The highly creative people who come to her for help, says Mary Taylor of the Creative Intelligence Centre , are not necessarily artists or musicians. Most of them work in “regular” jobs and do not consider themselves to be creative at all.
“Their deepest turmoil,” she says, “often stems from the fact that although they feel they are capable, they are unable to bring their talents into the world in a recognizable or tangible form. They often feel confused in their attempts to figure this ‘puzzle’ out.”
Taylor divides these troubled responses into what she calls First & Second Stage Problems.
First Stage Problems (Mental health issues that stem directly from the ability itself)
- Depression caused by a lack of creative and intellectual fulfillment (environments which are creatively or intellectually under-stimulating).
- Feeling overwhelmed by the difficulties of managing high ideaphoria and divergent thinking patterns (a high flow of ideas and the capacity to process thoughts on multiple levels simultaneously).
- Sensory overload resulting in anxiety, irritability and fatigue brought on by the combination of strong sensory skills and environmental stimulation.
Significant questions in making an assessment of such problems include:
- “Am I ‘obsessive compulsive’ or do my finely tuned visual abilities mandate I create an environment of visual beauty and order?”
- “Do I actually have a biochemical depression, or am I an imaginative person living among a plethora of concrete thinkers?”
- “Do I really have ADHD or am I attempting to physically keep up with my numerous ideas and interests through multiple projects and activities?”
Second Stage Problems (When first stage problems are ignored or misattributed).
- Identity Problems – Many highly creative people accept mistaken notions about themselves including beliefs of being “too sensitive,” “too emotional,” “too much of a perfectionist,” “thinking too much,” and having “too many ideas.” These negative descriptions can result in damage to one’s self image and failure to identify the raw ability that may be hidden under the perceived problem.
- Adjustment Problems – Many highly creative people struggle because they do not see themselves or their abilities clearly. This can result in the experience of going from job to job or relationship to relationship and wandering through life desperately looking for a purpose.
- Academic Problems – Highly creative individuals often have aptitudes that lie outside the realm of standardized tests, which typically favour linear thinking and the logical/mathematical and linguistic aptitudes. Academic problems can also stem from a lack of compatibility between learning style and teaching style. For example, when a linear-thinking teacher expects a divergent-thinking student to solve a problem using a step-by-step approach, while excluding inductive and intuitive problem-solving methods.
- Medical Conditions – “In my psychotherapy practice, I have witnessed a high correlation between individuals with multiple creative aptitudes and the existence of certain types of medical conditions, most often in the form of allergies, immune deficiencies, thyroid problems and metabolic disorders,” says Taylor.
First and second stage problems are not the result of something intrinsically “wrong” with the person, though that is how they are often experienced. Rather, they are the result of the stress that accompanies living with unidentified creative aptitudes in a society that does not understand or nurture creative intelligence.
Since creative aptitudes can not be “turned off,” because they are physiologically-based, first and second stage problems are likely to be compounded over time if effective interventions are not employed.
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