Linking creativity to madness is a myth. But making things is good for everyone’s wellbeing, says Lydia Ruffles
Most of us admire creativity. Some of us also think that creative people are somehow different – obsessive, gifted, tortured in some way – a stereotype that is often perpetuated by our culture. Letting go of these ideas could allow more people to access the wellbeing benefits of creative activities, while also dispensing with a damaging mental-health myth.
There is a persistent trope on screen, in books and beyond, that creativity is the result of a fated convergence between talent and mental illness or obsession, and that it is elusive, something that only a few of us can tap into. It dates back centuries, but for contemporary examples, think Carrie Mathison taking a break from her bipolar disorder medication to solve a problem in Homeland’s “Super Powers” episode or Javier Bardem’s recent appearance as consumed poet Him in Aronofsky’s film Mother!