Some creative people suffer from some form of mental illness. For instance, studies have shown that highly creative individuals are at greater risk for bipolar disorder than the general population.
Psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that 30 percent of writers, painters, and sculptors in her study had been treated for bipolar disorder.
Nancy Andreasen, a psychiatrist at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, studied writers associated with the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and found that 80 percent suffered from depression, mania, or hypomania — compared to only 30 percent of non-writers.
Creative people tend to have adventuresome personalities and are likely to take risks. The high rate of mental illness in highly creative people could also be explained by a genetic predisposition to both creativity and madness.
Creativity involves combining new ideas in ways others have not considered. Sometimes when a person’s ideas seem too far off the norm, he or she doesn’t make sense and may seem mentally ill.
Some people who suffer from mental illness are concerned that if treated, their inspiration to create will cease. This belief can be a challenge when treating bipolar patients who actually enjoy their hypomanic states.
The goal in treatment is to find a balance so that the patients’ symptoms are treated while their creativity is maintained.
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