Madness, Creativity and Human Nature
By (author) Daniel Nettle
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Strong Imagination by Daniel Nettle
Book DescriptionMadness is the central mystery of the human psyche. Our minds evolved to give us a faithful understanding of reality, to allow us to integrate into our communities, and to help us adapt our behaviour to our environment. Yet in serious mental illness, the mind does exactly the opposite of these things. The sufferer builds castles of imaginative delusion, fails to adapt, and becomes a stranger among his own people. Yet mental illness is no marginal phenomenon: it is found in all societies and all historical epochs, and the genes that underlie it are quite common. Furthermore, the traits that identify the madman are found in attenuated form in normal thinking and feeling. The persistence of madness, then, is a terrible puzzle from both an evolutionary and a human point of view. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare suggested a link between madness and artistic creativity: 'The lunatic, the lover, and the poet', he wrote, 'Are of imagination all compact'. Recent studies have shown that there is indeed a connection. Rates of mental illness are hugely elevated in the families of poets, writers and artists, suggesting that the same genes, the same temperaments, and the same imaginative capacities are at work in insanity and in creative ability. Thus the reason madness continues to exist is that the traits behind it have psychological benefits as well as psychological costs. In Strong Imagination, Daniel Nettle explores the nature of mental illness, the biological mechanisms that underlie it, and its link to creative genius. He goes on to consider the place of both madness and creative imagination in the evolution of our species.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780198507062
(227mm x 146mm x 18mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 1-Mar-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Daniel Nettle
Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far, Hardback (October 2013)
An updated edition of Sagmeister's popular and influential book, with 48 additional pages. The projects began as a list under the title "Things I have learned in my life so far" which he transformed into typographic works. Taken together, the collection is part design project, part work of art, part examination of the pursuit of happiness.
Evolution and Genetics for Psychology, Paperback (May 2009)
Evolution and Genetics for Psychology lays out the conceptual toolkit one needs in order to think in evolutionary terms - and to apply this thinking to any subject. With the toolkit firmly in place, it goes on to show how these key concepts are applied to issues of human behaviour, from sex to social relationships, to learning.
Personality, Paperback (February 2009)
Why are some people worriers and others wanderers? Why do some seem good at empathizing and others at controlling? Daniel Nettle takes us on a tour through the science of human personality, looking at the latest findings from psychology, brain science, and evolution to explore the mystery of what makes us the way we are.
Happiness, Paperback (July 2006)» View all books by Daniel Nettle
What is happiness? What makes us happy? Why do we strive for happiness? And how might we achieve it? Daniel Nettle explores the origins and purpose of our pursuit of happiness, and uses the results of recent psychological studies to find answers to these questions and more.
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Author Biography - Daniel Nettle
Daniel Nettle studied psychology at Oxford, before completing his PhD in Anthropology at University College London. In 1996 he was elected a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford. He has lectured in London, Oxford, Cambridge and Nigeria, and written widely across many areas of the human sciences. He is also active in the theatre. He lives in Oxford.
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