Creativity and Addiction: Notes on the Differences

There exists in almost everyone the call to create and the siren’s call to engage in addictive behaviors. I have listened to both; perhaps you have as well.

The creative call is to descend into our pain, past and present, and turn lead into gold. The addict is simply pulled down into a dark abyss.

Creativity is the longing to remember. Addiction is the longing to forget.

The creative person wants to be more fully who they really are and express this awareness. The addict wants to be someone else. The creative person introspects and reflects while the addict projects the shadow part of their personality onto others.

Creativity converses with reality even if it is fiction while addiction is a power struggle with reality.

Creative people generate possibilities while addiction eliminates possibilities. Creativity is all about discipline, and addiction is about the punishment of self and others.

And finally, creativity attempts to receive the messages we are being sent from our unconscious, histories, present and future, and maybe even the universe whereas addiction silences those inner and outer signals that are coming to us as Carl Jung says twenty-four hours a day, and to quote the incredibly creative William Stafford: “The signals we give – yes, no or maybe should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.” The signals we receive to create should be clear because they are what gives us and the world enough light to make life more meaningful.