Is mental illness the key to creativity?

People who qualify as geniuses, creatives or artists, always think differently and therefore have the ability to create masterpieces that surprise us all. A study conducted in Switzerland talks about writers, dancers, musicians, photographers and other people dedicated to art and creativity are more likely to suffer from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Here I tell you more about it.

Creativity is defined as original thinking, constructive imagination or divergent thinking. That is, it refers to the generation of new ideas or concepts or new associations between known ideas. Creativity is present in art in all its forms and the most creative people are those who have managed to change the world with their contributions in art, science and technology.

Although all human beings are creative in some way, it can not be denied that there are certain people who have that most outstanding quality and manage to excel among others. But everything has its price. A study conducted in Switzerland among more than 1 million people indicates that creativity can have a strong link with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism and anorexia nervosa.

The study found that writers are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression , schizophrenia , bipolar disorder  and to abuse one or more substances . Photographers and dancers, on the other hand, are more predisposed to suffer from bipolar disorder.

In addition, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Switzerland found that relatives of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa  and autism  were more likely to be in creative professions.

But this study, despite confirming the results of previous studies about the relationship of creativity and genius with mental illness, offers a new approach to the subject. The research leaders said that if the positive or beneficial traits of mental illness are taken into account, a new way of providing treatment can be established, without eliminating all symptoms of the disease.

It is also likely that the traits that characterize certain mental disorders such as bipolar disorder are favorable for those in creative professions. Or it may be that those who have this type of disorder feel more attracted to professions in which they can deploy their creative skills.

Either way, this study opens the door to consider mental illness and creativity from another point of view, not as something black or white, as has always happened in psychiatry.

It is interesting to know that many of the people recognized in the world for their art and creativity do suffer or suffer from mental illness. As it shows: the writer Virginia Woolf, the writer Ernest Hemingway, the painters Vincent Van Gogh and Salvador Dalí, the composer Ludwing van Beethoven, the mathematician John Nash (of whom the movie “A beautiful mind” was made ), the screenwriter Eugene O ‘Neill and the actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, to name a few examples. Definitely, they have made the world more colorful, diverse and interesting despite, or perhaps because of, the mental illnesses they suffered or learned to cope with.

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