Madness and Creativity

30. sep, 2014

First of all, I am not implying that Jason Silva has bipolar disorder or any other mental illness. The reason I want to share the clip with you is because Mr Silva is touching on a subject that the philosopher Aristotle pondered over 2000 years ago: Is there a link between madness and high creative ability?

In Sweden we have a professor, Simon Kyaga, who with his colleagues has made a study - a large study - named "Creativity and Psychopathology." ( 2014 ). They used a sample of 1 200 000 people with bipolar disorder ( BP ), schizophrenia or unipolar depression and their healthy relatives and compared to a control group. The aim of the study was to find out if there is a association of creativity and mental illness. I am going to talk about professor Kyagas study in more detail on this site, but the short and SIMPLIFIED answer is yes. The study show that individuals with BP and their healthy relatives and healthy relatives to individuals with schizofrenia are overrepresented in creative occupations.

If you are interested in reading the study you find it on this site under the headline "Simon Kyaga´s study." Svenska besökare kan lyssna på Simon Kayaga berätta om studien i radioprogrammet "Sommar" i P1. Du hittar länken till programmet under rubriken "Bipolär=Kreativ?"

Finally, I do NOT - nor should anyone - romanticize having a mental illness. I know all too well the pain, suffering, confusion and total darkness a bipolar disorder can bring to someone suffering from it. Bipolar disorder is a severe and lifelong mental illness. Let us never forget that.

At the same time I believe it is important that we all start to talk and recognize that having BP is not ONLY pitch black. It could for one thing be helpful in breaking the stigma of having BP and other mental illnesses. And maybe it can bring some relief and hope to someone having bipolar disorder to know that there are positive aspects with the illness?

As I said in the beginning; I am not implying that Jason Silva has bipolar disorder, but the intense way he is expressing himself and the clip itself resembles the way the manic/hypomanic mind can work. At least my weird mind...

All the best and take care!