herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Moody? Neurotic? You could be a genius

PERSONALITY

U.S. director Woody Allen
U.S. director Woody Allen

If you are a tense, moody neurotic, take heart - you could also be a creative genius.

A new theory suggests that neurotic misery and imagination go hand-in-hand.

It could explain why so many original thinkers, such as the famously neurotic Vincent Van Gogh, suffered for their art.

Film maker and comedian Woody Allen (inset) is another highly creative worrier, as was Isaac Newton.

What these individuals have in common is a brain more sensitive to perceived threats than those of other people. That "panic button" tendency is closely linked to an over-active, threat-generating imagination, say psychologists.

Personality expert Dr Adam Perkins, from King's College London, said: "We're not offering all of the answers, but we hope that our new theory will help people make sense of their own experiences, and show that although being highly neurotic is by definition unpleasant, it also has creative benefits.

"Hopefully our theory will also stimulate new research as it provides us with a straightforward unifying framework to tie together the creative aspects of neuroticism with its emotional aspects."

Neuroticism is one of the "big five" personality traits recognised by psychologists, along with openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness. It is characterised by a long list of negative emotions, including anxiety, fear, worry, envy, frustration, jealousy and loneliness.

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