Are You Crazy Because You’re Creative or Are You Creative Because You’re a Little Crazy?

When dogs or pets are prone to run away, we often put them on a leash. The leash is a way to make sure the owner feels a sense of security- to make sure that the dog is restrained from running free and from unpredictable behavior. What we can learn from this is that humans are scared of what is unpredictable. Therefore, if there is a way we can make the unpredictable – predictable we will often without a doubt take those measures. Like every individual pet is unique, so is each individuals’ mind. And like our pets, our minds are often leashed by societal restraints to ensure that they do not wonder too far.

The story of the young (and now famous) choreographer, Gillian Lynne, is one that proves this theory true. When Gillian Lynne was a young girl, she fit the criteria of an ‘underachieving student with a possible learning disorder’. The young girl was always fidgety, unable to focus and had very little desire to excel at any mainstream classes taken in elementary school. When taken to a learning disorder specialist, the doctor reported that Gillian Lynne is simply destined to be a dancer. Ken Robinson from Ted Talks, points out that in todays society, the young Gillian Lynne would have been placed on ADD medication, and thus a world renowned choreographer and co director would have never stepped into the stage spotlight. Like a speedometer, swaying away from normal (0) and towards abnormal (300), it is simple in today’s society to take measures such as medication to get the brain back towards 0. The problem then becomes how do we know if the car is actually built so it can excel at 300, or if the car is not built well enough and will break down and wreck at 300? In other words, how are we supposed to differentiate between a personality deviation and a sickness?

In 1978, George Becker began to question the line between crazy and creative, and developed what is now known as the mad genius controversy. Becker gapped the bridge between the two, and connected the idea that intense creativity is often associated with psychopathology. He based this theory off of world famous men, such as Aristotle, who were both remarkably intelligent but also markedly mad. In 1994, Robert Freedman published another scientific paper, where 291 world famous minds with varying jobs such as choreographers, politicians, scientists, composers etc., were studied for indications of psychopathology. The results showed that the level of psychopathology increased linearly with jobs of higher creativity. The psychopathology was shown lowest in scientists, then composers and began increasing in politicians, to artist’s, to thinkers through to authors. In the discussion of the scientific paper by Freedman, 1994, he made an interesting comment that reads, “Above all, and regardless of the blocks and breakdowns which many had suffered, they were powerfully driven by the urge to create.” Although this paper was published in 1994, the results and discussion are still and even more so applicable in today’s education. According to the America Disorders Association of America, depression and anxiety have approximately doubled in the last 15 years. One can simply wonder that those with unique minds, with the urge to create have been told they can undergo a quick fix medication that will help them better focus on mainstream/normal subjects. One can also perhaps wonder that as medication progresses, how many creative minds and opportunities for creative progression have been diminished over the past 15 years?

The world is often proud of the fast advancements in technology and medicine; however why should we not be concerned with the evolution of creativity. Our website, Feeling Success, stresses that human potential has no ceiling and it is time to set it free. Therefore it is important for individuals to realize that their anxiety, depression, or other psychopathologies is not necessarily a sickness but could possibly be the personality deviation that pushes you towards the niche you are passionate about. If 291 beautiful minds that are somewhat mad just like you have found success and excelled in their respected fields, why can you not find it too?

Author: Sydney Krizmanich


  • Freedman, R. 1994. Creativity and Psychopathology A study of 291 World-Famous Men. Journal of Psychiatry, 165 (1) 22-34.
  • Ken Robinson. Feb 2006. Do schools kill creativity? Ted Talks.
  • Tartakovsky, M. (2016). Depression and Anxiety Among College Students. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2017, from

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