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Modernism and Madness - On Creativity and Mental Illness

/ lecture by Louis Sass

Prevailing conceptions of creativity derive from romanticist ideas about the “creative imagination.” Whereas romanticism views creative inspiration as a highly emotional, Dionysian, or primal state, the modernism and postmodernism of the 20th and 21st centuries have emphasized, rather, hyper-self-consciousness and alienation.  An understanding of these latter trends—which are strongly anti-romantic in spirit—can help one to recognize and appreciate the particular forms of creativity that are characteristic of persons in the schizophrenia spectrum, a group whose creative potential has often been overlooked or denied.

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