Barney Woods

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Barney Woods
Posted almost 3 years ago
Is there a link between insanity and genius?
Hi Linda. I have to say that there are a disproportionate number of people who may be regarded as geniuses, who have either taken their own lives or have descended into what many would regard as insanity, madness - or serious mental illness. Call it what you will. The likes of Friedrich Nietzche, Van Gogh, John Nash, Alan Turing, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, Kurt Cobain, Sylvia Plath - the list is huge - would seem to point towards above average occurrence of mental illness of some sort, associated with genius. I'm not sure about the relevance of the behaviour of rabid animals with genius. Can you expand on that? Genius seems to be a fortuitous convergence of several factors, such as intense focus, perseverance, the ability to join up ideas from differing fields of knowledge, to think the unthinkable etc etc. - these are the more obvious ones. What about factors that are less obvious, like the possibility that the creative power of the unconscious mind and the right hemisphere being more prominent in the mind of a genius (or the conscious mind being more recessive)? This might form part of the link I suspect exists with mental illnesses, although I've not yet found research to fully back that up. I don't think mental illnesses in the functional arena can categorically be called illnesses. They could be an understandable and natural reaction to a society that has become dysfunctional and quite frankly, inhuman.
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Barney Woods
Posted almost 3 years ago
Is bounded Rationality good?
The more superficially we are able to skip along the surface of life, the less sadness and anguish we feel. Rationality doesn't go deep. It has no need to, because everything the rational person requires is there within easy and obvious reach, or has already been contemplated by someone else. There is less need for the rational person to dig deeper inside themselves, or to look to the future to find hitherto unknown things that stimulate them. The rational person gets his/her stimulation from the outside in, while the creative person gets stimulated from the inside out. I think anguish and pain goes with the territory of being creative because it is by definition, introspective. The introspective spiral can so easily go downwards if creativity isn't happening (artist's block), or self-esteem has taken a knock. The problem is that we are all born to be certain thinking types - rational or creative (sometimes both) and our degree of relative happiness seems to be linked to one or other of those. We just have to accept that we are either going to be irrational/creative/artistic, or rational/logical/scientific. I think we also have to accept that one will never properly understand the other.