People that are neurotic are also on average very creative. The same chemical and physical mechanisms that produce superior creativity have been found to produce neurotic behaviors that are frequently detrimental. Adam Perkins, a personality researcher at King’s College London, and Dean Mobbs of the Columbia University Fear, Anxiety, and Biosocial Lab are the first to establish a physical and chemical locus for neuroticism that is also tied to greater creativity.
Neurotics dwell on problems for longer periods of time than the average person. Obsessive contemplation on a specific subject for lengthy periods produces a higher level of what is usually considered creativity. The researchers point out that Isaac Newton is a typical example of a very creative neurotic. The pattern of expectation of bad events and the expectation of danger that is increased as the object that is intimidating gets closer is also an attribute assigned by the researchers to the higher levels of creativity exhibited by people that are neurotic.
People that are neurotic have higher scores on tests that measure fear of a threat even if no threat is evident. The conscious level of perception of threat has been shown to exist in neurotics with MRI scans that show higher levels of activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. The basolateral nuclei of the amygdale shows a higher level of activity when a threat moves closer to a person that is neurotic. The amygdala is the seat of emotion I the human brain.
Not all highly creative people are neurotic. Most very creative people do display periods of obsessive interest in their work regardless of the field of endeavor. The researchers plan to compare the brain activity of neurotic people to that of people that are very creative and not neurotic in hopes of defining a difference that may lead to a chemical treatment for neurotics that works all of the time.