In volume 7 of this year's journal of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, Marie J.C. Forgeard examines whether or not posttraumatic growth (briefly defined as the positive outcomes resulting from an adversity) increases creative expression.
A very popular question in the psychology of creativity, is whether or not the stereotype of the "suffering artist" has some merit. This is not just a question of intellectual curiosity; it has practical implications about counseling approaches utilized when treating artists and creative individuals. As discussed in previous entries, the answer to this question is multi-layered. Forgeard's article, Perceiving Benefits After Adversity: The Relationship Between Self-reported Posttraumatic Growth and Creativity, sheds some light on the assumption that adversity (life events, psychological disorders, illnesses etc) may foster creative behavior or the subjective experience of increased creativity. In addition, it's one of the few times we have an empirical approach demonstrating that the ability to heal from trauma involves increased creativity.
Trauma can result in positive growth -one that makes us feel wiser, stronger and more appreciative of what we have- and it can also result in negative outcomes -painful ruminating, feeling stuck on the event, and unable to move past the distress. While the second kind can also give rise to creative endeavors (and, I believe, this is where the image of a suffering artist comes from), it is the first kind that makes people report an overall sense of creative growth and adaptability. Being flexible, open to new ways of thinking and quickly readjusting to new experiences, are all components of a creative mind and of posttraumatic, positive growth. There is a very close connection between having gone through some type of adversity and utilizing creativity, both as a way to relieve distress and as an outlet for these newly formed perspectives on life and the world around us.
I'm sure that there are many more approaches and explanations on this topic. However, I believe that Forgeard's article will be referenced many times in the future during such discussions. What are your thoughts? Feel free to write below!