I think people tend to either break as in the case of severe sensory deprivation, or they turn inward. For some, that experience means confronting things that they can't bear, but for others, as you say, creativity can be expressed.This has happened with prisoners regarding artwork.
I find it astonishing that Hawking does in his head, what most people cannot manage with a room full of dry-boards! That being said, he is fairly uniquely famous, but I would say "A Brief History of Time" did that. He 'explained' black holes to the lay community when people had literally no idea what they might be. Right or wrong, he also did it with humor, and pictures, and THEN you add the condition and "robot voice" and yeah, fame.
Given his declining health however, it's hard to tell at this point what to make of his statements regarding ETs. Either way, he's made people such as Susskind and Thorne famous to people who don't even know what Relativity or QM are, and that can't be a bad thing. Lets face it, after Einstein, and Oppenheimer and (spit) Wernher von Braun and more, scientists + the information age = public awareness.
I find it easier to accept than celebrity chefs.