versus trying to integrate them all into one non-contradictory concept of “I.”

      As I noted earlier in this blog, I seem to have some skill in compartmentalization at this point, which allows me to contain multiple, seemingly contradictory energies in the same form…but I really think that none of the paradigms I’m using really explain things well enough.

      Perceptions can change for what seem like a number of causes, but in my experience…I’ve had difficulty with not knowing what was going on around me (I have slight autistic tendencies), and generating a narrative for what “realities” I thought underlay particular encounters. This is actually part of why I tried to disconnect from fiction and moved more toward the visual arts. Crafting stories out of partial information may work on paper, but when it’s done in one’s own life, with real people whose minds one does not have an insider’s view of, it is usually not to one’s advantage. It can actually be more harmful than not; to which end I’ve learned to feel, but not necessarily seriously speculate.

      I think the “your own little world” thing…tends to imply that the other person’s “reality” is the larger reality. To me, most often, it appears to be used as a tool to diminish the importance of what someone else says (as versus what the speaker feels), because what that someone else says is seen as threatening in some way (to the speaker). But then again, that’s me making up a story based on partial information, and so is best taken with a heavy grain of salt, if at all.

      Does this answer your question?

      1. That answers my question very well, thank you. On the subject of identity, do you feel that people create their identity or find their identity? I don’t mean create as in create a reputation, I mean create as in form and piece together themselves. Or perhaps our identity is given to us and formed for us by one greater than us?

      2. Identity is a funny thing. To me, there’s quite a lot that goes into it, though I’m using a system which I am thinking most around me don’t share. I’m a person who believes in rebirth; there are a number of elements to who I am which are not clearly based in the experiences of this life. This portion of myself, I’m thinking, comes from lives lived before.

        The same reasoning, I use to work out why I have the spirit companions I do now, although I believe we all spring from the same root cause, just with different experiences. That is; I believe all life (or at least that on/in this world) is an outgrowth of something I’ve heard referred to as Spirit. (I’m not certain this refers to the Christian “Holy Spirit”; I’ve almost never heard it used as an overt portion of a Trinity, though.)

        Differentiation happens when a lifeform is created and begins to experience. The kinds of experiences coming at us differ, depending on what kind of life we happen to be living (grass, human, butterfly, deer, crow, etc) and our relations to the world around us. Our biologies also differ in the way they accept/reject and process these experiences.

        There are two elements to this: experiences which come at us, some of them selectively, depending on how we are cognized by others. The second element is what we do with those experiences. The combination of these two things, going back in time from the moment of “now,” form our present identity. However, I do think there is a “timeless” element to this.

        Because I believe we all spring from the same root source, I believe we’re all connected, on a level distinct from 3-dimensional reality+time. If we’re all connected, by reaching back to our source, we can sooner or later find pathways which link us to other beings. Empathy helps with this, though it’s not the only route.

        Anyhow…while I am uncertain that “souls” exist, I think that chains of lives do exist (this is the point of differentiation between “reincarnation” [with souls] and “rebirth” [with souls unnecessary]). You can read something about this in Buddhist literature — the concepts to look out for are “rebirth” (I honestly forget the Pali and Sanskrit translations) and “anatta” or “anatman” (Pali and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, respectively; meaning non-self or no-soul). Rebirth is dependent on karma and also on bodhisattva vows…

        In any case *ahem* 😉 for each of us, there seem to be causes pre-existent to us which have caused us (which is basically how I think of “karma”), some of which continue to echo into our present lives. These, along with our biologies, may explain what is lacking in the idea of identity — our small identity for this life — which cannot be explained by the conditions of this life.

        Is this helpful? I can try and explain more, if it’s hard to understand…

      3. That is helpful indeed, yet it brings another question to mind: I’ve heard a lot about rebirth, it seems to be a very popular theory/belief. Do you personally consider it speculation or defendable truth? I’ve never heard anyone make a case for it so I had the impression that it was considered speculation however I see that you’ve built most of your beliefs upon it, so is there something to it?

      4. Pure speculation.

        I operate with a fairly consistent doubt that what I conceive of is truth, however. So even though I may be wrong in my hypothesis of rebirth, it is what makes sense to me, and I imagine that most people who claim to know “the truth” are actually off the mark in some way.

        (I wonder if there’s a name for that type of philosophy…)

        Because I doubt others’ thoughts as much as my own, I find nothing wrong in trying out differing worldviews with the goal of working out a better-adapted way of thinking. After all, if everyone else is wrong, it’s really no loss to me to be wrong, too. Of course then they may say I’m wrong in the wrong manner, but seriously, I don’t have to listen to them. 🙂

      5. I think there may be an absolute truth, but given how poorly most peoples’ minds work (including my own)…I’m not betting on us finding it anytime soon. 🙂

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