The impact of stress on the creative productivity of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, 1962-1971
Jordan, Ernest Michael
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The darker aspects of Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s life and career are well known. However, the tendency of popular media coverage to focus entirely on his troubled life fuels the “mad genius” stereotype attribution while ignoring his legitimate musical legacy. This study examines the longitudinal relationship between his total, positive, and negative stress levels and the variations in his creative productivity from 1962 through 1971. Biographical stress and creative productivity data on Wilson were collected from numerous sources, converted to quantitative data and measured, and collated into separate sets of yearly chronologies. The results of time series analyses indicate that neither total stress nor negative stress significantly impacted Wilson’s creative output. However, the impact of positive stress on his creative output was found to be very significant, contradicting many previous depictions of Wilson’s troubled life and career. His productivity over the study period seems to have persevered despite the numerous negative stressors he experienced. These findings provide evidence that the popular stereotypes of “mad” Brian Wilson do not accurately portray his legitimate creativity.