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What Some Research on Creativity Tells Us

22 April 2017

From The Epoch Times:

If anyone doubts that our culture is obsessed with creativity, a quick survey of the available literature on the topic should satisfy.

The amount of scholarly interest on creativity in the last 50 years at least is mind-boggling. Psychologists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers have studied it, of course, but researchers in the fields of engineering, theology, and linguistics have looked into it as well. Studies have ranged from how moods, intelligence, and personality type are related to creativity, to how it affects mental health, economics, and neurological processes.

. . . .

When we think of creativity in relation to health, we might first think of improved mental health. Art therapy, according to the American Art Therapy Association, is used to help clients explore their feelings, foster self-awareness, and manage behavior and addictions.

But one hefty but by no means exhaustive review of literature from 1995 through 2007 on the relationship between the creative arts and health suggests an even deeper effect. Looking specifically at the therapeutic effects of music, visual arts, movement/theater, and expressive writing, one review surveyed the effects on physical healing.

For example, in two studies that used music therapy on hospitalized cancer patients, the benefits included reduced pain (found a study published in Oncology Nursing Forum), and increased immunity and lowered anxiety, among reductions in other psychological and physical symptoms (found another in The Journal of Psychosocial Oncology).

And at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, researchers compared those receiving “art intervention” with those who did not, in different units of the hospital. The groups receiving the intervention showed significantly better vital signs and fewer physical symptoms of stress, and needed less medication to help them sleep.

The Journal of Aging and Health reports long-term benefits. Researchers found that openness, or a mental flexibility and willingness to entertain novel ideas, can be a factor in increasing longevity, or as Scientific American put it, “creative thinking reduces stress and keeps the brain healthy.”

Link to the rest at The Epoch Times


5 Comments to “What Some Research on Creativity Tells Us”

  1. If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn’t.

  2. > music therapy

    I don’t know about therapy, but the unwanted and loud “music” in a number of businesses has led me to walk right back out and take my business elsewhere.

  3. This is mixing up several unrelated things and coming to vague and unsupported conclusions about “creativity.”

    For starters, self-expression, while wonderful, is not the same thing as creativity. One can find joy painting and making artwork without necessarily being particularly creative. (You can just mimic things you’ve already seen.) I can certainly believe that self-expression can be a healthy form of therapy, but that might also include simply keeping your hands busy.

    Even further a field, meditation is not really a form of creativity. Most methods of practice actually discourage creative thought during it. So while meditation also has some documented health value (particularly mental health value) that doesn’t mean that being creative is more healthy than not. Some very creative people practice meditation, but then some do lots of drugs and drink too much.

    Toward the bottom, the article admits that highly intense emotions (which do seem to be a key aspect of creativity) can be unhealthy. It has been my experience that there are many very creative people who are intensely unhappy. And there is a long history of very creative, but self-destruction artists. While I don’t think creativity necessarily means you’re more likely to go crazy than the average person, the fact that children and hospital patients find comfort in painting doesn’t seem to me to say that “creativity” specifically, is a health advantage. I’d love to see such a study, but this article doesn’t cover it.

  4. Does meditation promote creativity? I’ve seen people become more creative after they establish a practice, but so many habits change when someone decides to take care of themselves. Stress levels go down, drunk less often, quit slurping up QPs, fries, and cola by the bucket, get more sleep, more exercise.

    Does creativity block dementia, or does dementia halt creativity?

    Causes and effects are hard to sort out when the factors are not understood and I can’t see that these factors are understood at all.

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