The relationship between creativity and mental health

the relationship between creativity and mental health

However there have been a handful of methodologically sound studies to clearly establish the relationship between creativity and mental health. The objective of. Background: There has for some time now been recognition that there was a relationship between exceptional creative talent and mental disorder. The works of. To really delve into whether creativity is tied to mental illness, you need When it comes to analyzing the link between mental illness and creativity, there article published in an American Psychological Association journal.

In the research into the connection between creativity and psychopathology a theoretical connection has been drawn between creative functioning and unusual or regressed thinking processes,[ 2 ] affective symptoms,[ 34 ] personality traits and values[ 24 ] and behavioural characteristics. Likewise, results of various studies and anecdotal reports suggest an increased rate of schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, depression, personality disorder or alcoholism in creative individuals.

While it is quite clear that emotional instability is usually detrimental to creativity, it also may be advantageous. It may provide the intense motivation, the conviction, egocentrism, the unconventionality, the imagination and the inspiration so necessary for new discoveries and breakthroughs. It may also allow the artist, writer, poet, composer and scientist to escape the powerful social and cultural constraints that mostly favor conformity and convention.

Creativity and mental illness

What remains to be determined is just what types of psychopathology inhibit or facilitate what types of creative activity. Can one lead a peaceful and pleasant life and still have hopes of being innovative? Or does not have to experience abnormal extremes of some sort?

A basic difficulty is that despite the intriguing nature of such reports, the relationship between creativity and insanity may be apocryphal. These conflicting results leave many key questions unanswered. Is mental illness essential or merely incidental to the creative process?

Do psychoses, mood disturbances, intoxications or severe characterlogical defects serve as sources of inspiration, allowing innovators to perceive reality in novel ways or do they inhibit creativity?

Do mental symptoms or emotional distress represent the consequence of creative activity — the price to be extracted for relentlessly pursuing the unknown as Carl Jung might claim — or the impetus for discovery and innovation?

Are many artists and writers apt to rely on alcohol and drugs to still their overactive minds or to fuel their imaginations when they are feeling emotionally blocked and intellectually inhibited? Even more to the point, are certain types of individuals, with certain kinds of psychopathology, in combination with certain other talents and abilities and under certain circumstances more likely than other types of individuals to make scientific breakthroughs or important works of art?

While a great deal of attention has been paid to dysfunctional creative individual the healthy creative person is barely represented in the literature.

Creativity and mental illness - Wikipedia

It might prove worthwhile to look closely at the lives of creative person with less dramatic life history since they may serve as positive models others may emulate. We need to encourage creativity and creative people in our midst.

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We also need to find more effective ways, to prevent, treat and destigmatise mental illnesses of all kinds. We need both good art and good science. Summing up, biographical studies offer impressive indications that eminent writers as a group suffer more problems than do other eminent creators or the general population.

Despite the robustness of the statistics, they must be considered cautiously. Diagnoses have often been made posthumously using loose and inconsistent diagnostic criteria. In many cases the validity of a diagnosis of mental illness, alcoholism or suicide cannot be verified. In addition, solid statistical evidence of the extent of mental illness, alcoholism and suicide in the general population is still far from precise.

the relationship between creativity and mental health

Finally, it is possible that the creative persons with dramatic lives and early deaths are more likely to become eminent and have biographies written about them. Aims and objectives To study the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity in Creative population compared to a non-creative population.

However, most of the research has been carried out in USA and Europe.

the relationship between creativity and mental health

Very little has come out of Africa on the subject. To survey the beliefs of different groups within an African society, concerning the possibility of a relationship between creative talent and mental disorder. To assess creativity within a community of people with a formal diagnosis of mental disorder. Some of the mythology of the Yoruba was examined for content, concerning the behaviour of certain notable individuals and the existence of psychopathology based on modern-day criteria.

The beliefs of members of the general public and mental health professionals concerning the existence of a relationship between creative talent and psychopathology were surveyed using a questionnaire designed for the project. A sample of patients with formal diagnoses of affective disorder or schizophrenia drawn from two units, the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Yaba, were assessed for 'Creativity. Although there are notable 'eccentric' figures in local mythology, the overwhelming majority of the people surveyed do not believe there is any relationship between creativity and mental illness.

They however believe that engaging in creative activities helps the mentally ill to recover from illness. The mental health professionals, who were clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, had a significant minority who believed that a relationship does exist, and they also strongly assert that creative activity has a therapeutic effect for the mentally ill.

A survey of in-patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and affective disorder failed to show a significant difference in the creativity of the two populations, as measured by the originality score of the Rorschach scale.

Creativity and mental health: A profile of writers and musicians

The survey of patients is inconclusive, based on small sample size ten patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, ten with bipolar affective disorder.

The linkage between formal mental disorder is only recognised by a significant minority of mental health professionals. A significant proportion of the population believe that creative activity aids recovery from mental illness.


More research is required into this important subject in Africa. Creativity; Cultural beliefs; Mental illness; Personality; Recovery Introduction The relationship between exceptional talent, especially 'creative' talent, and the possibility of odd, unusual or frankly abnormal behaviour is one that has intrigued various writers over time. Creativity is a difficult subject to define. How does one quantify the talent of the novelist, or the atomic scientist who breaks new grounds in his research?

It is now known that the two factors are independent, though most creative people appear to have an IQ of and above Andreasen and Glick, For the most part, the definition of creativity has been based on the perceived originality of the 'creative' product. More recently, attempts have been made to quantify 'creativity' independent of the subject's fame or intelligence quotient.

Creativity and mental health: A profile of writers and musicians

This often involves a combination of an operational definition what the person has produced and the use of psychological markers that are said to be characteristic of creative persons nonconforming, adventurous, sensitive, introspective, independent. 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.

They included politicians, scientists and artists. Most people can name a dozen high-profile talents who dealt with mental illness in their lives. The idea of the "mad genius" is older than psychology itself — Plato even said "all the good poets are not in their right mind when they make their beautiful songs.

To really delve into whether creativity is tied to mental illness, you need to lead a scientific study. When a researcher wants to produce a new study, they first read up on what's already been done.

When it comes to analyzing the link between mental illness and creativity, there are two pivotal publications that nearly all researchers cite in their papers, according to Ph. Ludwig, and a study by psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison. That's where the problem starts. As Schlesinger writes in a article published in an American Psychological Association journal, neither of these studies were nearly rigorous enough to warrant the regard that researchers hold them in today.

The Andreasen study only looked at 30 creatives over 15 years.