Perspective Of A Therapist On Alcohol-Induced Creativity


The beauty behind any piece of art lies not only on how the artwork turned out but also lies in the inspiration that provoked the artist who comes up with it.

According to my therapists at BetterHelp, artists often find inspiration from their own experiences on love, tragedy, or family; some find inspiration as they travel the world. “The art *process* itself is where the magic happens! It is not about making “good” art — this art is from the inside and it is not always going to look “pretty.” -Elena Lamaak, MA, LMHC said.

What makes a piece attractive for most successful pieces of art are those invoking emotions, making us see things from an entirely different perspective. “Mental health issues can be caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors, and can have a minor or major impact on a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” Christina L. Gmyr, LMHC, NCC said. Individually, our focus or point of view depends on several factors. As for famous individual artists, alcohol is a known common denominator.

How Drinking Affects Our Thinking

People are commonly aware of the harmful effects of alcohol. Irresponsible behavior, triggering an underlying mental disorder, and several neurological problems, are associated with drinking alcohol.

However, alcohol also has beneficial effects such as reducing the risk of developing heart disease, ischemic stroke, diabetes, and most importantly, it is believed to alter cognitive processing, inducing creativity.

Researchers found out alcohol tends to reduce people’s ability to focus on some things; helping an individual to keep only those thoughts they want to think about and neglect thoughts they don’t want to think of as of the moment.

The study coincides with the theory alcohol makes it difficult to keep all the parameters of the task in mind, which allows looking at things from another direction to come up with “out of the box” solution or ideas. 

“The term “alcoholic” places the problem within the person, not within the nature of the drug.” –Sara Nash, PhD, LMHC

However, according to some scientists, alcohol at moderate consumption, for instance, one or two glasses of wine could help you focus. Some studies show reasonable amounts of alcohol which challenge the brain could result in improving the memory, boosting our ability to remember.

Wines or alcohol are also believed to help during the initial stages of the creative process when an artist is gathering and experimenting with ideas. Getting intoxicated allows an individual to entertain even the most absurd idea that could be useful in the future.

Drinking also helps to loosen up. For some writers, it helps during a writer’s block. According to some studies, alcohol helps avoid significant barrier to creative breakthroughs or getting stuck in a mental rut. A mental rut is the negative spiral of thoughts about yourself and your future that leads to avoiding actions you know will help you feel better.

Drinking alcohol also reduces inhibitions or hesitations. It could help you lessen your self-consciousness. Also, drinking relaxes your muscles making you lose control over your mind eventually. It makes you feel less stressed out, less nervous, making you gain confidence.


Famous Artists Known For Alcohol-Induced Creativity

One of the famous artists is Vincent Van Gogh, who was known for drinking absinthe, which believed influenced him to cut his ear off. Frans Hals, who was known for introducing the lively style of painting Dutch art, was also known for being an alcoholic.

Even Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest painters who ever lived, was intoxicated as he paints many of his masterpieces.

Even abstract expressionist Joan Mitchell who was famous for being an “eidetic synesthete,” relied on alcohol. Mark Rothko, who has known “soft” color block paintings in the abstract modern art scene, was also one famous artist known for being alcohol reliant.

Renowned writers are also known for relying on alcohol to get their artistic spirits going. Famous writers such as William Faulkner, who was known for drinking whiskey, said drinking is one of the critical parts of his writing process; and Edgar Allan Poe, who was believed to drink his depression away as he writes his masterpieces.

Some writers rely on alcohol as muse. One of the authors who is known to rely on drinking is John Steinbeck, who is known for winning a Nobel Prize in Literature.

F Scott Fitzgerald, the writer of The Great Gatsby, poignantly wrote that “first you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”

Keeping Alcohol Consumption At Bay

Even though drinking can help induce creativity, you must still keep the consumption at bay. As released by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA), moderate drinking means a maximum of fourteen drinks for men and seven drinks for women per week.

Excessive drinking could lead to alcohol abuse or addiction, which could end up damaging the body instead. Too much alcohol could lead to difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, and impaired memory. Keep in mind having too much of anything would not result in anything good.

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