The Link Between Creativity and Mental Health

November 28, 2023

The Link Between Creativity and Mental Health

Vincent Van Gogh, the gifted artist infamous for severing his own ear, is often associated with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It's not uncommon to relate exceptional talents with mental irregularities, and we often presume that delicate and sensitive artists are more prone to mental illnesses. But, is this actually rooted in fact?

In 2012, an intriguing study was conducted in Sweden to study the relationship between mental illness and creativity. With a significant sample size of 1,173,763 individuals, the study examined if there was a correlation between mental disorders and creative professions, such as scientists or artists, viewed as typically requiring a level of creativity. The analysis encompassed most major mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, substance abuse, and ADHD.

The key findings of the study revealed a few things.

First, no correlation was observed between creativity and mental illness, except for bipolar disorder.
Second, being a writer was associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, substance abuse, and suicide.
Third, those who had a first-degree relative with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or anorexia, or had parents with siblings on the autism spectrum, were more likely to have a creative occupation.

While these results are intriguing, it's important to think about what they mean. Mental illnesses can truly affect 'anyone'. They are not exclusive to artists, women, or men. Successful CEOs and celebrities might face mental health struggles, and it can also affect people who seem far from being delicate. Mental illnesses are not an abstract issue that only affects creative individuals. We shouldn't create unnecessary illusions about mental health issues. It's a real concern that everybody faces.

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