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When does creative thinking become "insanity"?

Is it mostly down to how we package and present our creative thoughts the right way in order for them to be understood by others that keeps us sane? What is the real difference between someone in a mental institution and a mad genius. How do we balance a totally free creative mind and a grasp on reality?

  • Jan 9 2012: When it makes the rest of us uncomfortable.

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    Jan 9 2012: The genius is one who sees the world both how it is and how he/she thinks it should be, and it able to give a representation of the fantasy that could be made reality. Insanity is what occurs when the person can no longer distinguish between the two.

    Basically, the genius creates something everyone can enjoy - a world which can be shared by all, the madperson creates something wholly for themselves - a world into which nobody else can reach.

    Just my early-Monday-morning-before-coffee take on the question.
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    Jan 31 2012: Creative thinking is never insane. Also, if someone hears voices, how do we know for sure that there are no voices? The only creative thinking that would be insane would be to use the thoughts to create harm or suffering.

    It would be nice for creative thinkers to be able to safely let go of reality, and know that others will help them make sure they still take a shower every now and then... :)
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    Jan 31 2012: I like Ken Robinson's definition: creativity is something new/original that has VALUE (value for others).

    But of course, this doesn't mean that a creative idea, if not deemed valuable at a given time, has no value.
    After all, Vincent Van Gogh did not sell 1 painting in his life, was a bit insane and died in misery, just as many other "mad" geniuses in history. IBM's CEO thought that making personal computers for the masses was a crazy idea, until a nerd proved him wrong.

    I guess we should make the distinction between "crazy" and "insane". Something crazy may be the next big thing whereas something "insane" is an idea that potentially could harm oneself or others. For that matter, deregulation of the financial world, started some 30 years ago, is insane. And Mohammed Yunus' idea for micro credits is a crazy AND valuable idea.
  • Jan 26 2012: Being creative requires seeing the world in a way which is different from the way the vast majority of the world sees it. My personal definition of art requires an epiphany on the part of the audience which is not possible if the art is solely comprised of accepted common knowledge. The degree to which one's view of the world differs from that of society as a whole determines the degree to which one is considered "insane". If a large enough sector of the population comes to appreciate your deviant viewpoint, then you cease to be insane and become artistic.
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    Jan 25 2012: Being creative is about integrating all sides, the moment you start considering only one side you are getting closer to insanity which will come with a lot of suffering despite all your creativite potencial.
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    Jan 11 2012: A mad genius conclusion makes sense. Someone in a mental institution lost the meaning of what makes sense.
  • Jan 9 2012: I firmly believe that being right, is like being crazy.

    It's all because of how we perceive the world. If you see a man in a suit and with a briefcase, then most would think he's a businessman or a lawyer. All those stereotypes which all the jokes of the world are based on constantly working in your mind. Creativity is when you break through all of that, and can connect all the old dots into an entirely different picture. That's why kids tend to be more creative than adults, since they weren't around long enough to learn that things are done one way and not the other.

    But while you see a different thing, you don't make much sense to all the others who see just and old regular world. Only when you explain it or show it, people will start seeing things your way.

    To me, it isn't really decision between creativity or insanity. We all should be able to be somewhat crazy and out of our mind. Strangely, it does much to ones mental health to not be forced to constantly be "prim and proper".

    The real difference for me is how you define insanity and creativity. Creativity, even in a crazy way, is something which helps you in life. Brings you new ideas, or just makes life a little more fun. Insanity on the other hand is when you take things too far, and what earlier helped you starts to hinder your ability to live.

    It's kind of like drinking, really. A glass of wine with dinner or a drink before bed goes a long way to give your life a flavour or simply help you relax. But it will get you nowhere if you're passed out cold after having too much.

    You just need to learn to stop when the image is getting blurry.
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    Jan 9 2012: Jennie.. it is said beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder... A person living with a creative idea may be completely obsessed with that and based on his behavioural patterns to the outer world he may be sounding like a mad person....

    Unless there is a harm to the society we should respect the creativity of such person and on the contrary go a step ahead and help him/ her realize the creativity :)
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    Jan 9 2012: When we judge it preventing its expression and it becomes all bottled up inside or stuffed deep into our'cells'.
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    Jan 8 2012: I suppose, mad genius is that who does not control consciously the associations, intuitions which come from unconscious.
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    Jan 8 2012: Usually, a genius has a plan drawn out to do the improbable, which is percieved as impossible by others ( somewhat borrowed from sherlock holmes ), whereas crazy people are just shooting in the dark hoping to hit the target or sometimes, not even that. To sum up, creativity becomes insanity when it is not backed by planned and deliberate attempts in realising the same.
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    Jan 8 2012: When you start caring about other people's opinion. 'Nough said.
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    Jan 8 2012: i think people missunderstood about meaning of creativity and insanity. Creativity comes from inside our brain when we feel rilex our mind make imaginary about everything and its a bit difficult to understand because we probably have uncommon ideas and not everyone can accept it so they considered it insanity. there are have two main differences between creativity and insanity.

    when you think creative you expand your ideas and you still have control of yourself, we thinking out of the box see outside and inside from one problem and make creative problem solving. But Insanity you cant control yourself and probably your creativity comes from underpressure and stressed out.

    Some people say creativity near with insanity but i am disagree about that statement because creativity still have control of ourself and insanity we cant control ourself.
  • Jan 8 2012: I'm not sure who this is from, but I think this answers your question well to some extent.
    "Enjoy the fantasy, the fun, the stories. But make sure that there's a clear sharp line drawn on the floor. To do otherwise is to embrace madness"

    Though if this is less about stories and what not, and more about science then the difference between someone in a mental institute and a mad genius is the anchor that keeps them in reality. A mad genius doesn't just guess and hope he's right. Like most scientists, a mad genius would make a educated guess (hypothesis) about something, test, find out whether he was right, then make use of that knowledge. The mad part of the mad genius doesn't lie in the creativity, but in the ethics though. But someone in a mental institution would have no logical reason to believe what they believe, if not reason not to believe it. Which is to say, they just made something up, hallucinated it, etc.