While creativity is understood as the production of something new and valuable, madness is associated with self-destructive, deviant behavior. Despite their contrary definitions, the two possess remarkably similar characteristics.
Albert Rothenberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard, has been investigating the relationship between creativity and psychosis for the last twenty-five years. In his research, he identifies a fascinating trait that the two share, a cognitive process called translogical thinking.
Translogical thinking is the ability to combine paradoxical or antagonistic objects into a single entity. That is to say, it withstands ambiguity until a third thing emerges from the opposites.
As any writer will attest, this bringing together of discrete images or ideas is the essence of good metaphor. And metaphor, the fabric that makes up our dreams, acts as a kind of bridge between disconnected parts. It has a restorative effect not only on the individual, but on the collective as well. It is as if an enormous amount of energy is spent keeping things apart, and it becomes liberated through the creative act.
To read more about the link between Creativity and Mental Illness, here is an article I wrote called, Bleed Joyfully: A Fresh View of Depression