A new theory suggests that neurotic individuals have superior creativity, due to their tendency to over-think. Focusing on negative aspects allows them to be excellent problem-solvers, because their analytical skills provide them with the most insightful solutions.
The study was published in the `Trends in Cognitive Sciences` Journal and pinpoints that for over-thinkers the part of the brain associated with introspection is excessively active, which can increase proneness towards unhappiness, but also enhance originality.
According to Dr. Adam Perkins, one of the paper’s co-authors , ‘ Highly neurotic people will suffer a lot of anxiety and depression over their lifespan, but their deep-thinking, brooding tendencies can also give rise to greater creative potential.’
Neurotics are prone to over-analyzing whatever they encounter, which heightens their sensitivity to threats in the environment. Their highly active imagination causes them to identify a variety dangers that regular people would fail to take into account. As a result, they have a keen eye for detail when it comes to providing creative solutions to problems. The more their mind dwells on an issue, the more likely they are to make an important breakthrough. Channeling this elevated level of perceptiveness into brainstorming ideas can turn neurotics into highly valuable team members.
As British psychologist Jeffrey Gray pointed out in the 1970s, individuals who exhibit high levels of neuroticism have a preference for analytical jobs that involve problem-solving and rational thinking. They are also highly risk-averse and cautious, tending to avoid `dangerous`, physical jobs.
Throughout history, some of the most brilliant minds have belonged to people marred by anxiety and distress. Vincent van Gogh, Isaac Newton, Woody Allen, Howard Hughes, Winston Churchill and Isaac Asimov are just a few examples of neurotics famed for their originality and genius.
This new thesis linking propensity for rumination with resourcefulness is based on the lectures of the study’s co-author, Jonathan Smallwood. In the past, he emphasized the fact that those whose minds wander are better at ‘creativity, delaying gratification and planning’. Smallwood, who is also an expert on the neuroscience of daydreaming, also demonstrated that negative thinking increases brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which is usually involved in perceiving threats.
It is hoped that the study will further the team’s quest for an in-depth assessment of neuroticism’s creative and emotional elements. This would allow neurotics to use their unquestionable assets to their advantage, diminishing the impact of their weaknesses.
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