What does it mean to be a creative person? It is common knowledge that, as a race of over 7 billion people, each of us is unique; we are taught this from childhood and our individuality sets us apart in a community where different strengths lead people to thrive in different ways. The question I pose to you however is this: are creatively driven people born into this world with a genetically decided triumph of the arts over mathematical reasoning, or do we shape it through the influences surrounding us in our upbringing and on a daily basis?
At the risk of straying into too scientific realms here, we must first address the concept of the two hemispheres of the human brain. For those who deem themselves ‘creative’, who have a natural talent for the arts (whatever medium that may take), the right hemisphere of the brain, which coordinates awareness of art and music, imagination and 3D forms, is more dominant. However, whilst this basic understanding has become fact to those unspecialised in the matter, this theory has been overturned in the last fifty years to develop a deeper understanding of what fuels the creative mindset. In order to produce a physical output of that imagination, the left hemisphere is just as crucial, as genius could not be developed to such an extent without the logic and articulation that this reasoning side of the brain provides.
An interesting case study to look at, when considering where one’s creativity branches out from, is that of Psychologist Frank X. Barron, who conducted experiments on many of the world’s finest creative minds, such as the novelist, playwright and actor Truman Capote. He found that artistic traits were not directly linked with intelligence and IQ and (interesting fact alert) that the writers on whom he researched averaged in the top 15% of all measures of psychopathy, yet conformed to all other measures of good psychological health. This supposed craziness may stem from a creative mind’s “unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray; the ability to extract order from chaos,” which Barron states are defining characteristics for those with a passion for art. Whilst this provides an explanation for how the brain functions of those who are inclined to create art are different to those who do not, it is clear that genetics can only take one so far along the road of creation.
It can be questioned to what degree a person’s upbringing has an impact on their creative development, and even though the phrase ‘creativity cannot be taught’ is just one argument, children’s natural capacity for inspiration in this field can be stimulated from a young age in the classroom.
Psychology today acknowledges that this ‘type’ of person is an ‘inventor’ in all aspects of their life and therefore being pushed in their youth to experience situations outside of their comfort zone forces them to use their creativity to solve problems, thus developing it for future use.
So if you count yourself as of the creative persuasion, you may find yourself identifying with these traits and reflecting on how the environment of your early days shaped the person you are today. You may also be wondering just how much of a psychopath you may be. My advice is: do not fear, you may be a genius because of it and, most importantly, do not act on any psychopathic intuition – it is probably for the best.
Original Illustration by Lucy Roberts