Alcohol input and creative output*


  • *

    Adapted from a presentation at a Workshop titled, Alcohol Abuse and Creativity: Stigma, Legend or Fact? at the 1989 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in San Franciso, California, on 10 May 1989.


Is alcohol use a help or a hindrance for creativity? And, conversely, what effect does creative activity have on alcohol use? In order to answer these questions, relevant information was obtained from the biographies of 34 well known, heavy drinking, 20th century writers, artists or composers/performers. Analysis of this information yielded a number of interesting findings. Alcohol use proved detrimental to productivity in over 75% of the sample, especially in the latter phases of their drinking careers. However, it appeared to provide direct benefit for about 9% of the sample, indirect benefit for 50% and no appreciable effect for 40% at different times in their lives. Creative activity, conversely, can also affect drinking behavior, leading, for instance, to increased alcohol consumption in over 30% of the sample. Because of the complexities of this relationship, no simplistic conclusions are possible.