Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Is There a Link Between Creativity and Depression?

Is there a link between Creativity and Depression?

After yesterday's blog entry about two writers who committed suicide, I got into an interesting exchange with a friend about whether there is a connection between creativity and depression.  The names of other artists/writers who committed suicide came up, including Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Vincent Van Gogh, and many more. (Here is a Wiki list of Writers who committed suidice. And here's another list of 10 Incredible Writers who Committed Suicide.)

Ever since I got involved in the literary world,  I noticed that many of my artist/writer friends were depressive. Ordinary conversation involved what anti-depressants they were taken as well as stories about their therapists.

Years ago, I found an article that stated there may be a genetic link between creativity and depression. Yesterday I did  a little research and found this study conducted at the Department of Psychology, Missoure Western State University, that's entitled "The Link Between Manic Depression and Creativity" by Lindsay R. Fuller.

I quote from this study:

"The first scientific inquiries made in the relationship between creativity and mood disorders were done in the 1970’s by Professor Nancy C. Andreasen at the University of Iowa. Using structured interviews and matched control groups she was able to show an extraordinarily high rate of affective illness and alcoholism among creative writers (Jamison, 1997). More studies done in the past twenty years have shown that the rate of manic-depressive illness is 10 to 20% higher in artists than in the general population (Princeton, 2003). This shows that manic-depression therefore occurs far more among artists than is likely just by chance. These same studies have also found that relatives of creative writers are more likely to do creative work and or have experienced a mood disorder, suggesting a possible genetic link to the disease further supporting the link between the disease and creative abilities (Princeton, 2003). Although there is strong evidence to support this link between manic-depression and creativity, there are some criticisms and arguments against this possible link."

Here is another often-quoted study dated October 16, 2012, entitled "Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness Confirmed in Large-Scale Swedish Study."  I quote from this article:

"The results confirmed those of their previous study, that certain mental illness -- bipolar disorder -- is more prevalent in the entire group of people with artistic or scientific professions, such as dancers, researchers, photographers and authors. Authors also specifically were more common among most of the other psychiatric diseases (including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety syndrome and substance abuse) and were almost 50 per cent more likely to commit suicide than the general population."

Here are a few more links discussing this interesting question of whether there is a link between creativity and depression:

There is a link between genius and madness
Genes may be missing link between Creativity, Mental Illness
Creativity and Mental Illness: Is there a Link? (this article says no)
Bipolar Disorder Fact Sheet

There are more articles in the internet, which you can Google yourself, dear Readers.

My message to you today: Hug an artist or writer; they need need it!

All for now,

Read also

Grief for Writers Who Have Taken Their Own Lives 

Death of a Carnival Queen

Kiki, a Story about a Cat 

tags: psychology, manic-depression, depression, bipolar, creativity, genius, suicide.

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