The Creative Advantages of Schizophrenia: The Muse and the Mad Hatter
The aphorism that madness and creative genius are opposing sides of the same coin predates contemporary psychiatry and has existed since the time of the great Stagirite Aristotle. Schizophrenia is one mental disorder intimately linked with creative thinking and achievement. There is no shortage of eminent scientists, thinkers, writers, artists, composers, and political activists tentatively theorized to have precariously balanced the great divide between the demons of schizophrenia and the muses of creative illumination, including Rene Descartes, Emanuel Swedenborg, John Forbes Nash, Leonardo da Vinci, and Joan of Arc, to name but a few. However, is that association veracious in an empirical sense? If it is, how exactly are schizophrenia and creative illumination related? Using new empirical findings, this book sheds new light upon the age-old assumption and goes further still in explaining how creative potential with world-fashioning powers can be channelled in individuals with this diagnosis. Mental health practitioners will find this book both intriguing and useful.
Paul Kiritsis received his PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Sofia University, formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, USA. He is a certified hypnotherapist, a researcher, artist, award-winning poet and short story writer, and the author of the creative compendium Confessions of a Split Mind. He holds postgraduate degrees in history, professional writing, and psychology. His clinical interests include schizophrenia and hallucinations, the temporal-lobe epilepsies and their neuropsychiatric comorbidities, and neurocognitive disorders. He is profoundly interested in the connection between creativity and disorder, as reflected in his published dissertation.
“In The Creative Advantages of Schizophrenia, author and clinical psychologist Paul Kiritsis explores [the] relationship between creativity and psychopathology, between The Muse and the Mad Hatter, to quote the book’s subtitle. Given that the roots of this book are to be found in a doctoral dissertation, it is no surprise that this is, first and foremost, an academic book. There are ten pages of bibliography and every statement, claim, and assertion made by the author in the text is meticulously referenced. There are also details of clinical trials, discussions of the efficacy of various drug treatments, and references to different parts of the brain and its various functions. The author is also a poet and short-story writer. He deploys some of these skills to good effect, in that the non-technical side of this book is very readable. He highlights facts that most people will find interesting. For example, he tackles some of the myths that surround schizophrenia, particularly the fear that schizophrenia sufferers are all capable of psychotic violence. […] I also appreciated his argument in favor of a more holistic approach to the treatment of mental health disorders. His view is that society has adopted a reductive, biomedical approach to schizophrenia. Kiritsis argues for recognition that schizophrenia is not simply a disease that can be medicated away. He argues in favor of alternatives, like cognitive behavioral therapy, in both the treatment and prevention of the worst effects of schizophrenia. The author believes that proper treatment of the condition would permit sufferers to retain the advantages of their Muse while keeping the more malign Mad Hatter elements under control. I’m happy to award this book four out of four stars. It is well-researched and well-edited. The book will appeal to clinicians and medical students. It may also be something that relatives and friends of schizophrenics might turn to in search of a greater understanding of the condition.”
Online Book Club, October 2019
“The enigmatic relationship between creativity and the psychopathology of schizophrenia is expertly confronted in this book. Kiritsis’ comprehensive, beautifully written exploration of this perplexing and fascinating topic addresses head-on how creative potential is channeled, and why this is important. As a mental health clinician, art therapist, and scholar, I am most impressed by Kiritsis’ well-informed recommendations for clinical practice related to impact on overall quality of life for persons with schizophrenia and their activities of daily living. The in-depth examination of the link between long-term functional gains in executive functioning and the quality of creative output has implications that extend well beyond the mental health community. This illuminating book is a must-read for all.”
Donna Betts, PhD, ATR-BC
Associate Professor, George Washington University, USA
"Because the concepts and discussions in this book aren’t filtered into popular terminology, this book may prove challenging for the casual lay reader. Yet anyone deeply interested in the veracity of links between creative genius and psychological disorders will deem this well-written study stimulating and encouraging and find the symbolically related illustrations by the author (and other artists) fascinating."
Kate Robinson, The US Review
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