Is Creative Genius a Form of Psychosis? Here’s a Personal Story

Is Creative Genius a Form of Psychosis? Here’s a Personal Story

‘I wish I was an Oozle bird

I’d hop from twig to twig

I’d build my nest in a rhubarb tree and whistle like a pig.’


– A poem by Spike Milligan. A British comedian, writer, musician, poet, playwright, soldier and actor. Often quoted by my Grandfather, for my amusement as a child.


As a child, particularly by the age of ten, I’d worked out that genius is likely to be followed by madness. I have no evidence to offer, only that I have noticed madness as having many forms. Some which conjure images of straight-jackets and institutions, and those that flit, like the wings of a bird. Visiting sporadically, generally uninvited and spontaneous.


Spike held onto a dark secret which tapped inside his conscience. He suffered with the debilitating condition known as Bi-Polar. In public, it seldom ventured to the surface. I’m not sure what level of awareness he had, of his own darkness – that, I presume is ultimately personal. But I do know that the wavering highs and lows which accompany those who walk amongst the clouds are a blessing and a curse which follow no matter where you go. I knew this aged ten, I felt it too. I just hadn’t worked out how the mind and body can have such a profound effect on one another.


Is it the case that those who are radically creative, explore many mediums in life, who don’t accept the path already walked, and question everything around them. Are they the ones more susceptible to such erratic behaviour and crippling conditions because they have awareness of themselves, as a separate entity but also as a collective entity? Does this awareness make them mad? Does it also cause impairment and disease within the body? Ultimately, is this a classic symptom of the brilliance which often stands out in others?

Personally, I suffer from Fibromyalgia, a little known condition which ruins the best of people


Personally, I suffer from Fibromyalgia, a little known condition which ruins the best of people.

I am also very creative, I write and paint, and, from a turbulent childhood – absorbed every emotion deep within my body, tying it to my organs and knitting it to my brain. Things didn’t simply happen – I was them. Research suggests that fibromyalgia is caused by two means. Severe head trauma or acute emotional disorders linked with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).


I have never experienced such a physical head trauma, so must assume it stems from the demons of my past.

I got my diagnosis six years ago, after numerous trips to the doctors for chronic fatigue, unexplained (almost manic) highs and lows in my emotional state and severe physical pain all over my body, it showed nothing that they could medically pin-point – leaving the condition undefined. It feels a little like the chicken vs. the egg situation for me. Did my mind do this to my body? If so, why is it that only certain people become affected under such emotional trauma? If the condition was simply a chain reaction to stresses that millions suffer on a daily basis – why is it that only some are susceptible? All I know is that a fog follows me around and hinders my mind, drains my body and at times chronically affects my ability to be the creative, open, light-hearted and peaceful soul I know myself to truly be.

… many people throughout history, who have displayed genius of some kind also seemed to have some psychosis, often leading to disease


This leads me onto genius. Now, I’m not a genius – far from it, I have however, noticed that many people throughout history, who have displayed genius of some kind also seemed to have some psychosis, often leading to disease. Obviously we must take drugs and alcohol into account too. But it occurs to me that those who sometimes see without the eyes and delve deep into their spiritual nature, expressing themselves through art and music, love and compassion – seem to succumb to a shadow which blights their own happiness, affecting them deeper than those who appear to be normal.


Again, could it be that awareness of one’s self is the problem, due to an alternative pattern of thinking which appears to attack the human experience on every level? All I know is that when my mind is compromised, it affects my creativity. When my mood is low, my body flags – and when my body is not treated well, my soul becomes akin to baggage which I carry like an anvil. However, when I am happy, elation follows. Writing becomes as much a part of me as blood and bone and I feel ten years younger when my mind is behaving and everything is chiming along like clockwork.


I will leave it there; in short, I have no answers – only questions. These are only my own thoughts and wonders and of course I do not imply that those who walk in health cannot have the creative genius within them too.


Finally a little something to make you smile:



Danl TetleyAuthor – Danl Tetley


Bio – Danl Tetley is an upcoming novelist in the Young Adult’s fiction genre. She efficiently juggles the quirky demands of her muse, the upkeep of two teenagers and the pursuit of creative art forms such as dramatics and calls Exeter, UK, her hometown.


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Image Courtesy – martinak15 @ Flickr Creative Common

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