Chapter 2.2 The Role of Emotions

The Role of Emotions

Clark (1992) argues that emotions are directly linked to creativity. She notes that creative individuals are generally more embracing of their emotions and freer in expressing them. She also shows that common themes in creative action, such as not judging or inhibiting ideas and allowing tension to manifest are principles that are applicable to emotional expression. Arieti (1976) asserts that emotion and thought are fundamentally related and that our endocepts create the internal environment for our creativity.

The formation and experience of emotions are attributed to the limbic system (Isaacson 2003). The limbic system has many interesting aspects for creativity but I will summaries some of its functions as they relate to this essay. It is attributed to being involved in many processes including emotion, memory and pleasure perception. We have talked about these functions already and one of the reasons it is involved with them all is because it forms the major connections between these neighbouring parts of the brain. It is also the major connector of all of these systems to the prefrontal cortex, where our experience of our reality “comes together” (Miller, interviewed in Lehrer 2012, p.66).

Ingalls (1976) describes an emotional energy that could be giving at least some endocepts the ‘significance’ that translates them into conscious thought. Ingalls describes the process of emotional engagement when we assimilate information and how it is “enrichment” through a more subjective and personal understanding than traditional learning (Ingalls 1976, p.32). He shows how information that is static and objective – that has only been absorbed into memory through the left hemisphere, the lack of ‘enrichment’ in the right hemisphere making it dull and seem less useful to the mind. If more parts of the brain engage with that information, such as emotionally and by comparing it to previous experience, the information becomes much more personal and useful.

That endocepts are pieces of information or experiences that are ‘charged’ with emotion seem to explain why they are such important energizers for creativity: they represent the ingredients to “good combinations” as we discussed earlier (Arieti 1976, p.169).

The anti-thesis to this type of creativity then seems to be the mind’s self regularity systems, which are of course closely linked with self-awareness and the power of social norms. For most people there is an internal creativity that is shrouded because it conflicts with culture and society. They are still processing creatively; unaware of the chaos and cohesion being churned in their dreams and daydreams, though they may not even remember their divergent connections afterwards.