Creativity and mental illness

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Mental illness and creativity are popularly considered to be related, particularly in the case of bipolar disorder. Although the association between bipolar disorder and creativity first appeared in the 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 Romantic movement.[1][2]

Creativity and bipolar disorder

There is a common belief, although without empirical basis, that many famous historical figures gifted with creative talents have been affected by bipolar disorder.[1] Many of these have been retroactively "diagnosed" as suffering from bipolar disorder after their deaths based on letters, correspondence, contemporaneous accounts, or other material, most notably in Kay Redfield Jamison's book Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament.[3]. Touched With Fire presents the argument that bipolar disorder may be found in a disproportionate numbers of people with creative talent such as artists, comedians, musicians, authors, performers, poets, and scientists, and some credit the condition for their creativity.

Several recent clinical studies have also suggested that there is a positive correlation between creativity and bipolar disorder, although it is unclear what the relationship is between the two.[4][5][6] Temperament may be an intervening variable.[5]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dean Keith Simonton (June 2005). "Are Genius and Madness Related? Contemporary Answers to an Ancient Question". Psychiatric Times. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
  2. Allan Beveridge (2001). "A disquieting feeling of strangeness?: the art of the mentally ill". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
  3. Kay Redfield Jamison. Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. ISBN 978-0684831831. Unknown parameter |pulisher= ignored (|publisher= suggested) (help)
  4. Santosa et al. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2006 Nov 23; PMID 17126406.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Rihmer et al. Creativity and mental illness. Psychiatr Hung. 2006;21(4):288-94. PMID 17170470.
  6. Nowakowska et al. Temperamental commonalities and differences in euthymic mood disorder patients, creative controls, and healthy controls. J Affect Disord. 2005 Mar;85(1-2):207-15. PMID 15780691.