Artist Vincent Van Gogh, poet Sylvia Plath, novelist David Foster and composer Ludwig Van Beethoven had two things in common – an ability to create something unique, and their mental illnesses. Scientist Kay Redfield Jamison talks about this link between creative genius and mood disorders in her book “Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament.” Jamison, through examples of actors, artists, writers, musicians and poets studies this correlation between artistic temperament and mental illnesses like bipolar disorders (BD).
While previous studies have attempted to explore this connection, the subject at best remains controversial. In 2015, two studies explored this topic, one looked at the link between the disorder and creative minds while the other challenged the first study and its findings.
The first study led by an Icelandic team found a positive correlation between scores indicating higher risks of schizophrenia and BD, and creativity, in a medical and genetic data of 86,000 people and 1,000 creative individuals including professional musicians, dancers, poets, writers, and actors. However, the genetic variant creating the connection could only explain 6 percent of the cases of schizophrenia and 1 percent of BD. Alternatively, this meant that the risk of BD and schizophrenia explained even fewer creative individuals.
An earlier study had found that people in creative professions weren’t any more likely to suffer from mental disorders than members belonging to any other professional group (except for BD, and writers who were more strongly associated with bipolar, schizophrenia and a whole lot of other mental disorders).
Psychologist and musician Judith Schlesinger, in her 2012 book, “The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius,” pointed out the major inadequacies in diagnosing mental disorders and the arbitrariness of arriving at a specific diagnosis and the shortcomings of the previous researches linking creative genius to mental conditions. Schlesinger then went on to laud the discipline, commitment and intense focus of the creative professionals which made them excel in their chosen domains.
While some experts continue to question the studies, their sources and the way they were conducted, others continue to swear by the link which they feel definitely exists. In the absence of proper and scientific definitions of mental illnesses and creativity, establishing a connect between creative genius and mood disorders would be difficult. In reality, the connect remains hidden and needs to be uncovered by a definitive and carefully designed study. Regardless of the controversy, it is important to see the positives of an individual’s creative talent.
Help is at hand
Mental disorders have the power to wreck an individual’s life. As per the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) around 43.8 million individuals in the U.S. have been diagnosed with a mental disorder or illness, which is 18.5 percent of the entire population. An estimated 9.8 million adults or 4 percent of the U.S. population is diagnosed with a particularly serious condition in the past year alone.
If you or your loved one is struggling with any form of mental illness, you can contact Sovereign Health for information on generalized anxiety treatment centers in Los Angeles. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 for expert advice on finding the best mental health facilities in Los Angeles. You can also chat online with our experts.