Creativity - An Overview/Creativity and mental illness

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Mental disorders and creativity are popularly considered to be related, particularly in the case of bipolar disorder, whereas Major depressive disorder appears to be significantly more common among playwrights, novelists, biographers, and artists.[1] Although the association between bipolar disorder and creativity first appeared in literature in the 1970s, the idea of a link between "madness" and "genius" is much older, dating back at least to the time of Aristotle, and reinforced by the views of the Romanticism era.[2][3]

Creativity and bipolar disorder[edit | edit source]

Many famous historical figures gifted with creative talents may have been affected by bipolar disorder. In many instances, creativity and psychopathology share some common traits, such as a tendency for "thinking outside the box." In addition, many people with bipolar disorder may feel very powerful emotion, potentially aiding in creativity. [4] Because (hypo)mania decreases social inhibition, performers are often daring and bold. As a consequence, creators commonly exhibit characteristics often associated with mental illness. The frequency and intensity of these symptoms appear to vary according to the magnitude and domain of creative achievement. At the same time, these symptoms are not equivalent to the full-blown psychopathology of a clinical manic episode which, by definition, entails significant impairment.[2] Many of these have been posthumously diagnosed as suffering from bipolar or unipolar disorder based on biographies, letters, correspondence, contemporaneous accounts, or other anecdotal material, most notably in Kay Redfield Jamison's book Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament.[5] Touched With Fire presents the argument that bipolar disorder, and affective disorders more generally,[6] may be found in a disproportionate number of people with creative talent such as actors, artists, comedians, musicians, authors, performers and poets.

Several recent clinical studies have also suggested that there is a positive correlation between creativity and bipolar disorder, although the relationship between the two is unclear.[7][8][9] Temperament may be an intervening variable.[8]

A 2005 study at the Stanford University School of Medicine showed for the first time that a sample of children who either have or are at high risk for bipolar disorder score higher on a creativity index. Children with bipolar parents who were not bipolar themselves also scored higher.[10]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Goodwin, F. and Jamison, K. R., Manic Depressive Illness, Oxford University Press (Oxford, 1990), p. 353.
  2. a b Dean Keith Simonton (June 2005). "Are Genius and Madness Related? Contemporary Answers to an Ancient Question". Psychiatric Times. Retrieved 2007-02-20. 
  3. Beveridge A (November 2001). "A disquieting feeling of strangeness?: the art of the mentally ill". J R Soc Med 94 (11): 595–9. PMID 11691904. PMC 1282252. 
  5. Kay Redfield Jamison (1996). Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. Free Press. ISBN 978-0684831831. 
  6. Jamison, K. R., Touched with Fire, Free Press (New York, 1993), pp 82 ff.
  7. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA (June 2007). "Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: a controlled study". J Affect Disord 100 (1-3): 31–9. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2006.10.013. PMID 17126406. 
  8. a b Rihmer Z, Gonda X, Rihmer A (2006). "[Creativity and mental illness]" (in Hungarian). Psychiatr Hung 21 (4): 288–94. PMID 17170470. 
  9. Nowakowska C, Strong CM, Santosa CM, Wang PW, Ketter TA (March 2005). "Temperamental commonalities and differences in euthymic mood disorder patients, creative controls, and healthy controls". J Affect Disord 85 (1-2): 207–15. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2003.11.012. PMID 15780691. 
  10. Children Of Bipolar Parents Score Higher On Creativity Test, Stanford Study Finds