Neurosis and creativity

Someone was talking to me yesterday about creative inspiration and how it can be blocked and this person paid me an important compliment. She said that the one thing she has noticed about me is that I never seem to struggle with blocked creativity. I had never noticed this about myself, but when I thought about it, I was delighted to realise that she was right. Of course, not everything that flows from my mouth or my keyboard (as a teacher and writer my creativity spills forth through those channels) has value for others, but it nevertheless seems to keep coming in an endless stream. For that I am extremely grateful.

However, I have been thinking about why that is. Why am I so fortunate? And some of the following thoughts came to mind. I have recently stumbled in my research across the work of a man named Otto Rank. He was a close associate of Freud until he developed a ground breaking theory that challenged Freud’s thought leadership. He suggested that the trauma of birth is as (if not more) important than the Oedipal complex. I am not enough of an expert to pursue the detail of that here, but I would like to focus on one of Otto Rank’s other ideas. He proposed that neurosis (or mental dis-ease) is caused by creativity that cannot be expressed.

Now, as most of my friends know, I have some profound neurotic tendencies. I suffer from massive anxiety about many things. I will spare you the details, but these days it is a source of much humour for my family. But, I have been privileged (and stubborn enough) to spend 15 years in therapy trying to figure out why I became so anxious. This process has meant that I have more answers than I started with and my anxiety is far more manageable than it used to be and that has been very useful. However, in some ways, a much more important consequence of all those years of self-analysis is that it resulted in the lifting of the flood gates of my creativity.  

I often have as many as five epic dreams a night, and new thoughts spill forth continuously. I cannot consciously make it happen, it just happens. And I think it is because the years of therapy allowed me to build the most important friendship of my life – the friendship with the part of me that houses and drives my unconscious mind. So, when that part speaks (as it does continuously through body symptoms, dreams, wayward thoughts, slips of the tongue, strange urges and impulses) all I have to do is listen.

2 thoughts on “Neurosis and creativity”

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