Performing Artists and Anomalous Experiences

Overexcitability, Creativity, and Trauma History Are Part of the Picture




anomalous experiences, creativity, overexcitability, performing artists, trauma


Objective: To evaluate the relations of anomalous experiences with five overexcitabilities, cumulative trauma exposure, and Beyond the Personal creative process, with samples of performing artists, athletes, and control participants. Method: This is a cross-sectional study (N = 454) in which participants were administered in one session five self-report instruments to assess the five overexcitability dimensions, past childhood adversity and trauma events, creative experiences, and anomalous experiences. Analyses included inter-instrument and intergroup analyses, with a regression analysis that focused only on performing artists (n = 248), and a moderation analysis to determine a moderating effect of cumulative trauma on other variables. Results: Results showed that, compared to athletes and controls, performing artists had greater overexcitabilities, higher Beyond the Personal creative experiences, and more anomalous experiences, but no differences in cumulative trauma. Imaginational overexcitability, cumulative trauma, Beyond the Personal creative experience, and emotional overexcitability explained 32% of the variance in anomalous experiences in the performing artists group. The moderation analysis did not reach significance.  Conclusion: The findings in this study suggest that a desire to create works that expand Beyond the Personal, coupled with elevated overexcitability factors, relate to greater sensitivity and awareness of novel and unusual experiences, including anomalous experiences.  


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How to Cite

Thomson, P., & Jaque, S. V. (2023). Performing Artists and Anomalous Experiences: Overexcitability, Creativity, and Trauma History Are Part of the Picture. Journal of Anomalous Experience and Cognition, 3(1), 110–139.



Research articles