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Altered States: Creativity Under the Influence Paperback – September, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this fascinating book, Hughes explores the lives of famous "creatives," from Plato to Vincent Van Gogh to chess player Bobby Fisher, observing that the "creative process requires, at least in some of its operations, a state of consciousness that is dramatically, sometimes dangerously altered." The book becomes especially absorbing when Hughes considers the effects of brain chemistry, illness (including mental illness), and drug use on the work of famous "creatives." Hughes speculates that the "death wish" expressed in some of Keats's poetry and the "sweet sadness" in Chopin's nocturnes might have resulted from their tuberculosis. He also considers Faulkner's manic depression, surmises that Sir Isaac Newton was a schizophrenic, and shows how opium, hashish, cannabis, and cocaine might have influenced the art and activities of many "creatives." This thoroughly enthralling book will appeal to anyone interested in the components of creativity, whether or not they agree with Hughes's premises. Highly recommended.ARobert T. Ivey, Univ. of Memphis
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications (September 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823001636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823001637
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,567,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Altered States: Creativity Under the Influence by James Hughes, is beautifully written and contains a wealth of pictures and illustrations. In this book, Hughes looks at the creative process and its role in society and the creative mind and personality. In addition, he discusses the physical, emotional, and spiritual effects of creativity on the human soul. This book includes informative chapters on creativity and disease, sex and creativity, creativity and chemistry (which looks at the use drugs in the creative process), among other chapters . I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in studying art, artists, and the history/psychology/philosophy of creative behavior. Artists, teachers, students of the arts, as well as, art enthusiasts will enjoy this book.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kali on July 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book seems to have been marketed towards people interested in 'altered states' which to me indicates chemical/substance use, when in fact only the final chapter is dedicated to substances!
The rest of the book is visually appealing, relevant and informative on the links between consciousness and creativity and would be of interest to anyone interested in spirituality and consciousness with interesting facts and comments on topics as diverse as Transpersonal Psychology, Shamanism, Dreams, Idea incubation, Play and more.
I feel this book has missed it's true target audience through misleading marketing. I found it in a bargain bin here in Australia and am thrilled at the discovery, only sorry to see it has not been appreciated for its true worth.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Hamilton Rogers on July 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you are interested in the subject of creativity, this book is a great overview. Through topics like writing, psychology, neurology, drugs, music, and sex, Hughes clearly illustrates how creative people and their work are an essential and often misunderstood element of the evolutionary process. The topic is fascinating, and the book succeeds in inspiring a deeper understanding of the reader's self, if not an inclination for deeper research on the subject.
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