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This Research Paper Discusses The Link Between Creativity And Mood Disorders.

1240 words - 5 pages

Is there a Link between Creativity and Mood Disorders?For generations creative people have dealt with the stigma of mental disorder often attributed to them. The "mad" scientist, frenzied artist and profoundly intense writer; all have been common judgments of these professions for years. Despite the prevalence of these beliefs, psychological studies in this field have been sparse and often inadequate. To fill this investigative void, Ruth Richards and Dennis Kinney, Nancy Andreasen, and Kay Jamison developed studies to examine the link between creativity and mood disorders more completely and accurately.Early studies of this social stereotyping phenomenon were largely anecdotal, relying on the unconfirmed psychological diagnosis of creative individuals post-mortem. Examples of this include William Blake, Lord Byron, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson who were suspected to have had radical mood swings. Painters like Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Mingus, and Robert Schumann were similarly afflicted. Modern writers' mental states have also been studied with the aid of verifiable evidence. John Berryman, Randal Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, and Anne Sexton were all hospitalized for mania or depression (Jamison, 1995). Jamison notes that "a high number of established artists- far more than can be expected by chance- meet the diagnostic criteria for manic depression or major depression...In fact, it seems that these diseases sometimes enhance or otherwise contribute to creativity in some people" (Jamison, 1995). It is not enough, however, to rely on frequency alone to support the link between creativity and mood disorders.2Recent studies have attempted to demonstrate this in a more concrete way with studies of modern artists and writers. In 1987, Nancy Andreasen used 30 creative writers, 30 matched controls, relatives of both groups to demonstrate the rate of mental illness in creative individuals. The study was preformed at the prestigious University of Iowa Writers' workshop with Andreasen argues represents a reasonably valid cross-section of contemporary American writers. Over 15 years Andreasen completed 30 faculty interviews that explored the creativity and mental illnesses of the writers as well as its prevalence in their relatives. The study was created to prove a link between schizophrenia and creativity, but the complete absence of schizophrenia in the results weakened this hypothesis. She did find, however, that the rate of affective illness was very high in the creative writers. Eighty percent of writers had some type of affective disorder compared to only 30% of the controls. Forty-three percent of writers were bipolar and only 10% of the controls were. As expected, the rate of depression was also significantly higher for siblings, parents, and all relatives pooled. This supports the well-established belief in the familial pattern in affective disorders. This study appears to provide us with substantial...

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