Creativity and Psychopathology
Recent studies show that your chances of having a mental illness may have something to do with your profession. This is an example of a subject that can often be read about in popular magazines such as Vogue, Time, or Newsweek. I’ve never really paid much attention to these articles because something about them makes me feel uneasy. The reader must remember that the magazines have more than one goal. Not only are they trying to inform readers, but they are also trying to sell magazines. I recently read an article in Psychology Today entitled Troubled Talent. It reports the results of a study on the prevalence of mental illness among various professions. I will compare this article with an actual scientific study conducted by the same researcher on the same topic to find out why such articles in leisure magazines make me so uncomfortable.
In Psychology Today, Jamie Talan reports on a study by Arnold Ludwig M.D. The article gives the reader the impression that mental illness is linked with creative professions, but that the type of creativity is what is important. By providing Dr. Ludwigs’ results and conclusions, it reports that the prevalence of mental illness is present in both artistically and scientifically creative professions, but is much higher in artistically creative professions. In my review of this article, I’ve found that it lacks information important to understanding the study’s results. Without this information, readers cannot fully understand the implications, and can be easily misled.
In order to fully understand a study’s results and implications, it is important to know what the sample is, the design of the study, and how it was performed. Talon’s article does include some information on the sample, but it is not enough. The reader is only informed that the sample size was 1000 and that the subjects were original thinkers of the 20th century from eighteen professions. The article does not provide information on how the subjects were chosen, their age, race or gender. Since we do not know how the subjects were chosen, it is not possible to determine whether the experiment was a quasi or a true experiment.
Not only does the article fail to provide important information on the sample, it also lacks information pertaining to the study’s methods. We can, however, infer that he study must have been correlational. This is because neither mental illness nor type of profession can be manipulated as an independent variable and causation cannot be established. Only by inference do we know that the study is retrospective. Since the subjects must have lived a large portion of their lives in order to see patterns of creativeness and mental illness, we can assume that the researchers needed to look back at records to gather their information. We do not know anything else about how information on the subjects was collected or evaluated. Because of the limited sample and method...