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Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity and Human Nature

Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity and Human Nature
Author: Daniel Nettle
ISBN 13: 9780198507062
ISBN 10: 198507062
Edition: 1
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2001-05-03
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 248
List Price: $55.00

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.

About the Author:
Daniel Nettle studied psychology at Oxford, before completing his PhD in Anthropology at University College London. In 1996 he was elected a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford. He has lectured in London, Oxford, Cambridge and Nigeria, and written widely across many areas of the human sciences. He is also active in the theatre. He lives in Oxford.


With a background in psychology and anthropology, Nettle ponders on why madness exists. He first investigates the different forms of madness and what is known about the brain mechanisms underlying them. He adopts Shakespeare's hypothesis that the madness of the lunatic and the creativity of the poet are woven of the same cloth, then explores implications of that for mental health, culture, and the self-image of the species. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR