Another interesting article in The Guardian about addiction and creativity.
Alex Preston a writer, discusses how Prozac inhibited his ability to write. He asked around and found that other writers experienced similar problems.
I have always thought the question of addiction and creativity to be an interesting one. It certainly seems to be an occupational hazard amongst musicians, artists and writers.
I have heard the argument that some people believe that drugs and alcohol have enhanced their ability to be creative. I personally don’t buy that.
I think there are plenty of examples of artists who have gone on to greater success once they were clean and sober.
The other question you could ask is whether artists are more predisposed to mental health conditions like depression? Do they initially use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate? Again, there is a long list of artist’s battling mental health demons.
I believe there is a reason for that. In Brain Rules for Babies* John Medina explores how babies brain’s develop and lays out the scientific research that shows you how to raise a smart and happy child. The most interesting part of this, is research indicates the two most important things you can teach a child are:
Impulse control &
As a scientist he was staggered at how important the development of empathy was for a happy and healthy life. It is, in fact key.
Scientific research then goes on to show that one of the best ways to develop empathy is through music. Researchers have shown that kids who learn any instrument before the age of 7 for at least 10 years had measurably more empathy than their peers.
Could this also be a predisposition to addiction or abuse of alcohol and drugs? After all, one of the purposes of abusing drugs and alcohol is to numb feelings.
Do musicians just over empathise?
Do artists just feel too much?
Those who get it right produce work that enriches our souls and brings pleasure to many people whilst also living their own happy lives. Those who get it wrong can still bring pleasure to many but at a devastating personal cost.
What do you think? Do you think drugs and alcohol have enhanced your ability to creative or have they stiffled it?
Is the art worth the pain?
*As a therapist I developed a ton of theories about why kids turned out the way they do. I believed a lot of it was down to parenting. My theory was that the most important thing you can teach a child is how to master their emotional life and everything follows from there. Brain Rules for Babies completely supports this theory. It is our internal world that is the most important to define and understand.