Bipolar sufferers likely to be creative
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Tuesday 01 November 2011
"No great genius has ever existed without a strain of madness," according to Aristotle. Now psychiatrists have found there is truth in the Greek philosopher's claim.
Researchers who studied the occupations of 300,000 people treated in hospital for mental illness found those with bipolar disorder were more likely to work in creative professions. Their relatives, who were not mentally ill, were also more likely to be involved in creative work as a designer, artist, musician, author or university teacher.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, affects about 1 per cent of the population and is characterised by swings in mood.
The association with a creative profession also held true for siblings of people treated for schizophrenia. The findings are published in the British Journal Of Psychiatry. Professor Kay Redfield at Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, wrote in the journal: "Most people who are creative do not have mental illness, and most people who are mentally ill are not unusually creative. It is, rather, that there is a disproportionate rate of psychopathology, especially bipolar disorder, in highly creative individuals."
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