The Link Between Bipolar Disorder and Creativity
PDF | Research designed to examine the relationship between creativity and mental illnesses must Clinicians who treat creative individuals with mood disorders must also confront a . These early efforts suggest that a better definition of the. Anecdotally, there are many examples of striking associations between creativity and mood disorders, and particularly bipolar disorder. For example, Vincent. People with bipolar disorder experience episodes of both mania (an exceptionally elevated, irritable, or energetic mood) and depression. These episodes may.
During the early stages of a manic episode, people can be very happy, productive and creative. There is some evidence that many well-known creative people suffer or have suffered from bipolar disorder. But this link may be caused by an unknown third factor, such as temperament.
On the other hand, at the outset of a manic episode, the person can feel like making lots of plans because the world seems full of opportunity. They may feel high, meet a lot of new friends, spend all their money, and even feel invincible. Medication can appear to remove or dull the experience, and may not be viewed positively at this point.
So is there something about the manic or in-between episodes of bipolar disorder that can be conducive to creative expression in some people?
Many researchers and some individuals with bipolar have jumped on the bandwagon of enthusiasm, spurred on by the book, Touched with Fire, in which, drawing on the lives of Lord Byron, van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, and others, author Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins University, argues that a highly disproportionate number of artists and writers are depressedsuicidal, or manicthat the bipolar and artistic temperaments often overlap, and that those temperaments are causally related.
Having a link to greatness may fight stigma and improve self-worth for some, but does the link between bipolar and creativity really exist, and is it a gift? It could be bipolar causes creativity or it could be just having a particular temperament causes the creativity, says Terence Ketter, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, and coauthor of a recent study on children and creativity published in in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
Not all people with bipolar perform the same on creativity, as measured by a standardized test, he says. In an earlier study on adult bipolar disorder that he and his colleagues conducted, individuals scoring highest on creativity were those with access to passion, regardless of whether or not they had bipolar. Passion really may be discontent, which translates into fixing the situation, being innovative, he explains.
Here’s what the evidence shows about the links between creativity and depression – Research Digest
Access to passion can sometimes come out as irritated or annoyed, Dr. Ketter adds, noting discontent can become the mother of invention. David Schuldberg, PhD, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Montana at Missoula, offers a similar perspective.Bipolar link to creativity and being intellectually gifted?
Some say creativity is not linked just to bipolar. Mania left untreated, they said, leads to chaos and disorganization. Schuldberg says people often wonder if they will pay a price in terms of their creative endeavors if they take medication to control symptoms. He says one in five people with bipolar complete suicide and over 50 percent attempt it. Does the link exist?
Jamison has attempted to do in her book, Touched with Fire. We tried unsuccessfully to reach Dr. Jamison for an interview for this article. Some doctorshe says, have a vested interest in making the connection of bipolar and creativity so as to not turn off patients who believe in it.
Much of the early interest of researchers focussed on a suggested relationship between creativity and schizophrenia. Lumbroso introduced the concept of 'hereditary taint' to describe the relationship between the manifestation of exceptional talent 'genius' in certain people and the presence of 'madness.
The Link Between Bipolar and Creativity
They included politicians, scientists and artists. They were actually chosen more for their fame than any creative talent. The researcher found that 4. When they became 'insane,' the diagnosis was often 'cyclothymia. He found 'personality disorder' to be the commonest diagnosis.
Artists showed alcoholism and schizophrenia, while scientists more frequently had affective disorder. Other researchers have sought to establish linkages between creativity and mental health syndromes Murray et al. A Danish study McNeil, measured psychopathology in some creative people who had been adopted away from an early ageand also in their biological and adoptive relatives.
The commonest diagnosis was 'Reactive Psychosis' A Scandinavian term equivalent to Affective disorder. Rust and collaborators Rust et al. They found a relationship between creative originality and the positive cognitive aspects of schizotypal thinking. Richardworking from Harvard University, set out to answer the intriguing question-is there a compensatory advantage in Manic-Depressive Illness?
In entertaining such a possibility, he had in mind the examples of sickle cell disease, where the heterozygote is supposed to enjoy relative immunity from malaria. He selected a sample of Manic-depressives, cyclothymes and normal first-degree relatives along with matched controls. He measured their creativity using a 'Lifetime Creativity Scale. There was also more creativity among normal first-degree relatives than among the ill patients themselves, with those diagnosed as cyclothymic being in-between.
The conclusion was that the liability to Manic-Depressive illness carries an advantage for Creativity, especially among individuals who are not actively ill. Working from another direction, another researcher Jamison, took a sample of 47 famous living British Writers and Artists.
They were people who had won major awards such as the Booker Prize, or were distinguished members of the Royal Academy of Arts. Poets and novelists were particularly prone to mood swings, whereas visual artists were less vulnerable. It was generally recorded that the writers had intense creative episodes lasting 1 to 4 weeks, marked by increased enthusiasm, increased energy and self-confidence and high speed of mental association. These resemble the mood and cognitive components of Hypomania, without the behavioural nuisance attributes of talkativeness, hypersexuality and excessive spending.
In a similar vein, Andreasen in Iowa Andreasen,and over the years, collected a sample of famous writers who came to work on the University faculty.
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