Faculty Insight: Creativity and Madness with Shelley Carson

THU, DEC 16, 2010 (7:02)

Faculty Insight is produced in partnership with Harvard University Extension School, and ThoughtCast. This fourth interview of the series is with Shelley Carson, an associate of Harvard University’s Department of Psychology, a lecturer at Harvard Extension School, and also a blogger for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post. Carson’s scholarship focuses largely on the connection between creativity and mental illness. While it’s common knowledge that artists and writers have a tendency towards depression (and alcoholism), only recently has the link been so clearly established. But Carson also argues that creativity is not just the province of an elect few, it’s a trait that, with a bit of effort, we can all claim for ourselves. Her new book, called Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity and Innovation in Your Life, lays out a clear method for awakening and encouraging our own inherent creativity. Carson’s expertise also extends to the subject of resilience, and if there’s anything this planet needs, it’s the ability to bounce back, and live to fight another day. Her research has also caught the attention of the Department of Defense, where she consults on web-based PTSD treatments for soldiers recovering from trauma.

+ BIO: Shelley Carson

Dr. Shelley Carson received her Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University in 2001, where she continues to conduct research, teach, and advise undergraduates. Her research on creativity, psychopathology, and resilience has been widely published in both national and international scientific journals, and her findings have been featured on the Discovery Channel, CNN, NPR, the BBC, and Radio Free Europe. In addition, Dr. Carson’s work has been noted in magazines such as Newsweek, Scientific American, and Psychology Today. While winning multiple teaching awards at Harvard for her popular course Creativity: Madmen, Geniuses, and Harvard Students, Dr. Carson also maintains an active speaking schedule outside of the classroom, talking to such groups as the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, the National Council on Disability, the Massachusetts Manic Depressive and Depressive Association, and the One Day University lecture series.

+ BIO: Jenny Attiyeh

My name is Jenny Attiyeh, and I began my career in 1987 in London as a freelance reporter on the arts for the BBC World Service Radio. I remember my first interview for “Meridian”, as the program I worked for was called. It was with Placido Domingo, and I’ve never been so nervous since. After my work permit ran out, I returned to Los Angeles, my home city, and continued as an arts reporter for KCRW, an NPR station in Santa Monica. While there, I reported and produced an award-winning documentary on Japanese-American internment during World War II. Shortly after, I was accepted to a National Public Radio residency, which brought me to Washington, D.C. and to WBUR, an NPR station in Boston to report stories for NPR’s Performance Today. I later attended the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. After that, I remained in New York City for 9 years, during which time I worked primarily as a reporter on television and radio. I hosted and produced a weekly arts and culture segment for WNYC TV, a PBS station, until it went out of business (thanks to then Mayor Giuliani, who sold the station). Before the lights went out, I managed to produce a mini-documentary on the making of a Philip Glass opera, “Les Enfants Terribles.” I worked next as a correspondent for a nationally televised PBS program called “Freedom Speaks” which focused on the media, until it too was taken off the air. (I detect a pattern here…) In between gigs, I also worked as a reporter for WBAI radio, a Pacifica station, and WNYC radio, an NPR station, covering local politics and the arts. I then moved to Maine, where I lived by the harbor in Kittery, and worked as a reporter for New Hampshire Public Television. There, I covered the ‘99/2000 New Hampshire presidential primary season, and interviewed the major presidential candidates. I also participated as a panelist in nationally televised presidential debates, hosted by Peter Jennings and Tim Russert. Following the conclusion of the New Hampshire primary season, I moved to Boston, where I did freelance writing on academics, the 2004 presidential campaign and the single life, among other subjects. From this base, in early 2005, I launched ThoughtCast.

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