After the very tragic loss of Whitney Houston last week, I got to thinking about the overwhelming connection between creative talent and self destruction. You don't have to think very hard before coming up with numerous names of other actors, musicians, artists who have all suffered for their talent...Amy Winehouse, Kurt Kobain, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson..the list goes on and on.
It made me think about something we were discussing in my psychotherapy course the other day about a term known as "daimonic".
Rollo May, an existential psychologist, explained that the daimonic is as much concerned with creativity as with negative reactions. A special characteristic of the daimonic model is that it considers both creativity on one side, and anger and rage on the other side, as coming from the same source, being human potential. The more conflict, the more rage, the more anxiety there is, the more the inner necessity to create. Talented, creative individuals, such as Amy Winehouse, feel this inner necessity even more intensely, and in some respects experience and give voice not only to their own demons but the collective daimonic as well.
It's also interesting to note that "genius" was the latin word for daimon, so maybe both are both inextricably linked.
May also explained (in his book Love and Will) that the daimonic needs to be directed and channelled, if it is not to become destructive. He explains that in our current time, the normal channels for using the daimonic are denied; and therefore the daimonic is expressed in its most destructive form.
So if you are exceptionally talented in a creative sense, are you fated to struggle with these negative reactions? Another way of putting it, is without these demons, would this creative talent exist on its own? But does this mean if you don't suffer 'for your art', then you're not truly talented?
I've recently listened to an interesting KCL debate on this area, entitled "There would be no genius without madness" (one of the speakers makes an interesting point about Kerry Katona, bi-polar and genius, I'll say no more)!
You can listen to this lecture here: No genius without madness-debate
Till next time