Bipolar sufferers likely to be creative

Jeremy Laurance
Tuesday 01 November 2011 01:00 GMT

"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."

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in