Although many people seem determined to resist this fact, it has long been acknowledged by those who have studied creativity. If liquor and other drugs have been such a boon to original thought, one researcher ask, why hasn’t the corner saloon (or the backstreet) produced more creative achievers? No one, as yet, has answered this question satisfactorily. Nor is anyone likely to. The reason drugs harm creativity, Brewster Ghiselin explains, is that “their action reduces judgment, and the activities they provoke are hallucinatory rather than illuminating.” What is needed, he argues, is not artificial stimulation of the mind, but increased control and direction.
The use of drugs and liquor as stimulants is sometimes part of a larger misconception that might be termed the bohemian mystique. This misconception is the notion that a dissipated lifestyle somehow casts off intellectual restraints and opens the mind to new ideas. Eliot Dole Hutchinson offers an assessment that most researchers would endorse:
“Narrow streets, shabby studios, undisciplined living and artistic ballyhoo about local colour may all have their place in pseudo artistry, but they have little to do with genuine creation. Nor is the necessary creative freedom clearly associated with them at all. Bohemianism squanders its freedom, returns from its hours of dissipation less effective. Creative discipline capitalizes its leisure, returns refreshed, reinvigorated, eager.”
§ Vincent Ryan Ruggiero’s The Art of Thinking: A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, 8th Edition (Pearson Education, Inc., 2007) page 89
§ Eliot Dole Hutchinson’s How to Think Creatively (Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1949) page 79
Having control and direction increased creativity
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)