Youth, is often the essence of the thought that everything is possible. Children have not been introduced to the harshness of reality, therefore they dream more and imagine more, there are no bounds they cannot cross. The imagination of a child is a place where there are no bounds, it is free. Imagination has the same power as dreams and both come from the recesses of our minds, to which we are able to think without restraints and it is something that we want. In the words of Willy Wonka, “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there you’ll be free if you truly wish to be…”(Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, 1971). Pure imagination is a part of our mind that says that anything is possible; it is creative, exciting, and a product of our thoughts or desires. However there sometimes is often a link between madness and imagination, for a completely made up, imaginative world can lack complete reality. In the realm of the imagination nothing is voided or ignored, everything is questioned; there doesn’t have to be any sense of logic or time in that realm either. When imagination becomes reality, mental disorders often exist.
There is a lot of history between creative minds and madness. Madness was the term that was used, especially in ancient times, for a lack of definition for mental disorders. It was also used to describe shamans, spiritual people, artists, and creative scholars, as they exhibited strange behavior that could not be classified as the norm. Plato once said, “Madness, provided it comes as the gift of heaven, is the channel by which we receive the greatest blessings… Madness comes from God, whereas sober sense is merely human.” (Sussman 21) In Greek and Roman times “mad people” were thought to be connected to the divine. However, today, these strange behaviors are often classified as schizophrenia, paranoia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression.
Throughout history, there have been many artists to whom had some of the most creative minds, and have been diagnosed with types of mental disorders, such as Van Gogh or Virginia Wolfe. The connection between their creativity and mental disorder, was examined by Dr. Andreason, a psychologist, to see if there was a connection between the creative minds and mental disorders. She asserts that creative minds are more prone to develop mental disorders. (Sussman 21)
Why do they develop mental disorders? To understand fully we have to look at this from the neurological level. There is a theory of quantum neuron level that states that mental states are determined by the spaces and positions of neurons, “If mental states are defined on the basis of cells of a neural state space partition, then this partition needs to be well tailored to lead to robustly defined states” (Stanford Encyclopedia ). Now this leads to the question if a child’s neurons are completely developed at birth, to see if the neurons are of a developed to state to which they are partitioned. Children mostly have their neurons, but with the growth of the developing child neurons upon neurons are added, at age 2, children have at least 80% of a fully developed adult brain (Neuroscience For Kids 1). This means that there could be a disparity between the neuron spaces, which could ultimately determine a mental illness. According to Stanford, the spaces between the neuron or position of the neurons can effect mental sates,
“In a hypothetical state space, a sequence…forms a trajectory representing what is…called…stream of consciousness. Since different subsets of the state space are…associated with different stability properties, a mental state can be assumed to be more or less stable, depending…position in the state space. Stable states are distinguished by a residence time at that position longer than that of metastable or unstable states. If a mental state is stable …it “activates” a mental representation encoding a content that is consciously perceived” (Stanford Encyclopedia)
The mental state is influenced by the positioning of neurons, and their duration at the position has stayed in that position. When there is not a defined partitioned positioning of the neurons then it becomes an unstable mind. When the mental state is unstable then there is a change of the perception of reality.
Based on the quantum neuron distance or partition, a child could have supplemental issues to their mental disorders, called personalities. Personalities are often thought of as mental disorders, but they actually can be precursors to disorders; the personalities set up and foster the mindset that allows the disorder to grow. The personality that fosters some mental disorders is a fantasy prone personality. Cheryl Wilson and Theodore Barber, psychologists provided this term, which “(termed a fantasizer) may have difficulty differentiating between fantasy and reality and may experience hallucinations, as well as self-suggested psychosomatic symptoms” (World Heritage Encyclopedia). This obsession with fantasy was noted by Sigmund Freud who once said. ““Might we not say that every child at play behaves like a creative writer, in that he creates a world of his own, or, rather, rearranges the things of his world in a new way which pleases him?” (When Daydreaming Replaces)
Fantasy is a desire that comes to everyone, sometimes with the unstable mind, there is a blurred perception. The question next to answer is how much does that desire take over, how powerful is it? The power of the desire, of course, depends on the child, but the desire or personality can manifest greatly.
A manifestation is the different realms that can be created. There are three different types: portal, intrusive, and integrated. The portal realm is usually created out of child’s boredom with reality, to which another world is created where they reign and are always occupied with adventure. A characteristic of the portal realm is that there has to be a door, a figurative door that is easily accessible to open or to be found; there is a trigger in the mind for the door to open and that has to do with the power or ease of the imagination. An example of a portal realm would be Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and Coraline. In both cases, a portal, a hole or a door leads them to the other world that they have made up. Unlike the characters people find and go through these doors more than a multiple times. The portal world, is a world where the child’s mind is satisfied. In Alice it is a world without rules, or moral conscious. Though it is a piece of children’s literature, let one say that those portal behaviors transferred into the child in reality. This would be an explanation of irrational behavior which is common in diagnosing a child with a mental disorder; this stems from the vast power of the imagination. The integrated world holds more power, for it combines the imaginary and real world. However, this realm may be more dangerous, because of the blend of realms. The intrusive realm is like the Cat In the Hat, an outside force manifested into reality, to which the child believes is real has become the friend and consultant.
The child can also create a fantasy in imaginary friends as well. Imaginary friends are the manifestation of the mind, in creating into a real person; it is quite a very powerful feature of the mind. Imaginary friends serve of course as friends, advisors, confidant, and etc. These imaginary friends have influence and control over the child, even more than the parent. The parent may say something and the child has to consult the imaginary friend for confirmation. The child is dependent on the imaginary friend. However is the imaginary friend a real person or a hallucination? These imaginary friends can develop into a dissociative identity, to which the imaginary friend becomes a “Repeated dissociation [that] can result in a series of separate entities, or mental states, which may eventually take on identities of their own” (What is Dissociative 2) .This is exhibited, because the imaginary friend is a hallucination and is a product of overrun emotions and disarrayed perception, that stem from the neuron level.
However, imagination and creativity could also be an outlet for a disorder. Most therapists use creative outlets for the disorders to nullify or be expressed, but mostly it is a measure of the high amount of brain activity, creativity, or imagination to see where one’s mind. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, when you let the imagination have free reign, it exhausts the energy they have. Also, in many therapy rooms there are paper, pencils, and crayons. The person can creatively express the built up emotions. Even in University counseling services, such as Counseling and Psychiatric Services, at the University of Michigan have coloring pages and utensils on coffee tables for patients to utilize and occupy their minds through creative expression.
Depending on what the child draws can signify how amplified the child’s mind/imagination is. Many psychiatrists use inkblot tests, to see where one’s imagination is, how heightened the levels of the mind are working. According to the Online Rorschach Test, the inkblot test is
“…an attempt to examine the personality characteristics and emotional functioning of their patients. This test is often employed in diagnosing underlying thought disorders and differentiating psychotic from non-psychotic thinking in cases where the patient is reluctant to openly admit to psychotic thinking.” (The Inkblot 1)
The question however is what is the measure? The responses to the blots are the measure, but what defines psychotic and non-psychotic, especially within a child. Theeir psychosis might not be full developed to which. How can one absolutely tell that the psychosis of a child if there is not a solid measure of how to diagnose a mental illness? There is not much of a measure to be absolute to use the imagination to diagnose mental illness. The quantum neuron level theory states that the behavior of the child with an ‘unstable mind’ at the neuron level differs from each person, because it all comes down to the ‘individual’, and using the quantum neuron level theory, the behavior is only statistically determined, not absolute
Although there has been links there, highly imaginative minds of children can serve as a foster and precursor to personalities and disorders. This research is not to say anyone with highly imaginative minds will have a disorder, for the neuron partitions and imagination have to do with the individual; just highly imaginative children will not suffice to say that there is one commonality and therefore they should all be tested. This research it is to say that there is a substantial link. The link is sustained by persistent highly imaginative states coupled with the environment and development of the child. The link is substantial enough for more research to be done, the solution is not to stop the imagination, or ‘fix’ the neurons, it is to see how the imagination could be manipulated to be healthier and positive. If the imagination is left a lone, a child’s mental state could be either healthy or not. There is a link between the imagination and mental disorders, because the overactive imagination fosters and can manifest itself into a mental illness. More research is needed, coupled with interventions to allow children to develop healthy neurologically, but also help children with real disorders.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Warner Bros, 1971. Film.
Sussman, Adrienne. “Mental Illness and Creativity: A Neurological View of the “Tortured Artist”.” Stanford Journal of Neuroscience 1.7 (2007): 21-24. Web.
“Quantum Approaches to Consciousness.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford, Conn.: Stanford U, Metaphysics Research Lab., 2004. Web.
“Neuroscience For Kids.” – Brain Development. Web.
“World Heritage Encyclopedia.” Fantasy Prone Personality. Web.
Kelley, Jayne. “When Daydreaming Replaces Real Life.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.
“What Is a Dissociative Disorder?” Sidranorg. Web.
“The Inkblot . Com” Online Rorschach Test. Web.