The Psychological Reasons For Prince’s Exceptional Creativity, Drug Addiction And Untimely Death: Part 1

The Psychological Reasons For Prince’s Exceptional Creativity, Drug Addiction And Untimely Death: Part 1

by Dr Emma Gray - 29th April, 2016


As a spiritual person, Prince would often claim his music was a gift from God. However, an exploration into the key factors influencing Prince’s personality reveals helpful clues to understanding his exceptional creativity, tendency toward addiction and probable cause of death. During the following three brief articles, we will explore the structure of his personality, the experiences that informed his sense of self worth, and his learned pattern of responding to (and ultimately surviving) his childhood. In this first article, we shall examine his personality.

Prince’s natural disposition strongly pointed ‘inwards’ (as opposed to ‘outwards’), resulting in a complex set of introverted personality traits, and giving rise to his hyper-sensitivity, deep imaginative states of minds, and high psychological mindedness. We can conclude from the accounts of Prince during his early school years that his natural personality was unusually sensitive. Likely further exacerbated by his diminutive stature, he was typically portrayed as painfully shy, socially awkward and (perhaps understandably) somewhat withdrawn. While Prince would later become outwardly ambitious both on record and especially on stage, such extroverted behaviour was not the result of his natural personality.

A goldmine of privately recorded rehearsals (collected and shared amongst hardcore fans, but not available to the public) intimately reveal that Prince’s performance and showmanship were in fact a result of the meticulous planning of his highly introverted mind. As Prince’s artistry developed in early adult life, we can see that he channeled his sensitivity and imagination into envisioning other, more ideal, worlds (which he referred to as “Uptown”, “Paisley Park”, and “The Dawn”, among others). Prince’s imagined worlds would powerfully create an inner state of mind where it would appear people could be accepted for who they were, where good would conquer evil, and where love above all else rules, echoing his Christian upbringing.

Prince’s inner psychological state contain all the textbook markings of a highly psychologically-minded and gifted individual. The result of the above factors working side by side each other will likely have enhanced Prince’s strategies for survival, especially during childhood, and also marked him out as carrying the potential for exceptional creativity. We can see from his career that he went onto fulfil his potential creative trajectory, dipping into his main creative well within his first decade. However, this was not purely the result of his inherent nature. In the following article, we briefly explore the factors which helped create the necessary motivation for his artistic growth. The clue would reside in Prince’s psychological response to childhood trauma.

Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

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