[Best Pick] Between Genius and Insanity: Is There a Thin Line?

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No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.


Aristotle’s words were probably the first time in recorded history that a link was drawn between genius and insanity.

Psychologists have discovered that creative people have a gene in common which is also linked to psychosis and depression.

If you want to know more about this “fine, thin line” between genius and madness, just Follow us in today’s Best Pick!

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Vincent Van Gogh never mentions insanity as a habitual resource for an artist, a wellspring from which imaginative ideas might flow. But two other geniuses, Virginia Woolf and Yayoi Kusama say exactly that: Their creativity derives from a disordered mind.

Leonard Woolf, Virginia’s long-supportive husband, described her condition thusly: “In the manic stage she was extremely excited; the mind raced; … she told me that she heard the birds in the garden outside her window talking Greek; she was violent with the nurses. ” Earlier, in 1904, Woolf had thrown herself out a window but had survived.

“As an experience,” Woolf said, “madness is terrific I can assure you, and not to be sniffed at, and in its lava, I still find most of the things I write about.” After the exciting terror of madness, the salvific process of writing began. As she said, “I write to stabilize myself.”

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) also stabilizes herself through her art. Named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2016, Kusama is famous for her obsessively repeating polka-dot designs.

As she has written, “Across the street from the hospital I built a studio, and this is where I work each day, commuting back and forth between the two buildings… I fluctuate between the two extremes: the sense of fulfillment an artist gets from creating, and the fierce inner tension that fuels the creativity… between feelings of reality and unreality.”

Van Gogh, Woolf, and Kusama toggled back and forth across the line of lucidity and insanity. But on which side, or mental state, does the genius happen?

With van Gogh, his genius appears to have been situated squarely in the seemingly benign, rational side of his persona. Woolf implies that she captured lava from “terrific madness” and worked it into genius once safely back in the home port of lucidity. Kusama writes that her genius and madness were coterminous. With Woolf and Kusama, their “madness” was not a state of mind coincidental to their creativity, but rather the very cause of it.

Source: Psychology Today

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3 Comments

  • Sometimes we find somebody famous for his genious, so quirky that people misjudge him/her.But the fact is that his/her geniousness makes him/her mad and his/her madness makes him/her creative.

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