The Curious Link Between Schizotypy and Creativity
Research has linked several factors with creativity. One of them is schizotypy. Paradoxically, it’s been considered a morbid, pathological, and even dark personality trait. However, today, we know that individuals who exhibit this trait are more creative than the rest of us.
There are two types of schizotypy. Firstly, there’s malignant schizotypy. With this type, there’s an increased risk of psychotic disorders. According to Amparo Belloch (2020), it’s due to cognitive overinclusion. This refers to the disorganization of thought and the impossibility of enjoying social gatherings.
Secondly, there’s positive schizotypy. This type is linked to creativity and other mental processes. For example, increased perception of paranormal experiences (Parra, 2015). These individuals are able to manage and adaptively deal with their unusual perceptions. Moreover, they can transform and sublimate them into artistic and scientific-technical creations.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
For Claridge (Belloch, 2020), this trait characterizes individuals who are capable of capturing unusual life experiences. Their thoughts are rather disorganized. In effect, they’re both nonconformist and impulsive people.
Schizotypia, on its own, lacks the potential to cause an individual to develop psychosis. Although it can wear down and erode mental health, its kindest and most benevolent part is intensely related to creativity. As a result, benign schizotypy has been associated with artistic, creative, and scientific abilities (Belloch, 2020).
Depending on how this trait influences the individual’s daily life, schizotypy can be either beneficial or harmful. On the positive pole, it’s a form of adaptive functioning that borders on psychosis, without actually triggering the disorder.
“Genius… means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.”
The link between schizotypy and creativity
One aspect we must take into consideration is anhedonia. This term refers to a reduced capacity to enjoy the things that provide pleasure in people’s daily lives.
As a component of schizotypy, anhedonia is an element that makes a difference. It indicates a potential risk of erosion in mental health. Those with positive schizotypy don’t experience it (Parra, 2015).
Anhedonia is the component or factor that can potentially differentiate healthy and creative individuals from those with psychosis. People who score high on schizotypy and low on anhedonia are capable of healthy channeling this factor of their character through innovation. This means that they’re more creative.
“Anhedonia was found, based on a sample of creative artists and poets, to be negatively correlated with creativity.”
In addition to the absence of anhedonia, there’s another link between schizotypy and creativity. This is the perception of spiritual experiences. These kinds of perceptions include ‘feeling transcendent’, the idea of the ‘cosmic being’, the experience of ‘merging with the ocean’, the ‘feeling at ease with the mystical’, the ‘perception of supernatural events’, and, ultimately, the feeling of being in touch with ‘something higher’.
The experience that’s most linked to schizotypy is that of ‘knowing oneself to be accompanied by a spiritual entity’ (Parra, 2012). However, these beliefs, thoughts, and experiences are rather rare. Scientific evidence indicates that they’re usually positive for people’s mental health.
“These experiences are typically rare, emotionally positive, and deeply meaningful to the individual.”
What’s the relationship between these experiences and creativity?
We find the answer to this question in the consequences of perceiving the world in this way. In fact, these individuals tend to feel kinder, wiser, and humbler compared to the rest of the population. These differences could be linked to creativity.
Experts have suggested that schizotypy could be an advantage in adaptive terms. Indeed, we could see positive schizotypy as an idiosyncratic belief organization that provides protection against extraneous perceptions. Individuals can use these perceptions to produce beautiful poetic, literary, or musical works.
For years, people have tried to link mental illness with creativity through pejorative statements such as “Only the insane are capable of achieving great works.” However, as you can see, it’s the unique component of schizotypy that appears to be behind some of the most beautiful creations.
“It has been suggested that the true relationship is between schizotypal personality and creativity, understanding schizotypy as a continuum between normality and schizophrenia.”