Sunday, September 1, 2013

I. Creativity and Bipolar

The link to bipolar

A disproportionate number of bipolars (and families) experience heightened creativity, leadership, or spirituality -- more so than the rest of the population. Similarly, mood disorder is particularly common among individuals classically recognized as creative (Janza 2004) and may help inspire and drive the poet, playwright, or musician. (Fieve 1976)

Some of the research

In an extensive review of historical observations, biographies, scientific surveys, and psychiatric evaluations, Janza (2004) found bipolar symptoms more frequent in the "creative." Moreover, during intense creative expression, artists and writers often report hypomanic symptoms (Janza 2004), and most seem to experience a mood/creativity interaction. (Andreason 1987, Fieve 1976)

In a survey of 47 British writers and artists, Kay Jamison, PhD, (1989) found the greatest prevalence of psychiatric conditions in poets, then writers. Half the poets, two-thirds of the playwrights, 20% of biographers, 13% of painters had been treated for depression. 17% of poets had been treated for mania. All poets, novelists, and artists, 88% of playwrights, and 20% of biographers experienced intense creative episodes characterized by enthusiasm, euphoria, high energy, confidence, fast mental associations, and fluid thought. 63% of playwrights had been treated for mood disorder. 38% of the entire group had received treatment for affective illness (a rate six times that of the general population); one third of the group had severe mood swings; one fourth, intense elated mood states, 50% had taken psychiatric medications, 20% had been previously hospitalized, and 90% reported creative highs lasting an average of two weeks (a typical span for manic elation). (Jamison 1989)

Similarly, Andreason (1987) found substantially greater affective illness, particularly bipolar disorder, among 30 writers (teachers at the University of Iowa creative writing workshop) studied over 15 years. 80% had experienced a mood episode (compared to 30% in controls); 37%, major depression (17%  in controls); 30%, alcoholism (7%, controls). Most wrote during normal mood. First degree relatives also showed greater affective disorder and creativity.

In Arnold M Ludwig's biographical survey of 1005 famous persons in the 20th century, rates of psychosis, suicide attempts, mood disorder, drug and alcohol use were two-to three fold greater in writers and artists than in people successful in business, science or public life. Mania and suicide occurred most in poets. Writers and relatives had very high rates of bipolar psychosis.

Taken mostly from my book, Natural Healing for Bipolar Disorder, which see, for extensive info on nutrients, herbs, allergies, toxicity, and health factors. Get a free educational consult (by phone) when you purchase from

More on bipolar and creativity in the following posts.


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