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Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity and Human Nature (Paperback)
  • Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity and Human Nature (Paperback)
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Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity and Human Nature (Paperback)

(author)
£18.99
Paperback 244 Pages / Published: 07/03/2002
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Madness 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 to 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 their own people. 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.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198605003
Number of pages: 244
Weight: 265 g
Dimensions: 196 x 130 x 14 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Review from previous edition [a] fascinating, pithy little book * The Sunday Times, Books, March 2001 *
His thesis is both subtle and concise * Sunday Times 19/05/2002 *
Nettle gives a clear and convincing summary of the argument that traits associated with mental illness have evolutionary advantages as awell as drawbacks . . .This is an excellent summary of the state of research into mental disorders and human nature * The Observer 24/03/02 *
Nettle writes well. He enlivens the scientific data with fascinating clinical vignettes, anthropological observations and well-chosen quotations from Shakespeare...a readable and up-to-date review of a very large body of literature on a fascinating subject. * Nature, Vol 409, Jan 2001 *

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