"Great wits are sure to madness near allied, and thin
partitions do their bounds divide" (Dryden). There often seems to be a link between creativity and mental illness. Many great poets, playwrights, artists and composers suffered from depression, alcoholism, obsessionality, bipolar or psychotic disorders at some time in their lives. How strong is the link and what might account for it? Are these disorders beneficial to the creative process or a drawback that must be overcome?
For transcript and download versions of this lecture, please visit the event's page on the Gresham College website: Genius or Madness?
Dr. Glenn Wilson
As well as being one of Britain's best-known psychologists, Glenn Wilson is the Visiting Gresham Professor of Psychology. He has appeared on numerous television and radio programs and has published more than 150 scientific articles and 33 books.
He is an expert on individual differences; social and political attitudes; sexual behavior, deviation and dysfunction; and psychology applied to the performing arts. Not one to shy away from contention, his most recent books include: Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation, The Secret of Lasting Love and Psychology for Performing Artists.He has lectured widely abroad, having been a guest of the Italian Cultural Association, and a visiting professor at California State University, Los Angeles, San Francisco State University, Stanford University, the University of Nevada, Reno and Sierra Nevada College.
Apart from being a professional psychologist, Dr. Wilson trained as an opera singer at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and still undertakes professional engagements as an actor, singer and director.
Glenn Wilson, visiting professor of psychology at Gresham College, acknowledges that reports of famous mad geniuses throughout history may be overblown. Evidence, however, suggests relatives of creative people have higher rates of schizophrenia than the geniuses themselves.