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Mad Genius: A Look Into Bipolar Disorder And Creativity

1179 words - 5 pages

Augustus Saint-Gaudens once said, “What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.” This quote summarizes the stereotype of the creative world as being whimsical and a bit loony; furthermore, one must consider if there is any merit to this opinion. Much debate is focused around this topic. Specifically, this paper will focus on the merit of a connection between bipolar disorder and creativity. Irwin G. Sarason and Barbara R. Sarason (2005) define bipolar disorder as a mood disorder classified by an alteration between a state of mania and depression. In addition, Albert Rothenberg, M.D. (2001) gives insight into the scientific definition of creativity. He believes januvial processes (brain’s ability to conceive multiple opposites simultaneously) and homospatial processes (conceiving two or more discrete entities occupying the same space, which results in a conception leading to the articulation of new identities) are necessary in creativity. The New York Times questioned the general populations’ definition of this potentially lucrative trait. The writers questioned, “What separates humans from animals and ever more advanced machines?’ and [it] gives the answer: ‘We make art” (as cited in Rothenberg, 2001). With these general definitions of bipolar disorder spectrum and creativity, this paper will look into the history, causes, and effects of the disorder on creativity.
Curiosity dating back to the Greeks involving this connection has prompted a fair amount of research. Three dominant figures in the psychological field, Jamison, Andreasen, and Richards, are key researchers in the relation of bipolar disorder and creativity. These three psychologists have differing beliefs on the subject, but unanimously agree on the genetic component of the cause of the relationship between bipolar disorder and creativity. Andreasen and R. Richards, D.K. Kinney, I. Lunde, M. Benet, and A.C. Merzel, state, “Research in support of a bipolar/creativity association has emphasized the strong genetic component of bipolar disorder and proposes that liability for a bipolar disorder carries with it an increased propensity for creative thought and action which is best expressed in the milder or subsyndromal manifestations of the spectrum (as cited in Shapiro & Weisburg 1999; Richards et al., 1988).
In addition to the genetic cause of bipolar disorder, a hazier connection is drawn with the physical evidence of the relation of the disorder and creativity. Specifically, Jamison and Andreasen make a rigid case for the link, but other researchers are not as convinced. The unyielding results of the top three researchers, however, do not uphold the ideals of clear, unbiased research. The evidence they found has been deemed unreliable because each researcher worked alone, which could make the evidence researcher-biased or subjective. J. Schlesinger (2009) comments that each researcher refrained from mentioning other mutual drawbacks, such as the use of hand-picked,...

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