Creative types are said to have a distorted view on life – they see beauty where others see ugliness, mix together opposing objects and ideas in order to create something new, and come up with unexpected points of view.
Many writers have admitted to having schizophrenic tendencies and talking out load with their characters, and many visual artists have shown obsessive tendencies, or have been believed to be possessed by demons in ancient times.
Now, a recent study conducted by Icelandic researchers at deCODE Genetics, a genetics company, has found that people who pursue creative careers and hobbies are very likely to carry genes that render them vulnerable to developing serious mental conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
When compared to data collected from people with non-creative professions, the data collected from dancers, writers, musicians and visual artists living in Iceland showed that they were 17 percent (17%) more likely to be vulnerable to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Kari Stefansson, founder and CEO of deCODE, gave a statement saying that “To be creative, you have to think differently. And when we are different, we have a tendency to be labeled strange, crazy and even insane”.
He went on to add that when people create something new, they usually move in a space between sanity and insanity. He believes that his company’s findings support the old trope of the mad genius, and considers creativity to be very import in our society as it has already given us the work of remarkable people such as Mozart, Bach, Van Gogh.
For their comprehensive study, Icelandic researchers looked at the medical information of 86.000 subjects and found that there are specific genetic variations that when combined, can double the risk of developing schizophrenia and make the chance of developing bipolar disorder more likely by a third in creative types.
The team then compared their results to those of previous studies conducted by researchers in Sweden and the Netherlands, and found that they supported each others findings. The older studies suggested that people with creative careers were 25 percent (25%) more likely to develop mental diseases than those working outside creative fields.
Stefansson stresses that the link can’t be explained by education or heritage, but the researchers have sown how schizophrenia and creativity share the dame biology.
He also admits that the study conducted by his company only proves the existence of a weak link between creativity and the genetic variants that favor the development of mental illness. The researches could only explain 0.25 percent (0.25%) of peoples’ artistic abilities through the genes making them vulnerable to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Many researchers who were not a part of the study do not think that there is a significant connection. They strongly believe that most of an artist’s flair comes from personal experiences, believes, and personal creative influences.
Albert Rothenberg, professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, gave a statement saying that what’s interesting to him is that, on average, creative types aren’t mentally sick, however they are still able to use thought processes that are different.
Image Source: um.edu.mt