Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Artistic Ability and Mental Problems: Is There A Link? (guestpost by Louise Baker!)

Artistic Ability and Mental Problems: Is There A Link?

Evidence has supported the claim that there is in fact a link between creativity and certain types of mental disorders for hundreds of years. The specific relationship between the two is apparent when you examine what mental disorders have in common with creativity. It is necessary for an individual to view things abnormally in order to possess creative qualities. Abnormally thinking about things is a very common occurrence for a person showing signs of psychopathological or neurological disorders.

There a wide variety of mental disorders that are known to somehow be connected with creativity. Some of the most common disorders known to make patients show an increased propensity toward creativity include:

* Autism
* Dementia
* Bipolar Disorder
* Epilepsy
* Depression

Hundreds of years of history and literature have painted a clear picture, illuminating the similarities between extremely creative and mentally ill individuals. One of the most famous examples of a mentally ill person being extremely creative and intellectually gifted was Albert Einstein. Einstein’s unique gifts were directly related to a barrage of mental illnesses, which include developmental language and dyslexia disorders. Most consider Einstein’s creativity and extremely high levels of intelligence to be somehow directly linked with his mental disorders, although the direct mechanism thought responsible for the similarities is not known.

One of the most widely accepted scientific studies within the scientific community took place during 1949, and provided evidence that individuals with a natural predisposition towards bipolar disorder also tend to be naturally predisposed to creativity. The study’s findings provided evidence that two-thirds of the studied artists, writers, composers, architects and their families were normal. However, the study concluded that overall the group as a whole had a significantly higher percentage of individuals showing signs of mental disorders, when compared to the general public.

The group studied had a high percentage of individuals that could be classified as neurotic, and even insane. The experiment provided results supporting the facts that around fifty percent of the poets studied and about forty percent of the musicians studied had some kind of psychiatric abnormality. When it comes down to it, ADD/ADHD, dementia, autism and bipolar disorder all seem to be somehow directly linked to creativity by the similar qualities bf both.

Many of history’s most well respected writers suffered from the mental disorder epilepsy, including Fyodor Dostoevsky and Edgar Allen Poe. The link between the two is not exactly known, but there is some evidence supporting the idea that increased levels of creativity develop hand in hand with the onset of the disorder. Many scientists believe that the increased levels of creativity are somehow connected with how the human brain reacts to the onset of mental diseases.

Louise Baker is a freelance blogger who usually writes about accredited online colleges for Zen College Life. Her most recent article ranked engineering degrees.

4 comments:

  1. “It is necessary for an individual to view things abnormally in order to possess creative qualities.” Says who? Creativity is humankinds only survival skill. We don’t have big teeth or hard skins yet we survived the jungle and created civilization feeding and housing billions of people with nothing more than our creative problem solving skills.
    We created language. We have a pallet of words and some rules about how they go together and we make brand new sentences 24 hours a day, even in our sleep. We cannot not be creative. We are so close to it we can’t see it. If I give you a pallet of colours and some rules about how they go together, say western European aesthetics through art history, I guarantee you eill be making brand new things that never existed before. Whether you have a tolerance for the frustration of working hard and excelling in the field, is up to you. No one needs to be a genius in order to get by in any field.
    “There a wide variety of mental disorders that are known to somehow be connected with creativity.” Again, says who? Connected in what way? Where is the evidence for the belief? In 2011 depression and anxiety are epidemic in western society. Does that mean we are more creative now?
    “Most consider Einstein’s creativity and extremely high levels of intelligence to be somehow directly linked with his mental disorders, although the direct mechanism thought responsible for the similarities is not known.” Ok that’s not a statement that is worth much, basically without saying who the ‘most’ people are, and what they consider the direct mechanism to be, what is stated has no more value than a rumour.
    “One of the most widely accepted scientific studies within the scientific community took place during 1949, and provided evidence that individuals with a natural predisposition towards bipolar disorder also tend to be naturally predisposed to creativity.” Which study? Where is there a copy of it? 1949? Surely our ability to study and our knowledge base of mental emotional illness has progressed since 1949. For example, studies in cognitive therapy have shown changing how a person regards himself, and others and the world, through talk therapy, have a significant impact on brain chemistry and is just as effective at changing levels as Prozac is. (Feeling Good the New Mood Therapy, Dr David Burns, from the introduction.) Information such as this was not even known in 1949. It’s as valid to say that during the Bronze age they felt creative people to be shamans and healers.
    “When it comes down to it, ADD/ADHD, dementia, autism and bipolar disorder all seem to be somehow directly linked to creativity by the similar qualities of both.” No they don’t. Being human is linked to creativity, by evidence. For all we know those unfortunates with illness put up with the frustrations of a creative life and excel at it through practice and hard work, because they are unemployable in straight 9-5 jobs. I found my instructors at art school, had the same qualities as other successful professionals. They worked hard, did their best, showed up, and were professional. I found without exception they were passionate about their profession and their students. In other words, ‘normal’, whatever the hell that is.

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  2. Your comment is almost longer than the article Jerald, read my reply on FB please.

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  3. I often think all of us have mental disorders... that the possession of a brain is a disorder in itself—it's just that our disorders are categorized with certain definitions, and some are preferred over others. : )

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