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July 4, 2005

Creativity and Bipolar Disorder Correlated

The link between creativity and psychopathology has long been debated. It seems as if there is some sort of correlation between the two but there has been little scientific evidence to support such a claim. This research article brings up some interesting facts as well as a hypothesis as to why there is a link between mental illness and creativity.

Psychological illness has been found historically more often in "eminent creators" than in the general mass of people. This paper estimates that mental disorders are twice as common in those that are highly creative. It is hypothesized that the "rate and intensity" of mental disorders such as bipolar disorder in the creative population differs based on what kind of creative area they are involved in. It seems that artistic creators are more likely than scientific creators to have a mental disorder.

Much evidence has pointed to the fact that creativity and psychopathology run in the same families, suggesting a genetic link between the two. Simonton (2005) suggests that "higher than average scores on psychoticism are associated with independence and nonconformity, features that lend support to innovative activities(Eysenck, 1995). In addition, elevated scores on psychoticism are associated with the capacity for defocused attention (e.g., reduced negative priming and latent inhibition), thereby enabling ideas to enter the mind that would normally be filtered out during information processing (Eysenck, 1993). This less restrictive mode of information processing is also associated with openness to experience, a cognitive inclination that is positively associated with creativity (Peterson and Carson, 2000; Peterson et al., 2002)."

This paper goes on to say that intelligence and creativity are not linked although a certain amount of intelligence is required to be creative in most cases. Usually an IQ of 120 or higher is required, which is in the "gifted" range.

Creativity and madness are not the same thing though. A large majority of creative people are not plagued by a psychological illness. Therefore, creativity does not necessitate psychopathology, and psychopathology does not necessitate creativity.

This paper simply exemplifies the evidence that shows that creativity and psychopathology (e.g. bipolar disorder) are correlated and have a link that we are just beginning to understand.

The source of this article was the Psychiatric Times at:

This research article was written by Dean Keith Simonton, Ph.D. with the headline Are Genius and Madness Related? Contemporary Answers to an Ancient Question Copyright (c) 2005 CMP Media LLC.


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