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Neurotic people are more creative, says study


A study suggests that people who score high on neuroticism also score higher in creativity, Forbes reports.

The researchers who undertook the study said that people who are more neurotic are prone to an overactive imagination that gives way to creative, problem-solving skills rather than nervous breakdowns.

According to Forbes, Adam Perkins of King's College London said,

"It occurred to me that if you happen to have a preponderance of negatively hued self-generated thoughts, due to high levels of spontaneous activity in the parts of the medial prefrontal cortex that govern conscious perception of threat and you also have a tendency to switch to panic sooner than average people, due to possessing especially high reactivity in the basolateral nuclei of the amygdale, then that means you can experience intense negative emotions even when there's no threat present. This could mean that for specific neural reasons, high scorers on neuroticism have a highly active imagination, which acts as a built-in threat generator."

According to the study, neurotic people seem to generate a lot of worrying thoughts, because of activity in the very frontal areas of the brain. Neurotic people also tend to panic sooner than other people. The tendency to imagine non existent threats makes neurotic people more insightful and more creative.

"Cheerful, happy-go-lucky people by definition do not brood about problems and so must be at a disadvantage when problem-solving compared to a more neurotic person," says Perkins.

"We have a useful sanity check for our theory because it is easy to observe that many geniuses seem to have a brooding, unhappy tendency that hints they are fairly high on the neuroticism spectrum. For example, think of the life stories of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Vincent Van Gogh, Kurt Cobain, etc. Perhaps the link between creativity and neuroticism was summed up most succinctly of all by John Lennon when he said: 'Genius is pain.'"

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