A new theory has suggested that neurotic unhappiness in people could lead to creativity. The authors believe that a part of the human brain responsible for the thoughts that are self-generated is also active in neuroticism, providing positive and negative traits like creativity and misery.
Some of the original thinkers include Sir Isaac Newton is a highly creative worrier, filmmaker and comedian Woody Allen is a creative worrier and the sensitive Vincent Van Gogh. These kinds of people have brains that is more sensitive to perceived threats than those of other people. Psychologists say that their neurotic tendency is linked to an overactive, threat-generating imagination.
Lead author and personality expert Dr Adam Perkins from Kings College, London said that they were a long way off from fully explaining neuroticism, they were not able to provide the complete spectrum of neuroticism. However, Perkins believes that people will be able to make sense of their own experiences, and even though the condition is unpleasant, it has creative benefits. Neuroticism is one of the five traits recognized by psychologists along with openness, conscientiousness, extraversion and agreeableness.
“I keep the subject constantly before me, and wait ’till the first dawnings open slowly, by little and little, into a full and clear light,” Newton wrote to explain his process of intellectual discovery.
In the 1970s, psychologist Jeffrey Gray gave the most popular explanation for neuroticism such people have a heightened sensitivity to threat. Perkins took up the study after he attended a lecture by Jonathan Smallwood, a coauthor and a psychologist at the University of York. An expert on the neural basis of daydreaming, Jonathan presented his research by showing MRIs of individuals who were at rest.
The individuals who had negative thoughts displayed higher levels of activity in the regions of medial prefrontal cortex that is linked to threat. Perkins realized that the differences in the activity level of brain circuits which control the thoughts that are self-generated, could offer an explanation for neuroticism.
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