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Monday, October 22, 2012

A. E. Housman

"I have seldom written poetry unless I was rather out of health."

A. E. Housman
English Poet
1859 - 1936

A new study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute near Stockholm, Sweden links mental illness to creative individuals like artists, writers, dancers and photographers. Researchers analyzed the anonymous medical records of almost 1.2 million patients from the last 40 years.  The study was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research this month.  The study shows that families with a history of mental illness are more likely to produce creative family members.

What do you think?  Do you have to be a little bit crazy to be creative?  "I don't think so, but it helps," I say with a grin on my face.  For me the real question is what is normal?  Very few of us are normal.  Some of us are just better at hiding our craziness.  Creative people have to be willing to be different from the norm — to see the world in different ways.  Some of us are able to function in society and some of us are not.

Creative Practice:
Reflect on when you do your best creative work.  Is it when you feeling great and on top of the world or when you are under the weather?  Sometimes my best work occurs when I am not feeling the best or when I am experiencing loneliness.  Pay attention to the time of day when you are the most creative.  For me it is early in the morning if I get up early or late in the day if I get up late.  Study your work habits and change if necessary.

About the Poet:
Alfred Edward Housman was the eldest child of Sarah Jane Williams and Edward Housman.  His mother died when he was 12.  He attended St. John's College at Oxford where he studied the classics.  He was a professor at University College London.  His reputation was build on his classical scholarship.

His major poetry collection was A Shropshire Lad, a cycle of 63 poems which he self-published in 1896.

Study Sources:

Quote Source:
Anne Dillard, The Writing Life, p. 34.