Researchers have found that neurotic people are creative geniuses. Their habit of over-thinking things, imagining threats and worrying about details that a lot of people forget, miss, overlook, or deliberately ignore, make them the ideal employees for creative fields.
Neuroticism is a very real mental condition that causes people to constantly have negative thoughts, negative psychological states, and expect the worse possible outcome for each scenario. It also makes people more likely to develop depression or a heightened state of anxiety.
Adam M. Perkins, King’s College psychologist and lead author of the study, gave a statement explaining that neurotic persons are over-analyzing things and imagining conflicts, insults, threats and danger even in relaxed environments where they don’t exist, and incorporate these scenarios into their immediate surroundings.
But it’s exactly the inability to shut down this process that enables them to think up unusual, unique, highly creative and outside the box concepts, ideas, theories and perceptions.
M. Perkins said that “there’s literature showing neuroticism scores are positively correlated with creativity”, so he wondered “why should having a magnified view of threat objects make you good at coming up with new ideas?”.
He and his team took brain scans of neurotic and non-neurotic people, and saw that neurotics process emotions differently. These differences were especially visible when the researchers looked at the default mode network, a brain network that contains several brain regions.
This network becomes active when we think of our past, reflect on our social relationships, and daydream. It helps us develop a sense of self and put together social templates that enable us to interact with others in an efficient way. However, this activity can be difficult to shut down in people diagnosed with depression, neurotic people, and creative people. They just can’t stop daydreaming.
There a couple of reasons why this might be happening. One possible explanation is that creative people and neurotic people are simply reimagining and recontextualizing the information in their surrounding environment.
Another possible explanation is that the brains of both groups are imagining non-existent threats and trying to figure out how those threats might be brought into their surrounding environment.
The study was published a few days ago, on August 27, 2015, in the journal Trends in Cognitive Science.
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