There’s a common association between creative artists and mental health disorders, such as bipolar, depression, and schizophrenia. We see this in Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemingway, and Vincent Van Gogh. There are many past and present creative geniuses who claimed to mental illness gave them some sort of edge to their work and perspective. Some actually show signs of it in the work itself. We see others proud of their illness, even protective, identifying so closely with that mindset because of it’s unique influence on how they portray the world.

Is there any shade of truth to this? Do mental health disorders give the creative genius an advantage? Are creative minds more prone to developing such disorders? If so, why? What’s the connection here?

The scientific connection between mental illness and creativity remains foggy. The cognitive neuroscience community is divided on whether or not an actual scientific link exists. In regards to studying and testing, it’s difficult to define and measure creativity, as it’s such an abstract idea.

However, there seems to be evidence that links bipolar and intelligence. In the British Journal of Psychiatry, lead researcher James MacCabe wrote, “We found that achieving an A grade is associated with increased risk for bipolar disorder, particularly in humanities and to a lesser extent in science subjects. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that exceptional intellectual ability is associated with bipolar disorder.”

Of course, an artist’s creative process and experience should be respected. On the other hand, their mental health and stability is also very important. Even though there may be a link between the two, intelligence wouldn’t disappear due to improvements in mental health. We see this with creative geniuses who don’t struggle with bipolar, schizophrenia, or depression. Mental illness doesn’t affect every artist or creator, the same way everyone with bipolar is creative.

This is a very interesting idea that needs to be looked into more closely. As mentioned, it’s divided between scientific medical professionals, but there seems to be an interesting coincidence here. So is it just that, a coincidence or is there more to it?

If you or a loved one is suffering from bipolar and need professional guidance, please contact Crownview Medical Group. We specialize in individual case management and mental health treatments.