The link between creativity and mental illnesses is a topic that has been debated for centuries. The great philosophers Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle all discussed the connection as well. Even in today’s society, there is an ever-present stereotype that creative individuals (i.e. poets, writers, artists, designers, etc.) suffer from bouts of depression, mania, or mental illnesses. It is an age-old question: does depression/mania effect creativity? There is a lot of evidence that both supports and denies the truth behind this question. Some researchers believe the link between depression and creativity is strictly genetic while others believe there is none at all. The argument for this discussion will mostly support the argument that creativity is absolutely a result, cause, and remedy of mania. The manic-depressive illnesses discussed in this debate will mostly include bipolar disorder, mania, and depression. However, there are a lot of factors that play a role in this debate. To discuss, we must first define creativity, the creative process, manic-depressive illnesses, and rumination.
What exactly is creativity? To be creative is to understand and connect the small details of our experiences, both good and bad (creative something). Creativity involves a person using his or her original ideas to create something. Artists such as poets, writers, painters, designers, and more use creativity on a regular basis. They use creativity to come up with new ideas and create original works of art. A poet would use his or her creative abilities to write and produce a poem just like a painter would use creativity to paint a painting.
There is a magnitude of research put behind trying to find the link between creativity and mental illness. “Creative individuals produce works of which ordinary individuals are not capable: great works of art, revolutionary scientific theories, and valuable inventions” (genius and madness). In early times, creativity was seen as ideas that the Muses provided. They were said to breathe creative ideas and inspiration into a person whose only purpose was of a channel of creativity. Along with this idea, the great Greek philosopher Plato had a long history of theories on creativity. Plato believed that ‘a poet in the throes of creation is mad.’ He believed that the insanity of a poet was a result of being possessed by the Muses, “a divine madness” (genius and madness). In recent studies, there is interest in madness being the potential basis for creativity. Kraepelin in his 1921 hypothesis thought that mania brought about changes in a person that increased their creative thinking (genius and madness).
There are many different studies and statistics that support Kraepelin in his hypothesis. Ludwig in his 1994-5 study found that writers were more likely to have mental illness, including mood disorders and anxiety disorders (door). He also found that there was a higher prevalence of mental illnesses found...