The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Thu. Oct 02, 2003

Walkin' A Fine Line

Walkin’ A Fine Line – I’ve talked about this before (more than once), noting the anecdotal evidence that ”Impaired judgement + poor social skills + inappropriate behavior + dementia = Artist.” Now scientists are refining that formula.

Science Daily reports on a study that found creative people are ”more open to incoming stimuli from the surrounding environment. Other people’s brains might shut out this same information through a process called ’latent inhibition’ – defined as an animal’s unconscious capacity to ignore stimuli that experience has shown are irrelevant to its needs. Through psychological testing, the researchers showed that creative individuals are much more likely to have low levels of latent inhibition.

I need to remember that phrase, so the next time someone asks me, ”what exactly is your problem,” I can reply, ”I lack latent inhibition.”

It appears creative people are more in touch with the random stimuli in their environment, and willing to interact with it, while others are ignoring it. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has been looking at my photography, and made a comment along the lines of ”you take pictures of things I walk right by and don’t even see.”

’Scientists have wondered for a long time why madness and creativity seem linked,’ says Carson. ’It appears likely that low levels of latent inhibition and exceptional flexibility in thought might predispose to mental illness under some conditions and to creative accomplishment under others.’

It has long been said that there is a very fine line between genius and insanity (and some seem to have one foot on each side of the line). Apparently that trickles down to a fine line between creative accomplishment and mental illness.

The moral of this story? If you’re feeling depressed, go create something! It’ll keep you on the right side of ”the line.”

Peanut Gallery

1  Ginger wrote:

That might be great to have such a life journal like this! People used to have a paper diaries and now it's electronics. Anyhow I wish you luck and all the best in your life and work!

2  john wrote:

I lack latent inhibition. Gosh, Reid, you talk about it like it's a bad thing. I much prefer to call the condition "enhanced latent awareness."

3  PhotoDude wrote:

I think it's a matter of situational semantics. If someone were to exclaim, "my, how did you do that?", then "I have enhanced latent awareness" is a good response. However, I find that I am more often asked something along the lines of, "what is your problem?" Then, the appropriate response would be, "I lack latent inhibition."

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