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Book: Creativity and Writing Pedagogy

Chapter: 3. Writing and Drugs

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.23822


Brain diseases and their medical treatment may help or hurt creativity. They do so by changing the brain’s motivational system. Scientists and cultural historians have proposed links between creativity and disorders ranging from depression and psychosis to epilepsy and syphilis, but the best evidence is for conditions such as hypomania (mild mania) that elevate energy and mood. Many writers with symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or even insomnia need advice about what medications can do to creativity. Doctors, however, typically dodge the issue. This article describes what drugs may be safest, and also reviews the effects of intoxicants such as alcohol. In general, treating severe illness has benefit to creativity that outweighs the medication side effects, but some medications are better than others.

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