How to think when reading science papers.
"Creativity and Psychopatalogy," by Simon Kayaga.
Click at the link at the bottom of the page and it will take you to the study done by Simon Kayaga and his colleagues about the possible association between creativity and mental illness.
Kayaga writes this about what they wanted to accomplish with the study:
"The primary aim of this thesis is to explore the putative association between creativity and psychopathology using large scale population based epidemiological methods. The secondary aim is to elucidate if such an association may be mediated through genetic factors under positive selection." ( p 56 ).
The study actually comprices of five studies ( I,II,III,IV and V ), which are described at page 56. If you want to go directly to the result of the study, you will find it on page 72 (en sammfattning av studien på svenska börjar på sidan 100).
A couple of things to keep in mind when reading the study:
1.I have said this in another place on this site, but I say it again because it is important. When reading the study you should think about how the concept "creativity" is defined and used. How do they measure "creativity?"
2. Is creativity and intelligence ( another concept you should think about ) the same thing or are they different kind of abilities?
3. If you like me have bipolar disorder, and like me very much would like it to be true that there is a strong association, correlation between creativity and bipolar disorder, then you should think about facts that would falsify the correlation. That is, do not agree with the result of the study just because you like it to be true, but instead you should try to come up with facts/examples/arguments that goes against the result of the study. Of course, that kind of critical mind set should be used when reading any kind of study.
I would also like to emphasis that it is probably not bipolar disorder per se that makes a person more creative, productive, etc. There is something else driving these abilities. Can it be a specific kind of temperament or specific kind of personality traits?
Is it these traits that healthy relatives to people with bipolar disorder inherent and makes them more creative than the average population, but without ever getting ill with bipolar disorder?
If so, that could be the answer (or at least a part of the answer) to the paradox that bipolar disorder stays at a stable level in the human gene pool, despite people having bipolar disorder and their healthy relatives have fewer children on average than the general population.
So, there could be a evolutionary advantage for the human race to have serious mental illnesses like bipolar and schizofrenia in the gene pool. Because some of the individuals who inherent the vulnerablitiy for those mental illnesses become some of the great artists,scientists and leaders in a society.
Finally, we should all think about how Simon Kayagas study could come to practical use. Could the study be used to erase the stigma of mental illnesses? Could it be used to make the mental health care better? Could it be used to make more people having mental illnesses to seek professional help and not suffer on their own and keep their illness a secret?
If the answer is yes on all the above questions then; how do we go about to put it into practical and real life use? Who should do it?
All the best to you and take care :)